Listing Type: Container Home?

Have you ever thought about living in a container?  Yes, you heard me right!  No, I’m not talking about being forced into due to the economy, but rather …

314 33

Have you ever thought about living in a container?  Yes, you heard me right!  No, I’m not talking about being forced into due to the economy, but rather living in one by choice, thanks to the ingenuity of  local entrepreneurs.

The other day, a colleague and I made our way to a site on the outskirts of the city to meet with ‘container gurus’ Bryan McCrea  and Channing McCorriston to have a peek at a “container home” demo unit.   The two (along with Evan Willoughby, who was not present) are the founders of 3twenty Solutions – a company looking to produce affordable dwellings based on containers, right here in Saskatoon.

Their award-winning business concept of recycling and renovating shipping containers for purposes such as office space, sleeping quarters, and housing units has been raising eyebrows and taking heed from a number of industries and property seekers.

The two were kind enough to give us the grand tour of a renovated container – and let me say, I foresee myself wanting one…or three!

Here’s a look at some of the prep work conducted to make these units livable…

And here’s a look at end product…who knew a shipping container could look this sexy!

The great thing about them – they come standard sizes, which means the dimensions are the same throughout the container.  No need for endless measuring, you know exactly what you are getting.  Containers are also made of Corten (the strongest steel out there), and have the ability to withstand just about any weather condition.

While this concept might seem revolutionary to North Americans, the truth is that containers have been re-purposed in other parts of the world for quite some time.  Containers have been found & reused in parts of China, Australia, and Western Europe – but the trend is just now starting to catch on domestically.  For example, check out this video of a container office being constructed in Providence, Rhode Island:

In fact, even some of Google’s Data Centers reside in a complex made of shipping containers.  But, thanks to local companies like 3twenty Solutions, these units are on their way to becoming one of the hottest trends in urban living – and perhaps one of the next ‘styles’ of real estate.

With over 700,000 idle containers in North America alone, this recycling initiative couldn’t be  a greener one.  Now the real question is, how would you market this type of home to buyers?

In this article

Let us know what you're thinking!


  1.    Reply

    Shipping containers are non-ferrous. If not, they would rust while on the water. They do not have to be painted, but look great if they are. Almost all containers have 2 inch thick oak floors on the bottom. It would be easy to finish out for a great look. The floors can be removed to put in a more conventional floor.

  2.    Reply

    […] while back I posted an article about how shipping containers were being used for innovative ways for housing.  I came across […]

  3.    Reply

    My concern is that this “discovery” might increase the cost of containers and make them less accessible to those who have most need of their low-cost advantage.

  4.    Reply

    Hey Bryan,

    This is a great write up! I have mass produced these for large oil and gas companies and govornments throughout Africa. You definitly are on too something good with this idea. I miss doing it and definitly will do it again!

  5.    Reply

    Hi Ehsan,

    We can easily attach skids so they can be moved on industrial sights easily. We are not interested in creating mobile homes though.

  6.    Reply

    How about fitting wheels to it so that it can be mobilized easily?

  7.    Reply

    Hi Doug,

    We use soy-based spray foam insulation. In our climate, we get r20 in the walls and r30-40 in the ceiling.

    We can install in-floor heating, but don’t have to.

  8.    Reply


    What kind of insulation do you get[R-value] in what looks like 2×3 walls and ceiling?What about for the floor also? I’m presuming you install heated floors?

  9.    Reply

    If this is not going to be part of the land then it might be ideal in a condo concept.

    Would it be possible to build a condo building where you can stack up your container studio-type unit anywhere in the building provided the higher the floor level you pay extra premium for the view?

    The host building will have a lobby, elevator and hallway for each floor level. The unit doors will be connected to an entrance tube/socket to lock in place the studio-type container home. There will be two doors: one for the host building and the other door is for the container home. Should one decide to transfer in higher floor, the owner will simply request to detach the unit from the unit holder/socket and stack it up on the higher or lower floors.

    Just a thought.

    1.    Reply

      Hi Richard,

      I did some digging, and it looks like the condo idea just like you described (albeit without an elevator) was proposed for Detroit! You can find out more about it here.

  10.    Reply

    Well, I’m glad to see that this post got some discussion going. Let me do my best to cover most of your questions in one reply.

    Let me start by saying that the product you see in the photos is our office. Regardless of application, it still meets code, which should answer most of your questions regarding mortgages. Additionally, our municipality supports this use of containers pending we integrate elements of the neighborhood’s architecture into our exterior design.

    Tina – The containers are made out of corten steel aka weathering steel. Rust can accumulate, often due to the painting process applied for transportation. We fix this in our building and can be generally selective in picking our raw materials.

    Gary, we would love to send our products down to Haiti – brilliant idea. Needs a large organization (ie: UN) to support this type of initiative.

    Joe – For permanent residential uses, the containers would be attached to piles or a concrete pad, therefore becoming more than personal property.

    Kathy – We are currently working on a cabin product. Stay tuned :)

    Debbie – That project looks fantastic. Have you taken a tour? Are they considering building more?

    Martell – We have a “granny suite” or “garden suite” product. That’s the term our municipality uses to describe a second, smaller suite in one’s backyard.

    Finally, for everyone who is slightly skeptical about living inside a container: We are not proposing containers are good for families looking for a home. We do contend, though, that containers have huge potential in a number of residential markets, including student housing, affordable housing, hotels, temporary worker housing, and any other market where there is a demand for bachelor-style living. If you look at the photo of our container office one more time, you’ll notice that the design is contemporary and sexy – far from a steel container!

    If I’ve missed something, I’ll be watching this blog and reply to other questions/concerns.


  11.    Reply

    […] out the main story link here and then go to this link for pictures of a multi-story shipping container […]

  12.    Reply

    Great concept to help save some trees and hopefully make a roof over our heads more affordable. I like the idea of mobility too.

  13.    Reply

    Really impressive idea. Can someone address the waste water draining, and utilities hook ups required that may be very unique too.

  14.    Reply

    It would be great if these could be used to house the many homeless in Haiti. Not only is it a great way to recycle, but it could provide sturdy permanent accommodation

  15.    Reply

    Are there any tubes to access the containers…you know , kind of like a hamster?

  16.    Reply

    Zoning, mortgaging etc.
    Yes, you are probably looking at about $90. per square foot to insulate, wire and all the stuff that will make it function like a home. Yes, there are zoning issues, but if you look for a multi-use area or you ask for a variance, then you can. I will put mine by the ocean in a fishing village, so it is already multi-use, so it is good

  17.    Reply

    All great comments! I’ll let Bryan from 3twenty Solutions address them all…he’s the true expert on the subject :)

    Keep them coming!

  18.    Reply

    Here in Wellington, New Zealand we have someone who has designed one and lives in it. It takes advantage of the small amount of land that was available, see pictures:

    1.    Reply

      Wow, those pictures incredible! Thank you very much for sharing them Debbie – my urge to move to New Zealand is getting stronger by the minute.

  19.    Reply

    Send some of these down to Haiti, I understand that they are earthquake proof.

    1.    Reply

      That is a pretty genius idea Gary! I like it :)

  20.    Reply

    I’ve been keeping an eye on this for a few years now and am very impressed with the idea. I know for a fact that zoning is an issue in my area too.

  21.    Reply

    don’t they rust?

    1.    Reply

      That is a good question Tina. I am assuming that constant exposure to the elements would lead to some rusting, unless you perhaps coated it with some manner of sealant? That is just my best guess though.

  22.    Reply

    Under all is the land. How do you connect these units to the ownership of the land upon which they sit? If not connected to the land, they are simply personal property.

  23.    Reply

    The Lake could work well. Our city would freak out on zoning these.

  24.    Reply

    I too would be interested in knowing more about these and how to acquire them. These just might be great options for adding on to existing homes too.

  25.    Reply

    What a great idea to live in astrongest metal box. Winter is cold summer is hot…. We an americans are leading the world into the stupitest things human being can not forget that some bank will even mortgage this “property” and collect interest …!!!???? Welcome to America.

    1.    Reply

      A friend in Tulsa has these, they are under several feet of dirt and grass, they stay the same comfortable temp all year long and he didn’t need a mortgage to do it.


        That’s probably the most appealing thing we’ve heard to date – no mortgage required :)

  26.    Reply

    Where Can I get a couple of containers?

    1.    Reply

      any major city will have an ample supply, type in “local shipping containers” and watch the the list pop up!