You could call Paul Galvin a man with crate expectations.
Galvin is the man behind SG Blocks, which builds houses, office buildings and strip malls out of used shipping containers.
“I was doing some work [on public housing] where I met some people who had done small projects using containers,” Galvin says when asked where he got the idea. “And they presented the concept as the wave of the future.”
Using a recycled shipping container to build a house?
Why not? In fact, just for kicks, how about an eco-friendly luxury house in the Hamptons?
Indeed, that’s precisely what Galvin and developer Andrew Anderson (a Prudential Douglas Elliman broker) are planning in Amagansett this summer.
The crates are made out of heavy-gauge Corten steel, so no one has to worry about its durability. It’s also Earth-friendly: No trees need to be cut down for lumber.
Moreover, it’s a good 15 percent cheaper, in terms of the materials used. And, based on Galvin’s past work, it can be assembled 55 percent more quickly (which dramatically cuts labor costs and interest on a construction loan) than typical newly built homes. All this means that Galvin and Anderson can offer a new house on the tony East End for less than $800 per square foot.
The concept is not so foreign or radical. The shipping crate doesn’t look all that different from a modular, prefabricated house. The crate is repurposed in a factory (just like a prefab house), in Pennsylvania, and shipped to its destination.
Modular construction got a big boost last week when it was announced that, in an attempt to cut costs, Forest City Ratner is considering putting up a 34-story, 400-apartment prefabricated steel tower at the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn. Nearby, Dekalb Market — with food vendors and a performance venue opening on Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall this summer — will be held inside salvaged shipping containers.
But while the Atlantic Yards and Dekalb Market sites are practical, Galvin and Anderson are going for luxe. Anderson says the finished house will be a 1,932-square-foot four-bedroom, done in a modern style, and set about 500 feet from the ocean (pending approval from the town of East Hampton).
“For me, probably first and foremost, [the importance of the container design] is the sustainability of it,” Anderson says. He wanted something that wouldn’t leave a big carbon footprint and thinks he hit upon it here.
In addition, Anderson says they’re planning to add counters made out of recycled paper, Forest Stewardship Council-certified flooring and an energy-efficient heating and cooling system.
“My plan is to launch half a dozen [of these Hamptons houses] in the immediate future,” Anderson says.
The process from soup to nuts promises to be extremely quick.
“Once we get approved, we go right into fabrication,” Galvin says. “Within eight to 10 weeks, we should be delivering the finished units, and we erect the home in a day or two.”
“The goal was to bring affordable, luxury, environmentally friendly to the beach community,” Anderson says.
Just how affordable?
They won’t say precisely, but according to Anderson, “Affordable out there is somewhere under $1.5 million.”