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Elora business turns shipping containers into luxurious accommodations

Containers cost between $50,000 to $60,000 each to convert

An Elora couple has found a unique way to re-use shipping containers.

Will and Laura Feenstra are the owners of Inner Joy Getaways, just outside of Elora, where they have turned former shipping containers into luxurious suites.

Inner Joy Getaways 7.44 acres of land along four suites looking out onto the Grand River. Along the side of the property is Swan Creek which is a premium fly fishing spot on the Grand River.

“The property has acres upon acres of protected GRCA land and beside us is a small protected bush area.  You can tube right from the Elora gorge all the way to the property. The Wilson flats are just minutes down the road from us along with various other hiking paths," said Laura.

She said they had been watching the property on the market for 1.5 years prior and they thought they would look at it just for fun. 

When asked how the idea of using shipping containers came about, Laura said she began googling properties and used her faith to come up with the idea.

"The moment we stepped out of our car we felt instant peace. We walked the grounds and this passion and happiness came over us. My husband counsels youth that struggle with depression and anxiety and saw this property as a beautiful place to walk with the youth down to the river and just talk,” she said.

It took two years of planning and getting permission from the Grand River Conservation Authority and Centre Wellington Township.

They moved onto the property last October, the containers arrived in February and they welcomed their first guests in June.

The conversation of the shipping containers into these romantic guest houses cost approximately $50,000 to $60,000 per unit. They currently have four units, each has its own unique features, including a view of the Grand River and a personal outdoor hot tub.  The units are named from local surrounding areas, Fergus, Elora, Elmira and the St. Jacobs Unit.

“There were a lot of meetings with the township to get approval and so we created 3D images to help convey what we wanted to do,” Will said.

“Permits were needed from the Grand River Conservation Authority to build as we are in the floodplains. We drilled a new well and put in a new septic bed for the containers. Hydro had to be brought down to the end of the property and a transformer installed.

When asked how people react when they find out the suites are shipping containers.  The couple says, “We often have to repeat ourselves when we explain that we are using shipping containers, because most people are not expecting that when we say we are B&B owners. Everyone we have spoken with have loved the idea.”

“It is one of those things that you need to see it in person to fully understand what we have done. Some of the trades that were working with us at the very beginning were very unsure with how this was going to turn out. Will and I had a vision of what we wanted and now the same trades people have come back to see the finished suites and loved it.”  

The couple has been married for 17 years and have four children. The project was a good match as Laura is an interior decorator and Will is handy with carpentry skills along with being a youth pastor and counsellor.

They live onsite at the main house, which was originally a farm named Green Valley.

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