Cottage Life features our Cozy Shipping Container Cabin

It’s time to celebrate!!! The finishing touches are complete and the interior has been designed. And just in time for cottage season.

 Sea Container Cabin Interior Rebecca Purdy

GREAT ROOM: Centre of OCTOPOD’s Shipping Container Cabin

We’ve been anxious to unveil the newly decorated cabin by Toronto’s superstar interior designer Rebecca Purdy but knew we needed to be patient. For more pictures and final details of this project,  read the feature published on Cottage Life written by Samantha Edwards.

Completed Construction of Sea Container Cabin

In Fall of 2014, we completed construction of Sea Container Cabin model OCTOPOD, our 1400 square foot space project in the outskirts of Toronto, Canada. Here are some images:

Sea Container Cabin Finished Front View

FRONT VIEW: From water’s edge, completed construction of Sea Container Cabin OCTOPOD model, powered by off-grid solar panels.

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SOLAR PANELS: Powered by Canadian Solar. This cabin is off-grid using only clean renewable energy.

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SAUNA – Material is BC red cedar. Wood fired, constructed in the wedge between two containers with easy access to the water’s edge.

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GREAT ROOM: Wood fired stove with in-floor heating.

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SEA CONTAINER FLOORS: Wide custom pine tongue and groove boards, stained grey.

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AERIAL VIEW OF SEA CONTAINER CABIN PREMISES

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What we’ve realized is it’s a bit tough to capture the look and feel of the space without physically walking through the experience yourself. So we’ll take a video to give you a better sense of what it feels like to live in this space. And post some pictures of the final interior decorated by Rebecca Purdy from HGTV’s House of Bryan, Leave it to Bryan and DIY Disaster. If you have any questions regarding this build, or any others we’ve been involved in, please send us a comment or you can always contact us.

Toronto Community Centre adds Off-Grid Solar Sea Container Retail Space

Scadding Court Community Centre located in downtown Toronto, Canada has absorbed our former Sea Container Cabin Showroom (Model URBAN) for their repurposed Shipping Container Market 707.

This new space will become their largest retail store but if you look at the space closely, it’s completely different from the typical repurposed shipping container retail store.

Sea Container Cabin Showroom Scadding Court Community Centre Toronto Market 707

What Makes Sea Container Cabin Retail Spaces Different than the typical SeaCan Retail Space?

  1. It’s off-grid using green energy. Solar power is used in this retail space.
  2. It’s a one-trip container meaning we had this built and shipped to us so this new space will enjoy a very long life.
  3. It’s a high cube giving us 8 feet of finished height.
  4. We validated any sprays used to prepare the one time shipment across the ocean was harmless to humans and inert making it suitable for living quarters
  5. Our spaces are insulated providing comfort in extreme summer and winter weather. But the insulation isn’t just for heat and cold, it also improves sound transfer. If it rains, you can still hold a conversation instead of feeling like you just walked into a heavy metal concert.
  6. There was ZERO cutting of this sea container cabin maintaining security of our premises. Just pull the steel doors and walk away with peace of mind that your retail space is secure.
  7. The sliding door entry system spans the entire 20foot length of the container. It is designed as an attractive storefront without modifications to the original container.

4 Guiding Principles to our Sea Container Cabin Construction:

Rule #1:

We do not cut out shipping container walls that would require reinforcements. The URBAN design has ZERO cuts. The OCTOPOD design’s non-structural back walls were removed but those cuts did not require any reinforcing.

Rule #2:

Design all spaces with sustainable living in mind. Even if you wish to remain connected to the electricity grid, keeping energy conservation in mind will help you make the best energy decisions. Plus, it’ll reduce your monthly electricity bills.

Rule #3:

Construct spaces using the best materials available on the market and consider all available alternatives to typical construction materials. TEST, TEST, and RE-TEST these installed materials and validate they pass our expectations for ease of use, quality, and most importantly, work well for our cold winters.

Rule #4:

Our team of engineers, site designers, contractors and our interior designer Rebecca Purdy are capable of great ideas and only the highest quality workmanship. Our team believes in Sea Container Cabins and sustainable living. They’re smart, patient, have attention to detail and most importantly show pride in their workmanship.  This combination of character traits happens to attract respectful and pleasant folks to work with so our exciting projects have always remained fun projects.

When we started Sea Container Cabin, our goal was to meet all 4 mandates while proving out that construction costs can come in at half of traditional construction costs. So far, we are proud to say it’s been consistently the case.

Practical shipping container living and working spaces that are appealing to the eye , includes the comforts of modern day living and were constructed at a reduced cost can exist.

Want to Create New Sea Container Retail Space? Build a Cottage? Or Add Living Space to your Backyard? 

We’d be happy to share our knowledge with like minded individuals who believe in sustainable living. Reduce, reuse, recycle & renewable off-grid sustainable living does exist. And the Province of Ontario building inspector said it best,

“We weren’t sure what the end result would look like however your Sea Container Cabins challenge the status quo and are tastefully designed and constructed.”

If you have any questions about what we can do for you, or if you’d like a tour of the OCTOPOD or URBAN models to get a feel of what it truly is like living in a Sea Container Cabin, just contact us.

Welcome to Sea Container Cabin’s Toronto Showroom

Located in downtown Toronto, Market 707 is a group of retrofitted shipping containers recreated into vending spaces that offer micro-entrepreneurs prime downtown retail space for as little as $11/day. This is the brainchild of Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC) whereby an under utilized stretch of Dundas Street West has been transformed into a vibrant outdoor marketplace increasing employment in the neighbourhood.

Scadding Court Community Centre Toronto Market 707 Dundas Street Bathurst Street Shipping Container Market

Photo courtesy of Scadding Court Community Centre Market 707

In 2014, Sea Container Cabin joined forces with SCCC developing the first private/public partnership to introduce the concept of off-grid retail. We wanted to provide the community centre with extra usable space while offering our local market a place to get the true look/feel of shipping container spaces. It doesn’t have to feel cheap or institutional. In fact, the exact words of our building inspector was, “Your sea container cabin is tastefully constructed.” It’s because we take care in selecting craftsmen who have high attention to detail, and just because we build off-grid Sea Container Homes doesn’t mean they don’t have the perks of modern day comfy living.

 5 Goals of the Sea Container Cabin Showroom

  1. Create a smaller URBAN model of an energy efficient off-grid Sea Container Cabin powered by renewable energy and an energy storage system.
  2. Test the various materials and methodologies we will consider for our 1400 square foot demonstration Sea Container Cabin project.
  3. Determine whether the materials we tested meet our expectations for quality, ease of use, and will withstand our Canadian winters.
  4. Design the space to also incorporate SCCC’s requirements as we anticipate they would love to access the space during their own community events.
  5. Replicate the true feel of living or working in an off-grid space constructed of non-traditional materials for others to enjoy.

Rebecca Purdy Interior Designer HGTV House of Bryan Leave it to Bryan DIY Disaster

You may recognize Rebecca Purdy, an interior designer featured on HGTV’s Disaster DIY, Leave it to Bryan and House of Bryan. We knew right away she was the person to work with for our Sea Container Cabins. Her down to earth approach, belief in reusing materials from old barn boards to the tree trunk from the street next door and more importantly, our common ground in creating great living spaces using Shipping Containers and off-grid renewable energy was a perfect match.

Here’s what our URBAN Sea Container Cabin Showroom looks like:

Sea Container Cabin Showroom Scadding Court Community Centre Toronto Market 707

EXTERIOR: Side Opening High Cube.  No cutting of walls has occurred to maintain security of our showroom.

Sea Container Cabin Showroom Scadding Court Community Centre Market 707 Inside Left

INTERIOR LEFT: Insulated panel walls, felled local white elm tree milled and kiln dried into live edge table, barn board chalkboard

Sea Container Cabin Showroom Scadding Court Community Centre Market 707 Inside Right

INTERIOR RIGHT: Feature TV wall of barn board, Blocks of beam material from main 1400 square foot Sea Container Cabin, Large round disc kitchen chopping block, Industrial tool chest placed in location of future kitchen cabinets.

Now that our URBAN Showroom has served its purpose, we are happy to announce that there will be a new life for this retail space. The community centre has absorbed our off-grid space as their own and a new venture will be launched in Spring of 2015. An entire team is in place driving this change and we are excited to follow their progress on our website so check back for updates on what this future space will hold.

Building Off-Grid Spaces Big or Small in Urban Communities

Whether you’re looking for more backyard living space, an indestructible retail space, or a new house, cabin or cottage and whatever your motivation is for repurposing Shipping Containers into spaces or simply wanting more control of your power bills by living off-grid, we can help you get there. Just contact us for more information.

Is an Off-Grid Lifestyle Suitable for You?

Sea-Container-Cabin-Solar-PanelIn most circumstances, people who live off-grid don’t actually choose to be off-grid. It’s more likely that the electricity grid doesn’t connect to their property so the choices they have are to bring in power lines which can be very expensive and is the beginning of monthly electricity bills or figure out a way to remain off-grid.  And just so you know: off-grid people actually like the modern comforts of home including TV, Internet, lighting and heat.

A movement is building, whereby people are looking for 100% renewable solutions and a true independence from the grid.

With the availability of affordable solar, wind, and energy storage options, 100% renewable solutions are becoming more and more practical.

Two ways to live off-grid: With or Without Power

Living without electricity requires a reliance on traditional oil fired lamps and propane refrigeration. Both are poor performing, emit air emissions, and require constant refueling.  It is in fact more environmentally friendly, a lower cost, and a better quality of life today if you consume electricity for both lighting and refrigeration by choosing the right renewable energy system.

The key to successfully living off-grid is to reduce your power consumption.

You can build a smaller power system by conserving power and living without some power sucking appliances such as hair dryers, ovens and clothes dryers. Coupled with using energy wisely, better insulation, wood heating, LED lighting etc. you can afford to live a comfortable life off-grid. The general public has a difficult time embracing the concept of “Conservation First” in our grid connected life but in an off-grid setting, the conservation culture is much easier to adopt. It is driven mainly out of necessity given the limited power available and the raw cost of oversizing a power system for very limited use or inefficient uses of power.

Determine the right size power and energy storage system you require.

There are 2 kinds of Off-Grid Living with power:

  1. Gas fired generators
  2. Renewable energy such as solar, wind or hydro, and energy storage

Gas fired generators burn fuel so there is a variable cost associated with this form of power. There’s also the inconvenience of having to purchase the fuel, haul it home, and store it. Running a generator can be noisy although quiet generators are available on the market (such as the Honda generator every hot dog cart uses). If you believe in sustainable living, renewable energy such as solar, wind or hydro is the way to go.

Solar vs. Wind vs. Hydro

The answer to this question really depends on your surroundings. In our case, the Sea Container Cabin is situated amongst forest so there really isn’t any consistently blowing wind. We do have hydro that’s always flowing but the best spot is a bit far from the cabin so you’d have to run a long piece of wire. For us, solar made most sense. Panels continue to become more and more affordable. And we believe in supporting local manufacturers so installing Canadian Solar panels just made sense.

Why do you need Energy Storage in your off-grid power system?

There are very few ways to use renewable generation without having energy storage.  One such example is the solar direct water pump at the sea container cabin.  The solar water pump takes power directly from a set of solar panels to power a water pump deep down in the well.  When the sun shines, the water is pumped up to a water tower reservoir, which then feeds water to the washroom and kitchen using gravity, providing water supply even when the sun is not shining, and without the need to use battery power to pump the water in the cabin.  Simply put, this is one form of energy storage, called “pumped hydro” where the energy is stored as elevated water.

In order to meet the electrical needs of the Sea Container Cabin, and balance out the off-grid power system, you need to store electricity in a battery system for use when the sun isn’t shining, the wind isn’t blowing or the water isn’t flowing. Many types of batteries are available, including traditional lead acids and more modern lithium based technologies.

Steps to building an Off-Grid system

  1. Determining the amount of energy you require, both your peak capacity requirements, and daily utilization patterns.  It is recommended you do a bottom up energy requirement analysis, looking at every power device you intend to operate, how often it will be operated, how many consecutive days such as full time residence or just weekend retreat use etc.  This will define your power requirements.
  2. Identify the best form of off-grid energy for you – gas fired, solar, wind etc.  This will depend on your local conditions and what mother nature has to offer you. If you can deploy multiple technology types, this will provide you redundancy in energy supply, which is very attractive when available. Then you need to determine how many days of power weather conditions that you wish to be resilient for, such has how many days of poor sunlight you wish to withstand. This determines the size of the energy storage battery system you require. Many other considerations go into sizing the storage system, including allowed depth of discharge of the batteries, number of cycles before the batteries wear out, performance in cold temperatures which is an important consideration for Canada, etc.

Have a Question on Power Systems or Energy Storage Systems?

We have shared a few concepts on how you may be able to live off-grid.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many concepts and design features we have rigorously tested in our Sea Container Cabins. If you’d like more information, call us or send us a note. We’d be happy to help you successfully get off-grid and start enjoying a sustainable lifestyle.

Internal Framing – Summer 2014

The local construction team specializes in framing and once you see the finished product, you’ll notice their attention to detail. As of October 2014, the Shipping Container Cabin – Project Octopod has been completed. Building officials have signed off on the inside, outstanding is the landscaping but we’re now in winter so it’s a matter of waiting until the snow melts before we raise the grade.

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View of centre of ceiling in Great Room. It’s beautiful, I hate to cover up the workmanship.

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Centre of Great Room looking out of the main entrance at water

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From main deck looking into main entrance. Walls of shipping containers will be cut creating entrances into rooms.

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From inside centre of Great Room looking up at big timber internal framing and brackets.

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Framing for upper windows

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Internal framing – looking up at upper windows

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Internal framing of walls going up

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Floors are in. Custom made by our sawmill tongue and groove pine planks.

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Now that the inside is buttoned up, the Internal metal walls are getting cut out.

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Internal framing of upper great room walls.

If you have any questions regarding the progress of our Shipping Container Cabin, or any specific questions about techniques and materials used in our kits for sale, we’d love to speak with you so contact us!

Summer progress for the Sea Container Cabin

Construction on the 7 Sea Container Cabin Project has taken off in full steam since our BIG crane day. Time has passed quickly but this is the start to sharing our summer progress with you.

Sea Container Cabin photo timeline:

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 The big crane on site to place the shipping containers into position.

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Shipping containers cruising in the air to their final positions.

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 Placing shipping containers neatly on the pier foundation to form the 7 Sea Container Cabin.

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First 4 shipping containers placed into position.

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Posts and Beams on site waiting their turn to be resurrected in place.

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A surprise visitor watching the progress of our build.

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 Post and Beam brackets custom engineered for our project.

Do you need some help vetting ideas for your own Shipping Container Cabin? We can help you traverse this “off the beaten path” type of construction. In fact, if you would like to experience the Sea Container Cabin, we will be booking rentals for those of you who are looking for an off-grid adventure.  Our final inspection has been booked and once the building permit is closed, we can officially say we have built the first permitted cabin of its kind in Ontario.

Some more exciting Sea Container Cabin news:

We are growing! Over the summer, many folks have been walking by a busy downtown Toronto corner wondering what was the newest addition to Scadding Court Community’s Market 707 Business out of the Box (BOB) program could be. We are happy to announce the first public/private partnership with the City of Toronto’s Scadding Court Community Centre BOB program. Our new Sea Container Cabin Urban Model showroom is the smallest model we offer at 20 feet long. This is a special high cube with side openings. Located at Bathurst Street and Dundas Street, we built this showroom to  give everyone a feel for what it’s like living in a Sea Container Cabin and more imporatantly, we used this showroom to test out our materials, their quality, ease of use, appropriateness for metal, and finishes at the Sea Container Cabin Urban before we applied our favourite features to our 7 Sea Container Cabin Showcase.

If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, please book an appointment and visit us at our new Urban showroom! We’d love to show you around.