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Rhode Island Company Turns Shipping Containers Into Accessory Dwelling Units

A Rhode Island company has launched a line of prefabricated accessory dwelling units made from shipping containers.

“This came about early in the pandemic,” says Anders Hansen, founder and principal of ADDASPACE, located in Bristol, Rhode Island. “I was at home with two kids and a 130-pound dog, and thought that, while it was nice to work from home, it would be nice to be just outside the house.”

Hansen, who grew up in Denmark, has a background in interior design.

“I wanted to create space that was mobile and modular and that compliments the main house. I also thought it would be good to use the yard, which goes unused during the winter.”

He turned to used shipping containers. 

“We use ‘one-trip containers’ that have a minimum of dents or rust, and we make sure that they were not used to carry dangerous or dirty cargo,” Hansen says.

ADDASPACE offers a variety of configurations formed from 40-by- 8-foot and 20-by-8-foot containers, as well as larger buildings made by combining two or more containers. Doors and windows are cut into the container and it is clad with materials such as Kebony, a pine softwood treated to give it the same qualities as Ipé.

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“We were looking for a green cladding product to go with our reclaimed shipping container frame, and we wanted clean, smooth surface,” Hansen says. “Kebony looks great, and customers keep touching it because it’s so smooth. I also like the grey patina that it takes on over time.”

The new shipping-container ADU does not require a concrete slab; it is placed on piles that can easily be removed when the building is taken away. It can be equipped with solar panels and it can be connected to the main house electrical service. Water and sewer can be brought in. Lifted onto the site by a crane, the new building is, according to its builder, as solid as a hurricane shelter.

“We can do the manufacturing in four weeks,” Hansen says. “Unlike extensive renovations – which can take multiple months or longer, not to mention the dust and chaos – ADDASPACE’s entire, hassle-free process takes just weeks. From the design and permitting processes to delivery and installation, our mission is to make adding a space as easy and stress-free as possible.” 

He finds that the pandemic has changed many municipalities’ attitude towards ADUs.

“As long as you remain within the building codes, municipalities are open to them. I have been working on seven different projects, in different states and with different uses, and have encountered no opposition or resistance.”

Popular uses for ADDASPACE ADUs are yoga studios, learning pods, home offices, man caves, guest rooms and mother-in-law apartments. 

“We built one for a yacht club that uses it for its student programs; another for a historical society that uses it for educational programs. In that case, we used the same siding on the exterior as was on the main buildings.”

Standard modular plans include ADDA-Gym, ADDA-home office, ADDA-guest suite, ADDA-pool cabana.

Prices range from $45,000 to $85,000, depending on size and level of finish. The lower figure is the cost of a 20-foot unit with a roof, interior and exterior finish and electric power.

Hansen says, “It’s an affordable, simple and environmentally friendly way to add space to your home.”

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