Minnesota couple transform shipping containers into stylish cabanas, saunas, treehouses and more

Sarah and Andy Berg have always been up for adventure.

The couple started dating as a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth 20 years ago, transferred together to North Dakota State University, and spent a few years in Florida after s ‘to be married. But the pandemic threw the Arden Hills couple into a loop and launched them on an adventure neither of them could have imagined.

Their Latitude Studios, launched in December 2020, manufactures everything you could dream of with shipping containers, sleek pool houses, boathouses and sauna cabins, sleek garden sheds and treehouses.

“We were approached to create a shipping container bar on ice,” Sarah says. “People have ideas, like a dorm, that we never would have thought of.”

The idea for the company was born from their needs. When the pandemic confined Sarah, a special education teacher, and Andy, an engineer, to their home with children Mac, 11, and Nora, 9, they felt trapped, in dire need of a space to stay. suitable work.

“I was trying to find a good way to build an office in the backyard,” says Andy. “I set up my office in the garage, but it was too hot in the middle of the summer. I had a camping trailer so I installed the air conditioning and an office there. The idea evolved to go from there. ”

Shipping containers were a natural choice. In the age of Airbnbs and the tiny house movement, there are many, can be recycled and upcycled, and tick boxes for durability, affordability, and strength.

The Bergs stock up on various types of containers that arrive in Minneapolis by rail. Almost all of them are 8 feet wide and 8 ½ feet high. It costs around $ 1,000 a foot for a finished product from Latitude, although the price may increase as needed.

“A cool, personalized 8×10 three-season porch starts at around $ 10,000,” says Andy. “A 20-foot heated and air-conditioned office with a small porch – that’s $ 25,000. When you start to enter the 40ft dormitory it costs $ 40,000 to $ 50,000. “

Sarah, who has long been interested in antiques and thrift, never imagined she would be involved in the business.

“I thought that would be just Andy’s thing, and I would continue to teach,” she says. “But when I walked into the front desk, it was so bare and ugly, and I have to paint that wall and line the bathroom – it became a family affair pretty quickly.”

Today, the Ham Lake couple’s studio has nine employees, from welders to photographers. The typical shipping container travels the world 30 to 50 times before ending up in the Bergs workshop, where they are remodeled to suit customers’ wishes.

“Now they’re landing at your latitude,” says Andy. “It’s a new way of building and creating space, offering a space of freedom.”

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