Business

Firm cofounded by Facebook’s Zuckerberg will help Boise container-home maker expand

A Boise company that constructs affordable and sustainable homes from old shipping containers is looking to build a higher profile, thanks to a $5.5 million financing round.

IndieDwell said in a news release that it has secured funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Northern Trust, The Colorado Health Foundation and Gary Community Investments. The money will help the business expand into new markets around the U.S.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Donor Advised Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation was one of the first to support IndieDwell. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a limited liability company established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, with an investment of “up to $1 billion in Facebook shares.”

IndieDwell did not break down the individual investment amounts from the funding partners.

At its factory in Caldwell, IndieDwell is rolling out a new home every four days. In the process, the affordable-housing manufacturing company, which launched in 2016, has created more than 40 jobs for experienced tradespeople as well as those at the entry level of their construction careers.

Individual homeowners and nonprofits in the Treasure Valley have been drawn to the unique design and price points of the IndieDwell structures.

The first one was installed late last year off Whitewater Park Boulevard, in the 800 block of North 32nd St. Since then, more have been moved onto lots across the country. A two-bedroom, one-bath house costs $65,000 uninstalled.

The company said it will be making an announcement shortly regarding its second factory and is in advanced discussions to launch into other markets.

“Housing costs have skyrocketed, negatively impacting the most vulnerable communities, and we believe everyone deserves to live in a beautiful, high-quality and healthy home, that’s also affordable,” said Scott Flynn, co-founder and CEO. “We’ve built a company and a product that is a force for good and will withstand housing market trends.”

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In the final stages of production, Kevin O’Brien, left, and Keegan Bradley install cabinets in the kitchen of a container home at IndieDwell's Caldwell factory. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

“Everyone deserves a safe, stable, affordable place to call home, which is why CZI supports innovative efforts to improve housing affordability and champion equitable access for all,” said Ruby Bolaria Shifrin, housing affordability manager at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in the news release.

IndieDwell obtains the containers from a supplier in Utah for $4,200 each. “After seven years, shipping companies decommission them,” Flynn said. “Many are still in great shape.”

At its factory, forklift drivers usher the containers down the “Hyster Highway” where they are cleaned, pressure-washed and any rust is removed. A seven-step process results in a 960-square-foot residence ready for a home site, where a foundation typically has been laid and utilities are ready to connect.

The all-steel studs are manufactured to size and snap into place before being welded together. Everything is added on the factory floor, from electrical conduit and HVAC systems to insulation, roofing, flooring, drywall, paint and light fixtures.

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