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admin | Category: Build A Shipping Container Home | 02.05.2016
Hiro Protagonist and Vitaly Chernobyl, roommates, are chilling out in their home, a spacious 20-by-30 in a U-Stor-It in Inglewood, California.
It is whispered that in the old days, when the U-Stor-It was actually used for its intended purpose (namely, providing cheap extra storage space to Californians with too many material goods), certain entrepreneurs came to the front office, rented out 10-by-10s using fake IDs, filled them up with steel drums full of toxic chemical waste, and then abandoned them, leaving the problem for the U-Stor-It Corporation to handle. I’m deliberately picking small and utilitarian images, because many other examples seem over-architected and more than a little twee, to me; if you want to go all House and Garden, why start with a shipping container in the first place? Like that guy who lives year-round in a tent in Pownal, Maine: If he set up his tent in a shipping container, he wouldn’t have to get up every hour to brush off the snow! Q- Aren’t shipping containers just hot ovens [We can see this guy is not from Maine] when they are used for homes or offices? I’m not telling anyone they shouldn’t build with shipping containers, just that they should truly assess their reasons for doing it before they proceed.
That is, the author, who knows how to build both conventionally and with shipping containers, paid $15K more to do it the container way, instead of buildng a conventional cabin.
You also have to consider that a shipping container shell still needs to be framed inside for attaching wallboard or paneling. So that’s a quick round-up on the seductions advantages and harsh realities disadvantages of shipping container homes. Concluding, I’d like to dolly back from the structural aspects of shipping container homes, and speculate a little on the macro-economic effects. Designing an efficient and liveable cabin in multiples of 8, 20, and 40 foot lengths is a huge limitation. Well, what happens when people, en masse, decide that dream kitchen isn’t worth the extra two feet? The abundance and relative cheapness of these containers during the last decade comes from the deficit in manufactured goods coming from North America in the last two decades. This entry was posted in Guest Post, Macroeconomic policy, Real estate on February 8, 2015 by Lambert Strether. I have some friends in central North Carolina who started their homestead together about a year and a half ago. A different friend of mine bought a used trailer and lived in it very comfortably for ~$9k, I think, though I’ve heard the average cost can be $15k-$20k or more for fully outfitted, nice quarters. I estimated my two friends in North Carolina paid ~$20k for the move-in-ready living quarters and storage, which seemed like a sweet deal for a couple itching to start permaculturing-up their homestead. That said, be on the lookout for the DOE Solar Decathlon 2015: selected colleges competing on a broad range of sustainability, constructability, innovation, and of course, useability. A experienced structural engineer will be more useful, at least here architects don’t know much about engineering. This comes up frequently as a topic within the community resilience group I’m part of.
But when the details of actual implementation in the real world get going, it completely falls apart.
When the long slow crash gets to just the right spot, at least we’ll be good to go on the process. Meanwhile, we’re all about improving what shelter we already have, getting food growing, adding as many non-consumptive systems as possible. Many towns in the NYC metro area, along with mandating 5 or 7 acre minimum lots, do not permit manufactured housing at all. Basically one has to go to rural areas, and in addition possibly invoke a subterfuge such as calling it an agricultural building (under Freedom to Farm laws), or else putting it on a wheeled chassis (so that it is not permanent construction), to build a container house without massive state intervention and intrusion.
Despite the risk, this usually ends up being cheaper than going the permit-in-advance route, mainly because unless something was done grossly wrong, the municipality is mainly interested in doing a pro forma inspection and collecting the cash.

Those pretty shipping container houses in the pictures are expensive architecture using containers as cool industrial design elements.
I love the picture of a $2,000 container on a $2,000,000 lakefront block, why would somebody bother? I agree with your thought that a shipping container home was akin to a build-your-own trailer home.
I could definitely see a future in a modular, pre-fabricated home – and using the shipping container specs for the exterior of each module could have advantages if the idea was to build them in low-cost areas and then transport them via cargo vessel. An electric mobile home with collapsable solar panels and a 100 mile straight-line travel range (plus a towable gas-powered generator for range extension) would seem more practical.
Panelfab was a Florida corporation situated in North Miami, Florida that manufactured building components designed to be erected and connected in double quick time.
The uniform sizes and boxy dimensions of shipping containers make them ideal for use in designing innovative, low cost buildings for just about any use. In the unplanned, unregulated communities that are part of the incredible expansion of urban Kabul, used Chinese shipping containers are one of the building modes of choice. This is really an issue concerning the affordability of decent housing for the teeming multitudes. I have a question, I wonder and am.concerned about left over pollution in these containers. CHU or containerized housing units were used as the bunks for troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Architecture schools have been exploring CHU since at least the 1990s as efficient mobile office and housing solutions.
I know from personal experience on job sites that the toxic cans issue is never even considered. If you have specific questions about building materials or designs please send me an email through this contact form here.
Rather than putting Hiro Protagonist [nudge] in an steel box at the decaying end of the supply chain, why not move the housing question back up the chain closer to the beginning?[1] Why not, in other words, a shipping container?
Nevertheless, you know it was architected, because the first thought was to put in plate glass windows. A shipping container cabin can be comfortable, secure, and aesthetically pleasing, but it will cost you considerably more than a conventionally built cabin. This essentially turns the shipping container into very expensive siding if you don’t need its security. If you, readers, are thinking about building a shipping container home, or have built one, and want to share your experiences, or you decided not to, and want to share your reasoning, we’d love to hear from you in comments. Both of these comments are true if you don’t mind living in a shack more appropriate for a third world refugee camp [rather like Hiro Protagonist!]. If housing and construction are key drivers of the economy, what happens to jobs and growth when you can snap a house together out of interchangeable parts in standard dimensions? Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. They got a twenty-ish foot trailer for living in, which seemed quite comfortable, and then they used a cargo container to store their tools safe from the rain and animals.
So one gains a bit of leverage, as compared to needing (and often waiting for) affirmative permission at every step along the way. The zeitgeist of the NYC suburbs requires maintaining the illusion of middle class, conformist respectability at all costs. I already spend enough time at work in conex boxes with plywood siding and benches made from 2x4s to want to live in a truly cheap container structure.

As an engineer it seems fairly obvious (to me) that something designed for a purpose will be more efficient and cost effective than something repurposed.
Attaching or stacking containers provides for almost limitless possibilities in terms of office buildings, emergency medical clinics, detached home offices and studio spaces and thousands of other applications.
And I’m the kind of person who finds comfort in having mentally handled the worst case scenario, and it seems to me that if, for whatever reason, I lost my home, or had to leave the country and start over, that I could scrape together enough for shelter and start over.
Of course, if I wanted to live in the container, as opposed to living in a tent in the container, I’d need to think about insulation. The reality is, that the new Ceramic spray insulation is most effective when applied to metal. It’s not that different than wanting to build a log cabin – my true dream cabin, by the way. That’s why any one container can be stacked on any other, any crane can handle any container, and so on and so forth. I’ve seen shipping container “cabins” with no insulation, the wrong insulation, raw plywood flooring, no wallboard or paneling, no roof, no foundation, and no utilities.
The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. How energy efficient is such structure, a thin layer of sprayed insulation in the corrugated steel. The building code in our state runs hundreds of pages, and that’s without the National Electrical Code which is incorporated by reference.
I’ve never really understood the fad for using shipping containers, unless you have one lying around and need some extra storage.
I would love feed back about potential ability to clean the containers and the risk of said spills. Most of them are accessed via a communal loading dock that leads to a maze of wide corrugated-steel hallways and freight elevators. In fact, if you build a home, office, emergency shelter or storage unitusing Ceramic Insulation paint (spray) the structure will probably be more energy efficient than a conventional home. Log cabins also cost more per square foot than conventional construction, but somehow they seem like a better aesthetic deal to me. The flexibility of frame construction to scale to virtually any size is a substantial benefit compared to container construction.
Therefore, new applications are sought for the used containers that have reached their North American destination. Like the IRS code, the full scope and interpretation of the building code cannot be mastered by any one person.
These are slum housing, 5-by-10s and 10-by-10s where Yanoama tribespersons cook beans and parboil fistfuls of coca leaves over heaps of burning lottery tickets.. When things go all t—s up, then sheer volume of survival type projects, which mainly ignore local codes and dare the authorities to intervene, will prevail. Sure, two-by-fours are a standard size, and electrical sockets are standard, and Pemex plumbing is standard, but the dimensions of the housing structure itself are not standard.

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Comments »

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  3. | Leda_Atomica — 02.05.2016 at 13:31:37 Containers were then set on top.
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