• Three Squared, Inc.

Breaking Down the Cost Savings of Cargo Architecture

Spend five minutes on Google searching for shipping container projects and you’ll find all sorts of articles touting container buildings that were completed at insanely low costs... but then head to other links and you’ll find projects that landed at about the same costs as a traditionally built structure. This contradictory information has probably led you to question where to turn for a reliable answer. Luckily, you ended up here to learn from the experts in the industry.

Three Squared's Model Center, Detroit MI (Email to book a tour!)

Here’s the quickest truth for you: yes, you can save on your hard construction costs by building with shipping containers (typically 5%-10%). However, the greatest cost savings actually come from the time you save by building with shipping containers. Wondering how this works? Let’s break it down.

To demonstrate how these time savings translate into cost savings, we took part in an event at the Multifamily Executive Conference where we went through an exercise to compare our Cargo Architecture timeline with traditional construction. This allowed us to put our methodologies to the test and see where we landed competitively in the field.

Our most interesting finding landed at about Month 4 of construction. As shown in the chart below, the primary time advantage in shipping container construction is the ability to begin framing almost immediately. In Cargo Architecture, the framing process consists of two phases: container modifications (which can be completed inside of a couple weeks/months, pending project size) and setting the containers on site (which can be completed inside of a couple hours/days, pending project size).

Case Study: Time Savings on a 40 Unit Apartment Complex

(This was created by the Multifamily Executive Conference using Three Squared's projects as an example. Time frame is dependent on a number of things, including client responsiveness and city permitting.)

Since we can complete container modifications and reinforcements inside of a factory setting, our clients reap the massive benefit of not having to wait for site work to be completed before beginning the framing process. So we can essentially begin framing at the same time as site work, shaving valuable time off the project’s overall construction timeline. In the MFE Conference's case study example of a 40 unit apartment complex, our methodologies shaved five months off the total build time.

On top of these time savings that occur by completing multiple steps simultaneously, there are inherent time savings baked into the nature of Cargo Architecture since majority of the framing process takes place indoors. Think: fewer weather delays and the ability to work throughout the winter as long as foundations are set before the ground freezes.

So you save time… great! How does all of this translate into cost savings?

Using Cargo Architecture, those time savings become cost savings in two ways. The first is by simply not being under construction during those months you’ve saved on your timeline (think: saving money on site security, project management, site superintendent, loan interest, general conditions, etc).

Your biggest win though is the opportunity to begin generating revenue sooner. Returning to the above case study example of a 40 unit apartment complex, those five months saved roughly $25,000 in construction savings (estimated at $5,000/month) and generated an additional $240,000 - $320,000 in rents for our hypothetical clients (estimated at $1,000/month per apartment for 5+ months).

Various multi-unit projects in progress. See more of our projects here!

Finally, with all of this in mind, take a moment to think back to your project. Are you building affordable housing? High-end condos? An investment property?

Whatever you plan on building, there is more to cost savings than your hard construction costs. By generating revenue quicker, the time benefits of Cargo Architecture can make a massive impact on your bottom line.

Still have questions? Book your introductory call with our team here to discuss your project at a time that works for you.

Alternatively, you can send your project type, location, and square footage to and a member of our team will reach out to you with more information.


© 2020 by Three Squared, Inc. 

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle