Robert Wagoner had a big idea to build tiny homes. Out of shipping containers.
It’s working out so far.
Late last month, Wagoner sat inside the tiny home he built and brought to show at the Wichita Home Remodeling & Decorating Expo at Century II.
Wagoner answered questions, some humorously intended, from a steady line of customers who walked thorough his tiny home. His Kansas City, Mo.-based company had decorated and spruced it up sumptuously.
Some of his visitors had evidently been places.
“This home is $2 million in New York City,” one visitor said.
“This would be a luxury-sized castle in Tokyo,” said another.
“This is a big kitchen for such a tiny home,” one impressed woman remarked.
All this started from one day when he thought about turning a shipping container into a cabin getaway for himself and his family. “And we just kind of went from there.”
He and the Kansas City-based company he founded a little more than a year ago, Custom Container Living, have sold 10 shipping containers re-purposed as homes.
They buy the containers, then make them nice, with paneling, tile, good lighting, several windows and more.
It’s a self-contained dwelling, including a bedroom, a small living room, a kitchen, a 5-by-8-foot bathroom and a loft (adults and most children can climb a small stairway/ladder, then crawl into a bed inches below the ceiling).
The washing machine and dryer are inset under the small stairs leading to the loft.
Wagoner’s company buys used steel shipping containers for $2,000 to $3,000 and turns them into decorated homes he then sells for $40,000 to more than $60,000, depending on what’s in them. The home he brought to Wichita is 40 feet long, 9 feet wide, and would retail for about $64,000, he said.
“We’ve sold to both young people and to older retired people,” he said. “The retired people seem more inclined to live in them, and the younger people are more likely to use them as lake houses or weekend getaway homes.”
Sam Startzman drove in from Pratt, Kan., with his wife to look over the tiny home; his wife wanted a long look at it, he said.
Startzman looked over the exterior and interior with a practiced eye; he works for Home Lumber & Supply in Pratt, so he’s familiar with home-building. What he saw impressed him.
“You’ve got a nice, usable kitchen, a workable bathroom – a nice setup,” he said. The interior seems roomy, he said.
“I’ve seen these homes on TV, but you can’t tell how big they really are,” he said. “This one has a nice bit of space.”
With the economy sluggish, and with the oil and gas industry struggling in Kansas, a small dwelling like this is not a bad idea, he said.
Outside, a minute later, a tiny girl ran up to the entry door excitedly, and stepped in.
She could not have been more than 2 feet tall.
Her mom, watching her, said, “It’s just her size.”