It was a trial separation!

10 Jan

As I work with families facing the monumental task of designing and then building their own ISBU homes…

… I can’t stress enough the importance of using the building site to it’s fullest advantage.

This means that the site will sometimes dictate the actual design of the home, in essence by allowing all that goodness from outside… to come inside where it can be cherished by the occupants of that home.

All too often, I hear new Corten families lamenting that a life lived in “tight metal quarters” is “just going to have to be gotten used to”…

My response is usually something like;

“Would you like a little cheese with that whine? If you really can’t think your way out of  that little box you’re moaning about… you’re either not paying attention… or you are going down the wrong path.”

Many of our ISBU builds fall into the “boxes most rural” category. I have to tell you that I love these builds the most.  The opportunities are virtually endless. The only limit is imagination, skillsets, and some cash…

And ISBU Homes aren’t just being built in the Tropics, although you might think that from all the images we see on the Internet. ISBU homes are being built globally. This means that over and over again, regardless of latitude or longitude, these boxes have the ability to provide you with splendor, peace and comfort…

IF you take the time to invest in a “proper design path”…

You will realize your dreams. Granted, it won’t happen overnight. Just deciding what to build can be a daunting experience. It may end up being 180 degrees different than the course you charted on Day One. Influence will come from everywhere. In fact, it’ll have to cope with elements that pop into your head as you sleep, it’ll be sparked by ideas you get as you drive to work, and the building site itself will reveal potentials and possibilities you missed early on.

Then, your Mother in Law will chime in. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun that becomes… Oy. 🙂

Want to really explore the possibilities? Camp on the property for a week.

Get up early. Go to bed late. Look at the sky, the stars, the incoming fog. Feel the wind on your face…

… and then take a ton of photographs. I bet it changes your window schedules… LOL!

Designing a home, any home, isn’t easy. It really is a lot more than “I’ll take one from column A and one from column B.”

I know, I know… the beauty of ISBUs is that they can be built in one place and then dropped, almost unceremoniously, in another.

It’s SO much easier to design a home if you know where it’s going.

I’ve talked to you over and over again about using ISBUs that are separated, allowing you to reclaim space between them for the cost of concrete and roofing.  I’ve SHOWN you how to do it, repeatedly.

It’s become pretty common practice as building budgets get tighter and families get more “ISBU Smart”. 

I’m not the only one that thinks that simply bumping out your boxes from each other is elegant. In keeping with one of the missions of this blog, I’m going to show you how someone else took that Corten Two-Step and then made it their own.

Take a look at this:


Click on the images to see “The Big Picture”… 😉

In San Jose, Costa Rica, Gabriela Calvo and Marco Peralta built  this ISBU (Shipping Container) home for just under $40 grand USD.  They call it their  “Containers of Hope”. For the cost of what is considered “pretty basic” public  housing in CR, they built this approximately 1,000 square foot, 1 bedroom residence. (It has a small den that could be converted to a child’s bedroom.) I actually watched (from afar, obviously) this build proceed for a while, thinking about ways that they could have bumped here and pushed  there to make it just a little bit better…

But you know what?

Gabriela and Marco are happy. Their horses are happy. They get lost in the landscapes. They’ve been infected with “Corten Coolness”.

Since it’s completion, I’ve been asked about this ISBU Home at least  100 times.

“I live in Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, Wyoming, Washington… (choose your state or ask Timmie!). Ronin, could we really build this ISBU Home HERE in the US, in my neighborhood,  for under $40k? I want to build this!”

Stop. The answer is; “Probably not. In fact, most definitely not.” While you can build this home quite affordably…

Just by looking at it, I’d say that it’s construction costs in “minimalist mode” (you can liken that to “Contractor Grade” or “Decorator Ready” depending on which coast you are on) would range closer to $65-70k, easy IF you did a LOT of the work yourself… That does not factor in permits or construction documents, either.

We’re talking “middle of the road” cabinets and fixtures, concrete floors and bare plaster walls (if you even USE sheetrock.) There are alternatives to using drywall, if drywall in your region is costly.

If you want the level of furnishing, textures and finishes that Gabriela and Marco used in the US you’re gonna bump $90k easy, plus permits and doc costs.

And, I’d urge you to make a few changes along the way.


We’ll talk about those changes later…

For now, just enjoy the photographs;


The Renaissance Ronin

Note the handcast Sonotube pilings… look familiar?

And those nice floating slab stairs?

This could be the beginnings of a pretty slick beach house, a vacation cabin, a “mountain retreat” or just “home away from home”… and if you spent just a bit of time with the design, you could live there full time, in “Corten Comfort”…


 Image Credits: HOMEDSGN.COM

5 Responses to “It was a trial separation!”

  1. Timmie R. January 10, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    I just love the openness and all of the natural light! But for my purposes it does need to be bumped out a bit. I also love the floating stairs and the pilings for a foundation.

  2. Paul Stanwick-wright January 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    I think they should be very proud of what they have achieved and will be an I nspiration to many others! Well done!

  3. Alton Toth January 10, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I LOVE that roof in the center portion, though I’m curious about how effective it really is at cross-ventilating (one of the images off their website). Regardless, definitely saved on Pinterest for future considerations. 🙂

  4. ipminc January 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    What kind of changes would you suggest making with this design? I like the overall look but I need to add a 3rd or 4th container. Thanks

    • Renaissance Ronin January 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      I’d open the plan up by moving the containers farther apart, just for starters. There’s a considerable amount of space that could have been gained, making this a really “luxurious” plan… for very little money.

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