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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Oregon is known for making strides in sustainability. But there is one local man who’s making recycling his full-time business by transforming old shipping containers into state-of-the-art homes.

Carl Coffman owns Relevant Buildings Company in Oregon City. His team takes old shipping containers, that would otherwise just sit and rust, and gives them a makeover.

By the time they’re done, they’re built to code, cheaper than a traditional home and are completely customizable. He also said shipping container homes are environmentally friendly.

“The difference between this and a regular house is a way of life. What do you want your footprint to look like?” Coffman said.

It doesn’t exactly look like home sweet home. So far, anyway.

But give Coffman and his team a little time and a lot of steel and he can turn a shipping container- into a dream home.

But don’t call this a tiny home.

“Oh, tiny homes! We try to differentiate ourselves. We say we're smaller homes, not tiny homes,” Coffman said.

This is 900 square feet of a hand-crafted custom home hidden between two giant hunks of metal.

“All of our homes are built to code, the same as your house or mine,” he said.

Coffman considers himself retired though he’s never been busier since he started this passion project.

“We built these offsite set them on a foundation in four days,” he said.

Building a business and homes with as little footprint as possible.

“If you think about the amount of lumber we use it's something about the size of a car. Compare that to a house, it's about the size of a garage.”

Each home a floor-to-ceiling example of what they call “elegant upcycling” giving new life to an old shipping container.

“They're steel, they last forever, they're made to put on ships and stack them seven high,” Coffman said.

Even the little touches he said makes a big difference.

“It's what we didn't use. We didn't cut down 14 trees to build this house," said Coffman.

Aside from environmental impact, Coffman said he thinks about the housing crisis with each home he builds, and he said he might have a solution.

“The first step is a single shipping container with windows. Bathroom, laundry, and we think we could build that cheap enough and stack it in urban environment," said Coffman.

That’s exactly what he’s doing with his latest project. Working with the City of St. Helens, Coffman is building an eight-unit apartment-like structure made completely of stacked shipping containers. He hopes it will offer a path to home ownership.

The different homes range in price, the most basic container home can cost about $45,000 and can go up into the $200,000 range if you want a larger home with multiple containers and all the bells and whistles.

“We add a lot of architectural elements to them, like the pop outs and the windows and the doors,” Coffman said.

Proving that with a little imagination one person’s old rusty metal can be another person’s real estate.

“We built something so durable it won't have to be replaced in 50 years. And that's the nature of what I’m more proud of,” said Coffman.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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