WE were busy all last week as a result of a death in the family. So, I’m a little bit behind.
And now, we have a big storm bearing down on us to get ready for, so I’m still not able to really pound away at posts.
So you know what that means, right?
That’s right! It’s MAIL BAG TIME!
Here we go;
I recently came across this photo of a shipping container home.
Smug in Cinci…
Ok, smarty pants, I’ll play.
This looks like a “fallback” to me, from what I can see in the photo.
A “fallback” is a shelter built out in the woods or “away from most”…
… used to just get away from the madness. In the old days we called them “vacation cabins”. Now, most of the ones I see getting built are quietly constructed little homes designed to be used in case things get really bumpy.
The reader sent me a photograph of a pair of boxes (they look like 40’rs) set into a berm on a lot someplace. I think it’s a lot because I can see a road behind it. Heck, that might be a well manicured driveway, for all I know. Although I can see what looks like a pipe stall or corral in the far left, the photo name indicates that it is a “cabin” and not a barn, or horse stalls, or a utility building.
They didn’t tell me anything more about the photograph of the build than what you’ve already read.
So, while it’s possible I’m about to get “blind-sided”, I’ll bite.
(a) From the photograph, it appears that the containers are sitting on the ground. I don’t see any drainage pipe or gravel, but I’m betting it’s there to prevent water from finding a way into the boxes.
The lack of a foundation concerns me.
It’s approximately 16′ x 40′ outside, and I’m figuring that they framed out the interior for more insulation.
So, they’re working with 580 square feet and change. That probably translates to a couple of sleeping areas, a common room, a strip kitchenette and a bathroom… plus some storage areas.
I’m assuming a couple of sleeping areas simply because a single person could easily make do with a single container and get all the “fallback” he/she needed. Two boxes probably means a small family.
We’ll assume that it’s someplace reasonably warm and mild, because the way they’ve laid it out, it’s not equipped to deal with harsh winters. (That and it’s sitting on the ground… so no snow.) 🙂
It looks like they’ve used SPF on the exterior of the boxes, albeit it looks like a thin coat. If it’s an inch, they’ll get r7 (it looks like closed cell foam). It’s possible that they’ve also insulated inside as well to build up the r value. I’m hoping so. R7 just isn’t enough. Rigid insulation tucked in between studs inside would take the bite out and save some space over nasty fiberglass batts.
I think that we can assume that the doors are insulated from inside. If they went to the trouble to spend half a day spraying SPF on the boxes, I’m sure they did something with the doors too (even if we can’t see it).
The window almost looks like an afterthought. I’m worried by a few things;
(1) It’s awfully low to that berm.
(2) It appears that they cut a hole and stuck it in place, possibly with self tapping screws, and then shot SPF around it to seal it up. That’s not my preferred method.
I actually build a frame out of 2″ tube steel tube that becomes an integral part of my “rough opening”.
It will get welded between the top and bottom rails to become an integral part of the box structure. The “insides” of that opening are then lined with plate steel (which is welded to the corrugated steel skin as well) so I can slide my window into THAT created subframe.
You get a really tough window or door that way and you actually increase the structural integrity of the box by using those tubular subframes. Think “rollbars”.
I don’t see ANY roof. So, they cant “get up there and walk about” for sure.
And what concerns me most is that earthberm.
While I LOVE earthberms, you have to reinforce the box substantially to take that kind of soil load. That corrugated steel skin just isn’t enough to handle it. And it gets worse when it rains, as the soil piled up against that steel skin gets heavier.
So, I’m hoping that they reinforced the skin internally to bear that created load. Otherwise, sooner or later, it’s going to fail. Ugh.
As a case in point;
I’m working on an Alabama house right now, that will essentially have an earthbermed first level.
HOWEVER, the first level will be constructed of concrete block and then we’ll set the ISBUs on top of it stacked two high, to create a small three story house, that will look like a two story house sitting on a terraced hill. We’re going to use 20′ High Cubes. That’s a good indication of how small the footprint will be.
Getting back to the photo the reader sent in;
I’d love to see more of this. It looks like a “work in progress”. And I’d love to be able to contact the owner to ask them a few questions about how and why they are doing what they’re doing…
AND to congratulate them for DOING and not just TALKING.
A ton of hard work went into what you’re looking at.
I bet they have an interesting story to tell and I’d love to hear it.