4 Bedroom Cargo Container Home with External Insulation, Quebec, Canada

About Maison Idekit

Architect and OwnerBernard Morin
DesignMaison Idekit
Area3,000 square feet
LocationSt. Adele, Quebec, Canada
Project cost$175,000

This 3,000 square feet cargo container home in Quebec has four bedrooms. In the seven cargo units home the container walls are exposed on the inside. On the outside, the container home walls have five inches of thermoinsulation that is topped by wood siding. This energy-efficient, durable and bright inside home cost about $175,000 to build.

A Quebec architect and his wife have transformed seven old steel shipping containers into a contemporary architectural gem in Ste. Adele, Quebec, Canada.

Rather than spend about $400,000 to build their 3,000-square-foot dream home out of wood, the couple decided to use an eco-friendly alternative at the bargain price of $175,000.

The home is the first project of Joyce Labelle and Bernard Morin's company Maison Idekit Home, and the first of its kind in Quebec.

Labelle and Morin began building their three-bedroom house in 2007, and the next year they moved in with their six children.

The main pieces of the house were the steel shipping containers, six metres high and 2.5 metres wide.

The containers have been arranged in an unconventional Cubist design, taking advantage of the natural slope setting -- nestled in the woods of St. Adele, northwest of Montreal. Some containers are stacked upright, others on their sides or stacked on top of each other.

The master bedroom departs from the main portion of the house and a large balcony encircles the back supported by stilts. It's like a big Lego project.

Widows of different sizes and shapes have been cut into the containers. Five inches of urethane insulation have been added to outer layer, and then finally protected by brown wood siding.

Indoors, many of the walls retain the corrugated look of the standard shipping containers. The original dents and serial numbers add to the character of the home.

The container concept has been a dream of Morin's for years, Labelle said.

"He used to be an architect for many years. He had this dream to transform containers, but it wasn't the proper time," she told.

But these days, building environmentally-friendly housing is also a good business proposition, and this was an ideal time for the couple to build their first prototype.

For the past years architects thinking green have used shipping containers to provide affordable housing. They've also been used for shelters in hurricane-prone areas in the United States, for student housing in Holland and for a residential development in London, England called "Container City."

After withstanding the punishing weather of the high seas, the containers make for durable homes. The hurricane-proof containers are resistant to rust, mould, termites and fire.

The constructive concept developed by Bernard Morin is simple but innovative. At the start there are shipping containers and, on arrival, a contemporary detached house. The Quebec architect has been convinced, for nearly twenty-five years, that steel caissons can be as useful in the field of construction as in that of transport. To inhabit them, he explains that it is enough simply "to transform them then to juxtapose them or to superimpose them". Only here it is: despite the ingenuity of the system, its customers have never dared to go beyond the conceptual stage. To convince them, Bernard Morin had to set an example ...

A house assembled in 3 hours

First step of the project: find land. Wishing to live in harmony with nature, the architect finally opted - after two years of research - for a wooded plot located in Sainte-Adèle, north of Montreal.

As the plans for the house were complex, it was necessary to have seven sea containers delivered by truck. A singular moment of which Jocelyne Labelle, the architect's companion, keeps a strong memory: "of all the stages of the site, the arrival of sea containers on the ground is the one that impressed me the most", says -she. The containers, which serve as the load-bearing structure for the house, were installed on the foundation in just half a day. "You just had to fit the pieces together like in a lego game", laughs Bernard Morin. The rest of the work was spread over ten months. A period of time during which the couple got down to transforming the containers: integrating openings and insulating them, preferably from the outside in order to conserve as much living space as possible.

The end result is stunning since, thanks to the presence of an exterior facing, the existence of the containers is completely erased. For the architect, the use of end-of-life shipping containers in construction is above all of ecological interest. Instead of being abandoned in ports, steel boxes are indeed recycled. The shipping container house also wins because it is assembled quickly, has good mechanical resistance and, above all, is scalable.

To expand it, you just need to add a container or two, as needed. A practical solution already implemented in existing homes on the outskirts of Montreal. This is undoubtedly a first step before moving on to the construction of individual houses exclusively made up of containers. Moreover, according to the market study carried out by Bernard Morin, self-builders in North America and Europe could well be the first to get started!



About Maison Idekit

  • Green building made mainly of recycled steel structures (last voyage sea containers)
  • Increased strength
  • Healthy and sustainable building / LEED certification on request
  • Time saving (erection in less than a week)
  • Cost savings of up to 50%
  • Structures available (all over the world)
  • Unlimited architectural creativity
  • Structure allowing a green roof

Phone+1 450-745-3053

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4 Bedroom Cargo Container Home with External Insulation, Quebec, Canada