When you’re the site manager for a construction company, a portable office is a must. You have to be able to move your workplace from site to site, and it has to be durable enough to withstand all that motion along with potentially hazardous site conditions. Ideally, this office is also self-contained and requires very little assembly or disassembly.

"Site Shack," a new portable prefab from Powers Construction.

Converted shipping containers have become a popular choice for all of these reasons, but they still aren’t ideal, partially owing to the fact that they require extensive modification to be made comfortable for both hot and cold environments.

Even better than shipping containers are not just prefabricated but “pre-made” workspaces that ship fully assembled. These plug-and-play structures can be set down virtually anywhere by crane, and then it’s just a matter of filling them with the features and furniture your particular needs require.

The Site Shack being installed on a construction site.

When Powers Construction of Vancouver, Canada needed to upgrade their own portable offices for their site managers, they decided to come up with their own design. The result is the ‘Site Shack,’ a tiny 8 x 12-foot pre-made cabin that’s as cute as it is rugged.

“For this office, we wanted to design and build an iteration from scratch, thus removing the structural constraints of the shipping container module,” the firm explains. “The goal was to create a seamless Corten steel form reminiscent of a traditional pitched roof house. The roof pitch was calculated so truck transportation would not require over-height permits.”

“The interior was to be heated with a traditional wood stove. One end was to be fully glazed, [while] the other incorporated a hidden steel door. Throughout construction, the design details were refined. This allowed fulfillment of the initial desire for a seamless, finely detailed exterior.”

"Site Shack," a new portable prefab from Powers Construction.
The wood-burning stove that heats the Site Shack interiors.

Made of a 2 x 6-inch wood frame with 5 x 5-foot steel angles at each end, the shack has a heavy-duty feel befitting its usage, and its built-in Cubic Mini interior wood stove made of cold-rolled steel is just right for the chilly climate of British Columbia. On top of that, Corten steel develops a beautiful rust patina over time that doesn’t corrode the material, holding up to rain, snow, ice, and fog. A two-inch layer of Outsulation, a rigid type of foam, offers thermal regulation to the interiors, which themselves are lined with fir plywood.

Part of the Site Shack's Corten steel exterior.

The handsome prefab presents a stark contrast to the usual facilities at any given construction site, which rarely get much fancier than a trailer and a port-a-potty. It’s also a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the average shipping container, albeit less stackable.

"Site Shack," a new portable prefab from Powers Construction.

While it was initially created with the company’s own needs in mind, the Site Shack is adaptable to all kinds of other uses. Powers Construction says they’re already building limited numbers of semi-customized shacks on demand. It’s easy to imagine the design offering a peaceful backyard refuge as a mobile office for all kinds of work, a guest room, or a studio for art, music, or yoga. It could also serve as a sort of instant off-grid cabin in a remote location.