Couple retires in Rimbey home built from 30 steel shipping containers
This is cool.
Containers are built to ISO 9000 standards so they are all the same and made to the same standard. Neat.
The Glennon family’s retirement home might just look like a stack of shipping containers of all different colours from the outside.
But once it’s complete, it will be a sprawling, 5,000-square-foot, four storey building — two levels above ground, a walkout basement and another level below — with four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a games and media room, garage and workshop, and two enclosed decks.
A massive garden with a potato crop, chickens, and a trout pond, will surround the residence on the eight-hectare property just outside Rimbey, about 180 kilometres north of Calgary.
And the shipping containers won’t be visible forever — the plan is to cover the exterior with stucco.
“It’s just going to look like a regular home,” said homeowner Bill Glennon.
Except most regular homes aren’t made of Sea-Can shipping containers — and the Glennon’s might be the only one in North America built with the containers from the footings all the way up to the roof, he said.
After years of touring show homes, checking out homes on the market, and attending home and design shows, Glennon said he never found anything he liked under $1 million.
By chance, his wife Roseann spotted a newspaper article about a shipping container home several years ago, which sparked their interest.
Putting his construction abilities to work, the former scaffolder and carpenter started drawing up plans to build his own home out of 30 shipping containers, each weighing about 5,000 kilograms with a load capacity of about 30,390 kilograms.
Besides being “really tough,” the containers are economically sound and structurally practical, Glennon said, though it can be a challenge to cut and grind materials, he added.
The couple, in their late 50s, started excavation in September 2009. A month later, 30 containers were shipped from Calgary to their property for a cost of about $3,000 per container.
Ever since, the couple and their 19-year-old daughter Kala, with help from Glennon’s brother Bruce and sister Colleen, have been hard at work welding, putting in the insulation and roof truss system, painting, installing weeping tile, lighting, and tending to the garden.
The family also hopes to live “off the grid completely” and has installed energy efficient windows, a wind generator, a 4.8-kilowatt solar panel system. A solar hot water heater, which will be their main source of heat, will come later, Glennon said.
The wooden interior walls will be insulated for extra warmth, though the fact that much of the home is underground means it will be fairly easy to heat in the winter, he added.
“Right now, we’re trying to insulate the outside, and we’re still waiting for the concrete to be poured on the roof, backfill the garage, and get some plumbing in,” Glennon said last week. “We’ve got a long ways to go.”
Glennon declined to disclose the exact cost to build the entire structure, though he offered that it works out to about $125 per square foot.
He indicated he hoped to have the entire exterior finished by next spring.
The long-term goal is to convert the residence into a bed and breakfast. After all, the Glennons already receive enough guests — both friends and strangers — driving in to catch a glimpse.
“We’ve got a lot of people come up from Calgary just to see it,” he said. “They think it’s pretty incredible.”