The Low Down On Green Living
July 7th, 2009
Shipping containers are at the forefront of a new era of usefulness. Traditionally used to carry goods via cargo ship, train or truck, these steel boxes are capable of withstanding huge amounts of pressure and weight. This makes them structurally stable, fireproof, mold-proof and weather-proof. Unfortunately each has a lifespan of only 20 years for its original purpose. That means when their work is done hauling stuff, they get retired and sent to junk yards or landfills even though they are still structurally solid. Now architects and designers recognize their usefulness as building blocks for homes, offices, apartments, schools and more. This home in Quebec was built by a couple intent on reducing the amount of wood that goes into building homes and also saving money.
Looking at it from the exterior one would never know that seven 8 x 20 ft shipping containers were used to construct this house. That’s because the exterior is clad in normal siding and 5 to 5 1/2 inches of spray foam insulation. Inside though, you can see the interior of each shipping container and the corrugated steel frame. Even the serial numbers for each container and some dents are visible. Not all shipping container homes are like that though, many are clad on both the interior and exterior with conventional materials to hide the steel frame. But this Quebec couple, architect Bernard Morin and wife Joyce Labelle, wanted to show off the containers for what they are — modern and strong.
The 4 bedroom home is 3,000 square feet and built for a family with 6 children. A traditional house with of this size with wood framing would have cost the family at least $400,000, but instead cost the family only $175,000. That’s $58 per square foot - practically unheard of for an American home. Which is one of the reasons why shipping container homes are becoming so popular - they’re cheap to build. They also have a number of other benefits like structural stability, low-maintenance, rot- and mold- proof, and they are very easy to put together and construct a home in a short amount of time. This home took only 10 months to build out.
Maple trees on the lot were felled to make room for the home, but were then reused for siting, support beams and stairs. The floors are cement with radiant heating and cooling to keep the home at a very comfortable temperature. Other features include door-less glass showers with river stone tiling, the original shipping container floors were reused on the ceiling and metal grating is used as outdoor decking. All of which helps create a modern, urban looking home, but built within a forest.
This Quebec couple have even started a company called Maison IDEKIT to start construction on more shipping container homes. They have two more residential projects on the boards to start this summer and they have 4 different house plans ready to build out. Like prefab homes, shipping container homes are very quick to build. Site work and gray work is completed first, then the containers are dropped into place in less than a day, and then after wards the interior is built out. The long process of framing a house is left out, which reduces the construction time and cost considerably.
+ Building cheaper, green homes by CTV.
via Jetson Green
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