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Christoph Kesting sells kits for the homes from his headquarters in Vancouver

Three years ago, Christoph Kesting built a tiny home for himself in Guelph, Ont., using a standard shipping container as the base. Then, after selling it he wrote a book about his experience, then started a business.

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For $40,000, customers can order their own kit for a shipping-container home from Mr. Kesting’s company, called How to Build a Container House. It arrives with everything you need and a copy of his book to boot. The entrepreneur, who lives in Vancouver, will also pay for the first 200 kilometres of shipping of the two-tonne steel home, which he calls the Foxden. “It’s a do-it-yourself container home,” the 35-year-old Toronto native says. “It comes with all the materials, even the solar panel if you want the off-grid version.”

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Christoph Kesting, in Vancouver near the port where he gets his shipping containers.Ben Nelms/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Kesting estimates that it will take the buyer and a couple of friends two weeks to cut the holes for doors and windows, cover the outside with the precut wood and add the second storey, which comprises the bedroom and rooftop balcony. The homes can be on or off the grid, with a composting toilet and solar panels available for those who don’t want to pay water and hydro bills,.

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Construction of the second storey, where the bedroom is.

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An interior of the house Mr. Kesting built. He travelled to Toronto last month to pitch his idea on the CBC show Dragons’ Den in the hopes of securing $150,000 to help launch his business. No airdate is available yet.

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Perhaps Mr. Kesting’s biggest challenge, however, is helping customers buy his product in the first place. The price point is a little too low for them to qualify for a conventional bank mortgage and a little too high for an unsecured line of credit. Though he says that banks love to lend money for mortgages, the loans are usually secured by “large pieces of land and large homes in particular,” Mr. Kesting says, and his shipping container homes are neither.

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The homes can be added onto using additional shipping containers.

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