Hachets are best used for chopping wood…

4 Feb

Gather ’round children, I’m going to tell you the story of when BOB got disrespected;

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again;

Here at RR, we don’t hate “Professional (licensed) Architectural tradesmen“.

We work with them all the time. Fully accredited and licensed Architects and Engineers have invested a large portion of their lives to education, licensing and garnering experience. They need to feed their families too. We certainly don’t begrudge them that. But, some of OUR families simply cannot afford to feed THEIR (Architects and Engineers) families too, as they seek solutions…

This said, we start “dispensing the medicine”;

No One CaresArchitects and Engineers send us hate mail all the time because they allege that we “steal business from them” by educating “small home building people” to understand that they don’t NEED them, or all of their high-priced services in the first place.  We counter that if they were willing to help these families in an affordable and integral manner, we’d send them “business by the bucket”. THAT’S how much “business” we turn away because we simply don’t have enough staff to fulfill it. These guys aren’t looking to gouge you or looking to steal your money, folks. We understand they have overhead. Architecture is expensive. We get it.

But sometimes it gets “ugly”. We’re not going to allow ourselves to become targets for abuse by those who either seek to compete with us, have demonstrated repeatedly that they wish us ill, or both.

It should be noted from the beginning that here at RR we actively WANT more qualified, experienced ISBU design professionals to dedicate themselves to teaching and assisting middle class families to build affordable, sustainable homes.

To those guys and gals; We want you to excel at what you do so that frankly, we don’t have to do it. We’re busy enough now. It breaks our hearts to turn families away. We do it weekly.

RR started because we wanted to help families getting hammered by hardship or the economy to “build themselves out of the box, by using cast-off ones”.

RR was never about “high dollar metal mansions”. RR is about striving to provide “DIY Basics”.

Here at RR, We don’t operate out of glass corner offices perched high in Metro skyscrapers. We don’t drive Porshes, or Mercedes Benzes. We don’t wear fancy suits.We live on farms surrounded by trees, cattle horses and an occasional wild beast (which usually ends up in our freezer). We grow our own food. We drive ten year old 4wd farm trucks. We wear Carhartt coveralls and we wear stout hiking or work boots.

We don’t make any PROFIT on family builds. We actually have to take on other “commercial and industrial” projects to cover it, so that families can afford to build in the first place. We don’t urge families to “work outside their pay grade”.

If building families need help performing a specific task or achieving a trade standard, we strongly suggest they seek it out and then secure it, especially when it’s the services of a  plumber, an electrician or  even a structural engineer.

Most of the projects depicted and described on RR are “family builds”. That means that a LOT of sweat equity, volunteer work, material resourcing and recycling is invested. It’s the only way these homes actually get built.

In fact, I’ve said publicly on the blogs (and in my books as well) that if you’re looking for a high-dollar, high profile Shipping Container home, we are NOT the guys you want to talk to.

We’ll laugh at you and then send you on your way. I’ve talked about these kinds of “My House Is Greener Than Yours” or “Man, I spent so much more than you – because I’m so cool…” guys on the blog (and in my books) a lot, so there can be no confusion about that. It’s simply not our mission.

There are plenty of other guys out there who will be happy to take your money…

We’ve stated repeatedly on the blog (since it’s beginnings, in fact) that RR is not about touting ourselves or getting pats on the back.

RR is about educating families about how alternative homes can be built and then helping them understand the processes involved. No matter what some will infer, RR is NOT now, nor has it ever been a “gravy train” created so that we can cash in on “hysteria or hardship”.

Truth be told, we do a lot of “Pro Bono” work and we don’t make a profit on “family funded” home builds.

There are comments all over the web that talk about us helping families, usually at our expense.

It’s WHAT WE DO (when we can) to insure that families are safe.  We don’t “echo” the praise here because, quite frankly, we don’t need our egos massaged. We simply believe in what we’re doing. It helps us sleep at night. The monies collected in “family builds” wouldn’t even keep the lights on or the rooms warm.  We do this because we believe that it’s important that it gets done, while we drive ten year old trucks and scavenge thru cast off “construction garbage” and “architectural salvage operations” to recover materials that can be recycled into affordable homes built on tight – sometimes almost suffocating – budgets.

While there are those who imply otherwise;

We don’t EVER urge families to use inferior materials.

We NEVER suggest that people build homes that are not built to meet code standards (in fact, our ISBU projects are usually “overbuilt”).

Nor do we urge families to “build illegally or skirt local laws”.

Allegations to contrary are absolutely preposterous.

Recently, I learned from a prospective commercial ISBU client that that there was a drafting guy (he’s not a licensed Architect, nor has he ever been) who reviewed/attacked one of our ISBU creations, “BOB”. Now, I’m not talking about “Robert Redford”, or a “Bug Out Bag”, he attacked a plan I’d shown people to demonstrate how a handful of 20′ ISBUs could  be set up to quickly form a small “vacation-type” home.

We laughingly referred to it as an ISBU based  “Bug-Out-Bunker“.

“BOB” – get it?

The reviewer states that one of the reasons he did this was the he doesn’t like our “politics”.

You see, we feel strongly that in order to prepare for the future, you must recognize the conditions you face.  He accuses readers of the blog of apparently being  mind-washed victims of “cool-aid” (his exact words) served up to lead you to believe that things are difficult in America.

He implies that everything is fine. He calls our discussions about eroding economic conditions in America, the Trillions of dollars of deficit, the inability of Congress to balance a budget or cut spending, and the hardships they create for the middle class… “complete nonsense”.

Nonsense? Really? Tell that to all of the families losing their jobs as companies leave the US, the families faced with losing their homes and worse, the families faced with the loss of the the ability to feed their families.  Here at RR, we are”realists”. We don’t buy the media BS and we don’t stick our heads in the sand (or up anywhere else) and hum… Honestly, we don’t give a crap if the reviewer or casual reader likes our politics or not. They can simply turn the channel.

We personally suspect that he’s the one drinking the “Kool-Aid” being served up those empty headed suits in Washington DC.

Let’s look at the “RR Victim” he offered up to his sacrificial altar;

First, BOB isn’t a REAL bunker. It was never intended to be.  BOB is just a “Corten Cabin”.

The idea was to simply to build  the maximum amount of enclosed, habitable shelter (“c0ntractor grade”, no less) for the price of a middle of the road USED RV.

BOB was a “off-the-cuff” counter to million dollar bunker suites built with the prospect of inhabiting radon filled, abandoned Missile Silos to avoid disasters. In fact, the guy doing exactly that was discussed in that same post – he’s building  an incredible underground complex within a missile silo he purchased. By now, most of us have seen this project on TV, on “Doomsday Preppers” and other places. 

It stands to reason that for all the money “Mr Silo” is spending on the project that he mitigated any radon contamination (he’s been pretty thorough). From a “bunker” standpoint, it’s really quite impressive, albeit extremely expensive for most “common folk”.

We threw BOB into the mix when several families made it clear that they wanted to (a) build out ISBUs in their yard or garage and then (b) personally haul them to rural locations, to allow for easy installation onto existing pilings.  They didn’t want a traditional “metal box”. They wanted something “novel”, something expandable, something that could offer as much outdoors as indoors.

20′ High Cube ISBUs are perfect for this task. They’re plentiful, easy to work on, easy to transport (using something as simple as a pickup and flatbed) and easy to manipulate on-site using farm “bucket” tractors and straps or chains.

Now, all that said, it should be noted from the “get go” that the price of 20′ ISBUs has gone up considerably since we first published “BOB” the first time in late 2009, so the numbers that we were working with no longer apply…


RR Tidbit; There is another BOB floorplan  floating around someplace that makes reference to buying (2) 40′ ISBUs and then cutting them in half. We did it as an “inside” joke, to see if anyone was paying attention because of a set of plans we were sent by a licensed architect (for overview/approval) who actually proposed that, but no one even caught it. (We referenced it several times on the blog, later.)

So, for the record, in case you’re  still scratching your heads over that “rogue drawing” that was offered up in SATIRE;

No, you cannot just “cut” 40′ ISBUs in “half”.  It’s more trouble than it’s worth and it’s a monumental waste of time and money. It CAN be accomplished, but it’s got to be for really compelling reasons that frankly, elude us.


Now without further adieu, meet BOB;


Here’s a tidbit for you “nitpickers” out there; On RR, if a drawing or floorplan is posted without a legend or a scale actually drawn on it to indicate exact dimension – it’s NOT drawn to scale. It’s basically an “illustration”. We usually put “NTS” (Not To Scale) on them, but sometimes we forget. So sue us.

Why did we choose this “shape”?

Small spaced are great for “defined tasks” but they leave a lot to be desired when you start thinking about living in them, 24/7. You need to incorporate these spaces into “larger spaces” to make them “livable”.

Basing the design on an octagon allowed us to create an easily constructed (no wall is longer than approximately 8 feet)  central gathering space and an easily modified single level plan. BOBs purpose was a “response to disaster – high speed setup, low entry costs, minimum budget” solution.

It’s come to our attention that a “reviewer”  has apparently taken one of my ISBU floorplans off the RR blog, published it on his site (without our permission – quoting “creative commons” –  because asking for permission to publish it would also have provided him with enough information to quell his “confusion”) and then assigned his own special brand of “home decorating” to it, to demonstrate that he (a kid who we’ll point out has never actually built a single ISBU home in his life to our knowledge – or even navigated the perils of architectural licensing) knew more than we did.

Aside from his attacks aimed at me personally (some of them actually “blind stabs” as he had ZERO idea of how we contract business – or anything else for that matter having NEVER been involved in any of those processes – including material selection for production), he took “liberties” with the floorplan illustration and then tried to dissect it.

In the reviewers post, he (I’m not going to “name names” to give him further publicity because we assume that’s part of his motive) makes a lot of assumptions;

You remember the old saying about assumptions, right?  

“When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.”

~ Oscar Wilde on Assumption
We’re told that it’s recorded in the Congressional Record that Al Gore prompted Congress to define the term “Assumption”. In our opinion – Al probably did this to quantify his position on “Global Warming”.
Congress, always up to pursuit of a boondoggle, came back with this;
“Assumption” means; “to decide on something without proper evidence” – a feat that (in our view) Congress practices regularly.
Now, I rarely agree with Congress, but… I’ll give ’em one, this time.
In the reviewer’s piece, he makes several observations based on “assumption”;

The foremost of which is the implication that this floorplan is “unlivable”. That will probably come as a shock to the three families that are living in modified “BOBs” built in the multi-container configuration that he’s so critical of.

The reviewer does have an understanding of the use of space. He’s a draftsman. But, I think what he fails to understand is “the act of designing and building – using ISBUs, especially on an almost non-existent budget”.

SOME of the ideas and floorplans we share are simple alternatives to foreclosure and the payment of escalating rents – by allowing families to build modestly and achieve BASIC SHELTER. While we do help families build “full blown family homes”, some of these ISBU builds are “vacation cabins, fishing cabins and hunting cabins.”

They are totally different animals than “tract homes” or Custom Homes designed and built by architects and contractors built on much larger budgets.

BOB is a “low-budget” beast.

BOB, specifically is about creating “high speed – inexpensive – pop and drop” shelter.

It was a response to some of the “disaster response – housing schemes and programs” out there.

BOB was never meant to be the “Perfect ISBU Dwelling”.

Again, the idea behind BOB was to quickly and inexpensively use small portable (using pickups and small flatbeds) ISBUs to create livable space, using something as simple as farm bucket tractors and chains (in lieu of cranes) to set them on pilings that you build on-site, by hand out of recycled Sono tube bits and concrete.

The overall “octagonal” design allows further expansion by reclaiming pre-existing, partially framed in spaces, as time and budget allow. Obviously, when you start adding ISBUs, you lose walls to mount media and storage on in the central core.

Hello? It’s called a “TRADE OFF”. You can clearly see that by comparing the (6) container BOB to the published (4) Container BOB floorplan that ran in the same approximate timeframe.

The reviewer claimed that in the (6) container version of BOB, there were no existing walls capable of being used as “display or media spaces”.


In the three versions of this multi-container ISBU house built to date, the NW or West ISBU “Niche” was actually bumped out toward the core slightly, allowing the niche to be filled with standard, off the shelf  entertainment center type furniture and the L-shaped sectional seating was placed in the proper orientation in the center of the room.  with it’s back to the front door (in the NW version). Bob’s interior partition walls aren’t “written in stone”.

You move partition walls as you need to – in order to define and maximize the use of created space.

BOB Ent Ctr2Something like this is often used. Even in lengths up to 60″ wide, it allows for a media wall with a 60″ flatscreen to be used and… it still allows room for a 30″ wide interior door to the bedroom beyond. (Remember  that the rough opening for a 30″ door is actually 32″.

A Sofaback table was usually deployed between front door and seating.  Table and benches in front of sliding glass doors to the rear deck.

So much for “no media or entertainment capabilities”.


By being able to add more containers as you go (by removing short, easily constructed ISBU sized segments of exterior perimeter wall), you create “instant weatherized space” as you build it out AND the by-product is that you create defined areas (exterior triangles) between the containers that can be reclaimed using decking/flooring and “traditional framing construction practices”.

The weight of the octagonal (SIPs are highly recommended – if affordable) roof  is carried by the massive “endframes” of the original (4) containers. The roof basically sits on beams secured across the top of the ISBUs to allow the insertion of  framing to support inclusion of “toplight/venting glazing”)

Contrary to what some would have you believe (who “review” without so much as inspecting actual plan sets), the removal of wall surfaces to install more containers later (as time and money allow) doesn’t compromise roof integrity at all. They are DESIGNED to be removed, to allow for future expansion. You unbolt the wall section from the top and bottom, cut the insulation around the edges away, and then remove the wall. It’s a structurally framed opening, by design. It doesn’t require “jacks” or “supports” to accomplish this task. Once the old wall is out, you carefully “sister up” your new ISBU to the opening that you’ve just created. Once that ISBU is in place, you’ve created yet another “room” that is already weathered in. This means that you can finish out the room at your leisure, as time and money allow.

It should also be noted that this “future expansion” is accomplished by “families” and not by expensive return trips from contractors, engineers or expensive trade personnel. It’s been done several times.  The welding skills required were learned and mastered in the first pass.

This is all “schoolyard” – almost “textbook” construction.  It’s NOT “rocket science”.

floorjoistTo reclaim the area between the containers, you simply tackweld floor joist hangers onto the existing ISBU frames, pop a piling or two in to support the new deck and wall framing and then you’re off to the races. Obviously, you’ll build a (SIP hopefully) roof section for each “reclaimed room” you create. A smart family will crawl under that newly created floor deck and shoot a few inches of SPF onto it, as insulation.

Please – Use RIGID Insulation, at the very least.

Doing this allows you to open up existing Corten Steel walls later (with a plasma cutter – again a skill learned in the first phase of construction) to create larger bedrooms capable of providing space for things like “traditional Queen Sized bed layouts” the reviewer complained about, typical in your “vanilla” tract home.

The reviewer’s rants about the use of space  reminded me of the tale of Cinderella’s sisters trying to cram their big feet into a shoe they knew was too small. Oy.

Note; You don’t even have to wall these “triangles” in, you could simply deck them and add sliding glass doors to the Corten bedrooms. That additional glazing would easily make these rooms feel spacious and bright, all by itself. In two of the builds, it’s exactly what the homeowners did.

Okay, that said;

The reviewer hated the idea of placing a bathroom on the end of a galley kitchen and walk-thru pantry.

He says it’s “gross”. He had “last night’s burrito smell” issues with it, to use his own words.

Perhaps he should invest in a bottle of “Bean-O”.

First, the bathroom is located several feet away from the kitchen on the other side of  a large pass thru pantry that also would have incorporated a (say it with me) “pocket door”. Keep reading and you’ll learn why we like pocket doors. This would allow you to tuck a washing machine into the pantry (on the wet wall) and then dampen the washer noise by closing the door.

In small spaces, sound travels fast.

NO, in small spaces the sound doesn’t defy the known laws of physics, it just SOUNDS that way. 🙂

(In a perfect world – one with enough budget, the bathroom and laundry room would be incorporated into a separate 20′ ISBU.  In fact we’ve talked about it before. And yes, it would cost you a bedroom. But, if you did it that way the kitchen and pantry could be expanded. We don’t have issues with the bath being so “close” to the kitchen, but we do recognize that it makes it harder to go to the bathroom when someone is cooking in that gallery kitchen. It’s just another trade-off when you have a really tight budget.)

After the reviewers rant about burritos,  he drew in the bathroom fixtures HE presumed would be installed in the bathroom space and then…  blames US for their placement?

(There is not a single “published” BOB drawing from RR that includes fixtures, doors or even window specifications).

He condemned our use of that bathroom space – space that HE himself assigned the wrong fixtures into. It’s just nonsense.

It doesn’t matter that he clearly didn’t understand the space to begin with.

First, if you are building  “off-grid” on a really tight budget, you DO NOT use a tub in this configuration…

If you’re on a well on top of that… you’re probably going to insist on “water conservation” being  incorporated into your design. It’s just common sense.


Which uses more water?

A full bathtub, or
The average shower (with a typical – in most places MANDATORY water-saving shower head)?

Statistically, (according to US Dept of Energy Water Resources Reports)  comparing a typical bath (40 gallons) to a five minute shower reveals that you’ll use approximately 25 more gallons of water in that bathtub, soaking. (A typical shower uses approximately 3 gallons per minute.) And according to most studies, you’ll spend an average of twenty minutes in that tub.  That means that tub water’s gonna get cold.

So, if you’re building rurally and water is an issue OR you’re just simply paying for water, you can save 1000’s of gallons of water a year by SHOWERING instead of bathing.

Where BOB  is concerned,  you’d probably use a SHOWER stall to maximize that available space. In fact,  this shower not only saves water, it ends up being big enough for two, easy. Can you say “Rain Head”?  If the reviewer had asked, we would have told him.

Yes.We acknowledge that you COULD  also “reuse the bath water” from person to person until it was ICE COLD, but I personally think it’s a really lame idea.

Did you know that the old saying;

“Throwing the baby out with the bathwater…”

… actually comes from the old days when the head of house took the “hot” bath and then everyone else followed (mom, oldest to youngest in order), until the water was dirty and tepid/cold?

If you want to talk about GROSS, it’s not about the allegation that BOB’s  “bathroom is too close to the kitchen”. It’s about taking a bath in several other people’s dirty bathwater, cold bathwater, at that.  

There are many possible bathroom layouts. You can run the shower down one wall and then put the toilet on sink on the opposing wall. This creates a pass-thru bath that would allow an exterior door to a deck. Now, you have a bath that can double as  a mud room if desired.

Typically in this situation, the shower stall has been installed across the back of the ISBU. Building a smaller length shower allows for linen storage, or even inclusion of a hot water tank in that location.

There are those who build a tub into a pedestal, not only to have a place to sit (for shaving etc… but to allow the tub to be used in emergencies to store water. The Toilet and Bathroom cabinet/sink oppose each other.  This obviously requires that one internal wall be slightly longer than the other (because of the length of the toilet dimension from the wall) to place/frame the door and create adequate traffic flow.

There are many available solutions. Pick one.

Beyond that, the reviewer’s apparently never heard of bathroom vents or fans. Nor has he apparently ever been in a house that has a half bath or powder room directly adjacent to a kitchen to utilize the wet wall or even (gasp!) the concept of building all of your systems into a single box, to dramatically cut down the production costs because you’re trying to build on a tight budget.

TIP: Can you say PEX? It’s a luxury, but well worth it.

It should also be noted that most families then install some kind of exterior hot tub set into a deck to allow for “family relaxation/soaking”. We even know of one woman who gave birth in that outside hot tub on the deck of her “BOB”.

(I can’t even begin to imagine how much cleaning THAT took afterward…)

To build for “rural” families, it helps to understand “rural” values.

Here’s another one of our published (years ago, actually) “examples” of what you can do with those alleged “too small” spaces. Note the use of a storage pedestal bed against the wall, a small bath in an ISBU end and POCKET DOORS to eliminate door swing and interference. This is microscopically small, but not only buildable – it’s liveable. We know of at least three people who have built this box.

ISBU - Queen Bed Use

Did you know that pocket doors, even though they are more expensive initially, are frequently used in small ISBU builds to allow for the reclamation and optimal use of that precious floorspace.

It should be noted that NO doors were drawn or depicted into the originally posted “BOB”  floorplans, it was simply a quick “You could do something like this” kind of post series.

The reviewer further complained that there was “only one bathroom”.

Why is there only ONE bathroom? Well, because BOB is meant to be built on an almost non-existent budget. It’s about providing BASIC services.

Hello? Mission?

Clearly defined –  low budget build.

The reviewer didn’t bitch about the kitchen. As he himself states, it’s been done hundreds of times. It’s a 16′ Galley kitchen with 8 feet of counter-top or appliance space on either side. There’s easily enough kitchen there to prepare a meal for 6 people or more.

Again, remember that HIGH CUBE containers are taller. That means you have more kitchen cabinet potential.

TIP: Build in a rolling library ladder to allow access to higher cabinets.

The pantry is MASSIVE. You can’t even imagine how much storage there is, floor to ceiling in that pantry. It will easily support a family of six throughout the hard winters of “wherever”. What we like to do is build the cabinets so that they open out with a deep door, allowing you to capitalize on storage. It’s easier to find canned goods when you don’t have to try and reach way back into a pantry for them.  Deep door pantry units can be built, or bought at places like Home Depot or Lowes.

Then the reviewer started in on the bedrooms; which are basically in two configurations;

  • “Closet ended”
  • “Closet run on long wall”

Why two configurations?

Well, because we want you to determine what you’re  building and then use the experience from building the first one to repeat the process. We actually do this  in several of our ISBU projects. It builds confidence (“little victories” are cool!),  insures quality control, increases your safety factors (by building jigs and templates from simple engineered drawings) and helps to control waste.

Typically, one folding bed system gets built (3) times, up to (6) times actually, if you double them up to form “out of the wall” bunk beds. We’ll talk about that more in a minute.

The reviewer tried to stuff queen or full sized beds into an “almost 8′ wide” rooms, lengthwise?


It doesn’t work. In a single ISBU, you create “sleeping rooms” (in this type of layout, these created spaces are small for a reason) – all you do is SLEEP in them – why in the world would you spend a large chunk of your building  budget on  space that you won’t use frequently?

In BOBs many potentials for bedrooms, the reviewer overlooked a lot;

The reviewer laments the lack of dressers in the BED end bedrooms, claiming the floorspace of the room is too small and that the created cavity (for shelving) at the end of the closet is unusable for storage.

Of course it is. He KILLED the space trying to shoehorn that huge bed in there.

He also overlooked the 8 linear feet of built in storage bins as you enter to door. If you can’t store your folded underwear, socks and sweaters in (42+) 1 square foot bins, you have too many clothes.Where BOB is concerned, you do NOT need dressers unless you’re trying to make a fashion statement.  BOB was designed to be built in the woods, in phases. I assure you that Better Homes and Gardens isn’t going to show up with a film crew. The only one who’s gonna see your furnishings are the occupants and guests.

And if your guests get cranky about your lack of dressers, you have the wrong friends.

In the “storage closet end”  bedrooms, BOB gets “fold-down beds” or even twin bunk beds. It’s not much different than some of the smaller mobile homes bedrooms that we’ve seen over the last several decades.  There’s plenty of room to stand at the end of the bed and open the closet, unless you’re simply not smart enough to figure it out.

In most of these BOB type bedroom builds – home-built “Fold Down” TWIN bed systems (that also incorporate fold down desk surfaces, et all) have been constructed (cost effectively) allowing them to fold up into the wall, out of the way when not in use. This allows the child or young adult to drop that “built in table” and then pull a folding chair off the wall (stored there on simple hooks – for example – just like the Amish do) so that they can multi-task and maximize floorspace, or even… play.

… Or, you can just do “store-bought” bunk beds.

In the post titled “ALL ABOUT B-O-B” , we even showed bunk beds in similarly sized room being used to allow those “too skinny spaces” to be used as bedrooms.

When it was recounted to us that the reviewer got yanked about the shelf systems in the bedrooms… we were told that he claimed that the shelf was only 6″ deep. His rant about the lack of dresser space for clothing store puzzled us.

… We were frankly puzzled. With the creative use of  “modular or soft bin” (12”  deep – we thought that he must have screwed up scaling the floorplan) “storage walls” (we’ve all seen these displayed at Walmart and Home Depot), it’s easily possible to create significant amounts of storage to be reclaimed from every possible square inch of the dwelling. In the posts, we even made it clear that it’s exactly what “the too skinny shelf” we thought he was griping about, is for.

We use them in almost every small build we do. In fact, we either buy or build them in several lengths and heights to allow a maximum of created storage. Here’s a photo of a set we put together for a “short” storage wall (this is actually minus one entire cabinet – we usually stack them in threes so that they go almost all the up to the ceiling.);


We don’t currently have a “single Queen” ISBU under construction, but this is the same (albeit smaller) basic system that goes along that opposing closet wall as you enter the bedroom. Please excuse the “olive and dark wood” color scheme. Old habits die hard… LOL!

This storage system (representing ONE HALF of the typical storage system depicted in a single BOB plan bedroom) is constructed of MDF, PINE and 1 ft square soft BINS and it contains storage space for the following;

(30) pairs of Underwear, 25 pairs of Winter socks, 12 pairs of thermals, 24 T-Shirts, 15 Hendley knit pullovers,  8 knit sweaters, 8 hoodies, 10 pair of jeans, 12 pairs of hiking shorts, 10 pairs of tactical type pants, 12 tactical type shirts, 12 pairs of swim trunks and athletic shorts, a bin full of knit hats, gloves and gaiters, a (high placed – to avoid a small child’s “interests”) bin full of wristwatches, pocket knives, bracelets, etc… and I still have bins left over.

I actually use a pair of  the empty bins for clothes hampers, each lined with a drawstring clothing bag. 1 full bin is just about a decent sized washer load.

If you can’t get all your clothing in this storage wall, augmented by extra storage in the bed pedestal.. you have way too many clothes.

Now… add an “organizer closet” to the mix. Trust me when I tell you that you won’t need a “dresser”.   We even add dividers to several of the cavities so that your wife will have a place to tuck her “vast” shoe collection.

Then we realized that he was actually talking about the built in DVD and CD storage system in the “Laptop” Desk OFFICE…

… which the reviewer also complains about, stating that the desk is 3″ too shallow. 

Give. Me. A. Break. It’s a “pocket office laptop desk”.  WE wanted to buy back a few inches for a chair and occupant without killing the access to the small “guest” room behind it.

And that “too skinny” shelf behind the desk? I can assure you that 6″ is PLENTY deep enough for the storage required for TV and Computer media, DVDs, music CD’s and software, directly adjacent to the “pocket office”.

We also noted that he once again stuffed a giant bed in a tiny space behind the office. At this point , we’re actually laughing…

You don’t use a “conventional” QUEEN or FULL sized bed layout in a single container.

Beds-in-20sYou know it’s a “hatchet piece” when you know the reviewer knows the right way to do things and then he still does it wrong intentionally.

You see, we KNOW that the reviewer understands the concept of “large bed placement in a small space”  (like a single width ISBU, for example)  as month’s prior to his “review” of B.O.B., I personally directed him to draw a “preliminary floorplan illustration” for us that depicted it – accurately – for a multi-container project we were working up for a discussion that we were having with some California builders interested in ISBU housing solutions for the Central Californian Metropolitan rental market.

Let’s cover the bases;

20′ ISBUs have an inside container width of 7’8″ – 92″ (IF you insulate on the outside of the container.).

How long is a mattress?

Here’s the measurements;

  • Twin Mattress             —  39″ wide x 75″ long
  • Twin XL Mattress       — 39″ wide x 80″ long
  • Full Mattress               —  54″ wide x 75″ long
  • Full XL Mattress        —  54″ wide x 80″ long
  • Queen Mattress          —  60″ wide x 80″ long
  • Cal-King Mattress      —  72″ wide x 84″ long
  • King Mattress             —  76″ wide x 80″ long
  • King Split Mattress   —  76″ wide x 80″ long

So, obviously, in a “Bed all the way back against the wall” ISBU scenario – unless you’re using a twin sized mattress – you turn the bed SIDEWAYS to run along the wall.

You shove it against the wall to fill in the space. (See the above drawing for an example of how to do it right.) Then,… you put that bed on a storage pedestal, possibly with bookcases over it.

(HIGH CUBE – Tall Ceilings – HELLO?)

In the case of BOB, where you’re trying  to milk every square inch you can… you also incorporate a pull out “nightstand” shelf or a step into the storage pedestal., so that when you don’t need it, it’s tucked out of the way, freeing up floorspace.

Sure it means that one of you may have to crawl over one another to get to that “gross” bathroom he rants about, but if your relationship is close enough that you actually sleep together, we’re confident that you’ll figure out a way to handle it. 🙂

In my house (and many other small ISBU houses) that means the guy sleeps against the wall, so his significant other can get up to visit the bathroom or check on the kids without obstruction.

If you can’t figure this stuff out… then combine containers to make wider spaces. Jeez… it doesn’t take a NASA engineer to figure that out… or even a lot of “Structural engineering”.

The bottom line is that way back in the beginnings of the blog, I was responding to people who had almost NO money to build  with. Thus, we usually did things, minimally.

We became notorious for being able to rub nickles together to make quarters. We HAD to, to insure that families could actually build.

And, to this day, it hasn’t changed much. There’s a lot of hardship out there.

Where BOB is concerned, anyone interested in pursuing this kind of ISBU layout was (and is) advised as to it’s advantages and disadvantages, as well as being provided with detailed instructions as to HOW to make the spaces work, as part of the exploration process.

Also note that this “review” didn’t originate after the publishing of a 30 page HOW TO guide or a provided set of construction documents –  I published a post with an illustration to fuel creativity and give people ideas about what you could  do, while “thinking out of the box”…

In the reviewer’s “attack” he goes on to say;

“If I’m a regular Joe building this home myself, I better have some serious knowledge of welding, construction and structural engineering. Otherwise I’m putting myself and my family at risk of injury or worse.”

It demonstrates to us that;

  • (a) he knows pretty close to nothing about welding or metal fabrication or that he’s getting terrible advise,
  • (b) he’s never heard of  storage walls or “organizer closets” that can include drawers, shelves, etc. (remember that in a high cube ISBU you have more room height to capitalize on)
  • (c) He doesn’t understand the depth of a standard hanging closet or the cavity for shelving that a little additional framing out one end of it will create…
  • (d) his construction experience is probably best described as being based on “drawing pretty things” on his monitor…
  • (e) he’s apparently clueless as to how to lay out a small bathroom. (He DREW in the fixtures and then criticizes their placement? What?) and…
  • (f) there’s actually very  little aside from the octagonal SIP roof and the foundation pilings in this plan that require anything even remotely close to the “intensive structural engineering” scrutiny that the reviewer implies. ISBUs are “engineered boxes” to begin with. Just don’t ask them to do something they aren’t  designed to do.

BOB is a single-story,  multi-container cabin set on handcast Sono-tube concrete pilings. Aside from the flooring in the central core and the construction of the octagonal roofing, it can be built by high school and college kids with some supervision. In fact, here in Montana, we’re going to put that to the test, AGAIN,  this summer.

Is the reviewer suggesting that his “I better have some serious…” position is based on the fact that we suggested that you could  even STACK the containers on top of each other?

Um… last time I checked, Shipping Containers are already “designed and engineered” to be stacked on top of each other.

About the reviewer;

We actually had some dealing with this cat, way back when. We showed him some support and then tried to show him some love.  Initially, we’d anticipated using him as a (gasp!) compensated off-site DRAFTSMAN, since that’s what he is qualified to do.

Even thought his site is littered with statements that begin with “As an Architect…” he is NOT an Architect. He is NOT licensed, nor has he ever been. It’s illegal to use the term “Architect” unless you are licensed. We’ll also point out at this juncture that telling people or leading them to believe that you are an architect when you aren’t – is a felony.

We figured that he’d learn to “speak Advanced  ISBU” along the way – as he exhibited good potential over the phone and on the internet. We were never even in the same room with him.

Back then, RR was literally operating across a dining room table. We were all spread out across America, communicating via email and Skype. I miss those days… not.

He did a few (less than a handful) of “preliminary floorplan drawings and illustrations” (we supplied him with basic layouts and he employed his stylus/puck) for us – and we parted ways shortly thereafter.

We didn’t like the experience and neither did he. He went his way and we stayed on course, helping families build.

In our opinion, the reviewer’s real intent about “BOB” isn’t to “inform” or even “enlighten”, it’s simply a self-serving attempt at manipulating or even “creating” data (by addition), allowing him to take shots at us and/or stroke his own ego – for personal gain.

The facts are that: The reviewer took a design (without permission) intended for one application, then took liberties with it and then tried to force it into “a box of his own design”. And when it failed, he then blamed us.

Architecture and Engineering include the extensive use of math. So, it seems appropriate that we do some math, don’t you think?

In the reviewer’s case;

ZERO licensing + ZERO Practical Experience  building ISBU homes = ZERO.

In our opinion (and the opinion of legal counsel), this “review piece” is just a “hatchet job”.

I’m sure that readers will agree that being able to use a scalpel does not make you a surgeon. Nor, we observe,  does being able to use a CAD station make you an Architect.

We look forward to hearing that the reviewer has one day passed the Architectural Exams required to allow him to practice his trade as a licensed Architect. Further, we look forward to observing what he actually builds and we hope that he invests as much attention to that project as he does in attacking others. Until he achieves the required licensing or actually builds something, he has no value as a “critic”, in our view.

Suffice to say that having read all this, you can probably begin to get a feel for why it didn’t work out between us.

The reviewer claims that his point is that you should “hire an Architect and not an expert”.

Yeah, yeah… we get it. “Don’t drive a FORD, drive a CHEVY.”

  • In order to become (or claim to be) an architect, you actually have to take and then successfully PASS the tests for licensing.
  • To be an expert in the field of building ISBU homes or buildings… you have to actually BUILD them.

Clearly, based on the reviewer’s lack of both practical ISBU experience and Architectural Licensing… the reviewer is neither one.

The Renaissance RoninNor does the reviewer understand “defamation of character” or the legal definitions of the terms “slander” or “libel”. One of our investors is a “Lawyer”. After reviewing all the documents, he’s assured us that he’s more than willing to protect the name and integrity of the ISBU Group that he’s personally invested in.

Further attempts to “defame us”, “slander us” (we have the notarized affidavits ) or “libel us” (we have the published documents) us will result in legal action.

And if you’re using our content or images without our express written permission, you are violating copywrite and you have 15 days to remove said content. If we imply “Creative commons usage” it’s clearly depicted in the images and content.

You know who you are and you’ve been warned.


4 Responses to “Hachets are best used for chopping wood…”

  1. Skadi Hatfield February 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Great write. BOB is making me check out building code. I also sat down and “designed” using this as basis. Awesome.

  2. John Umland (@JohnUmland) February 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    i need some haters to get fodder for my blog. i’m glad you’re doing enough good to irritate people.
    God is love

  3. texarcana2002 February 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Good write. Amazing that morons like that even get regarded as “experts”.

    Keepmupmthe good work… If ya need a troll somewhere, I stand ready to “go into the digital breach”! 😉

  4. madrigorne March 18, 2013 at 2:08 am #

    it’s a high cube dude, put your queen sized bed up on a loft and put your beloved dresser or huge ass desk below. Jeez.

Comments are closed.