Homeowners in hurricane- and tornado-prone areas now have an alternative to traditional brick and wood structures to keep their families safe: shipping containers. Their unibody steel construction exceeds structural code in the U.S. and stands up to severe conditions in seismic zones. One leader in the space is Brooklyn-based SG Blocks.
Founded in 2007, SG Blocks repurposes some of the 20 million or so containers in the world as its primary building tool. It calls itself a one-stop-shop construction platform for consumers looking for longer-lasting, greener, less-expensive dwellings.
SG Blocks manages the project from start to finish and provides industry-approved, code-engineered cargo shipping containers and complete architectural, engineering and design. Once the foundation is in and approved, SG Blocks delivers the home approximately 90 days later.
"The beautiful thing about prefabricated construction with SG Blocks is that while your contractor is doing the hole in the ground and the utilities, we're at the same exact time modifying the modules so that on Friday your foundation is finished and then on Monday, instead of having your general contractor show up for his first day, we start delivering 1,000 square feet an hour," said Paul Galvin, chairman and CEO of SG Blocks.
In March 2017 SG Blocks became the first company to receive an ESR number for a recycled material to be approved for construction. This basically makes the shipping container the equivalent of a brick or a piece of wood for construction purposes. Since then, this type of construction has exploded.
"Up until last year it was done on a one-off basis until SG Blocks and our team of engineers were able to get that as an approved mainstream building product, and since that time, we have a backlog of over 100 million contracts that have to be delivered upon, and our pipeline exceeds 300 million opportunities," said Galvin.
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For 25 years Galvin's experience was working on homelessness and homeless AIDS housing in New York City through a nonprofit he founded. He said quality, costs and delays associated with traditional construction were frustrating and have not changed.
SG Blocks is working toward giving everyone their fair chance of reaching the American dream. In 2018 the company announced a partnership with Capital Plus. Capital Plus is heavily invested in first-time ownership in the Hispanic community. The partners are doing a test case for a 50-year mortgage for a container-based project, which will make owning a home more attainable.