Earth-cooled, shipping container underground CA home for 30K




As a kid Steve Rees played in caves and learned how the earth could cool. As an adult, he buried two shipping containers and created an off-grid retirement home for himself and his wife Shirley.

After a few years of camping on their 10 acre plot in Northern California, they bought two shipping containers, hired an excavator and got to work. Doing most of the work themselves, their finished home cost them $30,000 (solar included). Their 640-square-foot space cost them less than $50 per square foot.

Rees explains that while this is less than conventional construction costs, the savings only begin with construction. With a solar-powered well, a bit of propane and solar tubes for most of their light, they haven’t had any city water or electric bills since 2002. Winter temperatures in their home (even during 20 degrees outside) never fall below 62 degrees (an RV catalytic heater is sufficient for heating). Even when the temperature rises to 110 outside in the summer, their home has never risen above 82 degrees.

When they asked the county about permitting they were told they “didn’t have a permit for burying containers”. They have been inspected since completing their home and they have a permitted septic system and a permitted well, just no permit for a single family dwelling.

Steve Rees book: “Off Grid and Underground”

Original story:

Steve has agreed to field questions at steve@calmingharp.com

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34 Comments

  1. chiwaawaaa
    August 22, 2017
    Reply

    When it's rain the water got into the ground and the container would get rusted from water and moisture isn't it?

  2. mokauroots
    August 22, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you very much. You always do awesome videos

  3. James Miles
    August 29, 2017
    Reply

    If you wanted to live inside of a tomb why not kill yourself?

  4. NO MA'AM
    August 29, 2017
    Reply

    Do you have to meet housing regulation codes when making a home from shipping containers?

  5. JerJerBynx
    August 31, 2017
    Reply

    not a good idea to bury containers, walls are too thin. must be reinforced someway or another! glad to see it worked out

  6. Jonathan Woods
    August 31, 2017
    Reply

    "Let the Earth do the work."………I like that!

  7. Zhen DING
    September 2, 2017
    Reply

    cheap, but ugly, house w/o windows, that's a hole…….

  8. kris hedges
    September 3, 2017
    Reply

    30k for what ? Moving the shipping container? Or putting dirt over it cause a shipping container costs less than 5k

  9. Ann Lara
    September 4, 2017
    Reply

    Y

  10. Siara Kalawaia
    September 7, 2017
    Reply

    Wow i wna do this out here in hawaii

  11. Ilustrisimo Illustrious
    September 7, 2017
    Reply

    This is what I am talking about.!!!

  12. Maximo Nacer
    September 7, 2017
    Reply

    Dear Steve (California):
    [email protected]calmingharp.com

    Thank you for sharing the images of the practical simple home you built with a budget under 30k. I could adventure to use my own projection that it was love for your wife Shirley and for your family the moving motor. Living on a farm is quiet, it can be inexpensive and it can also be even profitable. The containers can be there for one thousand years and if you ever get bored with living on a farm and improving it, you could use the same type of containers, seal them, put them together and use them as floating vessels in the open Ocean.
    Attached please find a copy of a video that I made to illustrate the concept of energy generation by using animal power. This is free for individual use. The "animal" of the video is me in this case and I patented it under the name "Horse Speeding Vehicle or Animal Powered Electricity Generator around 2003 and 2004. Since then i have applied for multiple other improvements such as the ones i show in this video. Having a piece of land to grow animals would be a simple way to live off-the grid. Think for example that with proper nutrition a pig can go from 5 to 200 pounds in six months!! That is the amount of mass of a human and it only takes 6 months to have approximately 5 to 10 pigs in each delivery. Now, by using the simple multiplication mechanism attached, you can keep a couple of pigs (example 400 pounds) doing the work for you and that means a lot of batteries fully charged every hour).
    Here it is the video. I use bicycle wheels because they work well when we use them to move pulleys as some sort of multiplication gears. I preferred the bicycle rims because they are simpler, considerably less expensive and easier to align by using gravity itself to pull back the belts. You do not need chains to multiply the force of the mechanism and this saves a lot of headaches and costs. Just use ropes as belts and if three ropes are not enough for your alternator then use four. It will all depend on how many rpm do you want the alternators to spin. So here it is the know how. I invite you to like my video and to build it yourself if you want. All the energy that the average home needs can be produced locally and stored in batteries. If you know people in California that wanted to start a "hamster" alternative energy revolution, this system is available for manufacture and residual income generation under a practical franchise with Zoo-Mechanics, Inc.

  13. MrSpectre287
    September 15, 2017
    Reply

    for anyone considering. flip one container to connect to a root cellar, preferably with a 2nd means of escape. use an earth tube airconditioner, put a green house on the front. face it south.

  14. Mr P
    September 18, 2017
    Reply

    Right before i decided to click this vid,this whole idea came across to my mind and here it goes someone already living the Life i thought,varied in tow containers quite feets deep above the surface

  15. Lost sobreviver e tudo
    September 20, 2017
    Reply

    Muito legal .

  16. xzqzq
    September 21, 2017
    Reply

    A modern update on 19th century Great Plains sod houses… I am wondering about building permits for anything out of the ordinary such as this, monolithic dome structures, and the newer expanded polystyrene domes… would be a major factor in rebuilding the hurricane ravaged SE USA.

  17. Jason Wilkins
    September 22, 2017
    Reply

    It seems like wishful thinking that everything is OK because the county does not know how to permit his building. More likely it means they are just moving slowly on kicking him out. Even forgetting the legalities of it, not having a way to escape a fire is reckless.

  18. Tim Sharpe
    October 9, 2017
    Reply

    I love this home! My state is owned by Florida Power so it's illegal to live off the grid. I wish I was joking but it's not funny at all. Florida hates freedom.

  19. Michael Lowry
    October 12, 2017
    Reply

    that’s really nice and comfortable looking. i love the ceiling (box) fan!

  20. David Dobratz
    October 12, 2017
    Reply

    Rust is not an issue with shipping containers. Rust forms a protective layer an they will not rust through.

  21. Christian O'Brien
    October 13, 2017
    Reply

    Homelessness and equitable living standards solved. Beautiful home. Homes for all!

  22. justyna ikhlef
    October 15, 2017
    Reply

    Inside it's very pretty.

  23. Sie Fi
    October 17, 2017
    Reply

    Are you using a camera from the Sony nex-vg line?

  24. Noniksleft
    October 18, 2017
    Reply

    Machines can do the work You just let the earth do the work, so that people have time to think

  25. Lance Baker
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    "From about here to about here" Can you not measure the house and just tell the length and width in exact feet?

  26. Lance Baker
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    "I found a book in the library. It was all about bomb shelters." Hey, I found dozens of books about underground homes in the library back in the 1970s. You need to search a bit more.

  27. Lance Baker
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    Why could the delivery truck not drop the containers in their correct spot? Then you don't have to pay for lifting and moving them.

  28. Lance Baker
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    The video skips from dropping the containers into the excavation to the finished home. Why not tell us about waterproofing, plumbing, etc.?

  29. Lance Baker
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    "We asked the county…" Which? Location is a secret?

  30. lottsalasagna
    November 18, 2017
    Reply

    LOL regulations…well you voted for more laws and crooked politicians
    You’re an enemy of freedom…human species still too stupid

  31. epicfailguy2
    November 20, 2017
    Reply

    It looks like shit

  32. Maurice Ellis
    November 23, 2017
    Reply

    My ears just died I was wearing headphones when they brought out the foam. Lol

  33. Carl Taylor
    November 26, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Steve, I live in a cave in the South of Spain and last year I spent about 60 Euros on fuel for the wood-stove all year. Almost no fires and no air-conditioning. The walls are one-metre thick solid rock. The cave cost as much as a decent car. Property taxes are about 60 Euros a year, too. Fantastic – it's just so cheap. There are thousands of caves in the area I live in – I believe mine used to be used to keep donkeys in in the winter, but I now have all modern amenities including fibre-optic broadband!

  34. CreeperVan Kevin
    November 27, 2017
    Reply

    I ❤️ Radon

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