Still standing: Homes made from shipping containers withstand superstorms at affordable price

October 19, 2018

Amid the bare foundations and wreckage left on Mexico Beach in Florida by Hurricane Michael last week was one hardened home, still standing on 40-foot pilings. Looking at footage of that house, Americans nationwide began to think about how they, too, could reinforce their residences to withstand the battering of  future hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes.

Now, a Brooklyn-base company is offering a solution, CNBC reported on October 18.  Founded in 2007, SG Blocks repurposes some of the 20 million or so shipping containers worldwide—and uses them as its primary building tool. It calls itself a one-stop-shop construction platform for consumers looking for longer-lasting, greener, less-expensive dwellings.

The shipping containers—which can be converted into surprising innovative and stunning homes and businesses—serve as a stronger alternative to traditional brick and wood. Their steel construction exceeds U.S. structural code. and stands up to severe conditions in seismic zones, CNBC said.

SG Blocks manages the project from start to finish and provides industry-approved, code-engineered cargo shipping containers and complete architectural, engineering,and design work. Once the foundation is in and approved, SG Blocks delivers the home approximately 90 days later.

“The beautiful thing about prefabricated construction with SG Blocks is that while your contractor is doing the hole in the ground and the utilities, we’re at the same exact time modifying the modules so that on Friday your foundation is finished and then on Monday, instead of having your general contractor show up for his first day, we start delivering 1,000 square feet an hour,” Paul Galvin, CEO of SG Blocks, told the cable news outlet.

In March 2017, SG Blocks became the first company to receive an electronic service record (ESR) number for a recycled material to be approved for construction. This basically makes the shipping container the equivalent of a brick or a piece of wood for construction purposes. Since then, this type of construction has exploded.

“Up until last year it was done on a one-off basis until SG Blocks and our team of engineers were able to get that as an approved mainstream building product, and since that time, we have a backlog of over 100 million contracts that have to be delivered upon, and our pipeline exceeds 300 million opportunities,” Galvin told CNBC.

Galvin also talks about plan densification. That allows a purchaser to right-size their home. A new couple or small family may only need, or have enough money for, a 950-foot container-based structure. It could be built and prepped for expansion behind the walls so when the family grows, it won’t take six months to renovate. It could be expanded by adding a container on top or next to it with minimal disruption to the community or your family.

“The challenge for people living in America is that we have a very vulnerable housing class right now — whether it’s people living on limited incomes or fixed incomes. Many of them are forced to live in areas where there are persistent climate threats from the ocean, tornadoes and hurricanes. What we’re interested in is housing families in steel structures rather than wood structures and putting people in really safe environments that are both sustainable and longer-lasting,” said Galvin.

According to SG Blocks, the cost for a container ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. And in terms of retrofitting and price of final product, container-based building is typically 15% to 20% faster than the cost of conventional, traditional construction.

To date, the company has completed projects not only for private buyers, but for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the City of Santa Monica, Equinox, and more.

Research contact: @christinascolar

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