Just shut up and stick Tab A into Slot B, huh?

6 Jul

Hi Campers!

I have a few ISBU houses being built, RIGHT NOW. Although my house is mired in political poo-poo (I’m tempted to send one of those LooWatts to Jackson, MS…) I’m assisting some other ISBU fans as they build their Shipping Container homes.

If you look at my email (Man, I wish somebody would so I wouldn’t have to, sometimes! Some of you guys are vicious!)  the hardest part about building an alternative home, is figuring out how the parts interconnect. And it seems as the readership numbers go up (we’re over 50,000 now), the email increases exponentially. Here pretty soon, I’m gonna have to start posting “FAQS.”

The first one will be; “Yes, Ronin really is a Big Fat Bald-headed Jerk.

I am too “big!” I’s over 6 feet tall, I is.  But I ain’t really “fat.” I’s “ROUND.” There’s a difference… 2 letters…  And, I’m not “bald.” I shave my head. There’s a difference, see? 🙂

Lately, I’ve been getting the same questions, over and over again (And will ya stop askin? It’s anatomically impossible! Sheesh!) , so I’m gonna do this;

I thought I’d take a few moments to share some photographs with you that actually spell out (a) how you put a container on a piling, and (b) how you can support an elevated roof.

Note: These photographs came out of a Houston, TX build.

Note this note: It ain’t one of mine.

Why did I use somebody elses’s build photo’s?

Well, most of MY current builds are placed on pilings 10′ in the air. I’ve got a (2) ISBU “SuperDeluxe Swamp Shed” in an actual  swamp meadow. 10 feet up.Seems the “Mother-In-Law” was afraid of heights, and couldn’t climb stairs! Hey! Why didn’t I think of that! 🙂

I’ve got a Indian family building a “several ISBU lodge…” again… you guessed it… 10′ up in the air. (Rotten Building Codes. Those Bastards!) But, the family likes the idea. They’ll see palefaces coming a mile away. And when Josh visits, it’s “DEATH FROM ABOVE!

So, watch your head, because those juice containers and fruit cocktail cans hurt like hell when they bounce off your skull. You’ve been warned! 🙂

I’ve got a (2) container “Tree House” going in, actually suspended between massive trees and a cliff face. I’m not kidding! We ended up “pre-fabbing” the boxes, so that they can be welded together, and then… they’ll be hauling the house up into the trees like Robinson Freakin Crusoe!  All the water, power, and sewer lines will run down from the bottom of the house into “fake” tree trunks, and then out in the right directions.

(The “tree trunks” are actually carefully “disguised” support pilings.)

It’s a “tree house!” Hello? Where did you think it was gonna be? In a cave? I can’t wait for this one to get finished! The photos will make you crazy! When the guy told me what he wanted to do, I thought he was crazy… or an artist. And yep, sure enough, he’s a crazy artist.

It’s kinda hard to get good photo’s with a good degree of detail, when you’re about “a block away” lookin up! 🙂

But, I’ve got a (2) container home being built into a hillside in NC, and another one, that’s going to be built out in the boonies , over there in “Davy Crockett” land. You know the place… We don’t say the name out loud…  Their egos are big enough already!  Ssshhhhhsh! 🙂

Funny thing that… He’s literally out in the middle of nowhere, probably within spitting distance of “another country,” and he STILL has a HOA (Home Owners Association) trying to tell him what to do. But, I figure that after he hangs with “ole Ronin” for a while, I’ll inspire him to go all “Alamo on their asses” and chase them back under the rocks they crawled out from under! 🙂

Ronin no like HOA’s!

HOA make Ronin Maaaaaad! 🙂

Actually, Texas is starting to grow on me. Why? Because an architect I really admire, who is leading the way in the “WORLD of ISBUs” is  PETER DEMARIA. He  earned a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas (probably with a minor in “Bowhunting,” or the “History of Ted Nugent,” or something like that, but… ) 🙂

He’s now is the founding principal of the California-based firm, DeMaria Design Associates Inc., and they are receiving rave reviews across the country for their Redondo Beach residence, a single-family custom home utilizing recycled cargo containers.


“This project is the torch bearer for a new, more affordable method of design and construction — Architecture as a Product,” Peter  writes.

FYI: HOA’s still suck…

So, where was I? Oh yeah…

I thought it made sense to show you how to build a Corten Castle, on the ground. Okay… a few inches OFF the ground. After all, unless you live on the Gulf Coast, or you’re a nut (Sorry Pete, but… you ARE a nut.) …  it’s probably how you’ll do it, anyway.

And… I thought I’d show you how other people are addressing  ISBU problems, and then… I’ll show you how I’d do it. There’s not a thing wrong with the way this builder did this. In fact, it looks like it was a fun build. The opportunity for use of lots of recycled stuff was just running rampant!

The photos are pretty self explanatory, but note how small in diameter the pilings are, to hold this ISBU house up off the ground. It looks like they used coffee cans for piling forms! 🙂

Now… we’re gonna want to increase the diameter of the pilings (sono tubes filled with steel-reinforced concrete) in most projects, to insure that you can actually get underneath the containers in order to spray closed cell foam (insulation) on their lil steel bottoms, and to keep your house up outta the rain, snow and dreck…

ISBU14Nothing to it! No footings, no rebar sticking up to poke yer eye out, nada!

And a roof is easy, too! In fact, it looks too easy, huh?

ISBU12It looks odd, but a roof is as simple as a welded extension, a bracket, and a few 2×8’s.

And, if you look at the cuts, you can also see how easily a plasma cutter slices thru the corten steel, to open the boxes up.

ISBU5And now… Geraldo Rivera will open the mysterious vault formerly belonging to Al Capone… Hey, What’s Michael Jackson’s monkey doing in here? BAD Bubbles!

See how they firred out the inside of the container, so they could attach sheetrock?

Additionally, the”fabricated” 2×8 ceiling joists just sit in a “modified” bracket, on the top of a 2″ box steel “extension” welded right to the frame of the container.  What’s a “fabricated” beam?

Take (2) 2×8’s and a hunk of plywood, and glue them all together. (Plywood goes in the middle.) Now, drive screws into them until your screwgun pukes! What ya got? Instant beams! For Cheap!

This allows you to put a conventional roof on your container house, just like the neighbors. ISBU1Okay, so it looks like a third world jail! It ain’t done yet! Sheesh!

However, if you’ve read my posts, you know that I prefer to use SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels), for several reasons. These reasons included the fact that a SIP roof is already insulated, and strong, strong, strong. Plus, in short spans (under 24′), they can support themselves. Huh?

Well… because SIPs “will interlock” so you don’t need any side bracing or connections.

Now, for you “conventional people out there… in the case of a more traditional roof, I’d add a connector that ties each bracket support to the next in a “cage.” That “cage” will make the roof structure more rigid.

In the SIPs roof example, your SIP roof  (made out of interlocking SIP panels) will basically sit right on top of the walls, and get nailed, glued, and then strapped into place.

Here’s some more assorted views of containers being turned into “Corten Casas!”

ISBU10Here we see that intrepid explorer Marlin Perkins look for his assistant, who’s just been swallowed by an Anaconda… wait… that’s not it.

ISBU11I wonder what’s gonna go there? Hmmm? Probably a clothesline. 🙂

ISBU6Ever put an M-80 in a mailbox? … Actually, that box is getting ready to become a bedroom!

ISBU9This is where I hide from my wife… Shhhhhsh! Note the two doorways. The skinny one is for… um…er… my wife. Yeah, that’s it! 🙂

Now, I’ll start using photos from a few of MY builds, to show you how WE do it. Because I know that it’s hard to visualize a description of how these boxes get assembled into a home, especially when reading one of MY posts. Hey, ya want Tolstoy… go to the damned library! 🙂

I hope that these photos of a current build, help.

Now excuse me while I go look for a piece of property with a few big trees. I got me an idea… and a Mother-In-Law!:)

The Renaissance Ronin