I’m spinning backwards!

12 Dec

Greetings, Campers!


As some of us toil “merrily away” building our “Container Homes…”

I’m reminded that all anybody wants to be nowadays… is safe…


and… the world of Shipping Container construction is a perilous place, let me tell you! I mean… they’ll let just about anybody pick up machinery and tools and attack helpless Corten Steel!

As a result of that negligence… I’m pretty busy playing with the plasma cutter, as I cut some holes in perfectly good boxes, that never did anything to anybody. So, while I’m trying to create the circumstances that  will most likely lead to a fast trip to the local Emergency Room…

… we’re going to answer some questions about stuff I’ve posted to the blog. Now… I get questions about everything under the sun. And since I do, it seems to make sense that we start answering them, starting with the sun. And we’ll even address “safety.” Tis the Season, after all…


“Okay Ronin, just how DO you install a photovoltaic panel?

We need at least one of them to power all the Christmas lights we put in our yard! Is it really  hard? I mean, I’m only asking because…

I married a guy just like you.

He’s an idiot…”

Now… I could tell you a story, filled with angst, high winds, near falls, and (probably some) profanity, but instead, I’ll just let an expert show you HOW a photovoltaic system comes together.

(That way, when your “idiot” screws it up, you can’t blame me! But if you do, remember, I’m an “idiot.” You’re just wasting your breath…) 😉

BTW: It’s not nice to talk about your hubby that way! After all, evidently he puts up with YOU!  🙂

Although this is an overview of what is being done in Seattle on a “traditional” home, it’s application is pretty standard, and would be easily duplicated on your ISBU residence.

Here you go…

As you can see, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do this. And the potential for power production is high.

And if you remember to wear a tether, so that you don’t fall off the roof (don’t ask me how  I know…) an “idiot” can do it.

So what are you waiting for?

Now excuse me while I stagger outside and wait for the ambulance. At least the plasma cutter cauterized the wound… Oy.

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

13 Responses to “I’m spinning backwards!”

  1. Bill December 12, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    For a while now, I’ve had a real interest in Shipping Container construction, so I’ve been reading through your blog. I take it that you have been working on quite a few projects with containers. Do you ever share pictures of the projects you are working on? It would be great to see you document a container project from beginning to end. If you have done this already sorry if I’ve missed something.

    I want to learn more about Shipping Container construction but most of what I see on the web is some architect putting together some mansion of building or just artist renderings. There is not much out there about a person or two making a container into a cabin or house.



    • renaissanceronin December 12, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

      Hi Bill,

      Like you, we’re not partial to “homes that can never be built”… being touted by “architects or builders” who are out there trying to “out-green” each other. The interest here is on FAMILIES, not FAME.

      We’re not trying to make a fortune or win any awards around here… we’re trying to change things, one family at a time.

      I often talk about ways that we’re “modifying” containers and usually, I’ll attach some photos or drawings to illustrate it.

      Most of these Container homes are being built completely off-grid, by families who want to make sure that “no matter what” their families remain safe. That’s a sentiment and a hope (and a trust), that I can get easily behind…

      Provided that the photos won’t “invade the privacy of the building family” (some families aren’t really looking for any “attention”), I’m making it a point to make sure that you guys see as much as possible. Just stay tuned…

      My families home will start full-scale construction soon (no thanks to the State of Mississippi and local authorities), and you’ll see it from start to finish. And, there’s a book in the works, too. It’ll have enough photos in it to choke a horse…


  2. clarkscottroger December 13, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    Hey ‘Ronin

    (Good Comment by Bill) On the marketing end I agree ‘the finished product’ is the key to getting (market) acceptance.

    (And I also react the same way, though for me it is the electric cars. Fine, love the Tesla, great looking car, want to do the electric thing…$125,000.? Yeah I guess I’ll stay with the A6, thank you).

    But, for what it is worth, when I sell new construction everyone has an interest in the blueprints and floor plans and elevations. But when it comes time to buy it is always, ‘hey can we see the finish work’. And given the nature of your products you cannot say, well lets drive by Mrs. Jones’ house and see what it looks like, I think that photos of the finished home would be a huge asset. And the more lived in the better!
    Allowing for the privacy of the Owner (and I’m from New England so I know a little about privacy), photos (or even videos) of places once people move their furniture in will be worth thousands of words.

    One thing I have learned in my business, people want to do what they believe most people are already doing. Showing people actually living and enjoying (their) lives in their new homes is the best way to do that.

    Is fun watching you make the step at a time progress that you clearly are…


    • renaissanceronin December 13, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

      Hi Clark,

      It’s funny… A LOT of people tend to think that I’m starting some kind of “Church to the Corten Gawd…”

      … but that is hardly the case at all.

      I’m not trying to convert anybody.

      Nor, am I trying to hard-sell anything at all.

      I’m NOT a container broker. I’m NOT a construction Company.

      Most of the people who spend time here (and there are apparently thousands of them) have already decided they want a Steel Shipping Container Home. What they are interested in is HOW to actually build it.

      There are literally a hundred sites out there that show renders, and drawings, and even homes with real live people in them… usually at trade show demos.

      Nobody talks about HOW. Why? Because they want to sell you a project, or really high consulting fees.

      “Green” doesn’t just mean “GREEN” anymore, it means “Benjamins.”

      I’m not trying to become “Shipping Container Digest”, or another “Corten Catalog”.

      WE talk about the hard issues. HOW, WHERE, and WHO. And sometimes, even “WHO NOT”.

      There are hundreds of container homes in the US alone. How do I know that? Well, just for starters… I’ve built a ton of them over the last 30 years, myself.

      I’ll see if I can liven things up with photos of newly finished projects from time to time, when the situation allows. (Hurricane Katrina wiped out my entire collection of photo albums.) Until then, you’re just gonna have to bear with me…

      In fact, all this is one of the reasons that I decided to write the book. After 30 years of doing this, I might as well make some of that experience available and help my family (and aid our own “build”) at the same time.


  3. Bill December 13, 2009 at 1:48 pm #


    Thank you for the update. We will stayed tuned for even more container designs. You are exactly right I want to see what real people and real families are doing with these. You would think with all the talk of making containers into homes you would see more examples on the internet but you really don’t. Mostly you see drawings and not real projects.

    I am very interested in: 1. making a container home so that it is off the grid. 2. layouts of both container placement and interior design. 3. dealing with insulation issues. It seems to me these containers need some real insulation attention for extreme temperatures. The question to me is can really effective insulation be installed without building thick walls on the inside of a container?

    We look forward to more.


    • renaissanceronin December 13, 2009 at 8:52 pm #


      Oy. I talk about insulation constantly. In fact, I get about 35 emails a week asking about it. That’s why it’s covered so heavily in the blog.

      Insulation doesn’t go INSIDE. Making a small space even smaller is just stupid. Insulation gets sprayed on the OUTSIDE of the container.

      In the hundreds of posts I’ve written on Container Home Building, I’d bet that at least 10 percent of them are about insulation. Reading thru past posts will bring you up to date.

      Five words: Sprayed On Closed Cell Foam.

      Most people building these projects right now are people trying to prepare for whatever comes. They don’t WANT people in their yards, virtual or otherwise. I can’t say I blame them.

      I’ve run countless posts where I talk people thru modifying the boxes, and photos are usually included, unless it’s a “sensitive project.”

      Beyond that, one of the reasons for so much “secrecy” where containers are concerned is the “proprietary nature” of the construction techniques.

      It’s what prompted me to write a book about Container Home Construction. Look for it after the first of the year. There are a lot of myths out there.

      Putting the insulation on the inside of a container is just one of them.


  4. Madrigorne December 14, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    You must must must let us know when yer book will be released from the publisher so we can go get one. Hopefully the proceeds will fund your Corten Hurricane Fortress.

    I keep going over and over my plans, and while I love the octagonal compound with its many wings…
    I have a house already – and I already hate to spend so much of my life cleaning the thing. Its not HUGE – but its enough work that i am starting to build robots to share the workload…

    I will prolly get two containers, little or big whatever I can get so long as they will stack – little is more likely better for my purposes.
    Put a basement: with utilities/bathroom/root cellar/well
    First floor Kitchen and livingroom
    2nd floor sleeping quarters
    Rooftop/Slope/arch a sheet or two of corrugated metal from the one long side to the ground to give us a snowfree place to stash the vehicles – mount PV to gives us the power precious – plus a byo helical wind turbine (they spin with less wind/kill less birds) – run a septic system downhill&downstream from wherever my foundation is and I am set.
    I will have a place in the wilderness to flee to should the zombie attack finally come… a place to hang out until I have the plans for my Windy Sheep Farm all set. I wonder how you say that in Finnish…

    • Madrigorne December 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

      Tuuliset Lammaset tarha!

      • renaissanceronin December 14, 2009 at 4:53 pm #


        “Slamma-lamma ding-dong!” to you too! 😉

    • renaissanceronin December 14, 2009 at 4:55 pm #

      Hi Madrigorne,

      I figure that we’ll be looking at releasing it late January or early February.

      It’ll be available for “Pre-Sale” (at a good discount) sometime the first week of January.

      Watch your email, by the way, I’m going to send you a private email, with an idea that I have for your container exploits!

      Happy Holidays!


      • Madrigorne December 15, 2009 at 5:39 am #


  5. Patio Design Tips January 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    We want to thank you for posting such a wonderful portal. Your blog happens to be not only knowledgeable but also very stimulating. There are a limited number of people who are capable of creating content this creatively. I keep looking for information about this. I Myself have looked through dozens of websites to find information like. Keep up the good work !!

  6. margie g February 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm #


    What is the eta of your book? It would have been great to have the guy that illustrated the VW book for the complete idiot work with you. How cool would that have been? Same sense of humor…

    Hope all is well on the home front. And I am sure that the two year old tornado is keeping you busy! ! ! Like if I needed to say that !


Comments are closed.