Beautiful 3000 sqft 5 Bedroom Shipping Containers Home, Denver, Colorado

We really wanted to build something unique and creative but more importantly, we wanted to build a space that was designed to host gatherings as community and connection with friends and family is very important to us - Regan and Libby Foster, owners and general contractors.

Construction Process
Contact Info
About BlueSky Studio

Architecture Joe Simmons, BlueSky Studio
Owners and general contractorsRegan and Libby Foster
Bedrooms 5
Bathrooms 3.5
Area 3000 sq ft
Containers 9
Location Denver, Colorado

Making a house out of shipping containers sounds easy enough: Just snap up a few neglected boxes from a local junk dealer, rack ’em and stack ’em, and create a bit of old-school prefab magic.

But recycling the detritus of global shipping has its complications. Like how to turn corrugated steel boxes that measure an awkward eight feet wide and 40 feet long into something cozy enough to call home. Or how to keep their metal floors from vibrating when you walk on them, or prevent the chemicals they are treated with from being released into the air. Or, perhaps most important, how to assemble it all so it doesn’t look like you live in the storage yard of the local port authority.

Luckily, Regan Foster likes a challenge. He’s an extreme DIYer and, until recently, a firefighter, the kind of guy who is used to working 24-hour shifts and given to starting his day with a plunge into an outdoor ice bath. The house he designed and built with his wife, Libby, located just outside the Denver city line in Adams County, harnesses nine shipping containers into a 3,000-square-foot structure that’s meant to be shared with friends and neighbors. "We believe community and family are a strong part of living a life well-spent," Regan says.

In all, the house has five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms, and an in-law suite with a separate entrance where Libby’s mother lives. Four of the containers are placed on the ground—side-by-side in pairs set 24 feet apart—to form the first floor. Another four are stacked above them, some shifted forward, to create a cantilevered second story. The ninth container sits perpendicular at the back of the second level to form a U-shape. The house is enclosed in front with a conventionally framed wall and on top with a flat roof supported by exposed joists.

In the voluminous great room, the ceiling rises to 25 feet. The space feels even larger thanks to a sliding glass wall that connects it to the back patio, which Regan outfitted with a grill, a prep countertop, and benches he built using chunks of concrete slab saved from the demolition of a small house that formerly stood on the lot.

Regan acted as general contractor and consulted with architect Joe Simmons of BlueSky Studio on the design. "When we first met, he gave me a diagram," says Simmons. "He pretty much had it all figured out." In fact, after the project ended and Regan earned his GC license, he retired from the fire department to pursue opportunities in real estate and construction. (The family also rents the house on Airbnb from time to time.)

Together, the pair solved structural questions. Although shipping containers stack easily and some can handle loads of more than of 50,000 pounds, Regan and Simmons had to reinforce theirs in places where they cut out windows and doors. They also reduced vibrations along the length of the containers by welding additional steel plates to the C-channel base structure to make them more rigid.

Regan, whose resumé includes furniture maker, did much of the interior himself. He laid the floors in hallways using various materials, including recycled barn wood and boards he fashioned from a catalpa tree a friend cut down. He turned a walnut slab into a sliding door and built a set of stairs from parallel strand lumber that leads to a cantilevered walkway that runs the length of the second floor.

To avoid any eventual off-gassing from the treated wood floors that came with the containers, Regan replaced them with stained, sealed plywood finish flooring and installed a heating system beneath.

But he was careful not to ruin the industrial charm of the containers. The inside faces of the exterior walls are layered with insulation and drywall, but many of the interior walls and ceilings remain exposed, with the painted, corrugated metal showing the inevitable minor dents accrued during the boxes’ previous lives.

The house and yard are regularly the site of social gatherings, and the Fosters recently hosted an event for CrossPurpose, a nonprofit that supports career training for those in need.

"Every day a voice in my head says, ‘You have one life to live, how are you going to live it?’" Regan explains. "So this house is just another stepping stone in a life full of curiosity and adventure."

Description from Airbnb

Our custom shipping container home is 3000 sqft. It's full of light & it has a large, custom kitchen. It has a unique atmosphere, comfort & privacy while sleeping many people. It has 25 ft ceilings in the great room, it feels grand and cozy! The location really is centrally located, there's so many things to do! We are near many shops, restaurants & parks, downtown and the mountains! We're a quick drive to the airport!

Good for couples, business travelers, families (with kids), & big groups.

The space

Our space is 3000 sqft of custom built goodness!! We have 3 bedrooms upstairs and 2 bedrooms downstairs. There are 2 full bathrooms upstairs and 1.5 baths downstairs. Our kitchen is amazing and so fun to cook in! There are 2 living areas, one with access to the screen projector and Netflix! There is a large front porch and back patio! There is also a private balcony off of the master bedroom!
There is a separate, ATTACHED apartment, that is OCCUPIED (which is why we do not allow parties!). We also require quiet hours from 10p-7a. This does not mean silent hours, just quiet. And we are strict on this.

Guest access

There is a separate, ATTACHED apartment, that is OCCUPIED (which is why we do not allow parties!). It has a separate entrance and access from within the main house. The door does remain locked, if this space is unrented. The garage off of the house is also prohibited. Otherwise, the house is yours! You'll enjoy the space!

Other things to note

While we have a great screen projector that can be used to watch DVD's and Netflix, we do not have a TV or cable. We have an Apple TV too.

Description from Denver Post

For the past year, residents around Zuni Park in northwest Denver have watched a curious building go up, something that looks like it should be sitting in a railroad yard or on the deck of a freighter, rather than a half-acre lot.

The structure is a house, but a unique one.

Is is made of nine steel shipping containers, cut and stacked into a two-story, 4,000-square-foot home with seven bedrooms, five baths and a spacious living room with a vaulted 25-foot ceiling. Yes, there is a dream kitchen, too.

The house is the brainchild of Regan and Libby Foster. He is a firefighter with the Aurora Fire Department; she is trained as a veterinary technician.

“I’d always been curious about building something like this,” Regan said as he gave a trio of visitors a tour of the home. “I like things with an industrial look and like to push boundaries and try new things.

“I tried to dream up a new and creative way to build a house and this is what we came up with,” he said. “I liked the idea of building a house out of recycled materials.”

The Fosters considered techniques such as rammed earth and straw bale construction, but began pondering shipping containers upon witnessing their success in commercial ventures such as Work & Class restaurant in RiNo.

They found the nine containers in a single lot in Brighton, then brokered a deal with the Florida company that owned them. The containers are eight feet wide, 40 feet long and 9½ feet tall. They weigh 8,500 pounds apiece and cost $2,200 a pop.

With the assistance of an architect and structural engineer, plus a few subcontractors, the house got assembled. Windows and doorways were carved on site — this is probably the only home in metro Denver where oxy-acetylene torches played as prominent a role as framing hammers.

A crane was brought in to stack the containers after they were prepped, with fascinated Adams County building inspectors signing off on things as construction moved along.

The Fosters moved in five weeks ago. Given that the lot is unlandscaped dirt, and that some features, such as ground-level and upstairs patios, remain underway, neighbors still show up to gawk. “We’ll have people walk up on the weekend and peek through the windows while we’re sitting there in our pajamas,” Regan said.

The Fosters figure they sank $500,000 into the project. They invested quite a bit of sweat equity, too: Regan is an accomplished carpenter and furniture builder, which he does as a sideline to firefighting via Foster Design, his small company.

“Regan is a veritable renaissance man,” said Joseph Simmons, the architect and principal with BlueSky Studio who teamed with the Fosters and structural engineer Jeff Chacon. “Regan approached me with a basic concept of what he wanted and together in a highly collaborative process, we put the magic to it.

“It is quite a remarkable house.”

The magic includes the front door. It was fabricated from one of the shipping container doors, and the locking rods remain on. So does a metal panel that identifies it as a built by Kwangchow Shipping Container Factory in China.

The Fosters share the house with four other people: Another young couple and their child who rent rooms from them, and Libby’s mother, Vicki, who has an upstairs suite of her own that she accesses via a catwalk covered with panels sawed from a large catalpa tree.

She sold her house to help front her daughter and son-in-law when Regan spotted the property, walked up and asked if the owner would sell. A deal was cut and the Fosters, who lived nearby, razed the existing 700-square-foot house to build theirs. Ground was broken in March 2015. “We knew we wanted more space but wanted to stay in Denver,” Libby said. “We love this spot.”

The Fosters hope to have another member of the house at some point. After discovering they could not have children of their own, they are pursuing adoption. Any new addition will also have built-in companions with the Fosters dogs, Lola and Niña.

Regan and Libby are big on entertaining.

Both are serious cooks, and their kitchen is anchored by side-by-side Wolf ovens topped with six gas burners and a steel flattop. Regan fabricated the metal kitchen hood. There is a Sub-Zero refrigerator and Asko dishwasher, and the Fosters saved money by scouring for bargains at scratch-and-dent outlets.

“We lucked out for sure,” Libby said of the deals they scored.

Kitchen shelving came from reclaimed hickory, and a stretch of countertop was made from scrap copper. Kitchen flooring was reclaimed from wooden floorboarding taken from tractor-trailers. The sink is set into a dark soapstone counter.

The house is airy, with soaring south windows that help heat the house during the winter. Heated water from an 80-gallon water tank and boiler circulates beneath the floors. Although large expanses of the corrugated steel paneling from the shipping containers remains exposed — albeit now painted — much of the living space is traditionally framed and sheetrocked walls are filled with insulation.

Their utility bill for February and March? A wallet-friendly $130.

The Fosters can’t wait for warm weather. They are looking forward to spending time on their rooftop patio, which affords a 360-degree vista, including views of the Flatirons to the west and Denver International Airport to the east.

“We really built this house to entertain,” Regan said.

He pointed to the dining room table and its six chairs, one of the first pieces of furniture he made.

“One of the things I need to do is build a bigger table.”

5 Bedroom Shipping Containers Home Construction Process

Time to play in the mud! We did a crawl space where the Containers sit and slab on grade for the living room.

We set the containers in our back yard in two different stages because they couldn’t all fit. Cutting the walls was very exciting as you could visualize the space you were creating! Probably the worst part of the job was tearing out all the floors. We wanted to keep them because they had so much character but we researched mixed reviews on toxin levels from being treated in China. We have a two year old and it didn’t seem worth it.

We decided to sand blast the containers because they had some rust and we didn’t want to deal with repainting anytime soon. It was a bit of a mess but it made them look so much better!

My absolute favorite part of the whole process was getting the crane out and lifting the containers in place. It’s the first time you get to feel the house coming together. So much adrenaline!!! We only had enough space to fabricate half of the containers in the back yard. So the first round we set 5 containers and then brought in 4 more to fabricate.

First 5 containers are set. We are ready to bring in the next four for the second floor.

Getting all nine containers in place really helped us feel like our vision was coming to fruition!

Next we needed to weld all the boxes together, finish installing window cases, install windows and enjoy beautiful sunsets!

We wanted the containers exposed as much as possible on the inside so we built a roof on top so all the ceilings inside are the steel from the containers. Window installation as well.

We ordered open web joists for the great room as we love the industrial look. Time to sand and stain!

Hoisting up the two steel posts for our south facing glass wall. The clouds were amazing this day! We are so grateful to live in such an incredible place.

Time to hoist up the joist for the roof in the main living room. Luckily they are pretty light to walk up a ladder. Days like these where you see big progress brought such a high that pushes me on to the next steps.

Started decking the roof. The views are incredible up here! We structurally design it for a roof top patio but have not yet built that out. We painted the bottom of the plywood as it is the finish material for the ceiling inside. We will than build another frame on top for insulation so we can keep the open web joists exposes.

I-Beams and more I-beams! So sexy!!! We calculated over 100,000 lbs of steel in our house. Can’t get enough!


Contact Info

Address5200 Wyandot St, Denver, CO 80221, USA
Phone+1 303-888-8552

About BlueSky Studio

BlueSky Studio is a creative enterprise dedicated to providing architectural services to a variety of clients and users. Our work has centered on the urban environment of cities. From high-density residential towers and loft conversions to creative work environments and historic restorations, we are committed to the health of cities. We have a staff of enthusiastic, highly creative and devoted architects passionately engaged in making the dreams of our clients become reality.

Founded in 1984 by its principal, Joseph E. Simmons, BlueSky Studio has built a reputation by becoming an integral part of the restoration and renovation of lower downtown buildings into living space and retail environments. With over 25 renovations and restoration projects credited to our portfolio, we have the expertise that allows us to successfully negotiate the conflicting demands of any program, from schedule and budget requirements, to the provisions of Neighborhood, Building, Fire and Preservation Codes. We are on the Colorado Historical Society’s list of recommended Preservation Architects and have worked with and served on Design Review Boards. So we understand the goals and needs of both sides.

Our firm is famous not only for Historic Preservation but also for our substantial work in multi family housing. We have two prominent residential buildings in Denver’s redeveloped Golden Triangle, with luxury suites that look out over the gorgeous views of Colorado’s famous Rocky Mountains. Other residential projects can be pointed out just by taking a simple walking tour of the downtown metro area. We have mastered the mixing of high density living with comfort and style. We design quality with our quantity.

BlueSky Studio does not stop there, having completed projects ranging from simple retail spaces, to large commercial buildings. We have worked in several states and for clients such as Federal Express, The City of Golden’s Waste Tech Services, and Regis College.

We are a tight-knit and hard-working studio of 12 dedicated men and women who possess both the vision and experience to help any client realize the goals of his or her project as well as provide a professional and pleasant working environment. Joe Simmons, as “Principal-in-Charge”, is the design leader on all projects and keeps active in all aspects of the project until well after compellation. BlueSky Studio offers not only this personalized service but passes along the benefits of years of experience with the Denver Building Department, area contractors and subcontractors. For work to be successful, one must build good relationships with all parties involved in a project.

BlueSky Studio is the cool oasis in the urban desert – a creative environment for Architecture. Comprised of imaginative people who truly enjoy what they do, this office chooses to distinguish its self with inventive solutions for everyday design problems that lead to extraordinary building results.

Address1553 Platte Street, Suite 205, Denver, CO 80202


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Beautiful 3000 sqft 5 Bedroom Shipping Containers Home, Denver, Colorado