People smile and tell me I’m the crazy one…

19 Feb

Remember that tune?…

Wait, that’s not how it goes…

My family is building a house. I know… so what? But it’s a “special house.”

Why? Because it’s being built with Shipping Containers. And because of that, people think that we’re “special.”

You know, the “they should wear football helmets and travel around, strapped firmly into a short white bus” kinda special.

Hey, every neighborhood has to have a big ugly house that is surrounded by old cars, big dogs, loud noise, and cops at all hours of the day and night, right? You know.. that house that even the Postman is afraid of!

Well, we’re gonna live in that house! 😉

Lately, I’ve been talking about the “nuts and bolts’ of house construction. Now, these rules, that I’ve affectionately called;

Ronin’s 10 sorta simple rules of homebuilding…”

are  to be valued, cherished, and held in high esteem exactly like those tablets that Moses brought down from the Mount…


You’d better… because I’ve trapped your IP address, and I’ll send locusts, and plague, and even gruesome, gnarly bad stuff to you… if you don’t! 😉

Anyway, people have been emailing me lately. Now usually, I don’t mind “thinly veiled death threats” and “we know where you live” taunts, but when they come in droves, well… it’s time to fall back and cover the basics. 🙂

That way, should there be any “gun play” I’ll have covered my butt… or so the lawyer tells me! 😉

So, once again, for the “slow readers…” let’s start again, shall we? Hmmm?

Seriously, using a “metal framed box” built out of Corten Steel (that incidentally… doesn’t rust and was designed to traverse the oceans indefinitely, carrying tons of cargo securely, all the while facing the most severe weather on the planet) to build a house out of, doesn’t seem so crazy to me.

In fact, it’s fast, efficient, affordable, and even a viable alternative to the bleak housing situation we face in the United States.

How do I know this? Well… I’ve done it before… several times, in fact! And I’m not talking about “yesterday…” I’m talking about going back as far as three decades ago.

In fact, I think I deserve some of that “stimulus money!” I’m going to change the way America prosecutes… um…er… thinks! I am too! After all, I’m leadin’ you to the “Promised Land!”

moses-parts-the-red-sea-2Hmmm… maybe I’m taking myself a little bit too seriously? Ya think? 🙂

And as I watch this “Little House” movement, I can’t help but feel that I was a part of it, without even knowing it… years ago, before the press latched onto it and made it “fashionable.”

Take (2) 40′ Shipping Containers, and couple them together side by side. Sit this “sub-assembly” on some concrete blocks (foundation), and you have the shell of a pretty durable 640 square foot shelter. Or, you can put it up in the air on pilings, and use the space underneath it for a garage and a “Man Cave!”

Wait… Shipping containers were designed to be “stacked…” Hmmm… So, we’ll take a few more (2) “container sub-assemblies” (we’ll use (2) of them, for the sake of arguments), and stack them on top of that first assembly, and what do you have? Hmmm?

I’ll tell you what you have. You have a solid steel multi-level house, just waiting to happen.  In less than a few hours, you’ve put up a shelter that encompasses 1,920 square feet (with 9′ ceilings!), just waiting for cabinets, plumbing, electrical, and “habitation…” Not bad for one days work, huh?

And, I’m not gonna lose square footage to the staircase, because I’m going to attach a container to this massive pile of “mankind waiting to happen” (standing straight up in the air, on end) to form a 40′ tall “staircase tower.” So, we used (7) containers, and we are already “weathered in,” and we can start modifying them whenever we want, no matter what Mother Nature brings… using basic hand tools you’ll find in most shops.

I wanted to just put in a pole like they have at Fire Stations, but my wife nixed the idea. For some strange reason, she thinks it’d come with strippers dancing around it… 🙂

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that those boxes come with flooring already installed, so I’ll save some money, and I can work without worrying about tripping. That is, after I encapsulate it. Container floors are treated with chemicals that are very toxic. On second though, I think I’ll rip them out, and pour in some nice safe concrete… I am kinda fond of living, after all…

Convinced yet that this is the “idea of the century?”

Okay, it’s not quite that easy. But it’s not that hard, either.

First things first…

Where do you get the containers, and what do they cost?

I’ve talked about how abundant these babies are, and all you really need is to be located near a shipping port or a big rail yard. Why? Because it’s not the cost of the box that kills you, it’s the cost of the “shipping.” These boxes have to be put on trailers and then trucked to your site. With fuel prices going through the roof, THAT “delivery fee” is the big limitation to using Shipping Containers to build your abode.

I was on the phone today (Feb 17th, 2009) talking to some guys I know that run a big “Shipping Container Graveyard.” It’s located about 100 miles from me, here in coastal Mississippi.

I asked them about 40′ HQ containers, because I want the extra height, to either add ceiling headroom or increase square footage (by laying them on their sides).   Now, they’re gonna give me a “deal,” so buying (1) is gonna cost me about $1,200.00, plus shipping. But, if I buy (10) or more, the price drops dramatically. In fact, it drops below $1000 each. If I bargain like I’m Chinese (because they are great bargainers! I have a “Hong Kong” story I’ll tell ya sometime… :-)) I can probably get the price down to about $850.00 – $900.00 each. Okay, maybe not. But a grand a pop might be doable.

But, it gets better. If I get “creative,” and allow the boxes to be used to actually haul freight to a location near me (after all, that’s what they are designed for), my shipping costs drop dramatically.

It’s going to take longer to get them to me, sure. That’s because “logistics” get thrown into the mix. But, it does give me time to work on them, as they roll in, so that I can get the “sub assemblies” ready to stack. And, I might even need less area in my yard to store them, if I can work fast!!

And, from the street, the house looks just like a big steel box. I can make it look like anything I want. It’s a blank slate (not to be confused with the “blank stares” my neighbors get, when they see the renderings).

I don’t know why? I think a big pile of “semi-rusting hulks covered in graffiti” surrounded by acres of crabgrass looks just “swell!” 😉

I can use the same doors and windows as everybody else on the block. So, it looks like Lowe’s or Home Depot is gonna get some of my hard earned cash. And, once those doors and windows are installed, all I need to do is insulate the beast, and slap on some siding.

Guess what? Now you can’t even tell that it was a bunch of ugly shipping containers! In fact, what you have is a big, strong house, that from the outside, looks just like anybody elses!

And, you did it in less than a week. Last week, it was just an eyesore of a deserted vacant lot filled with garbage, old cars, and the local kids “fort.” Today, it’s a house, waiting for it’s insides to get installed, so that you can move in… And because it’s made out of solid steel, it’s easy to secure it and all your stuff, while you do it.

And, we’re talking about an investment of less than $15,000 so far…

Now, call your contractor, and ask him if he can build you a 2,000 square foot house shell, weathered in, ready to be trimmed out, for that price…

Wanna learn more?

See you next time…

Stay tuned!

The Renaissance RoninCost of vacant lot, crane, and permits extra. Your mileage may vary. Wear eye protection at all times. Don’t run with scissors. Drink your milk.  Don’t talk to strangers. All sales final. No refunds!


4 Responses to “People smile and tell me I’m the crazy one…”

  1. Ashish February 21, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    You’d better… because I’ve trapped your IP address, and I’ll send locusts, and plague, and even gruesome, gnarly bad stuff to you… if you don’t!
    The [future] Emperor of the World isn’t afraid of your plague or locusts.. infact he favours locusts that taste a bit sour.. tasty! 😛

    Don’t talk to strangers.
    Don’t talk to strangers hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm
    Don’t talk to strangers ’cause they’re only there to do you harm
    Don’t write in starlight ’cause the words may come out real
    Don’t hide in doorways you may find the key that opens up your soul

    • renaissanceronin February 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

      Hey Ashish!

      I thought the ground had opened up and swallowed you! But then I though to myself;

      “Self… If the ground ate Ashish, it’d get sick and then it’d puke him back up… and here you are!”

      Glad to see you!

      Now where were we? Oh yeah…

      You need to broaden your horizons, dude. Evidently Indians eat locusts, and Jews eat Manna. I’ll take the manna… Locusts are too crunchy and they taste like dirt. Don’t ask me how I know…

      And it appears that my post has inspired you to “wax poetic…” I’d have preferred it if you just “waxed my car,” but that’s just me… 😉

      “Wax on… wax off…”

      Glad to see you, I was worried about you!


      PS Check your email!

  2. containers sales February 23, 2009 at 1:11 am #


    I like your “strategy” ideas.

    It is a very nice and good post.

  3. Gill May 19, 2009 at 5:01 am #

    Hi I was looking for a picture of the red sea for my under 5s group at church this afternoon and came across your site. I just wanted to say well done and good for you. I hope your house keeps you warm and content and you and your family enjoy living in something you’ve built yourselves.
    God bless

Comments are closed.