House built of shipping containers goes up in Royal Oak
Royal Oak — They’re easing people into things at ModEco Development.
The 2,250-square-foot home that went up in Royal Oak looks like a new house with big windows and a modern design packed with sharp right angles.
At first glance, it might even be hard to tell a large part of the new home is made out of recycled shipping containers.
ModEco partner Drake Boroja said five 40-foot containers and two 20-foot containers were used to build the house. It’s taken about a year to finish, because when they started, ModEco fabricated the shipping containers on-site in Royal Oak. It was their first time building such a structure and they were checking themselves at every step along the way.
And with a few things left to wrap up, the three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home has already sold for about $430,000.
It has an attached garage, vaulted ceiling, big kitchen and two second-floor balconies. The second floor is carpeted, as is the staircase built into a shipping container that had been turned on-end.
Boroja, his brother Dan and the third ModEco partner, Neal Patel, took more than a few chances with the home and design.
“When we did this design, we wanted to see everything that was possible with shipping containers,” Boroja said. “(We) want to be able to let our customer see what is possible.”
The containers are laid out is a long horseshoe pattern. The gap left in the middle of the home could have been sealed off and used for a courtyard, Boroja said. Instead, they built a ceiling and additional walls for an open living space, accented by the big red steel doors of four shipping containers on the north side of the house.
Outside, the red containers are covered by brick.
The south side of the building has more dark-colored containers. The three bedrooms upstairs all have different perks. One has two massive windows for natural light, the other has a similar picture window and a little more space. The master bedroom is in back.
The partners fitted a big walk-in closet and a luxurious master bathroom complete with a jacuzzi tub (the other full bathroom has one, too) and a walk-in shower.
The large rear balcony also is accessible through the master bedroom.
Although the house took a little longer than similar projects in Detroit, it still was a successful step, Boroja said.
Architects and engineers can get crazy with the designs, both inside and out, of shipping container structures. The Royal Oak home was meant to show people that even with the unconventional materials, shipping container homes can look similar to traditional brick-and-mortar houses.
The building is safer, stronger and about 10 percent to 15 percent cheaper to build than traditional homes, Boroja said.
The home meets and exceeds any strength codes, he said. The entire house is almost fire resistant. If a fire broke out in one of the containers, it would be mostly container, Boroja said. If it went up somewhere else, only the wood and traditional parts of the home would burn.
Maintenance costs over the life of the building also are lower.
The containers are fairly easy to get, according to Boroja. Because of the trade imbalance with China, the U.S. gets a bunch of containers they never send back.
They won’t ship them empty, he said. The big hunks of steel then sit in shipyards.
The containers come air- and water-proof. All it takes is some spray insulation and welding to start building a home.
So it’s the novelty of the home and the access to sturdy, safe materials that have him and his partners working on about four other projects with the containers.
“The response has been crazy,” Boroja said.