Idiot builds home out of garbage!

13 Jul

I was going to “spend” this post, talking about the “actual” Shipping Container house I’m building.

But, recent email has made me think that I need to explain the motives (beyond the “My slumlord is an absolute jerk!!” theme) behind this construction “mechanism.” Read my previous posts, if you need “further enlightenment.” That’s them sitting right over there, on your right. We’ll just sit right here, twiddling our thumbs, while we wait for you… At least they’ll make you laugh…

Anyway, today I’m gonna let you look into my hollow little head, and see how I think. Now, I know that you’re gonna need therapy afterward, but that’s the risk you take when you go out on the internet.

I wrote a disclaimer and everything, so if you feel ill effects after you’ve absorbed this into your synapses, well… it’s on you.

I’m a lazy bastard. There, I’ve said it. I’m getting old, and I’m starting to hurt when I get up in the mornings. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.

So, in keeping with that stream of consciousness, think “low-energy” construction.

And since construction is fueled by “energy,” let’s start with some basics;

In an area of economic depression, it’s the little things that kill you. Like power bills, and mortgage payments. This isn’t the “West Coast,” it’s the Gulf Coast, and payrolls reflect that. Salaries are lower here in the South than in any other part of the country, and you have to get creative to make your dollars stretch, if you want to keep your family in Oreo’s and “Death by Chocolate” Ice Cream.

So, my family started looking at ways to build a home, taking this into consideration.

Let’s face it, folks. I’m not 30 years old any more. I’m almost 50, and frankly, if I had known that I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. A look into my past reveals a lot of “beyond the ordinary” physical activity and risks. I suppose I thought I was immortal. I was strong, I was tough, and I was “smart.”  And what did I gain from all that genetic heritage? Hmmm? Well, I have more scars than everybody on my block put together. The reality is that I was burning the candle at both ends, and they seem to be racing towards the middle. In my case, it’s “middle-age.” Oy Vay!

So, my “earning years” aren’t going to be fueled by the strength of my back. I’m going to have to use my “brain,” to support my family, and that means a lot of macaroni-and-cheese is in our future…

Because, dear readers… If you’ve been following along, I’m sure that you’ve already figured out  I’m not exactly a “rocket scientist.” LOL!

So, beginning the journey down “Shipping Container Home Road” made us consider things you wouldn’t normally consider, here.

We needed, efficient, economic, and “easy over the years.”

Taking all of this into consideration, (to use “techno-speak” I shamelessly “lifted” from another website – http://www.passivehouse.us) we wanted a home that went up fast, fast fast… And, we wanted it to be “a superinsulated envelope with superior airtightness, with an efficient wholehouse heat-recovery ventilation system,” and capable of benefiting from any passive solar gains that we could harness.

Now,  I could have used my own words to describe it, but they just said it better. And since I didn’t have to re-write it over and over again, it goes along with my theme of “saving energy.” See? You can incorporate this mode of thought into almost everything you do!

Now where was I? Oh yeah…

That’s right folks, when it comes to heating and cooling this beast, good ole’ Mother Earth was gonna have to lend a hand.

Actually achieving this means that we won’t need a conventional heating system. The object is to build a box so well insulated, that it requires a minimal amount of heat and a/c to make habitable, in relative comfort. I want to use something called a “fresh-air furnace.”

(Yeah, yeah… I know… What about mold, mildew, and “stinky stuff…?” I’m worried about humidity, too.)

Speaking of “relative comfort,” I’m saying it right here, for the record (because we all know that once it hits the Internet, it never goes away)…

We don’t, however, want the “relatives” to get too comfortable. They can come visit for a weekend on their way to the casinos, but on Monday Morning, they’re on their way to the airport, capish?

(Sorry, I don’t know where that came from…)

Anyway, in the “energy” department, we’re aiming for about 7000 BTUs/hour.

I figure I’ll just get me a bevy of long-haired young beauties, and let them have at it, with their hair dryers! After all, girls are nice, “squishy,” and fun to have around! Oops, where did THAT come from? I gotta stop thinking out loud! LOL!

I know… I’m a pig. But, I’m a “smart” pig.

From everything I’m reading, a typical home requires about six times as much energy.

The neat thing about using containers as a starting point, is that you can insulate both sides, quite effectively. We’re trying to get into the R50 – R60 range, using rigid insulation, blown-in fiberglass,  and insulative foam. The insulation gets “skinned” using OSB (oriented strand board)  and then, we figure out who wins the “I wanna make it look like this…” battle.

(Most of the insulation goes on the outside of the container, so that the “box” doesn’t shrink.”)

Now, I know that some of you are screaming; “Just use “refer containers,” you idiot!”

I know that I could start out with “insulated containers.” The shipping industry does use refrigerated containers that have a real good insulative value, and you can buy them as “scrap,” but they just aren’t available to me. I’m using what I could get.

In the “My house looks like” department, I’m currently winning, but the tide turns quickly! My wife is devious, and I’m sure that one morning, if I wake up at all, I’ll come to the grim realization that my “castle” has turned into a “casa,” or even worse a (gasp!) “colonial.”

So regardless of the “dress” we put on this “pig,” I want it’s roots to be firmly planted in the “I’m not so hard to handle” theme. Handling my family is hard enough, if I have to handle the house too, you might as well just go ahead and bury me in the backyard, now…

We’re doing a lot of this using “common sense.” I suppose it’s because we’re on “new” ground, in the “practical deployment” arena. Not many people have done what we’re trying to do, because it’s so “seemingly bizarre.”

In fact, I have an email folder full of “How could you do that to your own family, you bastard?!” messages.

People are so used to (I call it “indoctrinated“) stick or masonry homes, that the very idea of using something else makes me a “Communist sympathizer.” LOL!

Those who know me, know that I live my life by my middle finger. If you’re not caring for my family, or paying my bills, your input is limited. Extremely limited. And if you don’t like it… well, “sticks and stones!” bucko! LOL!

FYI: I possess some architectural education. And it’s from schools that are known for being pretty impressive. But, I gotta tell you, it was a long time ago (and I spent most of my time there looking at girls).

Like a “computer” education (they called them “Business Information Systems” way back when…) obsolescence has made most of what I was taught in those classrooms, useless trivia.

However, I possess a LOT of practical experience. Remember that “past” I referred to earlier? Well, I’ve lived all over the rock in some pretty hostile climes, and I’ve managed to test several of my “theories,” first hand.

So, this old dog knows a few tricks.

I’ve made the rounds, speaking to colleagues, architects, engineers, and guys (and gals) who are supposed to know better. They just don’t seem to possess the mindset I’m looking for, in the “compatibility” department. I suppose it’s my “location,” but here in the South, if you’re not doing it like Grandpa did, you’re just not right.

In fact, in that sector of commerce, I’m known as “the whack-job…”

To these people, I say only this;

“Invest in CABLE! It’s not just HBO, or Showtime! It’s the 21st Century now… Hello?”

So, I’m not making many friends, and that’s depressing. Because this “technology” (if you want to call recycling garbage “technology”) could change the way we live, and save us money at the same time. And it’s money that matters, around here.

You can talk all you want about “GREEN,” but the reality is that the only “GREEN” that gets any attention in a depressed geographic location, is cold, hard, cash.

Next post, we’ll talk about the house, I promise…

Stay tuned!

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