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Wood River Valley Leaders Tour New Shipping Container Homes

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Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio
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IndieDwell site manager Brian Andersen stands in front of the company's new units made out of five shipping containers in Bellevue.

From dorms to multi-family housing units, property owners are turning to new ways to build more cost-effective housing. IndieDwell, a Boise-based company which has built affordable houses using shipping containers in the Treasure Valley, is now finishing up its first site in the Wood River Valley.

 

The project includes a single family home in Bellevue made out of three 40-foot-long shipping containers, which sits beside a smaller unit made out of two. 

IndieDwell site manager Brian Andersen led government leaders from Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum and Blaine County on a tour of the property this week. 

Diane Shay, Bellevue’s community development director, said valley planning officials see the model as an opportunity for creating more affordable housing. 

“It’s a good housing product, and I think it’s going to fill a need for our community," Shay said. "Not just Bellevue, but the whole valley. There’s a real issue with a lack of housing."

Chris Blanchard, the sales and marketing manager for indieDwell, wrote in an email that the company is looking to the state's resort areas.

"We see [the units] as being an important step in providing workforce housing," Blanchard said. That might be through accessory dwelling units like the one in Bellevue or multi-family homes, which are currently being constructed in McCall out of containers stacked on top of one another.

Abby Rivin works for the Planning and Building Department in Ketchum, where housing costs are higher than in Bellevue. She went on the tour, and said one benefit the modules provide is how quickly they are built. 

“Our construction seasons are so limited because of our weather here that any opportunity to decrease your timeline for construction is helpful," Riven said.

The IndieDwell units are produced in a factory in Caldwell, and it takes about one day per container to construct the units, though the company has a several-month-long backlog.

The low cost of construction -- around $150 per square foot -- makes these units attractive, but it does not take land prices into account, which is one factor that makes building affordable housing in the Wood River Valley difficult.

Shay from Bellevue said she’s not sure how the accessory dwelling unit on this property will be used — whether it will be rented or saved for family members, for example. Valley residents have increasingly expressed interest in renting out secondary units, and the shipping container homes could be used for this purpose. In fact, the city of Hailey is beginning a process in February to consider permitting accessory dwelling units in all residential zones, as some areas don't currently allow them.

 

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

 

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