Help! I’m freezing my BUILD off!

24 Dec

While I’m busy on the roof (carefully concealing “reindeer traps”) I’m going to reach into the mail bag and haul out another gem.

Hi Ronin,

We’re build our ISBU home (thanks to you).

Our containers have been living in a barn, getting cut, folded, spindled, mutilated, sandblasted, coated, refloored, hammered and pounded.

(No thanks to you… We HATE you now. It took us all summer, one weekend at a time. We still have sand and grit all over the place.) ๐Ÿ™‚

As you know, we are located in the North… where snow and cold wind are considered the evil that one suffers for living away from the rat-race.

We hope to build asย  we can, doing a little bit each weekend, as we LIVE in the shell while it becomes a home.

We realize that once the ISBUs are dropped, we’ll be weathered in. But having to leave the walls open and exposed to run wiring and plumbing is going to extend the time (that we won’t have) to get inside, warm and safe.

Note: This family is building a 32’x40′ High Cube ISBU – 3 bedroom/2 bath home on one level. Piling foundation.ย  Gabled SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) Roof with SSMR (Standing Seam Metal Roofing) over that.ย  I made them start at “Square One” with the containers so that they’d be prepped properly.

This included sandblasting them down to bare metal, making needed repairsย  and then recoating them with RustGrip.

Contrary to “naysayers”… my builds ALMOST ALWAYS include this step.

(I say ALMOST, because some choose to “simply encapsulate” using something like RustGrip, instead. No, I’m not fond of this “alternative”.)

I do not let ANYONE proceed with an ISBU Build without first dealing with paint and flooring issues.

Additionally they are going to insulate (gasp!) inside the home… using rigid insulation boards (they were “gifted” with them) so that the Corten exterior remains visible. Internal framing is 2×6. 4″ of PolyIso get stuffed into those cavities. That’ll get them almost R-23 in the walls.ย  Note that 1″ equals approximately R5.7. Yes, it gobbled up square footage. Oy.

We’ll use a special “soda based spray” on the boxes to help them “discolor”, to help them blend into the treeline. It’s part of their “desired look”.

What can we do to make things work? Any tricks? We don’t relish the idea of freezing!


Cold in Wyoming…

Dear “Feeling the Frostbite”,

I’ll just jump right into this;

It’s that time of year and several blogs and forums I’m aware of are all talking about this very topic.

Yes. There ARE ways to speed things up.

Traditionally, we’ve always just run the electrical and plumbing down exterior walls (or in crawlspaces), distributing it to wherever it needs to be, in “runs”.

This has never made any sense to me.

First, running wires and pipes in exterior walls or “crawls” means they get cold. Sometimes, they get TOO cold. Then, you have to open the walls back up, or crawl under the house into the wet, frigid mess…ย  to make repairs. That’s just adding insult to injury.

I opt for something called “open construction”.

What’s “open construction”?





If you read the blog, you know that I like to create “run trays” in the floor.

I’ve been telling you about it for years. But would you listen to me? Nooooo! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Using old “K-Style” rain gutter material (you can even use the half-round gutter material)ย  “notched into” my concrete floor slab, I can run my electrical (or even plumbing) in those –separate– trays.

(Don’t run both power and water in one tray – just for safety’s sake… unless you like that charred, frizzy “Angela Davis” Hair-do!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve been doing this for years. It works perfectly.

Using architectural gratings (which you can find in piles at architectural salvage yards), I can then cover that tray system up and not only allow access, but add considerable character to the build. Plus, no holes in walls for outlets. You just make holes in the grating large enough for your plugs to fit into.

Or even better, notch one side of your grating so you can just slip the cords in and then plug into a SIDE LOADING outlet box.

You can also run your electrical and even your plumbing overhead, up in yourย  Attic.

This allows it to be run right “out in the open” and easily identified, because you took the foresight to clearly label it.

You DID, right? Nope? Go stand in the corner. Here’s your sign…

Put your hot water tank up there too… and let gravity do all your work for you. Plus, doing that means that it’s easy to access any system later, should the need arise.

You can still use the attic for storage, just be careful how you lay things out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

You can also run all your plumbing and electrical in furnace or heating ducts. The heat will help keep things from freezing.

The only time this “open construction” theme doesn’t work flawlessly is when you’re running communications cables and lines that require isolation. The solution then is to just keep track of your lines (like Ethernet CAT 5 cables, etc…) and use specified spacing to slay any demons.

Think it through carefully, make a plan and then stick to it.

And you’ll be able to build as you can, and not all at once. You’ll be warm, weathered in, and you can use those heavy snow days to make some serious headway in your building progress!

After all, you don’t wanna be out in the cold, do you?

Stay tuned!

PS. Hey! Rudolph will taste just as good as Bambi, if you marinate him long enough! ๐Ÿ™‚

Note: No reindeer were consumed during the writing of this post. I can’t say that will hold true… on December 26th!

Happy Holidays!

Have a GREAT Christmas!

Me? I’ll be skinning a reindeer… ๐Ÿ˜‰


4 Responses to “Help! I’m freezing my BUILD off!”

  1. Madrigorne December 24, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    I ‘ll come with – who needs traps when you got a thirty ought six? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Renaissance Ronin December 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

      That’s my girl!

      See folks, it AIN’T just me! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Merry Christmas, Happy Happy… grumble, mumble, snort! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. clark December 25, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    Merry Christmas and (any other) appropriate Holiday Greetings from all the Progenitors and DownSprings at the Wakefield Doctrine!
    In a blogosphere over-flowing with self-promotional, eog-enhancing blogs, the “Life ‘n Times…” continues to show the capacity to do good on the internet…

    So to ‘the hardest working man in the blogo-sphere’ we say “Merry (fill in the blank)” and when are you gonna send us a picture of you and your nearly free Doctrine hat (on your damn head)?

    Again…glad to have this blog on our blogroll…keep on keepin on…

  3. ted yrizarry December 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    Merry….Crap, forget it! Back to work!
    So reading and catching up has my questioner going again. Time to ask da man. Psst, thats YOU Alex. Yeesh.
    When starting at phase line alpha, Ronin insists on sandblasting and floor removal. Stop me when I’m wrong, ok? No, not YET…I’m just starting! Crimony!
    I suppose my first question would be which would you say would last longer and require the least long term maintenance. Painted exposed ISBU walls or some form of siding? Say for argument purposes Hardi-panel t-111 looking fiber cement board….

    Editors Note: Blah-blah-freakin blah…

    And they accuse ME of being long-winded! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ted went on for about three pages…

    So, I ain’t gonna answer it here. I broke down and wrote ole’ Ted a post answering all four thousand and one questions;

    In or OUT?

Comments are closed.