Whatever floats your boat… er… house.

17 Mar

Recently, we’ve seen flooding all over the planet.

Quite a few readers know that we used to turn ISBUs (shipping containers) into houseboats, floating EPA labs, you name it. In fact, a few of those “Corten Cabin Cruisers” that we built in Costa Rica many years ago are still in service, 25 years later.

Many of these readers interested in these floating “Corten cuties” live in places where tidal surge from big storms frequently destroys homes in low-lying areas.

We’ve been asked repeatedly if you could build an ISBU based home on a floating foundation, allowing it to survive tidal surge from big weather events. The answer is YES.

In fact, after Hurricane Katrina, we lobbied strongly for just such a home in areas like the lowlands of Louisiana and Mississippi. We suggested that we build ISBU homes onto floating decks (steel decks with massive foam floatation devices attached to the undersides), in the “Shotgun” and”Folk Victorian” styles and then place them on piers that would allow the home to rise and fall in a big storm.  Not only would that foam allow the home to float up above high water, it would also serve as insulation below the floor to help the home be more energy efficient. With skirting around the home, you’d never  “see” the flotation devices, which are just large blocks of  closed cell foam. It’s essentially the same foam that we use to insulate ISBU homes now, in either a Spray Foam formula or pre-manufactured rigid insulation boards.

You can guess what happened next. People just looked at us and laughed. After a lot of attempts to demonstrate the worth of this process, we finally gave up.

We’d given thought recently to building a similar ISBU home here in Montana, out on Painted Rock Lake in the West Bitterroot.

Now, many years after Hurricane Katrina, someone else in the Gulf Coast has picked up the torch.They call it “The Buoyant Foundation Project”.


Think about just how simple this is. Weld additional framing to the bottom of your ISBU home (you already have most of the steel right there for the foam frames to attach to) and then set your home on piers with slip collars that allow the home to rise and fall with the tide.

If you live in the Gulf, you now have a “Storm Surge Resistant” home unlike anything your neighbors have ever seen. Best of all, when “hard times and high water” come, you don’t lose all your possessions and your shelter. In fact, if you are using photovoltaic panels and a battery bank, you lose very little at all.   If you’re forced to leave your home, it’ll probably still be there when you return after they sound the all-clear.

Maybe, just maybe, these guys will find people to reason with who don’t simply roll their eyes and ask “if you will be required to put navigation lights on the home’s roof because it’s now a vessel floating in a flood.” We were asked that. they wanted to know if we;d gotten Coast Guard Certification for this housing concept.

Man, I tell you, eating too much crawfish must cause some people to turn into morons…

Until next time…

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3 Responses to “Whatever floats your boat… er… house.”

  1. texarcana2002 March 17, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Dude, you didn’t pay the politicians enough… You know they’re corrupt as rot down there…

    • Renaissance Ronin March 17, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      You really have no idea how close to the truth that is. We were told outright that “a donation to specific enterprises” would grease the wheels. We refused to play ball. 😉

  2. Rick Baker March 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    It is not the crawfish–it is Louisiana politics and lawyers–everyone wants their piece.      Same thing is happening to America all over–unfortunately.  Decaying all around us.     Like Thomas Jefferson said–“they are building a City (New Orleans) where a City should not be built”.

    Rick    

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