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Developer building luxury shipping container homes in Ypsilanti Township

Developer building luxury shipping container homes in Ypsilanti Township

YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, MI — A local developer is building luxury-style homes out of shipping containers in Ypsilanti Township.

Darius Smith, founder of ASJ Homes and the What’s Up Detroit show, is planning to have at least one homemade of steel containers ready by this summer. Smith is building a two-story home, dubbed “L2″, at 2544 Eastlawn Ave. in Ypsilanti Township, which will start at $250,000, he said, and plans to break ground this spring.

Plans for another structure, L1, will be a one-story home for roughly $150,000, not including land pricing.

Smith delved into stories highlighting “good news” on What’s Up Detroit, where he interviewed various “successful people” who piqued his interest in the real estate market. He grew up in Ann Arbor but his family is from Detroit, where he spent time renovating his grandma’s old home in Virginia Park four years ago.

See inside finished shipping container home in southeast Michigan

Since then, he explored ways to incorporate shipping containers into his developments after discovering the growing market and demand across the country. Smith said they are a way to keep building costs down and the homes can easily be spray-insulated from the outside and inside.

“That led me into the shipping container world. It’s big in some areas but slow to come to Michigan. The thing that attracted me to it is keeping the cost down and the style I really like is mid-century modern homes. And with shipping container homes, it’s pretty easy to achieve that,” Smith said.

Smith buys his containers from California. They can range anywhere from $3,000-5,000. The unit he’s building this year will be shy of 1,600 square feet, using six containers, housing three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Smith is also working on a shipping container hotel, with plans to build a couple in Michigan and across the country, he said. He’s eyeing Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit.

“My plan is to build a number of these. I designed a shipping container hotel and it looks really cool. That led me to create a cryptocurrency utility token. The token holders get to utilize the token by renting hotel rooms or eating at the restaurant or a day at the spa,” Smith said.

The micro-hotel is expected to have about 20-30 rooms, he said. More on the token is available at

Despite the materials being mostly metal, Smith is optimistic they will last. He aspires to build a few homes in the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit areas in the near future. But his plan, for now, is to build the one in the Westlawn neighborhood, live in it then sell it.

“These things are being slammed with seawater and they still are rust-proof. They’ve been built to last,” Smith said. “We’ve literally dissected every layer. We’re adding insulation, adding foundation, a crawl space. The trick is to make sure you insulate it really well on the outside.”

Anyone can pre-order homes online at

ModEco Development in 2015 built a shipping container home in Royal Oak. The three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home sold for about $430,000.

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