Barber Legacy: From Heartbreak to Housing Revolution with Shipping Containers

In Denver, Shane Barber, alongside his son Cole, crafted a unique home using 11 shipping containers. This architectural feat not only served as a sanctuary for the family after the tragic loss of Shane’s son, Austin, but also became the foundation for their innovative venture, Carbon Dwell.

Shane Barber (left) and Son Photo courtesy of Miller Welds

A father and son’s journey not only helped them navigate grief but also paved the way for an innovative venture.

For Shane Barber, welding isn’t just a skill; it’s a therapeutic escape. “There’s something deeply satisfying about hearing the consistent hum of a MIG welder, signaling a perfect weld,” he often muses. This craft became especially significant when Shane faced one of the most challenging times of his life: the loss of his 20-year-old son, Austin, to cancer in 2017.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Dwell

In the wake of this immense loss, the Barber family found solace in a unique project: constructing a 4,000-sq.-ft. home in Denver using 11 shipping containers. This wasn’t just a home; it was a symbol of their resilience, unity, and creativity. And from this personal endeavor emerged Carbon Dwell, a venture dedicated to crafting affordable shipping container homes.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Dwell

A Family’s Anchor in Stormy Seas

Dealing with Austin’s absence was heart-wrenching. Cole, Shane’s elder son, felt the family needed to stick together more than ever. “Dad, if we don’t live together, we might drift apart,” Cole had voiced his concerns. Shane knew he was right. Many families crumble under the weight of such tragedies.

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Shane Barber – Photo courtesy of Carbon Dwell

Their unique solution? Shipping container homes. This project allowed them to channel their grief into creativity, utilizing Shane’s expertise in metal fabrication and Cole’s artistic flair. As Austin’s medical bills piled up, this alternative housing option also proved to be cost-effective. Every corner of this house echoed with their shared memories and efforts, with a total of 150 to 200 welding arc hours invested.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Dwell

More Than Just a Container

The Barber residence is a marvel. With two kitchens, five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a ceiling that stretches 28 ft. high at its peak, it’s a testament to innovative design. The blend of metal and wood gives it a contemporary feel. As Shane puts it, “Once you’re inside, you forget you’re in a shipping container.

Cole likens their building experience to playing with “human-sized Legos.” The project not only brought the family closer but also allowed Shane to see his son in a new light.It was heartwarming to see my son take the lead. I found peace in following his vision,” Shane reflects.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Dwell

Redefining Housing with Shipping Containers

While shipping container homes might seem unconventional, they offer numerous benefits. They’re robust, withstanding 300-MPH winds and 300 lbs. per sqft of snow load. Made from durable COR-TEN steel, these homes are designed to last. Shane explains the unique nature of this steel, “It’s designed to rust, but this rusting acts as a protective layer, sealing the steel.”

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With the current housing crisis, affordability is a significant concern. Carbon Dwell offers a solution, providing 700 sqft homes for around $100,000. As Shane envisions, with changing regulations and growing acceptance, shipping container homes will become more prevalent.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Dwell

A Legacy Beyond Homes

Carbon Dwell, which officially launched in the fall of 2022, is more than just a business for the Barbers. It’s a legacy. They hope their story inspires others, not just to embrace alternative housing but also to pursue craftsmanship. “We want to empower people, especially the younger generation, to own their homes. We believe shipping containers offer a viable solution,” Shane emphasizes.

In the end, as Cole poignantly notes, “Sometimes, it’s in our lowest moments that we discover our true potential. Through our pain, we found a purpose.

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