The 70 brand new apartments being built in Encinal will be made primarily out of recycled shipping containers, in what the developer hopes will be a trend that catches on in the Eagle Ford Shale area.
“We came up with the idea a few years ago, and this set-up of apartments is our first major project,” said David Monnich, the owner and developer behind the project.
They chose Encinal because of the extremely high demand for housing due to expansive growth fueled by the Eagle Ford Shale operations.
Much of the existing housing, however, has been described as "man camps" — low-quality housing that caters exclusively to oil field workers.
Monnich wants to cater instead to families, a demographic he argued is so far untapped.
“We want to meet the long-term housing needs of people who will be here long after the ups and downs of the gas industry,” said Monnich.
There is also a good opportunity to turn a profit, according to Monnich, because the container-based housing units are not expensive to produce.
“We do almost 80 percent of our construction in warehouses in San Antonio,” said Monnich. “All the wiring inside each unit, for example, is done in advance. Then, we load up the units and put them on trucks, and just assemble them here.”
The six units that are standing already were put up in a little over a day.
Monnich said that business model lowers his overhead costs by nearly 70 percent.
“Once we get this process streamlined here, we want to expand our business,” said Monnich.
He envisions an online business where people can order their pre-fabricated shipping containers and have them installed wherever they like.