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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

Max and Talee Auerswald both say they have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

After purchasing a one-story, 500-square-foot home in the Lantern District in 2016, demolishing it and installing shipping containers on site to convert into a residence, the Auerswald home is finally ready to move into.

Talee, Max and their son August Auerswald stand atop their newly constructed home, made of repurposed shipping containers. Photo: Lillian Boyd

In May, Dana Point Times featured the container home on the cover after the Auerswalds installed two 40-foot storage containers and two 20-foot containers on the second story of their home. On Monday, Nov. 26, the residence passed a fire inspection and on Tuesday, Nov. 26, it passed city inspection. The modular home model is part of a recent trend to repurpose materials and reduce the amount of wood needed for construction in order to be eco-friendly. The used cargo-worthy containers cost about $1,800 each. A brand new shipping container can cost up to $5,000, Max said.

In addition to repurposing the storage containers, Max Auerswald found uses for several building materials used in the reconstruction. His previous employer worked with limestone flooring and was very particular about using limestone that fit a certain color palette—which meant some would be thrown out. Max saved the extra limestone and used them in his previous home, and, again, in the container home.

Max, who works as a stone mason and has family and friends who work in construction, saved little pieces of stone from various jobs that hadn’t fit properly.

The Auerswald family is now handling finishing touches before approvals from the City of Dana Point to move in. Photo: Lillian Boyd

“Typically, the stones should be the size of your hand or bigger. But I liked all the little trash pieces,” Max said. “So we saved the smaller rock for stone veneer on the walls. It’s earned the nickname ‘House of Pebbles.’ “

The home pays homage to Max’s line of work, as does his son’s name, August Stone.

Max also found abandoned doors he was able to use for a bathroom, as well as bedroom doors he found in Capistrano Beach. The garage door was reclaimed lumber from an Idaho barn, and the mailbox was a lucky find at this year’s Redo Vintage and Maker’s Market in Dana Point. 

“Each part of the house that we built tells a story,” Max said. “The origin of the materials, who helped build it all. I wouldn’t have been able to get this house built without the support of a community.”

In addition to having friends from construction volunteering time to help with labor on the weekends, Max says that city staff has offered mentorship and support along the way.

“Friends and family have been unbelievably generous,” Max said. “Neighbors have been welcoming and excited for the progress. The city has been awesome to work with.”

The Auerswalds are now in the final stretch of inspections before getting the green light to fully move in. To follow Max and Talee’s journey in construction, follow @dpcontainerhome or #dpcontainerhome on Instagram.

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (1)

  • Congratulations! What a fantastic project. I am sure you dealt with more bureaucracy than can ever be imagined.

    We have many friends on Robles who love it, and I think everyone in the Lantern District would agree it brings a lot of character to the community. Awesome.

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