NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – About 20 million freight containers are used to transport cargo around the world.
Now, a company based in Brooklyn Heights is giving new life to old steel across the country.
Sometimes, ideas develop when you think outside the box.
Paul Galvin is the founder of SG Blocks, which transforms shipping containers into homes and businesses.
"You're standing in a restaurant and a bar," he told CBS News' John Schiumo.
The company has completed projects in all 50 states, including a Starbucks in Salt Lake City and Bareburger on Long Island.
Galvin says the structures are safe, strong and sustainable, and they cost 30 to 50 cents less than traditional building methods.
"Anybody involved in construction, either personally or professionally, know the outrageous prices being charged by general contractors in every major city in the United States," he said.
A standard shipping container is 8 feet wide and either 20 or 40 feet long. Architects love the design flexibility. If you want a second floor, you stack it. If you want a window, you just cut it out.
The frames are made of steel designed to weather the elements, and they can be stacked nine-high.
Asked whether he thinks they're going to be the future of construction on some level, owner of Elle Woodworking, Marc Vecchiarelli, replied, "Oh, absolutely."
His team is helping to turn four containers into a cocktail bar and restaurant.
"The advantage of these containers is that they will, they will last a lifetime," he said.
"This building methodology -- modular pre-fabricated construction – is what's going to cure the housing crisis in America," said Galvin. "I'm that confident."
A typical project takes six weeks to build and just hours to install.
SG Blocks purchases the containers before transforming them. The COR-TEN steel isn't suitable for scrap metal.
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