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The Beach Box Might Be 'Coming Soon To A Dune Near You' Says Developer

Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press
By Virginia Garrison   Dec 4, 2011 7:55 PM
Dec 6, 2011 8:23 AM

Fledging developer Andrew Anderson is challenging the idea of what a typical Hamptons beach house is, and the result is already turning a few heads.

“It was like Legos for adults,” Christopher Stewart, a real estate broker, said of seeing six steel cargo containers pieced together into a beach house in Amagansett one day in October. “It was an incredible process to watch.”

“It’s really cool,” said Mr. Anderson, who’s developing his first Beach Box, or Hamptons container house, between an A-frame and a high-ranch on a small lot on the Napeague stretch. “They come to the site and have this huge 75-ton crane lift the containers up and drop them into place.”

Late last week Mr. Anderson was visiting the beach house to see how finish work was getting on. He said he hopes the house will be a prototype for many to come, adding that this first one will hit the market in spring with a price tag somewhere “south” of $1.5 million, and with Mr. Stewart as the broker.

Shipping containers are designed to stack nine high and withstand heavy seas, and thus have great structural integrity, Mr. Anderson reported.

“Essentially a container has a 15- to 20-year life span, at which point they retire them,” Mr. Anderson said.

According to Mr. Anderson, after approximately 20 years, the containers are usually piled up at ports to be melted down. But a friend of his has founded a New York-based company called Safe Green Building Blocks that has been converting them, in-

stead, for an array of uses such as hurricane- and earthquake-resistant barracks, relief housing, hotels and—now, for what Mr. Anderson said he thinks is a first on the East Coast—luxury habitats.

“This gives you an opportunity to give these containers a second life,” he said of “upcycling” them into beach retreats. “You can build them to look like anything; I happen to be doing a very modern beach house,” he said.

“You’re only going to know the container where we want you to,” such as where the corrugated steel ceiling is intentionally left exposed throughout the second floor, Mr. Anderson said. A subtle bit of corrugated steel on a first-floor wall prepares those who enter for the ceiling expanse upstairs.

At about 2,000 square feet, the Beach Box house consists of four blocks on the bottom and two on top in an upside-down layout to take advantage of views of ocean, dunes and bay. There is lots of glass, including large sliding doors; and lots of decks, including one that wraps around three walls of the second floor.

The house boasts four bedrooms—all on the first floor, one with a walk-in closet—two and a half baths, a mud room, a fireplace, an outdoor shower and a saltwater pool. The exterior is clad in cypress and panel siding to be painted gray.

“We wanted it to fit into the community, wanted to make it look like the other houses in the community,” Mr. Anderson said.

Reusing shipping containers to build the house is just one way its carbon footprint has been reduced. Wood elements are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible forest management, and kitchen countertops are made of an eco-friendly, re-purposed paper composite the developer described as “incredibly durable.” Energy consumption will be almost halved, Mr. Anderson said, thanks to spray-foam insulation, a “tier-16” climate control system, LED illumination, a tankless hot water heater and a heat-reflecting roof membrane.

“This is the first of hopefully many to come,” he said of the house he said he hopes will be the first of six to go up in the next two years in the Hamptons. “They have a fairly limitless array of applications.”

A real estate broker in Manhattan who is starting a development career, Mr. Anderson has been negotiating to buy three lots—in neighborhoods from Amagansett to Montauk—for three more container houses. He said he plans to make them similar in style to the one on Napeague, which happens to be his personal preference.

But, he added, “You can make these look like anything,” he said; even incorporating the usual Hamptons cedar shingles and gambrel roofs.

“You’ll see me do a nice traditional house in East Hampton Village shortly,” he said of a future container house project. “Just to show everyone that we can do that style.”

Container houses not only are “three times stronger than anything,” he said, thus a pleasure for home insurers, but they are less wasteful and quicker to build than “a traditional stick building,” according to Mr. Anderson.

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I wonder how the carbon footprint of these houses compares with an ordinary wood framed building. Judging by the pictures, those steel containers need a lot of modification before they get used.

And what R-values are they getting out of them? How much insulation is there? What's the heating cost of a steel shipping container with interior insulation over a New York winter?

Is this really a sustainable building, or is it a design fad disguised as an eco-project?
By nutbeem (21), Westhampton on Dec 5, 11 5:38 PM
I've had my eye on this design for about five years, give or take.

The efficiency of these houses is equivalent to a modular, or better, as you can seal them tighter than a whales behind. Put this finished design up to a thermal imaging camera, and you will most likely be thoroughly impressed. The "prefab" style of design also has less environmental impact, as you aren't smelting these containers to recycle them, which would require fossil fuels.

All around, they exceed "stick ...more
By Mr. Z (6113), North Sea on Dec 5, 11 10:47 PM
How does 2000 sq ft equate to $15 million? Something seems wrong.
By EastEnd68 (817), Westhampton on Dec 6, 11 8:12 AM
It's actually under $1.5 million. We have corrected the mistake in the online version. Apologies for the confusion. Dawn Watson, Features Editor
By Dawn Watson (3), Assistant Editor on Dec 6, 11 12:47 PM
Affordability=sustainability. A basic tenet of creating affordable alternatives to standard construction is to make it affordable to the masses. Granted, this home is being built on some of the most expensive property in the world, but until these container homes are built in middle class neighborhoods (as they have been in other areas for years already) they are not a sustainable alternative.

By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Dec 6, 11 8:37 AM
Mr. Z, I am still doubtful. A thermal imaging camera will prove that the house doesn't leak air (and therefore heat), but unless the surface temperature readings are compared with the heat you are putting into the building, it tells you nothing about how much energy the house uses. So while it makes a case for sealing houses, it doesn't tell us that a shipping container has a good R-value.

Are these container designs getting the same level of insulation as a 2x6 'stick house'? Really? ...more
By nutbeem (21), Westhampton on Dec 6, 11 11:11 AM
Structural integrity is above, and beyond a wood structure. Read the article, which backs up my assertion. In addition, what "normal" homeowner will have 2x6 walls? 2x8 joists, or TJI perhaps, but "normal" middle class homes that aren't ostentatious, that is, in excess of 5,000 sq. ft. , are normally 2x4 walls.

Most "modification" involves a MIG welder, which uses argon, Sharpie markers, soapstone, and an oxy-acetylene torch, or plasma cutter. As mentioned above, the fossil fuels which ...more
By Mr. Z (6113), North Sea on Dec 6, 11 7:06 PM
An interesting concept. Particularly well suited to a hurricane prone region. I think it's safe to say they won't rack under 100mph winds.

This type of construction would have to meet the same codes as any other home, so I don't see how they could be any less efficient. From the photos I see spray insulation, which is better at keeping drafts out than the pink stuff most homes use.

What would worry me is the things that haven't been realized yet. Did one of these containers ...more
By diy_guy (80), Southampton on Dec 6, 11 7:13 PM
I don't buy it. The developer's website has no thermal performance data, and no account of the whole-lifecycle energy use. As a whole, this is a great idea (although not new), great design (if you like modern design), and I'm glad someone is building smaller houses.

But I'm taking the environmental claims with a pinch of salt until they can document them.
By nutbeem (21), Westhampton on Dec 7, 11 9:27 AM
Would you think differently about energy efficiency if you knew this was not a home meant to be used 12 months a year?
By Hambone (377), New York on Dec 7, 11 1:37 PM
It makes a difference that the house would be occupied only seasonally or on weekends. But energy consumption by the building is only half the picture. The developer doesn't make this distinction, and he makes a lot of expansive claims about efficiency, energy use, lack of waste, etc that simply aren't documented.

I wish him the best, but nobody should take him at his word with these claims until he can document them. Mr. Z is right to encourage us to look into these ideas, but until ...more
By nutbeem (21), Westhampton on Dec 8, 11 5:06 PM
Using this logic, it would be a good idea to use recycled dumpsters to house sex offenders
By Born Here (26), HB on Dec 7, 11 5:25 PM
3 members liked this comment
If it looks like everything else in the neighborhood then what's the point?
$1,000,000 for three $2500 containers? WOW. Nothing ever changes in Amagansett. Bummer.
By Dr. No (1), aquebogue on Dec 10, 11 8:41 AM
1 member liked this comment
The country was founded on resourceful groups of people coming up with an idea and if consumers find the product useful and valuable, they will pay what they deem a fair price for the new idea. The problem with this is that it is speculation. And the problem with this speculation is that because it is lame so-called house made out of garbage, when nobody is willing to pay the asking price, we are left with an empty house made of garbage on some very pretty real estate. And if someone moves into ...more
Dec 11, 11 7:21 AM appended by Brelane
not as clever as you think. it's entrepreneurship or consumerism, depending on your level of motivation. thanks for letting us know what side of the creative movement you're on.
By Brelane (16), Southampton on Dec 11, 11 7:21 AM
This country was founded on consumerism? You must be reading those Texas text books
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 11, 11 10:23 AM
1 member liked this comment
"And to the entrepeneurship for which it stands . . ."
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Dec 13, 11 8:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
So the containers have a life span of 15 to 20 years. What is the problem with them after that time? It is a great idea to recycle but the pricetag is nothing to make me interested. If this is so great, why are those containers not used to bring homes to areas who really need them like after twisters or hurricanes or earthquakes???
By belqassim (3), Southampton on Dec 11, 11 3:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
I could use 1 or 2 in my back yard. clean up that sanford and son look i got goin on!
By ratboy (17), sousd-hampton on Dec 15, 11 11:02 AM
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