Breaking News
More () »

North Idaho man building nearly 4,000-square-foot home out of shipping containers

Matt Rowe said his home required 15 new shipping containers imported from China, making it the largest shipping container house in the United States.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Matt Rowe
The Rowe family, from left: Kyler, 5, Karissa, Matt, Kaelee, 11 months, Kaeden, 4 and Kallen, 8

POST FALLS, Idaho — Matt Rowe wants the community to know there are options for housing, especially considering the shortage in Kootenai County.

Rowe’s approach is an unusual one. He's building a family home out of shipping containers, as reported by KREM 2 news partner the Coeur d'Alene Press

When complete, the home will offer almost 4,000 square feet of living space over three stories, with seven bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Temporary roadblocks have driven the cost up more than anticipated, but by the time the home is completed, Rowe expects the total cost to be around $525,000.

He said the current cost of a stick-built home is an average of $200 per square foot, so he estimates a savings of about $275,000.

"The house will be very energy efficient," Rowe said. "It will save more money in the long run."

The building process began back in January.

He and his wife, Karissa, along with their four young children, were outgrowing their home. They took a leap of faith and sold it.

They dreamed up the shipping container idea, he said.

Rowe said his home required 15 new shipping containers imported from China, making it the largest shipping container house in the United States.

Rowe worked with draftsman Joe Stoy to get the project started. Stoy had developed shipping container houses on a smaller scale, but nothing this large. The general contractor is Mike Mongan with Mongan Construction. Gary Barnett is doing the welding.

Rowe and his family say they feel blessed that each part of the plan is coming into place. But the process hasn't been without challenges.

“I’ve been checking in regularly with my wife to make sure she’s OK," he said. "I’m a marriage counselor and we are not going to be a statistic.”

He said the land was difficult to find but they acquired 10 acres on Blossom Mountain in Post Falls.

Their building permit was delayed by about six months due to a shortage of city employees during the pandemic, Rowe said. Arrival of the shipping containers was slowed down, also because of COVID-19.

“They sat in the middle of the ocean because of the ban on imports,” he said.

Rowe said they also had trouble getting water to the building site. The property had a well but to adequately supply his home, Rowe needed to drill another.

“We had to use alien antennas and voodoo stuff to find water,” Rowe said.

But Northern Lights Water Well Drilling was able to make it happen. Rowe said they had to go down to almost 1,000 feet.

Rowe began drilling the well the first week in August.

The Rowes and their children Kallen, Kyler, Kaeden and Kaelee expect to move in by Oct. 31, and plan to host a community open house.

“All the stuff we’ve gone through has not been fun,” Rowe said. “But the kids are so excited.”

The Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.


Before You Leave, Check This Out