The Seattle-based home building company, ShelterKraft Werks, designs affordable homes that are configured around recycled shipping containers to provide solutions for global housing challenges with turn-key, low footprint structures that can be installed within any conceivable environment.

The brainchild of Kai Schwarz, ShelterKraft Werks is a blend of what he has learned about architecture, engineering, and construction in combination with his experiences with boats and sustainable living off the grid.


Cargo containers are made from around 8,000 pounds of corten, a steel alloy that is resistant to corrosion but expensive and difficult to recycle. Building structures from repurposed shipping containers reduces the use of lumber and other new materials while reducing industrial waste. The benefits of shipping container construction include strength (containers can be stacked up to eight high), disaster resistance, durability, affordability, flexibility, and mobility.

ShelterKraft Works offers four stock models of shipping container homes that allow for homeowners to select finishes, add a deck, change the roof design, and include other green building options. ShelterWerks can help to achieve sustainability goals with the incorporation of solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro-generated electric power, Energy Star and energy-efficient appliances, rainwater catchment and grey water reclamation systems, composting toilets, green roofs and rooftop garden installations, and eco-friendly building materials such as low-VOC paints and counter tops made of recycled fibers.

Fully-designed container houses are built in the ShelterKraft factory and delivered on site for final installation.

  • CargoCottage – With a base price of $35,000, the single-container 8’ x 20’ model is 160 square feet and includes a two-person sleeping nook, bathroom with shower, kitchen, and dining/living area.
  • CargoCabin – With a base price of $54,000, the single-container 8’ x 40’ model is 320 square feet and includes 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, and dining/living area.
  • Duet CargoCabin – With a base price of $59,000, this 320 square foot model uses two 8’ x 20’ containers to create a space with 1 bedroom, 1 bath, kitchen, and dining/living area.
  • CargoHaus – With a base price of $72,000, this 640 square foot model uses two 8’ x 40’ containers to create a space with a master suite, second bedroom, bathroom, and living/dining area.

In late April 2013, ShelterKraft Werks displayed its model container house, the CargoCottage, at the 2013 Northwest Green Home Tour. ShelterKraft also offers structures for backyard studios as well as structures for commercial and industrial applications.