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Three 40-foot steel shipping containers are soon to become home sweet home for Englewood couple Kathryn and William Birkholz.

The couple, recent transplants from Pennsylvania who have been vacationing here for several years, purchased the used shipping containers for about $2,500 a piece from a Bradenton seller and set them down last week on a foundation on their residential lot at 623 Spruce St. They plan to spend an estimated $30,000 joining them together, adding insulation in the walls and ceiling, creating interior walls and installing windows. They’ll also apply a white therma-coat layer on the exterior roof to deflect sunlight—basically so they won’t bake.

The shipping containers, two red and one blue and each nine feet tall, combined have a little under 1,000 square feet, “plenty of room for the two of us and our two dogs,” says Kathryn Birkholz.  

Kathryn Birkholz says that even though the shipping-container home is a first for Sarasota County, the permitting process was not arduous, especially after they found an engineer who researched the subject and wrote a letter to the county saying the containers can withstand hurricane-force winds. And neighbors have not complained. “I’m hoping they’ve seen enough [of these projects] on television,” says Kathryn. In fact, she says she and her husband were scheduled to be on HGTV’s Container Homes show, until the show was not picked up for season two.

The Birkholzes hope to go into business converting shipping containers into homes for other interested people. “We’re hoping to spark interest in recycling these containers into low-cost homes, shops, restaurants, bars, storage, whatever,” says Kathryn. “We've gone through permitting in Sarasota County, so we're able to help people with that.”

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