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More Calgarians choosing to have their homes made from recycled sea containers


The large metal containers are used by shipping companies to transport goods all over the world. Calgary is a long way from the ocean, but the sea cans are being repurposed in Alberta.

Modern Huts Incorporated spent 25 years building conventional houses in Calgary and, six years ago, the company moved to making custom sea can homes. Jeremy Johnson heads the company and says there are five full-time staff and more than 26 tradespeople working at it's southeast yard.

"Right now we're fabricating a house that's gonna be going up to Calling Lake," said Johnson. "It's 1,920 square feet (178.37 square metres) once we get all these units put together, they'll actually be stacked up to a two-storey home and then shipped out as four pieces."

Johnson says there are many benefits for property owners to choose container construction but the biggest is time. Structures can be 90 per cent completed in just 12 weeks off site. They're dismantled and shipped to the property where an additional week is needed for reassembly. A conventional home can take six to eight months.

"We're able to actually use less building materials," he said. "Our waste in the end is about 80 per cent less than a traditional wood frame structure because we're not using plywoods and all these other things to build the exteriors."

Chad Saunders liked the idea of modular construction and had his garage built with sea cans including a second story apartment.

"We chose to do 20-foot sea cans and you can get 40-foot sea cans, but we didn't want to block off the whole yard," he said. "We could have built quite the house up there but we decided this fits the property and it's accessible housing."

Saunders liked the raw look of the sea cans but wanted the structure to match the main house where he and his family live in Killarney.

"The process actually was surprisingly smooth you know," said Saunders. "From the infrastructure piece where we had an opportunity to rip up the whole yard so you could connect all the infrastructure to the house like water, sewer, change the gas meter, electrical, all that stuff so we're all in."

For the last 13 months Laurenne Mercier has called the apartment over the garage "home."

"When Chad the landlord was explaining things to me even the environmental aspect and the the heat and cool protection, and everything that goes into it, it's a very sustainable place," said Mercier. "It's been quite an interesting learning experience."

She says living in a space made of sea containers always is the topic of conversation with her friends that visit. Mercier likes the idea so much she's looking at options for a larger home of her own.

"I actually bought a place in Tunter Valley and I bought it for the purpose of putting a modular home on it, just because the way that they can build them now is so custom," she said. "They can build it so turn-key to your needs and because I'm so used to this size and it works so well for what I have, it's something that I would love to be able to take out to the country."

Learn more about Modern Huts Inc here: Top Stories

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