I want to build a home out of unique materials. Am I taking chances on the resale value?

Asked by Jennifer Kretschmer, AIA, 95124 Tue Jul 3, 2007

If you "google" my name, you will see that I'm an architect in the process of designing and constructing new homes built out of used steel shipping containers as a recycled alternative to wood. But, how will this "different" construction method effect the potential resale of these homes?

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David Dardis, , Chardon, OH 44024
Wed Jul 4, 2007
I'm all for any form of recycling, to me it is a great idea (provided it is aesthetically pleasing). What kinds of hoops would you have to jump through to get such a thing approved by zoning? Unfortunately, the percentage of the population that thinks like me is a small fraction (maybe fortunately). Anyway, it is a gamble, the best thing going for you is it's in California(?) the land of outside the box. The uniqueness of the project can be seen as a white elephant or a statue to innovation. I'm from Ohio, it probably wouldn't wouldn't be as accepted as in CA. For example, I love log cabins but for some reason, they are hard to sell in our area. I don't want to say don't risk it but yes, being different it will take longer to sell (usually). I'd like to see a sketch of the final product. If it's good for the planet you should pursue it anyhow.
2 votes
Chris Tesch, Agent, College Station, TX
Sun Aug 12, 2007
Jennifer, you are always taking a risk by building something out of the ordinary. That being said, ZI congratulate you for finding unique ways of recycling materials.

By building something different you will minimize the number of buyers that you will have, lessening the chance of the house selling quickly.

Find an agent that can think outside the box with you when selling these homes. The unique approach that you have can be complimented by an agent that can find the unique spot that they deserve.

Some ideas on selling; write an area article for the paper on the homes, have a cocktail party and invite the "who's who" of your town, have a naming contest for your technique. Anything to get publicity. If this would be a cost cutting measure where you can pass the savings along publicize that!!!

Most of all have an agent that will work hand in hand with you and take the time to properly market your homes.

Good luck with your endeavors!!!

Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station
Web Reference:  http://www.ChrisTesch.com
2 votes
Rebecca Cham…, , Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Wed Jul 4, 2007
It depends on where you are building them. If you build in a place like Venice that puts a premium on "unique" homes than you are probably increasing the resale value, however if you were trying to build in a place like Palos Verdes (which I doubt could ever get done) you would have a tougher time with resale. I did see the article a few weeks ago. It said construction costs were higher than anticipated, but the home was beautiful and unique. Pick your locations carefully and I think you'll be just fine.
2 votes
Roberta Murp…, Agent, Carlsbad, CA
Sun Aug 12, 2007
Jennifer: I would contact a direct lender like Bank of America or Chase and see if they might provide buyer financing for your projects. If it's not available on the first go round, you might find out what would work for them and see if that would fit in with what you want to do.

If financing is in place, the buyers will be more likely to take a chance on what you have to offer.

Click below for an interesting read on alternative building materials and off-the-grid living:
1 vote
Carrie Crowe…, Agent, Southaven, MS
Tue Aug 21, 2007
I think it is a great idea. I was once in a home that was built from a plane. Yes a plane. It was considerably smaller than a 747. (It is located in northern Arkansas! Whooo Pig Sooie!) While it was great to tour and see how it was renovated, I would wager it would have a very small market. I agree with the other posters that say it would depen on where it was located. Some of the more Artsy type communities would probably welcome it with open arms and it would do great. You put the same house in a more conservative area and it may not do so well. Good luck it sounds great!
Web Reference:  http://carriecrowell.com
0 votes
Kaye Thomas, Agent, Manhattan Beach, CA
Tue Aug 21, 2007
Jennifer.. A container home was just completed in Redondo beach a few months ago. the property got a lot of ink from the media which will give it some clout when it is time to resell. I think these types of homes will be slow sales but so are most homes that are very modern in style. People tend to still go for the tried and true.
That said there is a market for this type of architecture especially in places that are very green and eco friendly as Santa Monica and parts of Northern Ca.
0 votes
THE COPLAND…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Tue Aug 21, 2007

Eco Friendly building is the wave of the future and you are not the first to want to build with recycled materials. I am an Eco Broker and I work as a specialty in adveritsing and marketing eco friendly homes. If the home is built sound, up to code and of course has visual appeal it will sell. Below is a great site wtih eco building links and builders. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Web Reference:  http://www.EcoBroker.com
0 votes
Jeffery Grif…, Agent, Wailuku, HI
Tue Aug 7, 2007
Here in Hawaii we have a lot of jungle type homes, made of all sorts of materials, from Bamboo to shipping containers. It can be wild and contagious to a neighborhood. My favorite is a friend who built a euro hut on their parents property, built of mud, hay and recycled woods. Neat. I see a lot of old homes that get fixed up with recycled materials look at the photos on my flickr or blog.
0 votes
Michael Ford, Agent,
Sat Aug 4, 2007
What a great idea. When i lived in Hawaii a friend had purchased a barge and stacked acouple of shipping containers on and made really unique live-aboard. I wish i could find the pics...some of you may remember it moored in Keehi lagoon. IT WAS NICE!

You'll have no problem as long as you can get the thing financed...that will derive from getting Certificates of Occupancy from the local municipalities. I am going to Google you right now...clever! Those containers can be had for $2k for the 40's...you have a great idea that can be standardized or adapted to suit so many applications it makes my head spin.
0 votes
Emily Knell, Agent, Huntington Beach, CA
Tue Jul 10, 2007
I have heard that steel homes are strong & cheaper to use than wood I always hear that commercial (in Las Vegas) "Call the General" to build steel framed homes. I think that as long as, in your marketing materials to builders and along to consumers, you convince them (with facts to back up your claims) that steel or recycled steel, is just as strong, safe & effective as using wood (saving trees) you'll sell your product. Just like with energy saving autos, people will go for something as long as it's just as good if not better than the original way , if they also know they're helping the environment!
0 votes
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