ISBU Storage – When is enough enough?

2 Dec

We’re working around the clock right now. bracing for a big storm while we manage all the fires that are burning…

We’re literally strung out from Montana to the Philippines…

I received an email the other day that really made me think about the things that families consider when planning and building their ISBU homes.  More and more, as house footprints are decreasing , the quest for storage is increasing.  There’s a disconnect between downsizing your structure and downsizing your possessions.

The family that contacted me (we’ll call them “Family X”) was really struggling, trying to determine HOW to build the smallest home possible and still maintain their rather large collection of memorabilia and  “stuff”. I’ll address this in depth later (when we have more time as we’re really up against it right now), but for now, here’s some thoughts;

Dear Ronin,

We are currently working on the design for building our ISBU two story home. We’re planning on building using a pair of 40′ containers on each floor.  The idea is to build a 1200+ sq foot (3) BDRM (2) bath home that will eventually go off-grid as our finances allow.  The problem is that we’re “collectors” and we need more storage than we’re seeing.  People call us hoarders. There may be something to that…

We’ve been planning this for a while now, after a few years of research. We’re amazed that people know you everywhere. Beyond all the families that you’ve helped here in the US, we have friends in New Zealand that you helped build… who know people in OZ that you helped as well. Is there any place that you haven’t built an ISBU home?

Have you seen any cool storage ideas that we might incorporate into your design that might allow us to incorporate more storage? We need your help.


Family X


Dear X’s,

We’ve been doing this a long time. During those decades, we’ve gotten our passports stamped a lot. 🙂

I suppose I should counsel you to consider “downsizing your collections” but that’s another Cable reality show, huh? LOL!

I’ve run several posts on the blog about using staircases to incorporate additional storage. We’ve found that it’s one of the most overlooked areas in the home for “parking those collections”.

Have you considered offsetting your ISBUs to provide space between the containers that can be reclaimed? You have to the potential to create some really inexpensive square footage, simply by moving those containers 8-12 feet apart. One of my “new” favorite reclaimed space concepts moves those ISBUs 12 feet apart. Not only do you end up with more square footage that is easily reclaimed, you get something like this (at one end of your home):

Storage CentralThis is a Korean home (Moon Hoon), but you can see how they assigned the space. It’s really quite cool.

And… take it a step further. A really smart person would incorporate even more space in that staircase using a “hatch” system to reclaim that space under the stair platform. Sure, it might take on a “nautical” theme (imagine a sailboat with storage lockers built into the decks), but you could really get a lot of storage out of an arrangement like this, including your “extended pantry and gear storage” areas, within easy reach during hard times. This is especially important if you’re considering an “off-grid” home.

Here’s another look at that Korean build;

Storage Central-2Think about how many interesting spaces an arrangement like this creates.

You could build a neat sitting area in the lower section as the stairs wrap around. I’ve thought about doing something like this to allow for great storage AND a nice place for kids to to homework or crafts. I’m always telling people to “think out of the box”. Sometimes it works to let those boxes create new space, for you.

Keep us posted about your home build!

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