Who says that you can’t take it with you?

16 Sep

Many of you know that I grew up in Southern California.

In fact, it was all that chrome and glass that made me head for the hills and pick up that first torch to “butcher a box or two”…Β  πŸ˜‰

I have to tell you that when I lived there (lo, those many years ago) there was an industrial park on every block, or at least it seemed like it.

I know there were, as I had relatives that made millions of dollars building them and then leasing them out. And every time a lease turned over, I got stuck cleaning them out. I can’t tell you how many weekends I spent being used as slave labor, knocking down office partitions and dismantling old cubicle systems that we eventually threw away.

If we’d only known then, what we know now…

It’s not exactly a secret that ISBUs (shipping containers) can be turned into almost anything that you can image. The list includes spaces like offices, lounges, meeting rooms, employee dining rooms, you name it. Just head for any large scale construction project and you’ll probably find a good example of what I’m talking about.

One of our readers recently reminded me that in Santa Ana, CA (just a stone’s throw from where I grew up) there is a company called Marketing via Postal Group who put a “Corten Twist” on their office requirements, by using ISBUs to create office spaces INSIDE a huge warehouse. I literally grew up “right down the street” from this place. It’s just off the Santa Ana River Trail where I used to train for triathlons…

Say “ta-ta” to renovation costs, haggling over remodeling credits and spending big bucks for stuff that you’re gonna have to leave behind when you move to better digs. They just bought a handful of 20′ ISBU’s and then turned them into the spaces they needed, for a fraction of the costs of a warehouse rework.

Using ISBUs in a warehouse allows you to put space exactly where you need it. And, it gets better. Because each ISBU can be enclosed, you get the opportunity to create a micro-climate in each one, to suit the use. No more employee whining about their office being too hot or too cold. They simply adjust the conditioning to suit THEIR needs via thermostat. And if they aren’t smart enough to work a thermostat, they probably shouldn’t be working for you, anyway. right? πŸ˜‰

You can see where I’m going with this. You don’t need to heat or cool the entire warehouse. You just condition the ISBU spaces individually. This saves energy, and ultimately, it make your bean-counters very happy.

And, when you start making the big bucks and head for greener pastures, you just load those ISBU cubicles onto a truck and take them with you. No packing and unpacking. No hassle, no muss, no fuss! Just haul that ISBU to the new site, drop it in it’s new spot, attach the power, “pex” (i.e. water and drains), and Internet connection cables, and voila! You’re up and running again in almost NO time!!

Were you paying attention? Now take this a step further. Warehouse space is usually a LOT cheaper than office space. Why not START out your company with this kind of versatile configuration in mind? Not only can you get really creative and “uber-urban”, you can make huge strides that will affect your bottom line.

My thanks to Rick Johnson for making this post possible! Good lookin’ out, bud!

If you’re in Calgary Alberta and you’re looking for a container or two, you might want to look Rick up!



3 Responses to “Who says that you can’t take it with you?”

  1. James September 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Wowzers! Talk about thinking inside the box…

    That is an extremely inventive way to grow a business. I can already envision an extremely effective and presentable business model through that. One giant warehouse with an ISBU set up for display models of your products, one ISBU for the accountants + calltakers, one ISBU for a meeting room, and one ISBU set up for employee lounge.

    I’d like to add a comment on “PEX” piping for those readers who might be confused on what it is. PEX is short for “Cross-linked polyethylene” pipe. It was built as an alternative to Copper and PVC/CPVC piping for water use in home building.

    The biggest benefit that PEX piping has over PVC/CPVC and Copper water piping is in it’s durability. As many of you may know, if Copper pipe is not properly insulated during the winter, there is a VERY high probability that it will burst after the pipe freezes. Now, when a section of PEX piping is exposed to the elements, it’s design allows it to EXPAND with the cold and prevent any sort of bursting upon it’s thawing. Another alternative that some clients use PEX for is Hydronic Radiant Piping systems. This is a fancy way of saying water lines underneath your floors that when activated through a switch, allow hot water to circulate through the lines, which in turn convects heat up towards the floor. It’s very handy underneath sidewalks to aid in melting snow. It’s a blessing to those who live in colder climates also πŸ˜‰

    From a Plumber’s perspective in Texas, it’s an awesome product that’s easy to transport (it’s rolled up and sent in boxes of up to 200 ft), it’s easy to assemble (no soldering or priming/gluing pipes together), much less expensive than copper, and built to last. The brand I have had the most experience with is Rehau.

    Here is a Youtube video to show how it’s assembled.

    The ONLY complaint I have with the piping is that on 3/4 pipe and higher, there is a larger crimping tool you must use to close the ring down on top of the fitting. As a plumber, it can be VERY frustrating when I’m replacing the water lines inside of a home and I reach a riser that’s in the eve/awning of an attic. The tool is very unwieldy and difficult to properly use in cramped quarters, but can usually be accomplished after either a barrage of swearing at the situation or removing drywall in the room to allow more access to the pipe.

    When some people see PEX piping, they may think immediately of QWEST piping, which looks similar, but was built with very unreliable materials. QWEST piping was/is notorious for failures through the hot water lines because the heat would separate the fittings apart from each other, thereby creating leaks all over your home.

    • Renaissance Ronin September 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

      Hey James!

      Thanks for your input. And for seeing the logic of using ISBUs inside a building, as “defined spaces”. The “showroom scenario” that you describe is exactly what I have in mind, based on using 20′ HQ boxes.

      I’m gonna call them “Corten Commerce Condos.”

      (And attention all you Wise Guys out there: YES, I copywrited the name already…and “ISBU Enterprise Clusters” too… )

      Now, about that PEX:

      As much as I talk about using PEX, I probably should have dedicated a post to it, but from now on, I’ll just point those questions at your comment! πŸ™‚

      And James, in fact… if it’s okay with you… I’m going to take this comment thread and make an additional post out of it, so we’ll have something in the PEX search box. Your comments and that Youtube video just about say all that needs to be said for most of us.

      Many readers who read the blog know that I use PEX almost exclusively, everywhere that I possibly can, for all of the reasons that you describe. Although the connections can get complicated, it’s all about using materials that last a long time, do a great job, and save you headaches down the road.

      Now, for the record, what’s the REAL difference between the different color coded PEX tubes? Which one goes where? And, based on the wall thickness of the PEX, do we have to take that into account when choosing the right diameter line for our supplies, et all? πŸ˜‰

      Thought I was gonna let you off easy, huh? Nope. If I’ve got a good plumber, I’m gonna pick his brain! πŸ˜‰

      I appreciate you sharing your insight and expertise with us!


      (Man, now I have readers actually writing good posts for ME. It doesn’t get any better than this!) πŸ™‚

  2. James September 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Not a problem at all Alex! Anything to help further advance peoples knowledge about what goes into their home. Now, back to your questions about Pex. Just to throw this out there, I am a licensed tradesman plumber in the state of Texas. I’ve been in plumbing for a little over 3 years now in the service side, so I’m not experienced in new construction at all.

    Now with Pex piping, there are 3 color schemes to it: red, white, and blue (how patriotic huh?). Red is for heated water, blue is for cold water, and I’m not sure what white is used for. Being in service, we use the red and blue exclusively for replacing galvanized, copper, and pvc/cpvc water service lines.

    As durable as pex is, there are some situations where pex should NEVER be located! The materials used to create pex are NOT rated for UV exposure! If pex piping is exposed outdoors to the sun, the piping becomes brittle and will severely weaken the structural integrity of the pipe (same goes for PVC/CPVC piping). Ideally, you would have Pex located a minimum of 6 inches underground (our building codes allow it this level because of our climate seldomly freezing) tied into your well or water meter. Once the line ends at the side of your home, you would transition to copper pipe for the water pipe coming out of the ground and install a shutoff valve for easy access to safely shut down the water in case of emergency.

    The copper water pipe should extend into the house about a foot or so, and then once inside you would switch back to Pex for your cold water line. From this point, you would run the pipeline going to your water heater (in Texas they are located inside the attic) and install “tees” to allow the water line to feed your fixtures such as shower valves, toilets, etc…

    Really its a very straight forward process that any homeowner can accomplish if they have patience, diligence in researching the materials, and aren’t afraid to work hard. I did a little research and Rehau’s RAUPEX is rated for temperatures from -40FΒ° to 200FΒ°. As far as the size off the piping goes, it is important to ensure that the lines are properly sized depending on the water usage in the home. Now, from my experiences, 3/4 Pex piping from the water meter box in the yard and as a main branch line through the home is more than sufficient for most applications. However, keep in mind this is TEXAS, so our temperatures allow us to use that. Any person reading this should consult with a professional to ensure you won’t be making a big mistake by sizing your water lines.

    The main fixtures which put a large strain on the water system are large garden style bath tubs, and luxury shower heads/body sprays. In cases like that, you would most likely need to invest in a tankless water heater for that specific application only, and to verify that the water heater can has a larger GPM than the rated GPM requirement of the fixture.

    For more info on Pex piping, this is a PDF of Rehau’s specifications.


    There are also other manufacturers of Pex such as Wirsbro, Uponor, and others. Keep in mind that each manufacturer creates their Pex slightly different from its competition, so some may offer lower warranties, different fittings, and other slight variances.

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