There’s a trend developing which opens the door to a wide range of new uses for metal shipping containers, and a Sault entrepreneur is getting involved in it.
“Our concepts will consist of constructing cottages, saunas, hunting cabins, commercial spaces, single family homes and office pods, all being done strictly using shipping containers.We’re considering having these pods rented for the time being or they can be permanently installed and purchased. They’ll be extremely unique and bring a lot of attention,” said Randy Deschamps, DK Designs Consulting Inc. owner/operator, speaking to SooToday.
“This has been a vision of mine for the last six years. I’ve been wanting to introduce it to the area, so I’ve been researching and doing a lot of homework so that we understood what we were getting into.”
“This is a first for the Sault, 100 per cent,” said Deschamps, a Sault native.
“The reason I started it is because I was tired of seeing the same old construction habits. When you walk into somebody’s house you see the same trim, the same window casings, the same flooring, there’s no uniqueness to it,” Deschamps said, stating no two DK container projects will be the same.
The containers will be purchased by DK from a distributor in Toronto and shipped to the Sault via flatbed truck, available in various sizes for customers who lease or purchase them.
“You can get a cube container, which is 10 by 10, you can get a 20 feet long by eight feet wide, you can get a 40-feet or 50-feet long, and those are all eight feet wide,” Deschamps said.
“A lot of our construction is probably going to be ‘highboys,’ nine feet high.”
Multiple containers can be leased or purchased and stacked on top of each other (up to five high, with stairs installed) or put side by side, the middle sections opened up to 16-feet wide, 24-feet wide or more.
Once a container is delivered to DK for a customer, Deschamps and his crew go to work.
Far from being metal cubes with one window and one door cut into them, Deschamps said “they’ll look like cool, artistic buildings.”
“As long as we don’t take the corner posts out, we can start cutting the sides out of them, we can make them with sides that can lift up hydraulically, we can take out walls and put glass in there, we can put in open doorways, wide open patio doors. What we can do with them is whatever you can imagine.”
“Right off the bat, we want to make sauna pods,” Deschamps said.
“What we want to do is take some of the eight by 20 feet containers, split it in half, cut out the front section of it so you have a covered veranda you can walk on to, and then you go into the door and there’s your sauna. You can have them for your camp. You can call us up and order a sauna pod, say ‘we want this, this and this’ and we’ll have it ready for you in a month. We take a truck and bring it to your site. The only kind of structure it needs would be packed gravel or a couple of patio slabs. Once you have your site prepped for it, we deliver it, slide it off the truck and let it down. Done. You’re ready. We’re making them ‘plug and play.’”
Deschamps said DK Designs will soon be working on an order for a 40-foot container to be turned into a cottage.
“The one end is going to be glassed off with a view of the water, there’s going to be a kitchen, it’s going to be a one bedroom unit, we’re going to have a bathroom and then your main living area with a fireplace and a wraparound porch. That’s going to be one of our first projects.”
“It’s going to be out in the Goulais River area. That’ll be something we’ll be able to show the public, to show what we’re doing.”
There is a multitude of commercial and institutional possibilities as well, Deschamps said.
“I want to find an area downtown. I would love to see these little container pods all set up (on one property), maybe 20 of them on either side with a courtyard in the middle and all these little vendor huts with food. In the summer you’d go in there and find containers for desserts, for drinks, one for burgers, one for pizza, Greek food, a Mexican hut, you could go there and eat a different meal every day.”
“I could see something like this doing good at Mill Market or Bellevue Park. They’d go down, sit, have a bite to eat, wander around, walk their dog, go to the ice cream shack that would be in this little village, we could have entertainment. I think it would be a good all round attraction.”
Deschamps said the City of Sault Ste. Marie has been receptive to the concept.
“To purchase a typical container, say a 20-foot container, you’re looking at three or four thousand dollars just for the container. However in depth you want to go in design, that’s going to determine your cost. You could be upwards of $20,000...a 40 foot container cottage could be $30,000, all the way up to $120,000. It all depends on the complexity of what you want to get into.”
All steel and coated with anti-corrosion paint, they're watertight and, Deschamps said, would not be stifling hot or freezing cold to sit in.
He said he and his team have attacked that problem with spray foam insulation.
The pods could be used to shelter COVID patients, Deschamps said.
“It could definitely branch out into something like that.”
“That’s another avenue we want to take. We could make a medic pod. Say we have a special event downtown or Bellevue Park, the medical pod we would drop there, painted up in medical colours, could provide for quick medical attention. Our paramedics could park there and have a pod. You could go there with a cut or a scrape and feel safe. We could use it for on site medics at the steel plant. They could lease it off us or we could sell it to them.”
Pods are becoming popular in European countries such as Italy, as well as B.C., Deschamps said.
“I’m excited, especially about the medical pods, police pods and security pods.”
DK Designs Consulting Inc. can be reached at (705) 542 1472.