Homeowner Wants to Build a Home From Shipping Containers in Fishers • Current Edition

A unique house offered in the Village Center district is unlike any other in the Cité des Pêcheurs. But the road to approval was strewn with pitfalls.

A proposal for a shipping container home, a home made from recycled materials that were once used to transport goods, was first presented to the Nickel Plate Review Board on July 23 on behalf of the builder by Ross Hilleary, deputy director of city planning and zoning. . The proposal was tabled after the committee recommended that less steel be used in construction. The proposal was brought up again at the August 24 meeting, but the project was again tabled for consideration despite the petitioner – Joe Nixon, owner of Joe Nixon Properties – making the changes recommended by the committee.

Nixon has since worked with city planning and zoning staff and hopes the container home will be approved at the next Nickel Plate Review Committee meeting on September 28.

If approved, Nixon said he plans to turn the container house into an Airbnb to rent to visitors.

A map showing the location of the house on Lantern Rd. (Source: Hamilton County GIS)

Custom Container Builders, the company Nixon hired to build the container home, has requested site design, architectural, and variance approvals for a 2,260-square-foot home to be built at 11405 Lantern Rd. using reused shipping containers. One of the area’s first shipping container homes was built in a northern Indianapolis neighborhood. The $5 million project used 32 shipping containers to build a three-story multi-storey house.

However, when first presented to the nickel plate review committee, committee members expressed concern over the amount of steel proposed and requested that more wood cladding be added. . Originally, planning and zoning staff recommended that the amount of steel used in the house be reduced from 72% to 40%.

After the July 23 meeting, Nixon met with City of Fishers planning and zoning staff to make changes to his draft rendering of the building. He added more wood siding to the render and reduced the amount of steel on the exterior and addressed other issues recommended by the committee, but the request was again denied at the August 24 meeting, where the city had more aesthetic concerns and wondered if it fit. the vision of the Village Center and the Nickel Plate District.

Committee member Selina Stoller, who also sits on Fishers City Council, said she presented the idea for the container home to Fishers City Council, who raised their own concerns about how it s would fit into the larger vision of the city.

“That’s not the vision we have for Village Center. Metal is basically used as an accent and I agree with the staff that a waiver like this would be unprecedented in this area, and I don’t think that’s a good avenue for this committee to go down and do a waiver of such magnitude given such materials,” Stoller said at the Aug. 24 meeting.

Stoller recommended that Nixon continue to work with the staff and bring the proposal back to committee. She also requested a meeting with Councilman Pete Peterson and the builder to discuss the Village Center vision.

Later, when contacted by Current, Stoller said she thought the project would fit in with the character of the village center with the other unique housing in the neighborhood.

Megane Vukusich, director of planning and zoning, agreed.

Overall, the use and form of the structure (to) align with the vision for the center of the village,” Vukusich said. “We are working with the petitioner to ensure that the building materials and general architecture are in accordance with the Nickel Plate Code and the character of the area. The petitioner is expected to submit revisions in the coming weeks which will then be placed on the agenda for the next Nickel Plate Review Committee meeting. »

Committee member Rich Block asked about the longevity of the shipping container house, saying the steel material usually only has a lifespan of 25 years. Custom Container Builders petitioner Mike Lewis said that if typical ocean-going shipping containers have a limited lifespan, the house would not have such problems.

Nixon said he saw similar homes by Custom Container Builders in a local newspaper article a year ago and immediately had the idea of ​​bringing the single shipping container back to Fishers.

Nixon said he believed the house, which is on property only 29 by 82 feet, or 1/18th of an acre, would be a good use of space, which he says could not accommodate a traditional home due to the compact size and power lines running through the property. His solution with the container house is to make the house narrower as it goes up, so there will be three shipping containers wide at the base and two at the top two floors.

Nixon noted that while the price to build the house has not been determined, it could cost more than a similarly sized traditional house.

“I could build a regular 2,000 square foot house with fiber cement siding on that lot for a lot less money than I put into the proposed project. It wouldn’t generate much interest or add much to the area, but it would quickly get architectural approval,” Nixon said. “Instead, I try to go beyond and build something really beautiful, unique and dynamic.”

Nixon said he thought the house was in keeping with the style of Village Center and shared commonalities with other houses in the area, the only difference being the material it would be made of.

“I think it’s kind of the ideal project. It’s something that shares characteristics with others (houses in the neighborhood), but it’s also unique in its own way,” Nixon said.

Nixon said he hoped the project would be approved at the next meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. on September 28.

Rendering of the proposed shipping container house. (Photo provided by Joe Nixon)

Community reviews

Some members of the fishing community have expressed differing opinions on online container houses. Some said they didn’t think the house would last very long or withstand the Indiana climate.

Additionally, Henok Cronin, a Fishers resident, expressed concern about toxins in shipping containers impacting the environment.

“Another important thing to consider is the carbon footprint of the container home,” Cronin said. “Steel construction is not as environmentally friendly as wood.”

Other residents, however, said they supported the idea of ​​the single house and applauded the fact that it would be built with recycled materials.

Fishers resident Carly Vanarsdall said shipping containers are more common in West Coast towns and would be a good addition to Fishers.

“I think it’s cool and a great way to reuse material,” Vanarsdall said. “(The house) has its own style, of course, but it’s recycling and awareness of our earth footprint.”

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