Good Books and BRIGHT Ideas!

19 Jul

Recently, I was contacted by a guy who read my new book;

“Introduction to Container Homes and Buildings.”

NO! He wasn’t demanding his money back! Stop that! 😛

He told me that he actually enjoyed my book, and that he was inspired by it. That’s mail I LIKE to get!

Craig Moorhouse, from up in the Great White North, showered me with (mostly undeserved) praise, and then shared one of HIS ISBU projects with me.

And, it was so interesting, that I thought I’d share it with YOU;

Craig Says:

(I know that he says this, because I stole it right from HIS blog!) 🙂

“I put a number of projects on the back burner to rework an old container home idea.  The inspiration for this project came from the architect and shipping container (ISBU) visionary Alex Klein. I purchased (made a donation to) his new book “Introduction to Container Homes and Buildings” Contemplating Corten Castles from his website

Al has been working at designing and building affordable green homes using ISBU containers since the late 70s. For those of us who see the potential of building affordable, energy efficient, appealing homes from recycled shipping containers – Alex’s new book ( and the larger one pending) is exactly what we have been waiting for. I’ve seen resource materials on ISBU building  that is short on the “nuts and bolts” of construction knowhow and other material that offer grand architectural visions that will offer very little to those who want to build a home and not be a slave to large mortgage debt.

Today it is very rare and welcome to see an architect that has dedicated a good chuck of his life to designing and redefining “homes” and making it easier for the rest of us to own one. I hope this is the first step towards a more standardized approach to building with Containers.”

Craig (who isn’t an architect, he’s more like an ISBU Savant) has some really interesting ideas about how ISBUs will change housing.

And, he’s attacking it from another angle, one seemingly lost on some architects and designers who are trying to get ISBU buildings into play.

He’s using COMMON SENSE.

I’m betting that if we all “arm-twisted” Craig, he’d get up enough courage to write a guest post, explaining this 480 square foot “ISBU Tiny House” to you.

So Craig, I’m calling you out.  If you’re tough enough to live in the Tundra, you’re tough enough to write a post describing your visions for ISBUs. Am I right?

Or, are ya skeeeeered?” 😉

And… If YOU, Gentle reader…  are interested in ISBU housing, or even just learning more about what the nuts down the street might be building in their garages…

I urge you to hit that Blue book cover at the top of this page, and pick up your copy today.

You won’t be sorry.

Stay tuned.


4 Responses to “Good Books and BRIGHT Ideas!”

  1. ted yrizarry July 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Dad-Gummint…My brain is itching again! entirely too many ideas floating around in the dusty gray matter of my skull. And your no help Ronin! Haha! But I’m happy to add my jeers and cattle prods to get Craig to appear! (Think Monty Python/Holy Grail…and I will taunt you a second time!)So come on Craig…lets see what ya got! Huh…Huh???
    Maybe a tree house style 20 footer? A floating 40′ HC on pontoons…? Something out of the Transformers movie??
    on you! LOL!
    Seriously, hope to see you accept the invite. Alex does a fantastic job here but as the saying goes…”many hands make light work!”

    • renaissanceronin July 19, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

      Hi Ted,

      I hope that you’re keeping your head down.

      (Editors note: Ted is currently deployed in IRAQ, where he’s risking his life to do his duty. G_d Bless Him.)

      It’s funny that you should bring up ISBUs on pontoons, because I was recently discussing that very thing with Australian architect Geoffrey Fulton (of Fulton and Salomon fame). He’s working on designs that will transform ISBUs into houseboats, to be used on rivers like the barges that float the French and English Rivers we see in all the travelogues.

      I was telling him about the ISBU boats/barges we built (out of ISBUs) in those Banana Republics (Latin America and points elsewhere) way back when we still had hair… on the TOP of our heads… and wives that liked us… LOL!

      We’re really thinking about doing it again, to form floating labs that will allow marine biologists to work in the Gulf, collecting whatever samples of marine life they can, so that every living thing in the Gulf doesn’t become extinct as the oil (and the chemicals that are being dumped on it) slowly kills everything. Just picture a pontoon supported steel deck, with a pair of ISBUs dropped on top of it. It’d be sturdy, strong, and durable. And, they could be put together rapidly. We’re talking “assembly line.”

      I’m currently doing the same thing, using both 40′ and 20′ boxes to form “floatable housing.” It makes a really inexpensive platform to base a houseboat on. And if you powered it using jet ski’s, you could anchor off in the bay of your choice, and then use the jet ski’s as entertainment. Cheap bow thrusters would complete the propulsion package.

      And, I’ve stuck 20′ boxes up in trees to give deer-hunters a “novel” place to plant their wives, whilst they sneak up on Bambi. We suspended them using big steel cables,and a lot of profanity… 🙂

      Adam Kalkin has me beat though in the Transformer department. His Fold-Out house may have been some of the the motivation behind the Transformer Movies that we’ve all seen lately! 😉

      But… “Many hands don’t make light work”… electricity does. Don’t you Army guys know anything? 🙂

      I will tell you that we have sufficiently arm-twisted poor Craig, and I suspect that we’ve brow-beaten him into writing us a post to enlighten us about “Bright ISBU.” I have his first draft to prove it… 😉

      Stay tuned for it! It’s gonna be great!


      • Wes Bennett September 6, 2010 at 9:25 am #

        Hi Ronin,

        Please tell me more about the 20′ container suspended in the trees. I’m working on a “mini-campground” project to be built in the hemlock forest on my property, about 15 miles from Cooperstown, NY.

        The 2-3 cabins will provide lodging for “life mastery” workshops and spiritual/emotional retreat weekends attended by men, women and children living with hiv/aids in NY state.

        In order to support ongoing expenses and upkeep, cabins will be rented every other week to the general public and will probably get the most interest during baseball season as tourists attend the Hall of Fame weekends in Oneonta & Cooperstown.

        If I have to let go of the treehouse idea in order to get this project finalized, so be it. But either way – I’m having trouble finding a good source of info on details for building and outfitting a shipping container.

        To finish out my “high-end” cabins in the woods, I’m putting out the word to designers looking for publicity, since this project will be launched on a project page in the next couple weeks. Promotional emails and PR will go out through my personal contacts in magazine industry, as well as four statewide non-profit agencies extensive email lists donors (doctors, attorneys, politicians and corporate).

        If you can point me toward a good list of “how-to” details, I would greatly appreciate the assistance.

        Thanks Again & keep up the great blogging!

  2. ted yrizarry July 20, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    Thanks for the praise Alex…Just doing my little part as a citizen!
    I also just got done reading (in an hour and a half!) Paul Sawyers little book as a warm-up/pre-cursior/delaying action until your bigger one comes out! And while I don’t completely agree with a few things he offered, idea wise, I think all in all it was a helpful read. ANd that got me to imagining the contents of your own “big” book… And while I am in no way,shape, or form one to be qualified to offer even a partially educated guess (your the one with all the experience!) I did have an observence I’d like to share with you?
    In the last few months I have been soaking up any and all information I can with things that deal with ISBUs and the building with them. But there is something I have noticed that has chaffed at me a little bit. And you know how sensetive us Army guys are…Haha! That is the lack of real construction based intel. It seems that most of the books available prior to just recently have spent an inordanant amount of time preaching the “why” to use Corton Cubes…instead of much on the “how”. The camps seem to be divided (and blurred in some cases) between the Enviornmentalists pushing their “green” solution, The Artsy folks simply using the box while thinking inside or out of it, and the Designers using them as showcases for their talents. The last major group are those that simply want a house they can afford. Not to say that any of one group can’t or doesn’t subscribe to the others, simply my obervation. But from where I sit it is mostly all but the last group that are doing the writing and informing. The affordable exhistance people (last group) are simply following along and soaking up the info.
    So what am I blathering on about? Well, My observation is that a great deal of these articles, blogs, and even books are focused on the why. Why we should use ISBUs. Why they are a great resource for homes and offices and whatever. Why we will be better, more “earth friendly” people if we use these steel boxes to live…
    I got all that. I’m sold. I think there are a lot of others just like me that have bought into the idea. So now I ask HOW?
    I would dare to offer the idea (brave arn’t I? HA) that less time can be devoted to the creation, history, and potential of Shipping containers and more to the grass roots of what makes this stick to that. What best works *here* for…support, or insulation, or from a cost factor. Which structual materials are less likely to draw forth the wrath of the evil inspectors? How best does one affix wood to Corton? You get my point I am sure. And while a complete book will almost require an introduction giving due dilligence to the “why’s”…I would ask for a how to section…if not intire series (Time life anyone?) voiced by the reason and humor and wisdom of Ronin. Things you have learned that work well, what are horrible mistakes? Where are areas that costs can be shaved without affecting quality or comfort?
    That brings me to something else. Living conditions.
    Now, the way I live here in Iraq is NOT the way I prefer to spend my remaining days in a home of my own construction! I am not a fluffy, trendy, or exotic person by any means. But I would prefer to build a home, affordably, that I can reside in comfortablly without having to carry poo out in bags or bicycle to produce light to read by…And I am sure as I get older that I would end up reading in the dark since “biking for batteries” sounds like less fun than blindness… So how can a home…equalize, or balance comfort with cheapness? Will you cover stuff like LED house lighting? Wiring in a solar or wind or water to off set electrical? Maybe have some suggestions on electric heaters/furnaces…Best way to heat and store water, Radient heating, Geo-thermal ideas, water collection? I’m sure you could turn out tome after tome of pertainent information…So bring it!
    Those of us, the “builder class or 20??” are waiting…
    Hope this doesn’t come across as negetive? I am just hopeful and attempting to wait patiently for the Big One to be created…
    Thanks for all your do Alex. I know you prob. don’t get a lot of much deserved appreciation so I offer, humbly, Mine!

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