Use Cases

Building a Custom Shipping Container Home in California

Al Harris
November 4, 2019

How did SteelBlox help a family build it's dream home?

Bret and Dani Stone, long time residents of Santa Barbara, CA had a goal, and there simply was no stopping them from seeing it become a reality.

Building a world class industrial modern home, using recycled shipping containers as the core building element, is no small task. When you add the complexity of doing this in one of the most prestigious communities in the US, that challenge becomes exponentially more difficult. The key from the start was to assemble the right team. The right team can mean many things, but in this case the assignment was clear. They needed a team who:

  • Understood the vision
  • Respected timelines and budgets
  • Could deliver a phenomenal home

The journey began by hiring ABdesign studio. The local architecture firm who specializes in modern designed structures, and use of alternative building materials like shipping containers delivered a spectacular design.

The next step was finding a builder who could deliver the product on time and on budget. Bid after bid came in well above what the Stone's wanted to spend. It seemed the project was doomed. Along came the team from Steelblox. Don Barber and Al Harris both, Co-founders of Steelblox put there heads together to figure out a strategy


to make this concept a reality. They tapped into the many resources accumulated over the years to figure out a hybrid modular home concept, that would help the Stone's see the plan come together.  

Over the next 12 months an amazing home began to take shape. With site work (grading, foundation, utility connections etc) and steel fabrication taking place simultaneously, the project moved along at light speed. A plan executed so flawlessly, there was not a single change order though-out the build.

In addition to the normal modular components, the home was delivered with highly specialized details typically found only in custom site built homes. Poured in place concrete walls and floors, exposed steel beams, custom cabinetry and casework, and custom exterior flatwork and pool coping are just a few of the elements that makes this project and the work exceptional.


The home was featured in Dwell Magazine's June 2018 Issue.

  • The award winning home represents the true craftsmanship delivered in our custom and pre-designed homes.
  • Presents as a stand out example of exceptional architecture, ever for those NIMBY opposers of the cargotecture craze.
  • Achieved what many said simply cant be done, given the budget and timeline challenges presented to our team.

The project team included:

  • Interior Designer: Sarah
  • Steel Fabrication: Cook Erectors
  • General Contractor: Barber Builders

Take a Closer Look at the Home

Custom Staircase
Casework and Custom Countertops
Exposed Steel Corrugated Walls

Visit our Photo Gallery for more images.

Shipping Container Prefab Modular Homes

Can you really build a beautiful custom home with shipping containers? Well, actually yes you can. There are a few things you must know first:

  • Is there a Modular Building standard in the state where I want to build?
  • Is the company I'm buying from a Certified Modular manufacturer? (Steelblox has this certification)
  • Do I have a set of Architectural, Structural and Mechanical drawings? (We can help with this)
  • Do I have a Licensed General Contractor to install my structure onsite? ( Steelblox is a Licensed General Contractor)

Interested in starting your own project?

Connect with a project specialist today.

Get in touch
Other articles