When one thinks of building a home, they’re likely to imagine a wood frame, some drywall, insulation and stucco. What they might not imagine is building a home using shipping containers.

Calgary company Verawood Real Estate Inc. stopped by CREB® June 6 to chat about the industry of building modular homes utilizing the affordable environmentally sound containers.

Verawood’s Senior Managing Partner Charles Lemieux was at an investor forum in Vancouver when looking out over the port, “I saw this ginormous mountain of shipping containers and said, ‘thosealmost look like apartment buildings, so you know one thing led to another and here we are.”

Verawood offers a range of products from one and two bedroom homes — which from the outside you would have no idea is framed with a shipping container — site offices and even hotels.

Verawood sources the majority of its shipping containers from China. The containers arrive in Canada, their goods are dispersed then the containers are picked up and transformed into living spaces. A busy shipping industry makes for a lot of shipping containers available for repurposing.

“Out of 100 (shipping containers) that come to Canada, because our industry is all about consuming, only 20 of them go back because it’s not feasible to ship anything back (to China) so there’s an abundant amount of them,” said Lemieux.

While Verawood has yet to construct a shipping container home or apartment building in Calgary, they’re currently in the process of constructing a home in Canmore.

Shipping container homes have been around in Canada and the rest of the world for sometime now. Thought to be the first of its kind in Canada is Zigloo Domestique, a shipping container home in Victoria designed by Keith Dewey.

“When it came time for my wife and I to move out of the small suite we were living in and look for a new house, we decided to purchase a piece of property and prove some of these ideas I’d been playing with,” Dewey told The Canadian Press.

Zigloo Domestique was constructed using eight 20-foot long containers. The home is a 1,920 sq. ft. with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and includes salvaged exterior stairs. According to zigloo.ca, the construction process saved 70 trees.

In 2011, it was announced a structure, the first of its kind in Canada, would occupy an empty lot in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. The social housing for disadvantaged women is an apartment complex made of shipping containers.

The building consists of six selfcontained, fully insulated suites with a kitchen, full bathroom and floor-toceiling windows.

“They’ll be stylized and they’ll definitely be funky but we didn’t want to disguise them,” Janie Abbott of the Atira Women’s Resources society told the CBC.

CREB® Commercial REALTORS®, keep an eye on the Commercial sections of CREB.com and CREBlink.com for great breakfast learning opportunities like this one.