One form of housing that has captured people's imagination as of late is the shipping container home, and now there are two on the market from a Dallas developer who has made it his specialty.
Both properties are located just a few blocks south of Fair Park. One has a conventional facade; the other is a quirky rectangle that stands three stories tall. Both were built by Ken Bennett, a property manager, flipper, adventurer, and raconteur who's been building shipping container houses for a few years.
Both are listed for $220,000:
The property at 3206 Reed Ln. is a two bedroom, two-bath single-story house with 840 square feet, built in 2020, with granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, stainless steel appliances, and an inset patio of sorts with sliding glass doors that looks out onto a long fenced-in yard.
The property at 3327 Rutledge St. is especially distinctive: It's a one-bedroom, two-bath house with 960 square feet, three stories tall but only 8 feet wide, with a gunmetal gray exterior that cuts a sharp profile on its 6,011-square-foot triangular lot overlooking a set of train tracks.
The Rutledge Street home is built a concrete pier foundation, with an interior featuring original container walls and ceilings in some areas. The original container floors are painted and polished.
The building is insulated with a closed cell spray foam, and zoned with three energy-efficient mini AC systems, one for each floor.
The bottom floor can be used as gym, office, or workroom. The second floor has the living space, and the third floor has the sleeping area.
Texas is no stranger to shipping container structures, from hotels in Fredericksburg and Round Top, to bars in West Dallas, to BBQ joints in North Dallas. The most famous shipping container residence in Texas has to be PV14 in East Dallas, the architecturally significant home overlooking White Rock Lake. DFW also has two affordable container communities in the works: one in McKinney and another in southeast Dallas.
Bennett built his first one in Belize, where he is a frequent visitor.
"I had the idea to buy a lot and build something inexpensive on the water," he says. "On the north end of the island, there's a little spot called the Truck Stop, that has really wild painted containers, and I thought it was cool. I built one in San Pedro that was two containers wide — 15 feet wide — and 40 feet long."
A few years ago, he caught wind that Fair Park was probably going to become more valuable, so he bought a couple of lots.
"I started to think that the area could support something more expensive, and one thing led to another," he says.
At one point, he resided in one of them and he's also rented them out as an Air B'n'B.
"I do have a contract on the three-story one, but will it appraise?" he says. "The appraiser can't find any other container houses to compare it with."
With the market going crazy right now, his shipping container adventures are, for the moment, on hold.
"I love doing them and wish I could continue," he says. "I don't know how in hell I got into steel boxes. Maybe it's that my mother would never let me play with Legos, so now I'm playing with big boy Legos."
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