Saturday, November 27, 2010

My shipping container/cabin plan.



The plan is to build a cabin / shelter / house from a shipping / sea container that is suitable for a weekend or a very lengthy stay. One that is self sustainable in a time of disaster for up to a year or longer if need be, and to have all the comforts of home, and more. 
    When finished it will have both grid and off grid capabilities. Water will be heated using solar energy with electric backup, or by wood stove if necessary. Lighting will be a combination of 110 volt, 12 volt or kerosene. Heating will be a wood stove and solar. Water will be provided by a well source
using both electric and hand pump to feed the cabin. 
A large pantry that is mostly underground that will house at least a years supply of food.
 Remember, it wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark!

74 comments:

  1. Its good to find people like you and blogs like this, where people share their personal experience from their encouters with different removalists. If you ask me that means a lot.

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  2. Now what you have to do is stack two more containers on top (they lock together of course!) and you'll have a bi-level!

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  3. Excellent job. Final ballpark material cost? couldn't find a way to email you.

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  4. Thanks Dale. The cost thus far is Approx $35,000. That includes everything but the four acres it sits on. It also includes the well and carport. I say thus far because there are a few more things that I want to do, but will not really add much to the finial cost. I still plan on putting awnings above the windows, a small pond and fountain in the front yard and a dividing wall in the bathroom to separate the washer and dryer from the rest of the bathroom.

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  5. I have to say Job Well Done. I am blown away at how well all this turned out and applaud you.

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  6. Thank you very much, I really do appreciate that.

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  7. Larry, Any plans to post pictures of the inside?
    This is one cool idea!

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  8. Look at the top of the blog and click on any subject in the green highlighted box.

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  9. I'm really interested in what you have done with your cabin - amazing job. I'm considering doing th same thing only for a work shop. I have a ship container and would like to add two more to create my shop. I have looked at my container and it look to me if three contianers are placed side by side the floor shoud be tight to each other and welding a strip between the two not needed. I looked at your pictures and it apperars there was a gap between the two containers. Your comments would be appreciated.

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  10. Thanks Darrel.
    I used a four ton come along to pull my containers together, and they were against each other at the corners, but you will still have a small cap between them along the walls and floor, it is just the way they are made. I welded mine together because I wanted them to be one unit when done. Just like a house, you can get settling in the ground, and if they are not welded together, you could end up with one settling more then the other creating some real problems from the roof leaking between containers to floor issues. It is my opinion that unless you will be putting them on one large concrete slab, they should be tied together in some manner so they can move as one unit. Welding them was what I choose to do, but you could bolt them or use any other method available to you that will make them act as a single unit. Good luck with your project. Larry

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  11. What is the stuff you sprayed on the outside of your containers before you push the dirt against them?

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  12. It is closed cell spray foam insulation. If you go the the spray insulation page, there is a link in red "spray foam" that will take you to the product.

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  13. Nice...You sir have given me a number of ideas!!

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  14. Thank you maddmedic! Good luck on your endeavor, whatever it may be.

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  15. I love this idea! It's amazing how cheap you can get the containers and make buildings out of them. The 'green' aspect of using shipping containers is great too. I post a lot on www.shippingcontainerforum.com, and there are a lot of people who are making buildings too!

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  16. Thanks outback. I have been to the shipping container forum and even posted my project. That was 15 months ago and so far not a single comment. Seems kind of dead over there.

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  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  18. Great project! I like it all. Do you have any concern with the amount of dirt against the pantry-end wall? Also, did you have to do anything with the bottom of the container so varmints couldn't get under it? Or, for insulation on the bottom?

    Pathfinder

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  19. I don't have any real concerns at all as far as the dirt on the container goes. Most all the dirt is at the pantry end and there are wall in place to lend support to any outside pressures. The bottom is pretty sealed off except for maybe some insects, pretty much like any house. There is no insulation under the container because I wanted what ever thermal heating and cooling the ground could provide me. I do have a crawls space vent fan that is humidity controlled to help keep moister out.

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  20. Good Idea, maybe some wood on the front would look bit better.

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    1. I have considered log siding, but a huge part of me just doesn't want to lose sight of what this project was really built around.

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    2. I agree, no wood! It looks great as is(I have those same front doors :)). I can't wait to show this to my husband who is a builder. I know he will agree with me.....Kudos, Great Job!!!!

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  21. I was wondering if you were going to seal the metal before covering it up . Like a tin roof coating as it would cut down on rust and corrosion and give a bit of insulation ? As for the front perhaps the new wood siding they build the wood storage buildings out of as its treated , then maybe a piece of foam between the metal and the wood to help insulate it and you could cap the top off with a 2x4 treated piece ?

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  22. You have looked at the blog right? It has been finished for over a year now. :)

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  23. Hello, Did you have any CONDENSATION issues on the interior after the spray foam was applied on the exterior? Any reason you added it to the exterior vs the interior instead of the batting?

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    1. No issues with condensation. I used spray foam on the roof to seal it and the back and end wall because it was going to get buried. The interior has R-12 in all the wall's and ceiling. So I am sorta double insulated.

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  24. You're on the front page of Reddit as of 12/08/2012 - Great Job On The Project.

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  25. Hi Larry,

    Awesome is all I can think. I am going to try and tackle the solar heater (furnace) and after much internet reseach (obviously I didnt do enough), I had a question. Why the concave Lexan surface vs. a flat panel surface on the water heater panel? Now that I wrote it, it sounds generic, but most of the heating (air) panels I have seen have flat surfaces. Something tells me that the curved surface is better, but I don't know why? Any chance you might be able to explain that here?

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  26. Thanks Jay. I really do not think there is any performance gain between the curved and flat surface for the heaters. I just did a curved because I thought it looked cool ;-))

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  27. I just watched your video and had to come and check out your blog. Wow I am very impressed, what a wonderful and beautiful project! Great job!

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  28. After lookin for anything I could find on shipping container housing for a few years, I stumbled across a video on YouTube of your cabin. Looking for it again, I found your original version. BRAVO!!!! You're livin my dream. Your blog is just as good. I go through the pics almost daily. Fine fine job sir. Looking to build something real similar in northern Mi.

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  29. Hi Larry. Now that you have had your insulation in for a while, have you had any moisture issues? I am trying to decide what type of insulation to use when I start my project. Thanks for your insight!

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    1. Xrytekk. I recently installed a mini split AC/heat system and had to cut a 2" hole through my interior and exterior wall and the insulation R-13 was just as clean, fresh and dry as the day I installed it over 2 years ago. It has worked fine for me thus far. R-13 with plastic sheeting vapor barrier on the warm side.

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    2. That is really great to hear!! I cant get someone to my container to spray it and dont want to spend the money on solid sheets. Your place looks AMAZING!!! I do have one more question for you tho... regarding your windows, did you weld metal frames for them as I have seen others do to attach your windows? or did you just attach them directly? Thanks again for the info... Kathy

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    3. I attached my window directly. No issues with that after two years of completion.

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  30. The architectural is simple outstanding. Windows are my favorite part here.

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  31. I need to find some containers in Edmonton for my windows. Hopefully I can get everything together.

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  32. You may try a Google search, metal yards or craigslist for containers.

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  33. Just a great idee. Excuse my english, but I honest not thinking ever of doing something like this! thankyou --Vard Scarie | conteneur

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    1. Thank you Vard Scarie, and you are most welcome. Larry

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  34. C'est très cool! Merci beaucoup de partager cette information des maisons location conteneur!

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  35. A friend on FB just posted this incredible work of art. I am in total amazement of this house including the cost. It's perfect. Did you have to get loans to do this or did you use your own savings. I absolutely would love to have a come that is closer to my children and grands. I am a single woman living alone, so I would not need anything more than what you've bulit. However, I have no savings as I am on a fixed income. Credit poor. Can I even consider taking on such a venture?

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  36. Larry,
    Your video has inspired me to build my retirement home. We just put a bid in on 40 acres in east Texas to put it on. We've been in process for two years to do this. Your blog gives so many answers to the thousands of questions I got after viewing it. I'm sure you'll get tired of my questions after a while but I'll give you progress reports as I build it.
    John in Texas

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    1. Thanks John, and good luck on your project

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  37. I would highly recommend dropping a 48 pound mag anode on each corner and cad welding them to the structure to help protect the steel containers from corroding. The only corrosion will take part where the walls are in contact with the soil or standing water. I did notice that you sprayed the earth bermed part with foam. This will help prevent corrosion but will not stop it as there are no perfect coatings out there that can. The shelter is an awesome idea and some great plans just thought I would give you the opinion of a Corrosion Technician in the oil/gas industry.

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  38. Hi Larry! Amazing home and thank you so much for documenting it so we can all dream to build our own. Question on the solar furnace: after seeing your set up and watching the you tube video you have on your blog, I still don't understand why you would put your hot air exhaust so close to the ceiling. Wouldn't it be better to put in near the floor but away from the intake, since hot air rises? I would think that would do a better job of disbursing the warmed air throughout the home versus heading near the ceiling. Could I get your thoughts on this since you have a working system and I am just planning ours?

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    1. Heidi, Thanks for your comments. There was no science behind why I chose to put the exhaust up high other then one, it was the shortest route, two, I thought the small fan could expel the air easier and more efficiently that way as possessed to trying to puss it down, and third, because the house does not use a forced air system, I thought it might help facilitate heating the bedrooms where I left top portion of the walls open just for that porpoise in hopes that the warm air from the ceiling would drift into the rooms. I do have ceiling fans that could help distribute the air but have never felt a need, the system seems to work ok as it is. Larry

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  39. Larry would you be able to put everything you did here in a book or some plans for people like me to purchase online?

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  40. Maybe some day, but I am not much of a reader or writer. Larry

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  41. Completely awesome! Love the price too. Saw this on fb and I'm gonna share. Amazing work :)))

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  42. I am just so completely impressed! Bravo and thank you for posting this along with all of your steps along the way. Someday I would love to make something like this for my parents to stay in when they visit us. Right now they stay in a small camper because there just isn't any spare room in our 900 foot house. There are two of us, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a ferret.

    Thank you again for giving all of us a some wonderful ideas along with instructions all along the way!

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    1. Thank you Kathy, and good luck with your future project should you decide to go for it! Larry

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  43. Thats a very creative way, where did you get the idea? Its an idea i would love to implement

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    1. I had several different ideas in the beginning for building a shelter, but went with the shipping containers because of there strength, rust resistance and for the fact that they are already dried in and ready for doors and windows.

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  44. I’m so lucky that I have got this site that imparted me the high quality of information easily.Lend A Box

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  45. Hi Larry - good stuff - thanks for the blog. I'm nearly done with my own conversion of a 40' container to a small cabin and stumbled across you. I'm at the point of figuring out insulation - in a mild climate but cold nights and the propane stove needs to run non-stop. I'm getting crazy high quotes on closed-cell spray foam; like in the $10+/sq/ft range, for the ~1200 of exposed steel walls and roof. Did you use the kit to do yourself? Reasonable for DIY? Any special prep to the steel/paint before spraying? Folks have also told me I'll need to pay thousands for sandblasting first, as they have outdoor paint on them now. Every contractor has also warned me that it will look terrible from inconsistency of foam, but the looks of yours is fine by me. Thanks much, and great work!

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  46. Hey Nicholas, I did spray the foam on myself, and there does not need to be any special prep other then a good pressure washing. The spray foam adheres extremely well to just about anything. If you go to the (Spray insulation, Landscaping, doors & windows) page and click on spray foam, it will take you to the website that I purchased from. If you plan to spray outside walls, it will need tp be painted or covered because it is not uv stable. The only reason I sprayed outside was because I would be submersing part of the container with earth, otherwise I would have sprayed inside and then there would be no need to paint, just the normal interior walls would be sufficient. It is pretty hard to get smooth even results from spraying at first, but it doesn't take long to get good at laying it down once you get into it. No matter what tho, that stuff is not real cheap but it is real good! Larry

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  47. Larry,

    I have just found this blog via your post on YouTube. The build is awesome. I did want to know if there are any heating/cooling issues that you deal with in that the building is made of steel? I have researched earth ships but see that this build is very useful as well. Please let me know what you have dealt with post build and going through a couple seasons of change in the cabin/house.

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    1. Thanks Brady. I can not complain any about heating and cooling my cabin. The earth berm alone helps tremendously. I do not stay in my cabin year round, but we have just spent one of the coldest winters on record here in Oklahoma with many nights down to single digit temperatures and I only have a 1500 watt star rated heater I use to keep things @ 45 degrees when I am away. I do go to the cabin almost daily but do not sleep there and almost every visit the heater is not even running and my highest electric bill was only forty dollars which I could have even avoided that if I was running off my inverter. summers are also plenty hot here with temps hoovering around the 90-105 degrees and the mini split ac system has no problem maintaining a comfy temp of 73 degrees and my highest electric bill during peak summer was $70.00. That same mini split system will also heat the cabin, but I can only turn it down 60 degrees which is why I use the 1500 watt heater instead. Hope that helps, Larry

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  48. What is the temp inside your pantry with the dirt insulation on the outside? It reminds me of the old fashioned root cellar. Did you think of using foam insulation inside the containers instead of the fiberglass?
    John Burkett

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    1. John, the earth berm only helps to moderate the outside temps, so lets say when it is 20 degrees outside, temp inside might be around 45, and if it is 100 outside it might be 70 inside the pantry. Spray foam on the inside would have been good but the cost kept me from doing that. I mainly used it on the outside for insulating and protecting the outside walls from the earth berm.

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  49. Great work on your project, and your blog. I have been on the net looking at lotsa different ideas, and found yours very well done. I'm a hoarder, I know this will come in handy someday, and liked your reuse of many parts or repurposed items. Good job & God Bless.
    Dr Bob(A Harley Healer)

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  50. Really cool projekt larry - thanks for sharing it with us!
    How much time was involved? And will a low skilled craftsman (like me) be able to build it alone?

    thanks!

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    1. Thank you kaufen. I really can not answer your question. If you have some basic electrical and plumbing skills along with any carpentry knowledge, then you could probably do it. I have never been a paid carpenter, welder, plumber or electrician, just a tightwad who never liked paying for something I thought I might be able to do, so I have learned a lot over the years being that way. If you like doing things yourself and are not scared to get your hands dirty, or do a lot of sweating, I say go for it.

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  51. Great job Larry! One question. Did you need an permits to do any of the projects for the entire job? thinking to do the same in Michigan and wondering about permits.

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    1. Thank you Dean.
      Most places in the US will require certain permits and you will just have to check with your local public works building division to find out what is required in your area. I live outside of city zoning and there were no permits required in my area, so I was very lucky there.

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