Home made of recycled shipping containers: 'We wanted to build a legacy'

Alberta-based home developer 3Leafs unveils Calgary's first single-family shipping container home, built in Rocky Ridge. 

Calgary's 1st single-family home made of shipping containers unveiled Thursday

Jaime Turner stands in front of his new home, which is made out of recycled shipping containers, also known as 'sea cans.' (Dennis Genereux/CBC News)

Boasting sleek lines and big windows, a newly finished northwest home could be easily mistaken for another bright, modern build.

But there's an extraordinary detail about the house that is evident in a few exposed, corrugated metal walls: It's constructed from recycled shipping containers.

Alberta-based home developer 3Leafs designed Calgary's first single-family, shipping container home and unveiled the finished product on Thursday.

The company says in a news release that the shipping containers "reduce the heavy reliance on trees used for construction" while also reducing the number of "sea cans" in landfills.

The homeowner, Calgarian Jaime Turner, says some of the walls were kept bare to showcase and preserve the build's unconventional beginnings.

"One of the great features that we wanted to incorporate … was the actual sea can panel," Turner said. "To remind people that this home is not a traditional home."

Turner says he wanted to show off elements of the shipping container build, like this exposed steel wall in the foyer. ( Credit Dennis Genereux/CBC News)

It was built in EchoHaven, a small northwest neighbourhood that features a cluster of 25 eco-friendly homes. Aside from reusing sea cans that would otherwise wind up in a landfill, the build has net zero capabilities, meaning it is designed to create its own energy locally. 

An eco-conscious sensibility, Turner says, influenced the construction and the finished product. 

"This home was built with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind," Turner said. "We have a high-energy efficiency furnace, and then we also have our thermostats on each and every floor of the home."

The bedrooms are spacious, and a large en suite bathroom off the master was intended to be a haven — "to relax and rejuvenate after a long day at work," Turner said. 

It features a soaker tub, makeup counter and dual shower. 

The en suite bathroom attached to the master bedroom was designed as a place to 'rejuvenate.' It has dual sinks, a dual shower and a deep tub. (Dennis Genereux/CBC News)

The open-concept main living space is on the second floor. In the summer, Turner says, the design will allow them to move parties from the living room and kitchen to the rooftop patio that was built on top of the garage.

"We wanted to take advantage of the second floor as our primary living space … to incorporate the outside and the inside from an entertainment perspective." 

The main living space is on the second floor, so that Turner and his family can entertain both inside and outside. (Dennis Genereux/CBC News)

In a news release, 3Leafs says the use of steel "means shipping container homes are sturdier and will last for generations with fewer repairs." 

This was a selling point for Turner, who says that though there was a higher cost upfront, building a house with steel reassures him that it will endure. 

Turner looks at a steel beam running along the ceiling. 3Leafs, the company behind the home, says that strong materials like these will allow the home to last longer with fewer repairs. (Dennis Genereux/CBC News)

"It will outlast a traditional stick-build house on average by 100 years or more," Turner said. "The long-term gains are fantastic."

Turner is also quoted in the 3Leafs release as saying the build wasn't only an investment for him, but for his family. 

"This is a teaching moment for my young daughter. We wanted to build a legacy for her." 

His daughter's room is bright and has an en suite of its own. He says the home appealed to his family because of its eco-friendly design. He hopes it can be part of a legacy. (Dennis Genereux/CBC News)

With files from Dennis Genereux and Sarah Rieger