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From container to guesthouse

Bill Lilly, LEED AP, describes them as “white-knuckle experiences.”

The Oxford homebuilder and owner of Village Green Builders Inc. says he had a number of such moments while building the state’s first home from shipping containers.

Shipping container, sweet shipping container (Related story)

The worries began early, and were not always high-tech in nature.

“The first concern was getting a 40-foot container down a narrow driveway,” Lilly said with a laugh. “That was the first white-knuckle experience.

“We had to use a crane to lower the shipping container on to the slab. I’d ask, ‘Can you move it a quarter of an inch that way? Now can you come this way about half an inch?’ It was stressful, but we got it set in place perfectly.”

Interior work brought more delicate logistics. The container is only eight feet wide, which meant opening up the space while ensuring structural integrity in the guesthouse that encompasses 1,000 square feet.

Flashing the windows and doors to ensure water-tightness was another worry. The crew managed to pull that off, which led to another challenge — indoor air quality.

“The space was so tight we had to bring in fresh air,” Lilly said.

In taking on the project, Lilly also inherited other sustainable construction hurdles on top of air quality. These included incorporating renewable energy sources, minimal environmental impact and reuse/recycling.

The guesthouse includes geothermal and solar electric power, and was a pioneer here, as well. The home became the first-ever grid-tied photovoltaic system for Northeast Mississippi Power Association.

None of that was cheap.

Lilly estimated buying the container, renting a crane and getting it placed on the slab alone cost $10,000.

“In the end, the cost was approximately $138 per square foot, in that range,” he said. “It was expensive.”



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