Fox Residence

Rendering by Gretel Castillo & Lance Moore

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Client – Tom Fox

Client/Program Information – The Fox Residence will be our first shipping container architecture project, and hopefully, not our last. Tom Fox is a long-time client. I have worked with Tom on personal and commercial projects for many years. I bought my first house through Tom. Tom came to me with the shipping container idea and a number of specific requests; a very energy efficient and low-impact home, a house that can accommodate room mates yet provide him privacy, a house that provides a large amount of storage space, a house that can be closed up while he travels or during one of our infamous Florida storms.

Design Solution – The Fox Residence is an alternative housing solution. It is constructed using Inter-modal Steel Building Units (ISBUs), commonly known as shipping containers. What we came up with is a configuration of nine 40′ high cube containers and one 20′ high cube container. The 40-footers are arranged in a three story bank of two and a three story stack one container wide, with a four foot gap in between. The gap contains vertical circulation and space for routing building systems. This creates a home with 2450 square feet of conditioned space on top of a 1200 square foot garage and workshop. The construction rests on a continuous perimeter grade beam with a few pad footings. In order to create open space in the plan a significant amount of container wall panel had to be removed. Structural steel has been designed and added to carry loads. The container doors remain in place and operable. We designed a two story screened porch and balconies that provide outdoor space on the south facade. The balconies are retractable, folding away and allowing the doors to be swung shut as needed.

The containers will not receive any additional exterior cladding. The expression of their unitized construction is expressed honestly in each elevation. However, a south-facing screened porch, balconies and entrance stair create an appealing street front for SW 6th Place, and a green wall system, planted with flowering vines will cover the east-facing facade along SW 5th Terrace. Together with the existing pecan tree, this street front will be like a three-dimensional garden. An 8kw solar array will share the roof top with a green roof system.

Exploded View by Lance Moore /Gretel Castillo


entry stair and porch – 1
steel reinforcement – 2
green wall – 3
circulation and utility gap- 4
solar trees – 5

The project is on track for LEED for Homes Platinum Certification and FGBC Certification.

Project Team

Architect and LEED Administrator
Stephen D. Bender, AR94748
Structural Engineer
Gregory S. Wayland, P.E.
Wayland Structural Engineering
LEED Green Rater and Energy Consultant
Mary Alford, P.E. #68187, LEED AP
The Sustainable Design Group, LLC
mary.alford ”at”
FGBC Certifiying Agent
Michael Amish, LEED GA
Direct- 352.328.7721
michaelamish “at”
Tom Fox, Owner-Builder with
Ben Bressack
BB Hammerers Inc.
CBC 1254269
beenbenbress “at”
Permitted in a most amazing fashion in the City of Gainesville.Thank you Doug Murdock and staff!

45 thoughts on “Fox Residence

    • Yes, An open house will be arranged for anyone or group that wants to see the house.
      stacking of containers will happen in the next few weeks.
      Tom Fox

      • Hi Tom, my name is Les Schee In Ocala. I just found your home on the internet and would love to come see it. I built a 5 container home in Boquete Panama for vacation and retirement. Let me know if I could come take a look 352-462-1748

      • Tom, your home is an inspiration to my family. We plan on building a home out of shipping containers just outside of Austin, TX. I would love to discuss your home with you in more detail and possibly arrange a visit if possibly. Im sure you get loads of people inquiring, but we are very interested, devoted and need direction.

  1. Hi Tom,

    I spoke with you a couple months ago about your house. I was just walking by and Mr. Kesl told me about this site.

    I own the property just east of your lot and live at 526 SW 6th Place. Your house looks very neat. Look forward to watching the progress and I can’t wait to see the inside once it’s done.

    You plan on living there, correct?


    • Ryan,
      I am going to live in the home and homestead it. I was just granted the Feed-in-tariff from GRU for Solar panels. This home will produce more power than it uses and is going to be one of the most if not the most energy efficient home in the county.
      Tom Fox

  2. Tom Fox-

    Wow – What a great concept – very modular and expandable/adaptable. How are you tieing the containers together? Are you using “twistlocks” (inter box coonnectors)to lock the boxes to the footer and/or each other?

    Michael Johnson

    • Michael,
      We are welding the entire structure together and to the foundation. We just finished the foundation and added steel plates anchored in the concrete. We are using specifically measured steel plates that do interlock every container. Shipping Containers also have a interlocking corners to stack easily on a cargo ship. As you can imagine the forces they encounter at sea relying on these interlocking corner joints. We will keep the already installed joints and use them. We are planning on adding more steel support inside and cut out interior spaces to create larger rooms. We designed the cutouts to still keep the structural integrity of the containers.

      Shipping Containers are designed to the specifications that they can withstand 15years of 60mph wind at sea continuously. These things are tough.
      Tom Fox

    • Michael,
      I just got back from the container yard yesterday. The specific interlocking twists locks you mentioned came up in conversation. The yard manager mentioned that they can be unreliable and he has seen them break. We never intended to use them.
      Tom Fox

  3. Hello Everyone,
    TV20 did a story on the house. We asked them to wait until I was in town from visiting my family, but they simply did not care about what I wanted.(they quoted me without even talking to me) I just want to state that the color of my home will not be the gray that was on the computer rendering as shown on TV20. Maybe I will have to give the new GNTV an exclusive when the home is done.
    thanks for your interest.
    Tom Fox

    • Dave we have alot of light. We have 8 sliding glass doors worth of indirect light. We have an interior porch that will be on the west side. windows have been recently installed on the north and south. the entire south side will be able to be opened up to have a entire glass wall on second and third floors.

  4. Above it states that “the containers will not receive any extra exterior cladding.” I have worked in or around the trucking industry for a number of years and a major issue with containers is how hot the insides get in the direct sun. With the intensity of the Florida sun and a metal box, what method(s) did you use to reduce the heat gain from the sides/top of the metal boxes?

    Ps. Thank you for doing something different architecturally in Gainesville.

    • Dereck,
      We are going to use a lot of insulation. Spray foam open cell. We are basically building a Ice cooler. If you can imagine all the walk in coolers you may have seen, they are steel or aluminum insulated with foam. The same principle applies here. We will have r-value of 40 in the ceiling and 30+ in the side walls. CORRECTION: an average of 4″ open cell foam in walls @ R-3+ is 12, an average of 6″ open cell foam in walls @ R-3+ is 24. Using containers there are no cracks or seams that many wood homes have. Also we will have a green wall that shades the eastern side. We plan on having solar panels in a solar tree set up which will shade about 70% of the roof. We will paint the living area in a very light color. Also most of the windows and doors are placed to receive only indirect light. The interior will be very comfortable. We are putting in mini-splits AC systems that use very little power (23 seer rated). The cooling and heating bill will be much less than the average home.
      This home is going to be very, very energy efficient.


  5. I have been looking forward to seeing this kind of construction happen here. I have always admired and loved the use of reclaimed items like this. I would love to see an entire neighborhood like this. I cant wait to see the completed project.

    • Caitanya
      Less than the cost of a similar house of the same sq footage. We are nearing the end and do not have an exact number. We have had to innovate construction techniques and made multiple design changes during construction. Since, I have an amazing construction and architectural and engineering crew that loves to create amazing spaces, I was able to do additions that were so worth while I spent more to build them. basically adding another 1300sqft of usable space.
      The best guess I can give at this time is that this house will cost around 75% less than a regular wood or concrete block home of the same sq footage.

      The advantage my home has it is much more stronger,safer,durable,and extremely energy efficient by far.
      This home is fairly hurricane proof and will last a few hundred years with less maintenance than current wood or block homes.
      This home is pretty much fire proof also.

      I could go on and on. the reason I brought up all this information is to try to emphasize it is hard to compare so called “apples to apples”

      The apples are very different and the one that cost less tastes so much better.
      I hope that answers your question.

  6. Hi Tom, I drove by your house and loved it at first sight. When can the public see the inside? Can you tell me where you got your containers and how much you paid for then, Somewhere on your site i saw Jacksonville and Tampa. Adan

    • Adan
      I got the containers in Jacksonville. They were a much better price and shipping was much more reasonable, since the distance from Jacksonville is shorter.
      The prices are always changing on the containers. It also depends on if you are buying one or ten. You can also buy one use containers that are in practically brand new for $5000. The much older ones are around half that. You really need to do your homework and personally inspect every container.
      I am hoping to have an open house in January. This is my personal home and I have to paint and put in floors etc.
      Thanks for you interest.

  7. I just drove by and noticed your project for the first time today. It is very interesting. I am an old wind energy dealer from Iowa and I had built a log home that had 4 wind turbines powering it along with a small solar array. This home was featured in Home power magazine. I would love to see your project. When is it going to be available for people to see it.

    Dan Whitehead

    • There will be a limited open house on February 25th from 9-3. We will be having guided tours first come first serve. Come early to sign up since the space is limited.

      We are officially a ZERO PLUS home. We make more power than we use. CO2 plus design.

      The house was built Upcycling Shipping Containers at the end of there shipping life thus saving many tens of thousands of CO2 being released into the atmosphere when they are melted down.
      One of the many points of this interesting home.

      Thanks for you interest.

  8. Wonderful design. Hoping to make the tour next week.

    It appears that you will do a vegetated roof — bravo. They are an excellent companion to PV panels (either adjacent to or even under) as the vegetation significantly lowers the surface temperature and increases PV efficiency. Plant choices are, however, challenging especially as the media depth decreases. I would not recommend less than 4″.

    Great addition to our community.

    • Hi Jack. I just finished a 320sf Guest House! It is on the blog. I have designs for a variety of configurations. Check the website I’ll post a competition entry we did over the summer. It was 1500 square feet. Stephen

  9. We can’t get hold of Jim, to ask about the Open House tomorrow the 25th Feb. Our # is 239-369-0238. We live 5 hours away, so we need to know what time it is.

  10. Tom:

    I enjoyed the tour with my 17-year old. Thank you for opening up your home.

    I asked you where you bought your white oak flooring during the tour. It was toward the end of the day and you said that you couldn’t remember. Could you please post the name and contact information for the mill?

  11. Dear Mr. Bender and Mr. Fox,

    My name is Joe Crinkley. I was at the open house this past weekend. I was the guy in the Denver Broncos hat recording some of your speeches. Anyway, I write for a blog called Building Greener located at The blog is still very much in its infancy, but I’ve written a couple pieces about container homes and the USGBC in which I linked back to this site. I really liked the house and would love to pick your brains sometime about the process and about some of the features. The “email MWBa” link up at the top wasn’t working and I couldn’t find your emails anywhere else on the site, so I decided to leave this comment. Feel free to check out the blog and shoot me an email with any comments or questions. Thanks again for doing the open house. I love the concept and really enjoyed getting to see the inside of an amazing home.

    Joe Crinkley

    • Currently, we do not have plans for another tour, but I have added you to my mailing list in the event that we make some! Thank you for your interest – Stephen

  12. Pingback: Gainesville Going Green, One House at a Time | Fresh Wet Paint

  13. I would love to tour your home. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about it until after the Feb tour was completed.
    I am researching various options for affordable green housing for building a home here in Alachua County. Please add me to your email list.

  14. Hi Tom,
    I graduated with my Master this past August from UF out of the School of Nat Resource and Economics. Its amazing how often I have found projects in the area I am so interested right under my nose. Anyway, my research was mostly involved in LID and I heard that you were thinking about putting a green roof on a portion of the roof? I was wondering if this was going to be contracted work or more of a personal project and would be very excited to get to observe some during the process or even offer a little free labor if there is any opportunity like this. I would also very much like to be added to the list for any future tours. Thanks!!

  15. I love to see your home, I’m looking to build one on my property here in ft pierce, Florida. Please let me know when you have another open house

  16. Mr. Bender and Mr. Fox, Great work on a great home. I am writing because I am interested in a smaller project and could use a little direction.

    I live in Sarasota and wondered what would be the best way to contact you to discuss a few ideas I had? (If you are willing to do so)

    My design idea involves just 3 containers being elevated to a second level above metal or wood braced construction. Your experience with working in this medium would be valuable to me.

    Thank you for your time, Mark

  17. Professor Bender and Mr. Fox,

    I’m a recent undergrad from UFs architecture department. Im following some possiblities in utalizing shipping containers as the structure for a project. Im really interested in how the City delt with permitting, and would love to get in contact with you.

    Thank you

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