Why Do I Write This?

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself.

First off… my real name is Alex, and I’m just an ordinary guy, trying to build a home for my family.

While I’m not a practicing Architect or even a Developer, I have all the right schooling and plenty of experience. (In a more polite way of describing it; “I’ve been around… I’m older than dirt.”) Not only have I been building “alternate homes” for decades… I’ve done it all over the planet. Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, South America, and even (gasp!) here in the United States.

Okay, some were homes, some were shelters, and some were even “bunkers”.

45d2NOT… this kind of shelter. But, hmmm…  it is cool, huh? I could do this! In fact, I have done this… um… er… okay… a variation of this.

But it’s a S-E-C-R-E-T!

But it doesn’t stop there; “No Siree!” Additionally, I’ve spent a ton of time visiting manufacturing plants and installations.

What in blazes am I doing?

  1. I’m building a home to replace one that was lost to a hurricane.
  2. I’m doing this using ISBUs because I’ve done if before, many times.
  3. I’m doing it in spite of an insurance company that values stock-holders more than client families.  They still haven’t settled our claim.
  4. I’m doing it while my 40 year old wife goes through cancer treatment (chemo and radiation) and our two year old son orbits around my legs, and her bed.
  5. I’m doing it while the authorities line up against us, because they don’t want Shipping Container Homes in their neighborhoods.
  6. I’m doing it publicly to show YOU how to do it, as well.

Why am I doing this so publicly?

Because if I can do this, while my wife is terribly ill, my young son demands a lions share of my attention, and I face long odds of success, so can you!

I’m not trying to do the “Chicken Little – The Sky is Falling” … thing.

Sure, the economy sucks. Sure, it’s getting harder and harder to make things work. Sure, all you see on TV is “doom and gloom”…

080925_mvrdvBut, we ain’t there yet… (gulp!)

My goal is to enhance your experience here…

… by not only showing you the best, most creative and efficient ISBU construction projects out there, but by also telling you the story BEHIND the projects, so you can see that in most cases, the people building these marvels are just like you and me.

Recently, I was out wandering the web, and I came across a site where the guy had (among other things) a section on Container homes. Naturally, I asked to be included in his listing, so that I could share this blog with others who share my enthusiasm for these metal boxes.

Imagine my chagrin, when the writer of that blog informed me that:

“I read your blog. You don’t write a blog about shipping containers homes; You actually write a blog about your personal life, with a little bit of container information thrown in.”

Thus, “listing denied.”

He also told me that if I wished to start writing a “great shipping container related blog” he’d reconsider.

I’m paraphrasing, but you get the drift. Okay, it’s his blog, and he sets the rules. But, you know me… or at least you should by now. I don’t take crap from anyone.

Naturally, I fired off a reply, asking him what blog he was reading, because the planet in the center of this blog, the mass that all the rest of this galaxy orbits around, is indeed a big steel box.

And, I politely told him to “get bent.”

What that knucklehead is missing, and what most of the blogs relating to “Corten Castles” are missing, in my view, is a good dose of reality.

  • I’m sick of reading about homes that can’t possibly get built; “concept homes.” You know the ones I’m talking about… “high dollar ISBU projects” that are designed to be noticed by the trades, but never actually constructed, because they can’t be built, or even lived in.
  • I’m sick of “high dollar ISBU projects” that violate the very premise of recycling and sustainable living, because you have to be a relative of Bernie Madoff to be able to afford their construction.
  • I’m sick and tired of “mad dog monstrosities” that are so radical that the only purpose they actually serve is to piss the local planning and zoning Nazis off… and keep you from realizing your dream to own and live in a steel home.

You get the drift…

By showing you how to actually build a livable, affordable home out of a cast-off container or two (or even six!), I hope to create a stir, to create interaction between all of you, you gentle readers, you… 🙂

That interaction will help us all grow and as we grow, we will get stronger.

I’m hoping that a “grass roots view” of how these projects actually happen, will serve to inspire and delight you, and stimulate your own projects and goals.

I hope to demonstrate that even “the common man” can incorporate cutting edge technology combined with daylighting (and we’ll even throw in some solar technology), to create very contemporary yet traditional feeling atmospheres to reside in, that started out with these wonderful metal boxes as their core.

Far from those guys who just want to talk about those “polished poster-boards that get shoved” in front of “far-flung architectural review boards”, I think it’s important to know WHO is building these homes, and it’s important to be able to understand them.

It’s really valuable to know WHAT they are using, as they put these boxes together.

More importantly, it’s important to know WHY they’re building them. I’m not building a home for my family because some “expert/jackass” says so, I’m building that home to safeguard my tribe, to provide for them and to allow them to live comfortably.

We need to see HOW they are assembling these beasts, to make that perfect place to hang your hat at the end of the day.

Knowing all of those things helps insure our success. And, in most of our cases, our families lives hang in the balance!

And for those guys who think that this stream of consciousness isn’t relevant to the shipping container movement (you know who you are), I say only this:

“G_d gave me a middle finger for a reason. Wanna see it?”

Stay tuned.

The Renaissance Ronin

9 Responses to “Why Do I Write This?”

  1. Andew K December 17, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    Hello Alex…
    Firstly, I lover your blog, please keep going.

    Secondly, and I suppose lastly, have you “actually” built a shipping container house??? Would love to see it if you have…



    • renaissanceronin December 17, 2009 at 11:49 pm #


      You must be new here, Andrew.

      “Have I actually built a container home?”

      You’re kidding, right? Of course not. I’m just making it up as I go along… And I must be channeling Bob Vila or David Cross or even (gasp!) Paul Stankey… because I’ve been going on for literally thousands of pages… about nothing but my gigantic ego, evidently. Oy. 😉

      Sheesh, Andrew… I’ve been building these Container Homes since 1977.

      Um… Let’s see, now… Firstly… You’re on a SHIPPING CONTAINER BLOG.

      And second, and I suppose lastly… 😉

      You “actually” just read;

      “…Not only have I been building “alternate homes” for decades… I’ve done it all over the planet. Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, South America, and even (gasp!) here in the United States.

      Okay, some were homes, some were shelters, and some were even “bunkers”…”

      Did ya think I was talking about Legos, blocks, or Lincoln Logs? 🙂

      And, heck… a few of them are even scattered through-out this blog.

      Additionally, we have (7) more Container Homes being built RIGHT NOW.

      Just stay tuned to learn all about them.

      And start catching up, huh? We’re WAYYYY ahead of you.

      We’ll wait right here…

      Still waiting… right here…

      Waiting… 🙂

  2. Geone March 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    I am have been researching container construction for a couple years now with hopes of doing one for myself.
    Is it cheaper to put the isbu’s up on pilings? A single person
    can make a piling more easily than a foudation…Yes? No?

    • renaissanceronin March 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm #


      Depending on the size of your ISBU project, pilings can be very advantageous, and cost affordable.

      Remember to factor in the cost of actually placing the container on the pilings you create.


  3. Dr. PJ June 13, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    I am interested in building cost-effective (cheap) but sound nontraditional homes, not only for myself but for other people who do not like or cannot afford the money sink-holes called traditional housing. Your blog is insightful, informative and inspirational. Definitely continue doing your thing and spreading the good word about alternate housing techniques/materials/recycling. If you need any help or info feel free to ask me (I am a holistic doctor of naturopathy)

    • renaissanceronin June 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Doc,

      My goal is to help families help themselves.

      My DREAM is to create an sustainable eco-village, using ISBUs, to demonstrate the abilities of these boxes to the masses, in a way that can no longer simply be dismissed as “crazy or unconventional.”

      I’d hoped that as I traveled this path, letting people become “voyeurs” I’d attract some help. But, it’s not easy being a “pariah.” (sigh!)

      So, adversity or not… we move forward, one step at a time.

      We’ll continue this as long as we can. It’s not getting any easier here, or “out there.” We all have hard decisions to make.

      My goal remains the same: Put families in safe homes, where there was none. Protect our kids (and their future) using steel, and not false-promises from bureaucrats.

      Thanks for your comments.


  4. Chiyo June 14, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    Ronin –

    I’m curious, have you talked with anyone from Habitat for Humanity about this affordable housing, about using shipping containers?

    • renaissanceronin June 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

      Hi Chiyo,

      Yes, in fact, I have talked to Habitat for Humanity, as have several other people related to the ISBU housing arena.

      It’s deemed too difficult, as the skills and tools required aren’t “common.” It really makes me wonder sometimes, as once you get past the shell (steel fabrication), internally, they really aren’t that much different from conventional construction. I suspect that we’ll continue doing it on our own, one family at a time, until some media group decides to mainstream us, and give us enough publicity to use as a hammer… er… plasma cutter… LOL!

  5. Chris Vaughan December 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Rock on Alex!
    And…. Thank you for sharing, deriding, exploring, etc. I’m excited to find you blog given that my big frustration in researching ISBU’s is that many are awesome architectural pieces or super simple twenty footers. I’m looking for the 1280 sq. ft. 3bed 2bath that I know is feasible. I’ll keep reading!

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