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How We Can Be Close, AND 6 Feet Apart: Backyard Guest Suites

How to keep friends and family closer during the holidays and beyond


Fall is upon us, bringing us thoughts of colder days and holidays coming soon. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingnot just in numbers, but in the anxiety that all of us feel as winter approaches. For some, even separate from the conditions of 2020, seeing loved ones during special moments like the holidays has been difficultcost of travel, overseas deployment, illness, or space in one’s home have contributed. The lucky few have large enough homes with guest accommodations for hosting out-of-town guests. But even those with large enough homes are struggling with the concept of maintaining the proper safe distances during these challenging times.

In a new survey, with 70 percent of Americans expressing that hosts are under much more pressure to keep everyone safe during the holidays, the appeal for backyard guest suites are becoming more relevant for anyone planning to celebrate their holiday season as traditionally as possible.

Experts have long been informing us of our responsibilities during these times. It’s prudent to wash your hands, wear a mask, stay at home when possible, and limit contact with others. Lucky for us, the CDC suggests a few recommendations for hosting gatherings and preparing for holiday guests! By considering the health of those in your home and those visiting, limiting the number of people handling/serving food and minimizing gestures/close contact by holding gatherings in outdoor spaces will make all the difference.

So, you’ve taken the precautions to get through the holiday season safely, but we know that cases in COVID forecasting won’t necessarily come to a halt after the holidaysso now what? Questions abound: Will we be able to hibernate as needed during the winter months? How long can we go on seeing loved ones only through Zoom calls? Is there a way to welcome friends and family for the holidays, while respecting COVID-19 guidelines? Are these options affordable?

The answer is yes.

5 Reasons a Backyard Guest Suite is Right For You

Consider adding a living space in your backyard. Imagine a full guest suitebedroom area, full kitchen, full bathroom (and also the privacy and security that your guests will need) with the convenience and affordability that you desire as well. You can spend longer periods of time with your visiting friends and family with little to no inconvenience. Young children can have their beloved sleepovers (or under-nighters) at grandma and grandpa’s “house.” You can also offer proper quarantine time in your backyard suite.

Of course, there are longer-term benefits of a backyard guest suite as well:

  • For empty nesters: Let’s be honest here. The term “empty nester” does not mean what it once did. Back in the day, parents would bid goodbye to their children after high school or after college, and would visit their kids’ apartments or houses once they were settled. Today, more and more graduates are living with Mom and Dad. And while it’s great to have everyone back under one roof againsanity (of parents AND of kids) is of paramount importance. A backyard dwelling with plenty of space for independent living, yet still being under the same metaphorical (but not literal) roofis the key.

  • For college students: With many colleges and universities delivering classes virtually, and with our future somewhat uncertain due to COVID and other factors, the security of having a place to live, while not under the same roof as your parents (see above) is, as the kids say today, dope. (They say that, right?)

  • For those with aging parents: The costs of care for aging parents, financially and emotionally, are on the rise. Estimates indicate that the costs of assisted living are well over $4,000 per month. If your aging parent(s) are able to stay in your backyard, in a fully ADA-compliant space, even after including at-home caregiving helpcosts are likely to be much less. And you (and they) have the comfort of being close to one another.

  • For those with large families/friend groups: Who among us hasn’t wanted more space? Adding onto an existing home is quite a hassle. There are concerns with structural integrity, blending in with the existing materials and style, and the associated dust and disruption. A backyard suite can be constructed offsiteand simply placed onto a foundation when ready.

  • For beyond your backyard: Imagine a new wilderness retreat or fishing cabin, available within a month. With so much at-home time, most of us have cabin feverliterally. A dwelling set onto property off the beaten path may be just the ticket. And these are fully functioning with a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and can also be off-grid!


Recycling Shipping Containers into Luxurious, Affordable Backyard Guest Suites

None of these ideas are far-fetched or financially out of reach. Building a backyard suite can be done within just a few weeks and for less than the cost of a nice car.

A large and growing trend in these types of dwellings is building them out of recycled shipping containers. In fact, the market for shipping container dwellings is expected to be over $73 billion worldwide by 2025. Shipping containers are eco-friendly (recycling), cost-effective, and structurally very strong.

Shipping containers have three standard sizes, with ideas for these types of dwellings listed below.

  • 10’ long by 10’ high by 8’ wide: Often called a “Bunkie". Need a place for a friend to crash for the night--either passing through town or perhaps after a fishing trip at your cabin? The best feature of these is that in most locations, no permit is required.

  • 20’ long by 10’ high by 8’ wide: A wonderful suite for one or a weekend getaway for two. S.I. Container Builds has designed a 20’ shipping container suite that packs everything you need in a perfect space, including a bed, full shower, kitchen and work area. Open up the windows and doors and enjoy the outside. Indulge in the peace and quiet to watch a show, cook a meal or get some work done.

  • 40’ long by 10’ high by 8’ wide: Comfortable for a longer or more permanent stay (see “empty nesters” and “college students” above). People have also been creating B&Bs with these for years. These are fully functional living spaces that are perfect for two, but can also add in a bunkbed for added flexibility. These models are comfortable and an easy fit for most backyards.

In this world of uncertainty, consider the stability and flexibility that a shipping container backyard dwelling can give youand for a very reasonable price. S.I. Container Builds can help. Please contact us to learn more about these dwellings, as well as:

  • Help with land prep and placement (full consultation!)

  • Financing (monthly payments less than your car payment!)

  • Lead time estimates (hint: they’re short!)

  • Resale (they hold up incredibly well!)

  • Repurposing structures for future use/locations (they’re movable!)


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