Saturday, July 31, 2010

Picking a spot for the shelter

There are several things to consider when picking the spot for your shelter such as, will you be adding water and electric, if so is the soil going to be easy to dig. How level is the ground (will you need a operator with a tractor to level your ground). Can a semi with a 40' container get in to set your container and get out. I chose a banked location for my project because I wanted to dig down to get it level and use the excess dirt to put back onto the container for some insulating and thermal heating and cooling value.
    With the ground leveled I measured out for the footings or piers the containers were to sit on. There are some options here, like railroad ties, gravel, concrete piers, or full concrete slab. I used re-bar reinforced ready mix concrete piers. My $3.00 laser level is siting on the cinder block. The cinder block is leveled on all four corners, then I taped the $3.00 laser bought at walmart to a torpedo level. It worked pretty good.
1st container arriving, wahooo!!
2nd container arriving.
When your containers come in, you will have to have your piers so the driver can wheel over them unless you have a crane available to you that can lift the 8,000+ plus containers off the truck and onto your piers.
    The driver did a pretty good job of placing the 1st container, but missed my piers. I was not sure what to do then because these things weigh in at over 8,000 lbs, and I only have a small compact tractor, but between an old floor jack, a 4 ton power-puller and my little tractor, I got it done.
The second container he dropped off was 3' away from my other one and I guess that was a close as he could get, but again a little ingenuity and I got the two married.
Here is a back view where most of the dirt will go back onto the container. The dirt will cover the most rear portion of the shelter where I plan on keeping some food supplies. It should help keep that corner cool year round which in turn should help extend the shelf life of the food supplies.
        This is the hand pump water line. The hand pump water line is coming in where the kitchen will be, and the pump will sit over the sink as do conventional faucets.
Containers are chained together at the top and bottom temporally. Eventually they will be welded together.
      I used spray foam insulation in between the two containers to keep moisture out.     

24 comments:

  1. Hey Larry, I finally found time to visit. Quite a project. How much do the containers cost? This is just an idea, because I'm burying some pipe to build a Greenhouse, I'm coating the pipe with roofing sealer to protect it from rust, it's pretty cheap and sure helps prolong the inevitable.

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  2. Brian, the containers were $2,450.00 ea delivered. I also used some roofing sealer on the bottom rails of the containers for the same reasons, they will be permanently under ground.

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  3. Hello Larry.
    I have a small tech site and I wish to post a link to your site and tell everyone about it.
    In order to do it I must:
    1. get your permission to re-post some of the pics of you awesome container cabin.
    2. how much did it cost to bulid? not just the containers(I see you wrote 2,4500 $) but also the materials, sinks, wood(but without the furniture).

    thanks

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  4. You are welcome to use my pics, the whole purpose of them is to help others.
    On cost, I did not keep building separate from the total which was about $35,000.00 US. But if I were to deduct the well, carport, driveway gravel, and landscaping, my guess would be about $25,000 and that is with me doing all the work.
    Larry

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  5. Burying shipping containers, even partially, is a VERY BAD IDEA.

    The sides are not intended to take that sort of load, and being in contact with damp soil, never mind ground water, will lead to serious rust. Yes, they were exposed to salt water at sea. For a few weeks, on the ship from China, and then in all likelihood never again. Quite different than years of direct contact with damp soil.

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    1. Hey anonymous - I think what this man has done is just short of AMAZING, and if this Larry wanted to put 5 feet of dirt on top of it and it was mine, I would look at what he as done here, the thought process he has been through to accomplish each task, and myself, I would not argue one bit with him.

      Have you noticed the awnings for the windows? Pretty ornate I would say. The trim he has taken the time to build from the awning over the front door to the inside and cutting of the archway is just a showing of a true "Masters touch".

      Take a look at the soil prep he has done. The drains installed and gravel with the spray on foam and this will last probably at least 50 years.

      I cannot see any "very bad idea". Show us what you have built and post it on here and take the time this man has taken to help other people, then feel free to explain things to us, because i am following Larry and his plans step by step.
      Have a Merry Christimas

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    2. So I can assume you have a structural engineering degree and can back your comments up with figures and facts right? Or maybe some documented cases with pics, or even one would work for me! Or maybe you are just repeating something you heard from Tom, Dick and Harry who have know evidence either because they heard it from someone else to. Also please tell me how the water is going to penetrate the closed cell foam I sprayed onto the container before I put dirt on it because water is not supposed to be able to penetrate it and with your expert background in structural engineering and apparently a metallurgist to, then you could join me and sue the spray foam company for misleading me. I also might add that the containers are made of Corten steel, a very very rust resistant material and I have a sheet of it that has been face down in the dirt for three years now and it still looks like it did from day one, could you advise me as to when that thing is going to rust away so I don't have to haul the darn thing away? My fear is it won't be in my life time! Larry

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  6. Larry - you might get him to represent you because it seems that he knows more about things in his own little world than you do in building such a wonderful home like you have there to relax in the evenings! On second thought - feed him fish.
    Now that Corten steel will only last about 3 lifetimes before you have to get a bulldozer in there to remove it, along with the blocks under it, the pool covering, and then of course the foam.
    I love it and so do one heck of a lot of people who watch this like I do and see the workmanship in this home that you BUILT! Love it! I think it is just fantastic that way you have put this together but as you know there wil always be those who think they know more, but I don't see the house they have built. Jim

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    1. But if I feed him fish, he will only have fish for a day, but if I can teach him to fish, then he will have fish for a life time! Well unless there is something wrong with fish that will cause a man to rust lol.

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  7. Oh by the way Larry - Hope you have a Merry Christimas! Jim

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    1. A very merry Christmas to you Jim, and to all who have joined this blog I say Merry Christmas and Happy new year!

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  8. I am in love with this project! I have had fantasies for years of doing the same thing and this is inspiring me greatly.

    I would like to comment on the previous anonymous user saying the containers will rust out: I have read this over and over and it seems to apply to bare paint being buried/bermed. I have seen several containers in my job (field engineer) with the bottoms completely rusted away when haphazardly left in a wet field for a few years. I cannot speak to the quality of the containers they sues though.

    The difference being you seem to have prepped everything very well, and from what I can tell these will last a very, very long time.

    I have been considering placing my containers on a concrete slab when I get them. Possibly a slab with a depression for a bunker underneath the containers themselves. Any thoughts on that?

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    1. If I had the money at the time of this build, I would have had a poured basement under mine, it is a great idea!

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  9. hi Larry,

    Firstly just to repeat what everyone else is saying here that you have done an amazing job. I am doing a similar thing in Kenya for an orphanage but I was interested how the foam sealant was working. I have seen a lot of suggestions to use silicone but the cost is obviously much higher than foam. Also is there any thing that you did that you would have done differently 2nd time round.

    Cheers
    Allan

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    1. If time and money would have allowed for it, I would have probably built a pitched roof, and I think I would have went with a conventional toilet also. But that is about it. The foam sealant seals and insulates and is working well. I mainly went with that to protect the exterior from the moisture created from the earth berm.

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  10. Where did you get the containers? In Edmonton? I've seen a few there but didn't know how to get them where I wanted. I've also thought about building a yurt. Do you have any thoughts on those?

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  11. I'm curious what the specs are on the piers you placed the containers on. I'm looking at doing pretty much the same thing and dont want to reinvent the wheel. Pier length and width? Footing dimensions? I guessing 6 total piers?

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    1. I used 12" piers. I purchased the tubular forms at lowes, I also added some cinder block supports about every 3' but I really doubt they do much, I just thought it might help eliminate any settling.

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    2. This is such a fantastic idea. Thank you for sharing!!

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  12. Very creative and cool, that will make a nice house to live just like the concrete ones.

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  13. I really like it! I could live there and love it! Good Job!

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  14. What a great project you've done here, Larry.

    It's also really appreciated to see the time and effort you've put in to publishing this blog, providing considerable help to others.

    I am very much looking forward to seeing more episodes and pictures in this wonderful exercise, preferably as soon as possible!

    By the way, you mentioned having a pitched roof as a possible recommendation. How would you do do this? Build a timber framework then put corrugated iron sheets between the battens?

    Thanks so much, mate! :)

    Cheers
    Barry

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    1. Thanks Barry!
      The easiest way I thought to put a pitched roof on was simply screw 2x4 nailers to the top frame rails and then just use conventional roof trusses and nail then to them. Then of course just plywood then tar paper and then what ever roofing top layer, my choice would be painted corrugated metal. Larry

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