December 22, 2014

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Lorain family plans container home

Johnny Evans Sr. sits outside the former site of his house after a crew demolished it Monday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Johnny Evans Sr. sits outside the former site of his house after a crew demolished it Monday. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — A West 26th Street home was razed Tuesday and in its place is a plan for a house built from steel shipping containers.

Johnny Evans Jr., 31, said using the unconventional building material has been an idea of his for years. The destruction of his father’s home to fire in November gave him the opportunity to test the concept. He hopes to build the house in the next six months.

On Tuesday, the fire-ravaged duplex the Evans family lived in for more than 30 years met the claw of an excavator.

Standing nearby was a father and son with their minds trained on the future.

It was a bittersweet moment for Johnny Evans Sr., 76.

“It’s hard to say how you feel when something like this happens to you,” the elder Evans said . “We lost our home.”

This computer model shows the planned design for the house to be constructed out of shipping containers. COURTESY JOHNNY EVANS JR.

This computer model shows the planned design for the house to be constructed out of shipping containers. COURTESY JOHNNY EVANS JR.

But his son and namesake said the home he plans to build in its place could start a wave of new construction in Lorain — a location that is known for steel production.

“It’s sad we had to lose our family home, but I’m excited we will be able to replace it with a new forever home,” said the younger Evans, owner of J Evans Custom Home Construction. “Instead of wood, we will frame the home almost completely out of steel. It will be more energy efficient and cost 10 to 20 percent less than a conventionally-built home.”

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home will feature most of the living space on the first floor.

It will include solar energy and radiant heat as well as a rooftop garden and patio. Evans contends the new home will be fire-proof as well as mold- and rodent-resistant.

Three-dimensional drawings of the proposed house show a simple, contemporary design.

It will be much smaller than the duplex that had nine bedrooms among three units on three floors. The elder Evans said coals from a barbecue grill placed too close to the home caused the fire a day before Thanksgiving.

“It went from the back of the house to the basement, up the wall and just all over,” he said. “We lost everything.”

The younger Evans said he hopes others will see his father’s home and want one of their own in the future.

With simple modifications, the homes can be built larger or smaller to fit family needs.

“And, it can be built fast, too,” he said. “They are built in about a day by stacking shipping containers and welding them together. I think it’s cool that people can go from a plot of land to a new, modern home in just a day or so. It’s about a week for the full buildout.”

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the house will require property permits.

He thinks the idea to use steel shipping containers as the base material is an interesting one.

“I’m open to discussing all things that are unique and different and taking this project into consideration based on how it looks, fits into the existing neighborhood and how neighbors feel about it,” he said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.