Conversation develops around proposed shipping container home on lake shore

(Pictured: This shipping container home of 2,000-plus square-feet is similar to plans developed by custom home builder Jamie Sanchez for her shorefront property on Lake Gladewater. Following resistance from the Gladewater City Council, Sanchez says she’s shelved that vision for her lot, but she hopes local elected leaders won’t quash the shipping container home option in the community.)


Typically, Jamie Sanchez is excited to lay out the vision for a shorefront home on Lake Gladewater: nine shipping containers connected and stacked to craft an attractive floorplan of about 2,200 square-feet.
The custom home builder’s enthusiasm was dampened, though, when she learned local council members took a pre-emptive stance against her proposed lodgings for the lake. By the time Sanchez learned of looming new restrictions for ‘manufactured housing,’ she feared her objection would be too late: “I was dumbfounded, to be honest.”
City leaders tapped the brakes, however, and a dialogue’s taking shape. Sanchez is making new plans for her lot, but she does want to continue the conversation about container homes – there are plenty of places inside the city for them.
“This is the future,” she said. “It gives people a different opportunity.”
Council members almost adopted a ban in March but ultimately directed city staffers to flesh out new home-building restrictions for consideration a month later. During the council’s regular meeting April 18, Mayor Scott Owens noted the code changes were delayed for various reasons.
“We’ve had a couple of things this month,” he said, “so we’re going to put that off as far as considering that ordinance until next month’s meeting. This ordinance will draw from four different sections. It’s kind of complex.”
The pending rule change was poised to effect shipping container homes, manufactured housing and mobile homes throughout the community, and the topic was opened to public comment not long after Owens announced the postponement.
“The city council focus should be on bettering our community’s future,” said William Blackmon, frustrated since the proposed code change was first debated March 21. “The proposal of this is very discriminatory towards most of the community.
“There are several homes in the city that are in far worse conditions… How’s that not worse than a new modular home or a new pre-manufactured home?”
Sanchez was glad to have a chance to weigh in before the council took official action (“Mind you, I had two hours’ notice that anything was going down…”) and some of the elected officials reached out for more insights later. She’s eager to open minds, angling to make a presentation about shipping container homes at the May council session.
The owner and operator of Amelia Custom Homes understands (to a point, at least) knee-jerk opposition to the idea of a shipping container home, but she’s eager to outline the benefits.
“I think it was just the unknown,” Sanchez said later. “It’s just a different exterior; everything on the interior will be the same, up to code, as a standard home.”
At the very least, Sanchez is confident repurposed shipping containers are reliable for construction.
“It’s waterproof. It’s fireproof. It’s windproof,” and relatively low-cost at an average of $4,000 per container: “It’s a lot less expensive than mortar, cement, lumber. All that is crazy expensive right now.”
It’s also an ideal solution for the tricky topography of a lot like hers on Lake Gladewater.
“I build homes, so I know the process. It’s something you can really turn fast, it’s good on the pocket book, and it’s great for our environment,” she said. At an average of $4,000 per container, it’s an affordable option: “It’s a lot less expensive than mortar, cement, lumber. All that is crazy expensive right now. Right now, people can’t afford homes. Inflation’s killing everybody. “
Currently a Southlake resident, Sanchez aims to move to Gladewater in the next 12 to 18 months. She already owns 35 rental properties here.
“I plan to bring more business to Gladewater,” she said. “I would never want to bring anything that’s an eyesore to the lake. I’m not trying to make Gladewater look worse; I’m trying to make Gladewater better.”

– By James Draper

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