Edmonton Journal - Edmonton company building city's first shipping-container apartment
Edmonton company building city's first shipping-container apartment
Published on: April 27, 2017 | Last Updated: April 27, 2017
A three-storey Edmonton apartment building is under construction using a material that’s often seen as waste — second-hand shipping containers.
The city’s first multi-family sea-can accommodations are being made of 48 steel containers pre-fabricated into modules at a Calgary factory, hauled north by truck, lifted into position by crane and welded into place.
“I had been reading about it over the last few years. Everyone was saying you could get considerably lower cost, faster erection time and be part of a green solution,” says A.J. Slivinski, whose Step Ahead Properties is adding the new walkup at its Westgate Manor complex, 9560 163 St.
“We had the land, we were going to build something there, and we came across the shipping-container idea.”
Huge numbers of 40-foot-long containers arrive on the West Coast each year carrying the electronics, clothing, car parts and other products North Americans import from Asia. But most aren’t sent back because it’s cheaper to make new ones, Slivinski said Thursday.
While they’ve been turned into garage suites and a hotel in the region, he called his 20-unit project “shipping container 2.0.”
“This is the next stage we’re taking it to, a little larger commercial-level multi-family housing.”
Most of the money saved with this unconventional construction style is from cheaper financing expenses, said Slivinski, who also owns property management firm Mayfield Management Group.
He expects the mix of one- and two-bedroom suites to be finished in about three months, compared to at least a year for the typical wood-frame apartment, so he won’t need to borrow money for as long — he hopes to have tenants move in Aug. 1.
The walkup will be covered in fibre cement siding to blend in with the two 1960s-era apartments already on the property.
Although some structures make a point of showing off their shipping-container origins, Slivinski doesn’t think people will find this look appealing in the long run.
“Maybe today they would, but 20 years from now when everybody’s doing it, do you want an orange sea can building sitting in your community?”
The units are being outfitted by Calgary’s Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems, which welded together containers to create the suites at its facility, cut holes for doors and windows, installed appliances, flooring, and drywall, and completed other work to minimize what’s done on site.
“That’s the future of construction … it’s moving more into factories,” said Rhys Kane, director of business development.
“We basically play Lego.”
One advantage of the steel frame construction is fire resistance. This makes it appealing for projects such as a seniors supportive living centre the company is preparing to build in Hythe, 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, Kane said.
He expects containers will be part of even bigger structures in future.
“We’re currently looking at building to the 10- to 12-storey mark, because it’s effectively an engineered steel building. We can go higher. It’s going to be a cost-effective way of adding density.”
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