A landscape architect upcycled two shipping containers to build a beautiful home in the Big Easy. Oh, and did we mention there’s a pool too?
It’s not every day that a home becomes a neighborhood draw.
If you live in the historic, tree-lined Carrollton area of New Orleans, however, you might attract a bit of a crowd when you build your home from two massive repurposed shipping containers.
Becoming a neighborhood sensation wasn’t what landscape architect Seth Rodewald-Bates intended when he set out to design a home for him and his wife, Elisabeth.
They’d fallen in love with the area, known for brass bands and bayou music, and found that their double-box design was so outside the box that it became a destination for the neighbors during the build.
“Everyone was very curious,” Rodewald-Bates said. “Some people thought it was a self-storage unit. One younger kid asked if it was going to [be an] Apple store, which was high praise in my mind.”
While there’s no Genius Bar in this home, you will find an open kitchen and living area. 14-foot ceilings and ample windows give the 775-square-foot space an airy feel.
There are wide-plank wood floors throughout and dark granite countertops in the kitchen. Open shelving above the sink and stainless steel appliances add a modern touch.
Floating night tables maximize space in the bedroom, and bedside lamps in fire-engine red provide a pop of color.
The true coup de grace is a pool perfect for those steamy NOLA afternoons. It’s Rodewald-Bates’ favorite feature of the home.
An urban setting for a container home might seem a little unusual, but the house is scaled to fit the neighborhood, Rodewald-Bates added. Getting to the finish line, however, wasn’t always a given.
“The city was actually very reasonable to deal with, but financing was the biggest hoop to jump through,” Rodewald-Bates said. “We went to either 8 or 10 banks with the plans, and none of them would even send them to their appraiser.”
“Make sure you have financing secured,” he said, when asked about his biggest advice to others, “and remember that containers are designed for cargo, not people!”
The room where students at District School No. 4 once learned their ABCs has been transformed into a grand living space.
On the market for $683,000, the converted schoolhouse on Aboite Center Road in Fort Wayne, IN, is now a one-of-a-kind single-family home.
“To find an intact one-room schoolhouse is hard. Then on top of that, for it to be made into this gorgeous home with a back addition? The way they did it is just incredible,” says the listing agent, Andrea Zehr.
Built in 1883 and last used as a schoolhouse in 1938, the historic structure sat empty and forlorn for decades. The current owners began renovating it in 2016, after the former owner finally agreed to sell it.
“The prior owner would not sell it unless there was someone that was going to not tear it down and do right by it,” Zehr explains. “There were definitely other people that wanted to buy it and then take it down—and he would not sell it.”
Inside, the former schoolhouse serves as an open space with areas for dining and relaxing. Where the kitchen island now stands is where the original schoolhouse structure ends—the space beyond was added by the current owners.
The addition to the original structure resulted in two bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a basement with an office and extra living space.
The kitchen features cherry cabinets, a copper farm sink, 12-foot ceilings, and floors made from wainscoting from the schoolhouse.
The master bedroom opens to a patio, and the master bathroom includes dual sinks, LED lights, Bluetooth speakers, and a heated towel rack.
The basement has 9-foot ceilings and a built-in sleeping area under the stairs, as well as a desk area and space for entertaining. Outside, there’s also a swim spa year-round exercise pool.
The current owners make a living dismantling old barns and reclaiming the wood. They used some of that material as well as other repurposed items for this project.
“They restored everything that they could. The things they couldn’t salvage or had to replace were replaced with things that were repurposed,” Zehr explains.
For example, there’s barn wood from a 1950s barn, lighting from an old building, a door that came from an elementary school in the Iowa town where the two owners met, and much more.
They also gave a proper nod to the property’s past—using original chalkboards as wall decor.
“The original slate chalkboard was still there when they purchased this property. The writing on it predates 1938, when the last classes were held there, so it’s pretty special,” Zehr says.
The exterior of the original schoolhouse is brick, with a slate roof. The addition features a metal roof and vinyl siding.
“The reason why they didn’t try to do more brick on the exterior for the addition is because it’s so hard to match. So they went with siding and a barn kind of look,” Zehr explains.
The agent noted that the addition was carefully designed to align with the slim profile of the schoolhouse, so that it didn’t look like an afterthought. It’s the same width, going straight back, and doesn’t interfere with the front view of the original structure.
Sadly, the school’s original bell tower was unstable and could not be salvaged.
The schoolhouse design was the work of the architect John F. Wing, a well-known Indiana architect in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His firm designed several buildings, including the gymnasium at Purdue University and many schools.
The owners spent several years converting the schoolhouse into their home, but are ready to move on.
“I think that perfect buyer is someone that really loves and appreciates the history,” Zehr says. “It’s just a really amazing sight.”
With a house on wheels, home is anywhere you park it — and life on the road is a family affair.
In 2016, Jace Carmichael and Giddi Oteo upgraded from their first van home to a 2005 Freightliner Sprinter. The new van’s from-scratch build-out allowed them to add a safe seat for their new baby, Juniper.
Their goal isn’t to live in the van — it’s to live out of it. An 84-square-foot house that travels with them means this family can live sustainably on a small budget and spend quality time in places like Mexico, Big Sur, and Yosemite and Zion National Parks.
Lightweight solar panels on the van’s roof provide off-grid electricity, and multiple windows let in sunlight. Indoor-safe propane heaters keep the van warm on chilly nights.
The kitchen is equipped with an inset cooktop, a fridge and freezer, and woodblock countertops for meal prep.
Across from the kitchen is a workbench where the couple make jewelry for their online business, Carteo Handmade.
The sleeping area boasts a king-size mattress with storage underneath, and pale wood closets line the walls. Bright white textiles and interior paint make the space feel light and airy.
The van has water storage tanks and a 12-volt water pump for the kitchen sink. A composting toilet slides out from under the bed, and hot outdoor showers come courtesy of a solar tank on the roof.
Keep up with this rolling home via Our Home on Wheels, where Jace and Giddi share their build book, along with van listings for other people who dream of making #VanLife their real life.
Zillow’s 2021 housing forecast echoes the projections of other industry experts of a rapid acceleration of home value appreciation, with numbers anticipated to be even higher than in 2020.
According to Zillow’s Home Value Index, the company expects seasonally adjusted home values to increase by 3.7% from December 2020 to March 2021, and by 10.5% through December 2021. It also predicts home value appreciation to peak in June 2021 at 13.5%.
In fact, the company has already upped its December 2020 forecast: Zillow initially expected a 10.3% increase in home values through November 2021.
Approximately 5.6 million existing homes were sold in 2020, a 5.3% increase from 2019, according to officials. Zillow predicts 6.82 million existing home sales in 2021, the most recorded in a single calendar year since 2005 and a 21.1% increase from 2020.
Quarterly Zillow Home Value Index growth as of December 2020 was 3.2%, the strongest three-month appreciation since 1996.
“Home values rose sharply near the end of the year at their fastest quarterly rate on record,” said Jeff Tucker, Zillow senior economist. “Sales are taking place at a rapid clip, as momentum gathering in the market since June is still pushing forward at full force and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Tucker added that record-low mortgage rates are keeping buyers coming to the table – despite rising prices.
“[The low rates] are keeping monthly payments in reach,” he said.
Although mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2021, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that sub-3% rates become the norm following the economic turmoil caused by the COVID0-19 pandemic.
Rates fell to 3.13% in June before bottoming out around 2.67% by the end of the year.
Rounding out the 2020 data, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of existing home sales in November was 6.69 million – up 25.8% from November 2019. Zillow officials expect this rate to remain high – above 6.65 million – through 2021.
“Our bullish outlook for sales and home values is driven by the current strength of the home-buying market and our expectation that low mortgage rates, demographic tailwinds and an improving economy will continue to prop up market competition,” Tucker said.
To be honest, like many others in this business I was never good at goal setting, but I am changing that. While I help clients and customers reach desired outcomes, I’ve experienced a plateau before and have been at the same amount of sales for many years. With encouragement from those around me, it was time to leverage goal setting and begin the process of having more conversations, selling myself to more people, with greater frequency, in order to get my sales to a higher level.
Create a system to track and measure your efforts. The first thing I did was create a spreadsheet to manage and hold myself accountable for the number of conversations and touchpoints necessary to overcome the plateau. It’s keeping track of phone calls, community events, talking to people at local stores, and geotargeting a new neighborhood to become the local market expert for that area.
Use your results to determine what technique works best for you. There are many sales techniques and many ways to generate business but, what I have found that works for me, is to first build a personal relationship, and then sell myself and my unique value proposition. I want clients to hire me because they want to, whether it takes one conversation, two conversations, five conversations, or meeting in person a few times. I think it makes the relationship smoother and stronger, and it makes the goal of getting them the outcomes they desire a lot more effective.
Apply your technique and engage your sphere. Ultimately, it’s important for agents to find their own rhythm. Every person has something they’re good at, and they’re going to attract certain people and certain personalities. For me, most of my conversations are in real estate settings, like open houses or industry-related events. When I analyze and look at where my business is coming from, most of it is coming from the sphere that I built and manage. Not only that, I’m reaching them with weekly personalized emails, many times with video, about their local market. Obviously, we want to engage them, but the information must be relevant. Don’t bore them with the same old stuff. It’s difficult to find topics that people are or should be, interested in.
Selling yourself as the local market expert to your sphere can be key. This can help you build the relationships your business needs to grow. In real estate, there will always be change, so staying ahead of it by knowing your market can be the value proposition you’re looking for. For me, it’s what helped me to get over my sales plateau to grow my business and take it to the next level.
Note: This material may contain suggestions and best practices that you may use at your discretion. The views, information, or opinions expressed in any user-generated content are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.
It’s a battle of the backyards! Which poolside retreat has your vote?
There’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool during the dog days of summer. Whether you’re a floater, a diver or more of a poolside lounger, a pool is the best summer gathering spot for all your friends and family.
So, grab your floaties, put on some sunscreen and get ready to take the plunge — it’s time to choose the pools where you’d most like to spend a scorching summer day!
Photos from Zillow listings: Mid-Century quirk, cleanly traditional
Photos from Zillow listings: Riverfront lagoon, long laps
Photos from Zillow listings: New Orleans charm, California garden
Photos from Zillow listings: Pool playground, indoor slip and slide
Photos from Zillow listings: Room for family, palatial hideaway
The shape is inspired by a spacecraft, making this home truly out of this world.
Ground control to Major Tom: Here’s a home unlike any other we’ve seen.
A lifelong architect went intergalactic to find inspiration for one of his latest designs: a tiny home shaped like a lunar lander.
Nestled on the banks of the Columbia River in central Washington, the roughly 250-square-foot home is hexagon-shaped, perched nearly 9 feet above the ground on three massive steel beams.
Inside, earthlings are greeted by an open floor plan. A breakfast nook has a porthole-shaped window overlooking the river and the hillside; a kitchen with stainless steel appliances provides space to cook up a feast for an astronaut.
A large geodesic dome skylight showers the room with sunlight.
Just off the bathroom, a deep-blue sink and cerulean-colored mirror have a Mid-Century Modern feel (appropriate, considering humans first walked on the moon in 1969).
The bedroom sits below a small ladder and can comfortably sleep two people.
Upstairs, there’s enough room for a small outdoor deck where you can gaze at area wildlife, including eagles and lynxes.
If the space reminds you of the tiny well-intentioned living quarters of a boat, it’s no coincidence. The lunar lander’s owner and designer, Kurt Hughes, is a boat designer by trade.
He translated his three decades of boat building to home building — in fact, the wooden table in the dining nook is recycled from the Hughes’ first sailboat.
Is that a ghost or just your imagination? See for yourself.
With no city lights for miles, The Pillars Estate stands alone in the darkest of nights.
Inside, guests are greeted by dim candlelight, a windy staircase and a gentleman from Scotland.
Tony McMurtrie purchased the Civil War-era estate in Albion, NY when it was ready to be torn down. Restoring it to its former glory over the past decade, he’s carefully curated every detail — from the grandfather clocks to the silver.
“I don’t know where it comes from,” he explains. “I just like that time and that era.”
His love of antiques and a refined way of life hasn’t gone unnoticed. Cora Goyette moved to Albion from England and bonded with McMurtrie over their shared appreciation of European culture.
Today, she takes care of the 13,286-square-foot house as if it were her own, hosting tea parties and events in the grand ballroom.
But unlike McMurtrie, Goyette won’t stay at The Pillars alone. In fact, most of McMurtrie’s friends refuse to spend the night.
“A spirit really is within the house,” Goyette says without blinking an eye. “It’s quite serious.”
From mysterious footsteps to children’s voices and a piano that plays itself, strange happenings have been reported since McMurtrie started restoring the house.
Some believe he’s unlocked a haunted past, while others remain skeptical.
More than one billion people are living without shelter across the globe. New Story — a nonprofit building homes in the developing world — is reminded of this problem every day.
“We would go and look at where kids were being born into tents with mud and sewage that would rush through the dirt floor,” says New Story CEO Brett Hagler. “We learned that they couldn’t really sleep at night, and would get sick just [because of] where they are.”
When you consider the cost and time it takes to build homes, this problem isn’t just daunting — it’s insurmountable.
But 3D printing could be the silver bullet. ICON, a construction technologies company, designed a 3D printer to produce homes. A single-story home, with a total footprint measuring 600 to 800 square feet, can be printed in underserved communities in less than 24 hours.
The cost? Just $4,000.
“3D printing can deliver a house — and I mean fully deliver ready to move in — for about 30 percent less than conventional building,” explains Jason Ballard, ICON’s CEO and cofounder.
About a year ago, New Story and ICON partnered to print 100 homes in El Salvador. To test the technology, they printed a prototype in Austin, TX this March. It’s the first site-printed, permitted 3D-printed home in the U.S.
“One of our favorite things to hear about as we unveiled it was, ‘Holy cow, I would live in that house,’” Ballard recalls. “And that really made us feel like we had succeeded.”
The prototype shows off what the technology can do — like printing curved walls and a sloped roof as easily as straight lines. The Austin home was printed in 47 hours, with the machine at quarter speed. ICON expects homes to be printed in 11 to 12 hours at full speed.
The prototype was printed to last in a developing country, not just Texas. Made of concrete, it’s strong and cool enough to withstand extreme temperatures, hurricanes and even earthquakes. Bonus: Printing homes produces zero waste.
“We wanted to make this feel like the kind of house you could feel proud to live in,” Ballard adds. Knowing concrete can feel stark and uninviting, they planned the design to incorporate lots of natural light. The windows, roof and doors were added after the printing was complete.
While the homes in El Salvador will be similar in size to the prototype, each design will be custom. New Story hosts workshops in each country they serve, asking families what they want in their future homes.
“Unfortunately, they’re not used to being asked for their input and their opinions,” Hagler says. “But when it finally clicks that we not only care, but we’re actually going to implement what they say — it’s really beautiful to watch.”
Each home will have 1 to 2 bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, and a living room. The rest is up for debate.
“It’s about shelter, but it’s also about dignity, respect and ownership of your home,” Hagler adds.
If the printing goes well, more communities will follow.
“This really is a paradigm shift,” Ballard notes. “With this technology, we can imagine for the first time what it would be like to end homelessness as a lack of shelter.”
With bunk beds for the kids, a master bedroom for the adults and a rooftop deck for all, one family is redefining the term “on the go.”
The wheels on the bus go round and round — and then might stop for family dinner, if you’re Gabriel and Debbie Mayes.
It may not be the dream for every family, but it’s the one Debbie envisioned after seeing a video on Facebook a few years ago. It featured a couple who had converted a school bus and spent all their time on the open road, exploring the country.
“I immediately thought, ‘Hey, we can totally do this with our kids. Why not?’” she recalled. “And so I brought the idea to Gabriel. It took a while to convince him.”
“Definitely took a while,” Gabriel chimed in.
But the more the duo thought about the idea, the more it made sense. They felt disconnected as a family in a 5,000-square-foot home; downsizing would bring the family closer.
4,752 square feet closer, to be precise.
“We were talking about that disconnection in our marriage, in our family as a whole, and just thought if we’re gonna do anything adventurous, now would be the time,” Gabriel said. “We were looking to reconnect, to do something crazy exciting with our kids, and just to take life and flip it upside down.”
So they bought a school bus to live in.
The family of six — two adults, four kids — sought the help of an outside company when it came to finding the bus and designing the features.
Their priorities: separate sleeping areas for the kids and the adults (the master bedroom has a door that closes), space to entertain guests, and a kitchen with ample countertops. (They pulled that off by installing an under-the-counter fridge. It holds enough food for a week!)
“We even went and taped out the design on the floor so we could walk through and see,” Debbie said. “We did things like reduce the depth of the couch, reduce the depth of the [kids’] bunk beds. We knew aisle space would be way more important than them having that extra bed space. I was very intentional in designing all of the little areas to be functional. It’s down to the inches.”
Gabriel’s only ask: a rooftop deck.
“I just had this vision of taking the bus, backing it up against the lake, opening up the skylight out of my bedroom, going up to the roof deck, and then sitting in my chair and just chilling,” he said. “I just wanted this place where I’m secluded from the rest of the world and I’m overlooking just beautiful scenery.”
Buying and renovating the bus cost about $38,000 and took about five months. During that time, the family sold or donated much of what they owned and put the rest in storage. They hit the road in August 2017.
On their first trip, the road hit back.
“I remember the day that I got in the bus. We had spent the whole day packing. Last thing goes on, the kids get on, we close the door, and I put it in drive and our home starts moving. I can’t fully explain how exhilarating that feeling was,” Gabriel said.
“It was amazing but also did not go exactly how we had planned,” Debbie added. “We got 300 miles into the journey, and the bus broke down on the side of the road. It was like, ‘Wah-wah.’”
The school bus — which they affectionately call “the Skoolie” — picked a patch of desert land in Oklahoma to break down.
Turns out it was also a piece of private land.
“We fed the kids lunch and tried to figure out what the heck we were gonna do, and a random stranger pulls up after we’d been there for a few hours, and he was like, ‘You’re actually on my land.’” Debbie said. “But he had been a diesel mechanic.”
The stranger ended up building a part to get the bus moving. It’s been pretty much smooth sailing ever since, from the mountains of Wyoming to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.
Their biggest advice for others considering a home on wheels: Do the research. Find a builder or designer you can trust. In retrospect, they probably would’ve chosen a washer and dryer over installing a shower, but they have few other regrets.
And yes, of course, there are seat belts for all. The family designed the living space to hide the seat belts under the couch cushions when the bus is parked. The baby rides in a car seat. “They are able to buckle up safely,” Debbie said, about her kids. Anything that’s breakable gets packed away for when the bus moves.
“To be able to have everything that you own as a family of six inside 248 square feet, knowing everything that you own is where it’s supposed to be — the amount of stress and anxiety really goes out the window,” Gabriel said.
“Whenever you rid yourself of this desire to have things, it’s not that the desire goes away, it’s just that you just don’t have the space for it anymore,” he continued. “It causes you to start thinking on different levels. Now I just want to be intentional with my wife and be intentional with my kids. This massive weight is just gone.”
Eventually, the Mayes plan to park the bus and turn it into a short-term rental. They hope to find a forever home and allow others to explore their tiny home on wheels.
“The kids feel like they’re on this massive adventure. Whenever you pull up to a location that’s surrounded by mountains or there’s a new waterfall to go explore or some trail just to go run down, you put the bus in park, and you open the door,” Gabriel said. “Just to see their excitement … I’ve never experienced anything like that.”