To another exciting episode of;
“What’s that Shipping Container idiot up to NOW?”
If you’ve arrived here by another link or blog, looking for information about a home that we’re building for the young family of a US Marine killed in Iraq, I invite you to click here:
… for the most recent information on this family, and our goal to get them into a safe, secure home of their own… as fast as possible.
This post… (the one you’re on right now) “Playing With Plasma Cutters” covers the origins of that build if you’ll just scan down to the next headline in RED.
(I do this because someone… we’re not gonna point any fingers or name any names… HEATHER… accused me of being “too wordy”.) 😉
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program… 🙂
Followers of this blog already know that my family needs a home, and we live in “hostile territory.”
NO! We don’t live in Baghdad, or Somalia, or even the Bronx…
(No offense to you guys in Baghdad…) 🙂
My family lives on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi – The Land of Hurricane Hysteria!!
The Reader’s Digest Condensed Version goes like this;
Hurricane Ivan eats house in Florida. Insurance guy hands out checks. Family moves to Mississippi! Hurricane eats house in Mississippi! Oy Freakin’ Vey! Insurance guy goes into hiding. Family needs home. Family needs CHEAP home. Family sees steel boxes everywhere. Steel Boxes vs. severe weather = Safety. Family starts to build Steel Box house. Locals go nuts. And, not in a good way…
It’s been one bizarre week…
What do you get…
… when you cross a plasma cutter with several damaged Shipping Containers?
NO! You don’t get scrap metal to sell to the salvage yard!
With all that “Cash for Clunkers” nonsense, the price of steel has dropped, and nobody wants it! Bad for them, but GOOOOOOOD for Ronin!
A while back, a guy offered us the keys to the gate of the place where damaged Shipping Containers go to die. It’s a place where the boxes that get folded, spindled, and mutilated go, to slowly disappear into the weeds. And, he said that if we could find anything that we could use, we could haul it off.
Now I was curious as to HOW containers get crunched. I mean, they’re steel. And then, I saw this;
Now, I get it…
Okay, now that I’ve given you something to have nightmares about…
(I bet you’ll see this picture in your sleep, the next time you take that Carnival Cruise, huh?) 🙂
Now, where was I? I get sidetracked so easily, these days… Oh yeah… we’re in cahoots with another guy, who has a hunk of wooded land, on the Gulf of Hepatitis.
I’ve told you about this before. You remember, right? Well? 🙂
So, in the “Spirit of Experimentation”, we’re gonna build some modules out of these hulks, to show people what you can do with them. The thought is to allow other people that are thinking about building a house out of ISBU’s the chance to actually work on one, before they jump into their own build.
I started thinking about it, because I’ve got a build up in the Carolina’s, that will go the same route, if all goes well. She’ll get labor help, and the guys helping will get experience working on the boxes. One hand will wash the other…
But… (there’s always a “but”, huh?), somebody needed to figure out who does what, and what to let the rookies play with. After all, you’re not working with wood. Those boo-boo’s will get hard to fix, if you’re not careful.
So, I drew up several modules, consisting of bedrooms, play rooms, offices, utility rooms, laundry rooms, kitchens… you name it. Just to figure out what was possible, of course.
And a plan was hatched to build several modules, and then connect them all together, using one common room as the “bridge.” So, “The Corten Community” was born…
The theme was “treehouses.” However… We’re not gonna connect the boxes in the traditional sense. You’re gonna have to actually GO to each module.
We’re inspecting the carcasses in the “dead zone”, and it looks like we’ll get several 16′, 20′, and 24′ sections, if we plan and then cut… carefully.
So, we’re gonna use several 16′ sections to form the Modular “Ewok Village” (we’re building on pilings) and we’ll build the modules out of steel, concrete, and wood. And, we’re starting to actually cut ISBU’s up, to make those modules, as I write this.
Now all this got me to thinking. Building a bunch of outbuildings out of bunch of trashed boxes is fun and all, but…
Instead of connecting all the independent modules together with wooden decks and bridges, what if you assembled them to form one big box? (I mean, we do it with full-sized containers, right?) Then, all you’d have to do is put floor joists in the center “room” you created, and slap a roof over the top of it, and you’d get a free room!
Okay, not free… but a cheap space, to be sure.
The plot thickens… Muuuwahahaha! 🙂
I’m in talks with a guy who wants to barter some land in exchange for help building an ISBU home of his own. He’s even got an old pick-up truck that he’ll throw in to sweeten the deal. It’s located across state lines and in a place where the Planning and Zoning Nazis are far less militant and even open to the idea of building a steel house out of perfectly good steel boxes. How do I know this? Well, the guy that I’m bartering with IS the head Planning and Zoning Nazi for that area. Whaaaa? Am I dreaming?
P & Z Nazi LOVES the idea of ISBU construction.
Now, we’re talking!
So, again with the thinking. Oy Vey! I thought so hard I think I pulled a muscle! There ain’t enough Matzo Ball soup in the world to make this headache go away, but if this works out, it’ll all be worth it!
So, here’s what I’m thinking. We’re gonna build a “test” house on 5 acres he’s willing to let go of, in exchange for my help building his dream box. Seems he has a daughter (named Cathy) that needs a house. She needs a house bad! Her US Marine Corps hubby was killed in Iraq, and she (and their three kids) are living with the grandparents while they try desperately to figure something out.
Now, readers here know that Ronin is an old warhorse. And stuff like this really, really pisses Ronin off. In America, you can fight and die for your country, but if you do, your family is basically screwed. There’s something terribly wrong with that. These kids don’t have a dad, anymore. This Mom doesn’t have a husband anymore.
But, she got a couple of bucks and a really nice condolence letter from somebody at the Department of Defense.
Color Ronin mad as hell…
Now, “Grandpa” offered US the land, in exchange for help. But, my wife is in cancer treatment, and the treatment she needs isn’t readily available where the land happens to be.
Char needs to be close, close, close to a hospital. Lately we’ve been testing that theory…
So, that won’t work for us.
But, it’ll damn sure work for Cathy and her kids. So guess who’s getting a house?
The acreage in question already has a good well on it and it’s got enough cleared space to allow for a house, an outbuilding for a garage/shop, and “some trees to use for firewood.” Now, I’m not sure that she’ll need much firewood, because if I do this right, the house will be plenty warm “all by it’s onesies…”
Besides, I just gave my woodstove away to another build. She’ll have to settle for a “firepit.” Hey, that’s just a “S’Mores” opportunity waiting to happen!
I’m going to take (1) 20′ HQ ISBU section (it’ll be the kitchen/laundry room module), and (4) 16′ HQ ISBU sections and use them to build an almost 1200+ square foot home, with a few lofts thrown in, just to keep the neighbors guessing…
The house will have three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a family room, a home office, a big island kitchen, and even a laundry room. It’ll have three decks, and most importantly, three lofts…
… so that we can use the space under the gabled roofs for something besides storing the bats that fell outta Ronin’s belfrey… 🙂
(Don’t you love it when I talk about myself in the third person, like I’m… ah, never mind. Why should I give you ammo?) 🙂
Now, this isn’t “the house anybody always wanted.” It’s not a McMansion, to be sure.
But, it’s a house that will house a family, and it’ll go up fast. It’ll be a small “farm house” and if you count all the loft spaces, you’ll get about 1400 square feet of actual living space out of it (a little bit over), by my calculations.
1400+ square feet outta scrap metal and recycled crap… Sounds pretty tough, for a bunch of tiny boxes, huh? Well, just you watch and see…
You’d be surprised what you can do if you put your welding helmet on (auto darkening, please), and your nose to the grindstone…
In fact, it’s gonna be way easier than here, because some of the issues don’t exist. Because it’s not in a flood zone, I can shoot some simple pilings into the ground, and build the house a few feet off the ground, instead of in “nosebleed city” like you have to here in Mississippi.
After we iron out the details, I’ll tell you more…