Introducing Jeremiah Russell!

22 Nov

You all know that I “go off like freakin’ tea kettle” when I see these “Pie in the Sky – impossible to build – ISBU monstrosities” that are “posterboarded” to get media attention, Internet applause, claps on the back… and NOT to get families into homes.

Some Architects, Tradesmen and Associations just don’t “get” it.

They think that Cable TV is going to carry “pseudo-ISBU tech” right into their wallets, in spite of a dying economy and rampant unemployment.

They think that “ego” is more important than the families they serve.

They think that their next project will carry them to glory.

I have news for them. Contrary to what we were taught in the hallowed halls of those Architectural Schools we attended, the economy has killed most “opportunities for monument building” glory and fame.

In fact, many architects are just trying to hang on by their fingernails as the entire building industry caves in on itself.

I’ve been saying for a while that the building market peaked in April and plummeted off the cliff as the tax incentives for buyers expired. I said it wasn’t picking up. I said it was going to get a lot worse before it got better.

And, ahem… I was right.

I read this in the Wall Street Journal just yesterday;

From: Housing Starts Plunge: Market’s ‘Pulse is Faint’ – By Jeff Bater and Alan Zibel

“Home construction in the U.S. plunged to the lowest level in 18 months during October, an indication that the moribund industry’s recovery is sluggish.

U.S. housing starts fell 11.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 519,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Building permits, a gauge of future construction, increased 0.5% to 550,000.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected overall housing starts to fall by 1.6% to 600,000. Starts in October fell to the lowest since 477,000 in April 2009.

The results were driven by a 43.5% decline in multifamily construction, a volatile part of the market.

Single-family home construction, which represents more than 80% of all starts, dipped by 1.1% to 436,000, after rising a revised 2.1% in September.

The mood is glum among home builders, who face a litany of troubles. While mortgage rates are very low, unemployment is elevated, scaring off would-be buyers. Sales of new homes in September were down 21.5% compared with a year earlier, the latest government data say…”

Um… the times we currently live in hardly look like they’ll support a marketplace where guys like Brad Pitt are falling out of the sky, to prostrate themselves at Architects feet, offering up fat wallets in exchange for “Cool Corten Greenness.”


Anyone who thinks that ISBUs are anything more than potential affordable housing is gonna get taught a hard lesson in the current housing situation we all face.

In a market getting handed it’s butt daily, how many of those new homes (that might get built by contractors) are gonna be ISBUs?

I bet none.

I said before, and I’ll say it again…

The majority of ISBU based housing built GLOBALLY is built “out of wallet” by families looking to break free of the mortgage prison that ensnares most homeowners.

But like an Administration that I won’t mention (because it will require me to take more blood pressure medication) the guys in the building biz just don’t get it. They just do the same old things, the same old way and time stands still.

We need some new blood. We need young guns who get it… guys like Jeremiah Russell.

So, without further adieu, I give you the world according to someone besides me, for a change.  Enjoy.

I give you Jeremiah Russell.

But you’ll have to give him back. He has his own kids to raise! 🙂

Budget – $74,000

Square footage – 700 (approx.)

Recycling old shipping containers and using them in the construction of affordable housing is a concept that has been around, so I have found out, for many decades.  Since the 1970’s in fact, people have been using shipping containers for all manner of residential and even some commercial projects.  In recent years, the idea has gained considerable momentum and has received worldwide attention.  For lack of a better term, I have “jumped on the bandwagon”.

Housing is an important issue.  And affordable housing is even more important.

The container-3 house is what some might call “tiny living”.  The usable space inside is kept to a minimum.
Discussions had to take place about “what is really necessary in a modern home”.  The conclusion is that we, as Americans especially, waste a tremendous amount of space on our homes.  Storage for the sake of storage, large rooms that could be made much smaller, bedrooms with amenities that are completely unnecessary, the list goes on.

In our floor plan, emphasis is put on function, comfort and economy while still providing all the modern creature comforts that many expect.

Planters were added at the front to create “action” in the front yard without going to the trouble of providing a front porch.  Gardening or planting can now happen in the front as opposed to the back yard.

The exterior materials, colors and even the roof structure become the areas where exploration in design can really take place.

Since the shipping container is both form and structure on all 6 sides, the opportunities to explore new ways of shading and cladding are nearly limitless.  For this design, the exterior was kept simple and straightforward.


Now, if you’re a regular reader of RR, think about what I’ve taught you and then think about how this home actually gets built. This is an affordable, efficient ISBU-based home that you could build yourself without a lot of drama.

And you could do it for about half what a contractor would try to get you to agree to.

(I bet I could beat Jeremiah’s project budget numbers, too…) 😉

Next time we talk about Jeremiah, he’ll be giving us his views on where housing is headed.

(Do you hear that flushing sound? Like water falling over a cliff? Or is it just me?) 😉

In the meantime, you can learn all about him on his websites;

R|One Studio

He rants about architecture, HERE. 😉

And, you can contact him here;

Tell him I sent ya… he probably won’t hold it against you… much. 😉


2 Responses to “Introducing Jeremiah Russell!”

  1. Jeremiah November 22, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    awesome article. I even liked the parts you wrote. 😉
    Something that I thought about while reading this article is that as one bad administration after another fails to take a cold hard look at predatory lending and banking practices, property values are going to continue to fall because no one can, or will, get financing and the whole of the inventory that is currently sitting empty eventually will need to be purposed for something (hopefully something other than firewood). This will create an awesome opportunity for low energy and even off-grid retrofits for suburbia which hopefully will lead to the creation of “suburban cities” where these large neighborhoods can be turned into micro-cities in a ring around major metropolises. My random two cents for today. I’m also currently reading Jane Jacobs “the economy of cities”, so that may be coloring my thoughts as well. 🙂

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