After more than two years in construction and red tape, the shipping container home that David Boyle and his wife, Michele Bertomen, who is an architecture professor at New York Institute of Technology, have been building received its final certificate of occupancy from the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) on February 28, 2013.

Having purchased the 20-by-40-foot Williamsburg site in 2008 and discovering that their tiny house plan would cost as much as $500,000, they decided to buy shipping containers for $1500 each and set about designing a 1,600 square foot residence using three stacked containers that are connected by a stairwell. As the container home underwent construction, the project attracted the attention of real estate blog, Curbed. Soon after they ran a story, the DOB issued a stop-work order and tied up the construction with a myriad of restrictions.


Construction costs are estimated at about $300,000, not to mention the additional $100,000 in building loan interest associated with DOB delays, and includes sustainability features such as insulation with Super Therm and exterior paint that contains ceramic tiles to trap heat and block sun rays. Heated water runs through concrete flooring to provide radiant heat.

The couple plans to provide visiting musicians and scholars with temporary housing in the first floor guest room and run a non-profit out of the building to focus on Williamsburg’s quality-of-life issues.