Shipping container house going up in St. Augustine South

Rob DePiazza stands out front of his shipping container home on Prince Road. Photo: Cassidy Strauss

By Cassidy Strauss |

A St. Augustine South resident is turning heads and attracting some attention on what used to be an ordinary residential block. After a tree fell on his former house during Hurricane Irma, he found himself starting from scratch – this time, not with your typical housing materials. 

Rob DePiazza is building his new home out of several 8-by-40-foot shipping containers. It is sure to withstand the next hurricanes, but that’s not why he chose to stack these containers and transform them into living space. He has worked with the containers before and saw that people were making homes out of them so he decided it was the perfect opportunity to recycle and use his creative vision. 

The house is made up of nine shipping containers, each weighing 8 tons. Five of them are used for living space. The home will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms when it is finished. 

Neighbors were not surprised to hear that DePiazza was taking an innovative approach to the construction of his new home. After all, he had lived in the same place for 30 years. Yet visualizing his ideas is different than actually seeing the massive, towering steel structure in comparison to the ranch houses on either side of Prince Road.

Looking at the containers stacked up in Jacksonville intimidated DePiazza at first. 

“I was a little nervous about that because I’m conscientious enough to think about the impact it has on the neighborhood because it really seemed like it was going to be overpowering,” he said.  

He thinks that the natural rust color of the exterior tones down the size of the construction.

Each shipping container costs $2,000. The expensive part of the home comes from the welding. Strategic placement of windows throughout the home allows light to flood into otherwise dark space. In the master bedroom, a window lines the top of the wall, providing a tree-filled-skyline view. 

A big consideration for DiPiazza when starting a project this unique was if he was going to be able to sell such a personalized home down the road.  

“Whenever you do something different in a community that’s kind of white bread, there’s the worry about resale. And then I thought, well I don’t really care because I’m going to live in it for a while and then my daughter will end up in it so it’ll be her problem,” he said. 

DePiazza describes 16-year-old daughter as artistic and open-minded, like him. 

The added work that comes with this is also inconvenient. Unlike a traditional home, it is more difficult to hire professionals who don’t have experience with this structure. DiPiazza says that contractors are weary of taking on an unfamiliar project, especially with the increased workload after the last two hurricanes.  

“They come to see it and are iffy. You say the words, shipping container, and they’re like, ‘nope.’ And they charge you three times what it should cost because they think that you have a lot of money because you’re building something different, which isn’t true. They don’t want to be bothered with something unusual.”

As if the massive home was not already eye catching enough, DePiazza decided to add a pop of color to the block.

The tilted vessel tells the story of how DePiazza lost his original house two years ago. It features “Irma” and the infamous tree canopy tree which collapsed and caved his house in while he was home. The vivid street art was done by a friend from Barcelona. This entrance to the home will feature street art from other artists on the inside. 

DePiazza is hoping to have it finished in two to three months.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Shipping container house going up in St. Augustine South"

Leave a comment