The Survival Podcast Forum

Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Homesteading and Self Reliant Living => Topic started by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 09:56:11 PM

Title: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 09:56:11 PM
Yep, there's lots of talk about doing it, but here's the real deal.  Took us 2 years from the time we bought the land until it was finally liveable.  Note I didnt say 'done'.  This is just phase 1 of what we hope is 4 phases.  We did a ton of research and did it all ourselves.  Here's a couple of pics for now.  If there's an interest, I'll post details on the construction.

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/CabinFront.jpg)
(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/CabinFrontopen.jpg)
(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/CabinInterior.jpg)
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: nkawtg on November 16, 2014, 09:59:31 PM
Nice job, I like the lockable recessed entry door.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: redbelliedhound on November 16, 2014, 10:10:41 PM
Details on the construction please!  :)
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 10:17:42 PM
Thanks guys.  Since this is a remote location for us, security while we are away is a concern.  I'll post more photos once my photobucket album finishes importing.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Cylon on November 16, 2014, 10:23:56 PM
Hell YES there's interest!

Please post as much as you can because i'm thinking of something similar here in Western Australia....
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Cedar on November 16, 2014, 10:27:45 PM
.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Erigorn on November 16, 2014, 10:28:49 PM
Yes please post more photos. The few you have posted look good.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 10:30:32 PM
A couple of updated photos

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Facebook/Cabin/10676416_10205643360950091_8016469596223442443_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Facebook/Cabin/1558430_10205643363150146_1548362466731009753_n.jpg)
(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Facebook/Cabin/10641301_10205650225521701_4519417676708957817_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Facebook/Cabin/1510543_10205650231921861_2851775555877314115_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Facebook/Cabin/1450663_10205643363350151_1905773631992098102_n.jpg)
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 10:33:50 PM
Ok, there's a lot to this, so I'll break it up into sections

Container Cabin Construction (CCC) - Part 1

We bought a ½ acre plot of wooded land next to my wife’s parents.  My wife’s sister and her husband also have a plot less than a mile away.  All three plots are in a rural development that allows campers, trailers, stick built homes, whatever.  It’s a lake community near a Corps of Engineers lake so no lake-front property, but lots of lake activities.  The land we bought was cheap, had power already to it, a decent shed, was already somewhat developed (but very overgrown) and the proximity to family was made it desirable.  We’re on the main gravel road of the development, so it can be dusty and loud (lots of ATV/UTV’s).  A screen of mature evergreens helps keep both down, but not completely.

The land is on a slope.  Not too bad, but enough that the back of the cabin is level on the high end, and about 4 feet off the ground in the front.  Typical of the Ozarks, there are plenty of trees, but the soil is very rocky.  The plant life and rocks have a sympiotic relationship.  Digging the rocks out is difficult as the roots of the plants hold them in place.  Cutting the roots is difficult as they are up against the rocks.  No way around it, you just have to hack away at it as best you can.  The up side is that the soil is very stable.

There is an electric pole w/meter at the corner of the property.  Wire was laid underground previously, but wasn’t sufficiently insulated or heavy enough for what we wanted to do.  Power should be buried at depth acceptable to code.  However, the only requirement by the development is that it be buried, not strung overhead.  We rented a trencher for a couple hundred bucks buried our heavier wire inside poly pipe at a reasonable depth (considering the aforementioned rock issues).     This permanent arrangement was one of the last things we did on the property.  Initially we just ran an extension cord through the woods to the pole where there was an outdoor plug-in.  Cant recommend this practice, but it worked for us.

We bought our two 20ft containers from a shipping company in Kansas City, Kansas.  Since two 20ft containers fit on a roll-off truck, the shipping costs were the same as a single 40ft container, $500 delivered.  Since I knew the truck that was delivering the containers couldn’t get into the exact location I needed, I planned for a staging area.  Once the containers were rolled off, I hired a local guy with a Bobcat skid steer to drag the containers to the exact location.  20ft containers weigh just under 5000lbs empty.  With a relatively easy approach (after cutting out the overgrowth mentioned previously), the operator was able to drag the containers with no problems.  I also had the operator deliver 5 tons of gravel for the pier posts we’d put in next.  5 tons sounds like a lot, but really is just a small pile about waist high and 8-10ft in diameter.  What we didn’t use for the piers, we spread out for a driveway.

Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 10:34:57 PM
CCC - Part 2

To level the containers, we decided to use concrete blocks, filled with ready-mix concrete and rebar.    First we had to jack up the up-slope end of the container.  We did this by digging under the middle of the end of the container down far enough to slip a 5 ton bottle jack and a flat concrete block.  Since the container was sitting on a slope, we also thought it prudent to temporarily chain the up-slope end to a a couple of nearby trees.  This was insurance against it slipped off the jack.  We never had any problems, but the peace-of-mind was worth the minimal time and effort it took to chain it up.

Once jacked up a couple of feet, we dug out footers under the two corners.  We placed the gravel in the bottom of the holes, leveled it, and then put in two standard hollow-core blocks in each hole.  We lowered the container onto some temporarily placed a 2X6 scraps on the blocks to cushion the steel to concrete connection.  We’d remove the blocks later when we poured in the concrete.

Next we moved to the down slope end, leaving the chain in place, but taking the bottle jack.  The down-slope process is similar to the upslope process, except we had to go higher.  This meant that once we maxed out the height of the bottle jack, we had to switch to a Hi-Lift jack.  Also, as we built we put safety cribbing under the side beams ¾ of the way downslope.  Just like the safely chain, this was insurance against a jack failure.  Once it was roughly above the height we needed, we dug footers just like before and set & leveled the first row of blocks.  Now it was time to mix concrete.

I had borrowed a friend’s portable mixer.  We used nearly a dozen 80lb bags.  In hindsight (i.e., end-of-the day when we (my 17yo daughter and I) were exhausted beyond belief, we realized that using 60lb bags would have been exponiently easier. 
When mixing concrete, no matter what product you use, you’re going to need water.  We don’t have water on the property, so we had to have it hauled in.  At this point, we didn’t have the ISO tanks, so we used a 50 gallon plastic barrel.  We would take it up to the public showers/water point and fill it in the back of my truck.  Once back on the property, I’d stick a garden hose in to the very bottom, and then coil the excesst on the ground next to the mixer.  Once I started the siphon, I’d pour out what we needed, then stick the end back into the open bung on the barrel.  This way, I locked the siphon off, but when needed it again, I could just pull out the running end and the flow would start again.

We filled the first row of blocks, then inserted a stick of rebar in each hole.  We then lowered the next layer of block over the rebar and repeated the process until we reached the top block.  To connect the piers to the containers, we fabricated a 12”X12” plate with rebar welded at a right angle.  We bent the rebar in a ‘Z’ pattern.  The upper part of the ‘Z’ was welded to the plate.  We sank the rebar into the  concrete until the plate rested on the block.  When the concrete set up, the angles of the rebar ensured that the plate was locked to the pier.  We then welded the container to the plate.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 10:36:20 PM
CCC - Part 3

With both containers leveled, we then cut out the two inside walls that faced each other.  The walls provide some rigidity to the container, but the real strength is in the corners and frame.  As we didn’t have a plasma cutter (or the juice to run it), we used grinders with cut off wheels bought in bulk from Harbor Freight.  A torch would have done the trick as well, but would have left a rough edge.  We also used a metal cutting blade in our circular saw.  The process was to take out a 2-3ft section at a time due to the weight of the steel.  First we made the verticle cuts with the circular saw.  Then we cut the top and bottoms, but left about a 2” connecting tab in each corner.  We then cut the bottom tabs, and with someone ready to catch the panel, we cut the two top tabs.  My wife and I managed to get both walls cut out in a day.  We’re storing the pieces under the cabin for now for future projects.

Next we had to prep the floor.  Due to international insect control measures, the floors are typically saturated with insecticides.  The two options in dealing with it are to remove the wood (a huge project) or to seal it.  We sealed ours with a two-part epoxy, but first we had to degrease it.  We used long handled scrub brooms, water, and Dawn dishwashing detergent.   Once that was rinsed and dried (it was a very warm day and we had a couple of high-volume fans) we scrubbed it down again with isopropyl alcohol (NO OPEN FLAMES!!!).  When we were done, the floor was beyond clean!  We then applied the epoxy with long-handle roller brushes.  Once that dried, we laid ¼” plywood down to protect the epoxy.  We didn’t want any gouges to break the integrity of the epoxy.

Now that we’ve opened up the walls, the containers were no longer weather tight.  There was a gap between the containers due to the way the corner frames are constructed.  The corners are butted up to each other, but the walls are inset by a couple of inches.  This left a gap at the ceiling, the two end walls, and along the floor.  Contrary to popular belief, the roof isn’t flat; there’s a slight arch to shed water.  The problem is that half the arch on each container shed’s water to the middle where there’s a gap now.  We used a layered approach to seal the roof.  The bottom layer is a self-adhesive flexible metal flashing.  The adhesive is a rubber membrane and stuck well to the cleaned metal.  Next we lined each side of the flexible flashing with roofing tar and embedded a wider piece of standard flashing.  Over this we placed more roofing tar.  We laid up enough roofing tar to level the roof so that the rain does not drain to the joint.  Eventually we want to cover the entire roof with a metal roof for shade, so this seal will not be needed.  However, it does the job now.

The floor gap just got a layer of standard flashing nailed down with roofing nails every six inches.  The ends were stuffed with pool noodles and Great Stuff expandable foam.  The seams on the ends will need to be finished, but for now they are shielded from the weather pretty well , it was cheap, and it works.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 16, 2014, 10:36:49 PM
CCC - Part 4 to be cont.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Chemsoldier on November 17, 2014, 03:51:17 AM
 :popcorn:
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Alan Georges on November 17, 2014, 06:39:18 AM
Just wow.  I'm probably never going to build one of these things, but it is fascinating to see how someone has successfully done it.  Thanks, keep posting please!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: IKN on November 17, 2014, 07:31:00 AM
Wondering what type of lock you use ?
I have a 20' container I converted to a small metal shop. Due to the location (out of view of the house) I bought a lock similar to this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Top-Security-Shipping-Container-Warehouse-Garage-Trailer-Padlock-Heavy-Duty-/171403724580 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Top-Security-Shipping-Container-Warehouse-Garage-Trailer-Padlock-Heavy-Duty-/171403724580)
Not exactly the one I bought, but close. Very, very difficult to pick this type of lock. Nothing short of a torch would allow a break-in unless someone wanted to spend a couple three days with a hacksaw.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: endurance on November 17, 2014, 07:37:50 AM
Great description and blow by blow on the project. Thanks for sharing. Questions likely to follow.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 17, 2014, 07:40:22 AM
Sorry for the broken links above.  Try these:

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/1510543_10205650231921861_2851775555877314115_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/1558430_10205643363150146_1548362466731009753_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/10641301_10205650225521701_4519417676708957817_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/1450663_10205643363350151_1905773631992098102_n.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/10676416_10205643360950091_8016469596223442443_n.jpg)
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 17, 2014, 07:44:07 AM
IKN, I'm just using a hardened MasterLock set.  4 locks keyed alike.  I use them on the front and back of the containers, one on the shed, and one on the boat.  Probably should upgrade as I know it takes about very little to cut one off with a set of bolt cutters.  However, we do like having them all keyed alike.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: ncjeeper on November 17, 2014, 08:00:44 AM
You can also add these for a little extra protection.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/SHIPPING-CONTAINER-LOCKS-FITS-SEA-CONTAINER-AND-TRAILER-/221239638922?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3382e8fb8a#ht_1722wt_1105
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Cedar on November 17, 2014, 08:10:56 AM
+1

Cedar
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: statesofmind on November 17, 2014, 08:29:19 AM
Very cool!  Keep us posted!  +1

Security is always a big concern with remote cabins... it is for me as well.  Nothing is going to keep anyone who really wants in... out.  These containers are actually very easy to cut into with the right tool, ,unfortunately my neighbor found that out the hard way and lost an ATV, tools and others stuff. Fortunately he had several game cameras mounted and was able to get the local police some quality images that led to the arrest and recovery of a couple items.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 17, 2014, 09:01:50 AM
NCJeepers, those locks would certainly deter the casual criminal. 

Statesofmind, I read your bus and cabin threads last night.  Way cool!  You make more progress on your project than I can even imagine.  And the quality is over the top.  Somehow you've found the right balance of working on the structures and working on the land.  My tiny little plot (2.5 acres) is miniscule comparitively and I struggle with balancing the need for the two.  Also gotta find time for the wife, 19yo and 12yo to have fun.  Unfortunately, none of them find "working" on the cabin or land fun like I do.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: endurance on November 17, 2014, 09:52:14 AM
You've finished the interior very nicely.  You can't even tell it's a steel box.  I love the normal door hidden behind the steel container doors.  Very cool.  Did you insulate the ceiling and walls?  If so, how?  How well does it regulate temperature in the hot and cold of the Ozarks?

Did you install any plumbing yet or leave wet walls or other spaces to run it in the future? 
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 17, 2014, 03:59:35 PM
Thanks Endurance.  Yes, we insulated the walls and ceiling. That will be part 5 of the write-up.  No plumbing in this phase.  Phase 2 will have two more unconnected containers for a bunk house and bathroom/storage.  I'll describe those in future 'part' installments.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 17, 2014, 04:08:13 PM
CCC - Part 4. Framing and Electrical

Ok, this is the part I expect to get the most flak.  I'm not an electrician, but have a health respect for those that are.  I've worked with two very qualified men in the past and have been taught what can't, can, and should be done and what the difference is between all three.  They were both diligent about keeping me alive (Dad and uncle, they had a vested interest.   ;) ) Here goes:

Framing was next.  Each container had one end that was doors, and one end that was solid.  We alternated ends so that each end of the cabin had exit.  The front was framed for a half glass, half solid door and window.  The window provides additional light and a place for a window AC unit.  The back wall has a large window that slides to the left for an emergency egress.   We used traditional 2X4 stud framing for the walls to accommodate wiring, insulation, and hanging of the finished wall.  However the metal tube channel at the top required that we used a power actuated nailer to drive nails vertically through the top plate and into the steel.  The top plate of the stud wall stuck out enough from underneath the metal tube to give us a place to support the 2X4 ceiling joists.  Keep in mind that the walls are only bearing the weight of the finished wall and ceiling and aren’t structural so we can deviate from proper framing practices safely.  Likewise, we only penetrated the inner wall of the tube channel, the exterior integrity of container was maintained.  In the middle of the two containers we don’t have a stud wall under the metal tube to support the 2X4 ceiling rafters so we horizontally nailed a ledger board.  We then used 2X4 joist hangers to support the rafters on this end.  The aforementioned roof gap that we sealed previously makes a great electrical chase.

Once framed up, the siding was placed on the front and back walls and holes cut for windows and doors.  The main breaker box (technically a sub box from the main on the pole) was located and wire was run to the many outlets and two overhead lights.  The circuits and outlets are as follows:  (1)circuit & outlet for AC unit, (1) circuit and outlet for the refrigerator, (1) circuit w/ 3 outlets for the kitchen counter and microwave (probably should have given the microwave its own circuit, given the watts pulled by it and the two cooking plates we have.  We rarely use them all at once, so its manageable, but not ideal), (1) circuit and (2) outlets for the bunk bed (each bed has its own outlet for a fan, light, charging phones, etc...  I still need to install a small shelf above each bed for these.  Think Navy coffin racks; I am a Marine after all), (1) circuit w/ (3) outlets around the Master bed, (1) circuit w/2 outlets on each side of the futon, (1) circuit w/ (2) exterior outlets, and  (1) circuit each for the (2) overhead LED lights.  I’ll admit, its not efficient wiring, its simple wiring.  If there are problems, they should be very isolated and easily troubleshot.   I’m not an electrician, but my father and uncle were and have signed off on previous subpanels I’ve installed.  Yes, they humorously belittle my inefficiencies (both being Navy men, and I a lowly Jarhead), but declared them safe and serviceable.   They’ve both passed away now, but what they taught me has lasted.

All that being said, connecting the main power to the pole was one of the last things to get done.  In retrospect, Im not sure that was wise.  Once insulation and finish walls were installed (more on that later), if there was a problem, Im not sure how I would have resolved it.  This weighed heavily on my mind until I flipped the main on and everything worked as designed.     The aforementioned extension cord ran up the ‘outfeed’ conduit to the main box.  Usually we just used the extension cord connected to a power strip.  However, we did do something a couple of times that I strongly do not recommend:  We used a suicide cord (male-to-male cord) connected to the power strip to plug into one of the counter outlets and back feed one entire leg of the main box.  Now before any electricians go nuts, let me explain.  The main box was not connected to the pole yet, so there was no way to hurt anyone on the grid.  The wiring to the pole wasn’t even in in the ground yet so that part is completely isolated and safe.  I’m a huge proponent of properly switched generator/grid power and would never advocate back feeding a physically connected circuit.  No, the danger here is that someone could have inadvertently unplugged the suicide cord from the wall while it was still energized.  This would have left the exposed male prongs electrically hot and been very dangerous.  I was very glad when we were able to stop this practice after two accident-free trips.  Again, not advocate doing this and in retrospect we shouldn't have done it.   
   
Speaking of properly switched power, we do have a method of switching from grid power to generator power.  Under the cabin there are 3 short 4X4 posts for electrical connections.  The middle post has a male prong and feeds the cabin.  The left post has a female outlet that comes from the pole, and the right post has a female outlet that comes from a future generator.  Normally the cabin is plugged into female grid outlet.  To switch to generator power, you switch off the mains inside the cabin, switch off the mains at the pole, unplug the cabin’s male plug (which would then be de-energized and safe to touch), plug it into the female generator outlet, start the generator, then turn the cabin mains back on.  Grid and generator power are physically separated so it is impossible back feed.  Likewise with the power sources being female outlets, there’s no risk of shock from exposed prongs.

One last thing, we added an additional ground rod connected through the cabin pole/wiring.  There was already a ground at the main pole but we wanted the added safety of an additional ground.  There were two challenges however: driving 10feet into the previously mentioned rocky soil, and placing the rod where it would be moist.  A ground rod is ideally located in moist soil to be most effective.  Driving the rod under the cabin would have been near impossible, and would be dry as a bone.  To the side of the cabin we tried driving the rod in vertically and at a 45deg angle and failed miserably; just too many rocks.  Our last option was to lay it in a 2ft deep trench outside the cabin footprint and make appropriate bends to get the end near the post.  Not ideal, but it works.



Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Alan Georges on November 17, 2014, 06:20:49 PM
Hats off to you, Uzi.  Inspiring work.  And I'm really, really glad the wiring was all good when you gave it the smoke test!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: BLACK SHIRT on November 17, 2014, 06:35:01 PM
Unbelievably cool!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: IKN on November 17, 2014, 08:00:58 PM
IKN, I'm just using a hardened MasterLock set.  4 locks keyed alike.  I use them on the front and back of the containers, one on the shed, and one on the boat.  Probably should upgrade as I know it takes about very little to cut one off with a set of bolt cutters.  However, we do like having them all keyed alike.

I look and see if I can find where I got my lock. It came with 4 or 5 keys.
Nothing wrong with what you have, just saw too many Youtube videos of people opening standard padlocks with a piece cut off of an aluminum can bend into a shim and a pair of pliers. Takes them about 3 seconds to open the lock.
BTW, it is a beatiful place. Is yours the standard 8' high container or one of the extended height ones ?
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Cylon on November 17, 2014, 08:55:06 PM
Very, very cool!

Good job...  :)

+1
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Caveat on November 17, 2014, 10:32:16 PM
+1
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: CandyBabyE on November 18, 2014, 07:57:06 AM
Was trying to find your photo bucket to see more pics since a bunch seem to have been taken off this thread.  What I could see looks really cool though. 

How do we get to see the stuff on photobucket?
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: archer on November 18, 2014, 08:51:23 AM
nice job! looking forward to future posts.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on November 18, 2014, 03:49:39 PM
CCC - Part 5 - insulation, wrap, and ceilings

With framing and electrical in, it was time for insulation.  I used paper-faced batt fiberglass that fit nicely between the 2X4 framing.  The paper faced into the room and it was relatively easy to staple it to the 2X4’s.  Of course, slits had to be made to work around the wiring, and notches cut out for the electrical boxes.  One thing that’s an oddity about container construction is the use of a vapor barrier.  Being wind and weather tight naturally, there was no need for it on the “outside” part of the framing.   No leaky drafts here!  However, there would be humidity in the air inside the cabin.  With the paper facing in to the cabin, there is some barrier, but quite enough.  If the warm interior air were to penetrate the finished wall and insulation, it would hit the cool steel and condense.  No good comes out of water running down a steel wall in an enclosed space.  To add another barrier layer, we stapled large sheets of 6mm plastic over the paper.  We over lapped the edges and used home wrap tape to seal it all up. 

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/20131227_185939.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/20131227_224012.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/20140607_082739.jpg)

Once insulation and wrap were in place, it was time to put up the finished ceiling.  We used ½” plywood sheets that I pre-stained.  I was really wasn’t looking forward to all the overhead work, and though long and hard about how to save my back.  I ended up buying a used, but practically new, hand-cranked drywall panel lift for $100 off of Craigslist.  I also used the lift to help put in the top bunk of the bunk beds.  I generally worked by myself, and by loading, raising and locking the panels to the ceiling, the lift was a godsend!  The plan was to sell the lift after this project was over, but I think we’ll keep it

A quick note on work conditions.  This project has taken about 2 years to complete.  Its not uncommon to get 104deg with 100% humidity in the summer and subfreezing temps and snow/sleet/ice in the winter in the Ozarks.  Our 17yo daughter and I moved the containers in during the hottest part of July.  Being an Eagle Scout and Marine, I’m accustomed to working outdoors in poor conditions.  However, I’d been out of the Marines for 10 years and age, conditioning and concern for my daughter dictated that we  pace ourselves and took  lots of breaks to hydrate.  We were camping on the property, but by the end of the day we were generally so exhausted (and desperately wanting some air conditioning) that we’d just go into town (20 min drive) for dinner.  Having a fire, let alone cooking over it, was way down on our list of things to do.  In the winter, I’d generally go alone.  I enjoy the solitary time with a project and radio.  Not so much my family.  When the weather got cold, I pitched a small free-standing tent in the cabin, stuffed in an air mattress and rolled out my sleeping bag.  When it got really cold, I moved a small electric heater into the tent.   With only me in a 3-person tent, there was plenty of room to safely operate the heater.  Slept like a baby every time.  The only problem is that there was so little light in the cabin, it was easy to sleep in.

Im not done writing this up, but I should give credit to the folks that helped out.  Besides our daughter, my wife also has helped.  She’s the one working in the grinder picture before.    Our 12yo son helps out where he can, mostly collecting firewood, building and tending fires, and driving the occasional screw (he helped build the bunk beds).  I also had a couple of friends come down to help pier and level the containers, prep and epoxy the floor, and put in the finish wall.  Just to show its not all work, I've added some pics below.  Many thanks to everybody, and I’ll write more tomorrow.

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Mobile%20Uploads/20140614_123313.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Workplayweekend.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/theBoy.jpg)

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/MsMess.jpg)
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on December 12, 2014, 08:10:19 PM
Sorry for the delay, overcome with events.  Back to build...

CCC Part 6 Interior wall finishes, flooring, stove stuff, and cabinets

With the framing, insulation, electrical rough-in, and ceilings up, it was time to finish the walls.  Just like other's on the forum, there was to be no dry wall in the cabin (lookin at your statesofmind!).  Instead we decided to go with 8" tongue & groove (T&G) knotty pine boards.  With the height we had to work with,  13 rows fit perfectly.  The small gap at the top is covered by 1X4 pine trim.  We put the T&G boards in the cabin a week before our planned install to give them time to adjust to the local humidity.  With a buddy and a couple of heavy brad nailers, we got it them installed in a day.  The next day we polyurathaned the walls.  Trim was going to have to wait until we cabinets, bunk beds, and the closet were put in. 

With the walls up, it was time for flooring.  Another buddy and put down a snap-lock laminate floor that mimics scrapped hardwood.  Again we put them in the cabin a week ahead of the install.  Yet another buddy helped me put the flooring down in a day.  The laminate looks good and should be durable for a good long time. 

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/1063881_10205643368710285_5546732286153535358_o.jpg)

For a wood stove, we bought the smallest model available from Northern Tool.  Normally, I wouldn't advocate this model as its small and somewhat inefficient.  However, for the sqft we needed to heat, the insulation and airtight space, small footprint, and infrequent use it would get, it fit the bill.  Even though the stove's footprint was small, it sticks out into the room a good 4 feet.  To safely reduce the distance to between the wall and back of the stove, we needed to create a non-flammable barrier with a minimum 1-inch air gap to another non-flammable wall covering.  We screwed cement board to the framing, then screwed a second layer of  cement board to it using 1" sections of pipe (cut-off's we bought cheap from the local metal shop) to create the necessary air gap.  Over this we put on tile that looked like a stone wall.  To protect the floor from errant sparks, we put down tile (over more cement board) that closely matches the laminate. 

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/10731197_10205643361750111_861135806385071757_n.jpg)

We had previously left a gap in the ceiling framing, insulation and plywood covering to fit a ceiling support for the stove chimney.  Word of advice, buy ALL your chimney components at the same time from the same store.  Even if you have to take things back later and get a refund, it will be worth it.  Not all components will fit from different manufacturers and you'll save yourself considerable time and headaches getting it all at once.  Ask me how I know.... >:(

Having cut out an appropriate sized hole in the roof, we slipped the ceiling support in and screwed it in place.  From the top of the stove to the top of the chimney is 10ft straight up.  First we placed the interior single-wall pipe into place and secured each section with three self-tapping screws at each joint.  Next we moved up to the roof to put in the exterior double-wall pipe.  This pipe is stainless steel, has insulation between the walls, and twist locks into the ceiling support.  Needless to say, its fairly expensive so were glad we only needed one section.  On top of the pipe goes a spark arrester / rain cap.  There are two rings that need to go around the exterior chimney.  The first ring is about 8" tall and goes around the base and acts like flashing to the roof.  Since the roof is made of corregated steel, we had to use a pair of tin snips to match the profile.  We then used high-temp caulk to seal the gaps.  The second ring is about 3" tall and clamped a couple of inches above the top of the  first ring and gets more of the high-temp caulk as well.  This acts like an umbrella for the first rings seal to the chimney.  We probably could have gotten away without this second ring, but its cheap insurance against a leaky roof. 

One thing we had to accomadate for was the flex in the corragated roof.  As we moved around the chimney, we noticed the roof kept pulling away from the flashing. To minimize the flex caulked what we could reached from a ladder and did the rest at arms length while laying down on the roof.  By laying down we distributed our weight out like they tell you to do on thin ice.  We got it all sealed up but it's something we have to be aware of whenever we go up on the roof. 

Firing up a brand new stove can be an exciting and stinky time.  The oils from manufacturing and paint need to burn off/in.  I was very grateful to get some advice to do the first burn outside, clean it out, then take it in for permanent placement. 

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/10703499_10205643362630133_4113057811471494564_n.jpg)

Part 7 will be cabinets, beds, and other furnishings.

Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: endurance on December 13, 2014, 05:37:52 AM
Another great post.  Thanks for the detailed descriptions.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: EricM313 on December 17, 2014, 09:12:50 AM
Thanks for taking the time to detail this build!  I have always been fascinated by shipping container houses.  Now that it is done, are you glad you did this vs. a traditional stick-built house?  In my naivety I sort of assumed you just plopped a shipping container down and moved on in.  But obviously it is still a TON of work to make it a nice living space.  $500 for two shipping containers seems like an extremely good deal, I thought they were thousands.  Do you know if that is a fairly normal price, or did you work a huge deal?  I could see some great use for two of those just for storing stuff!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: gopack84 on December 17, 2014, 11:25:46 AM
I've also really enjoyed the detailed postings in this thread. Lots of good information to digest and think about and nice that it's all first hand instead of the "I heard XXX works great, you should do that." Thanks for taking the time to document this as it looks like you had plenty of work just doing it without the added bit of showing all of us how it was coming along. Looks awesome. 8)
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: statesofmind on December 17, 2014, 12:17:56 PM
Statesofmind, I read your bus and cabin threads last night.  Way cool!  You make more progress on your project than I can even imagine.  And the quality is over the top.  Somehow you've found the right balance of working on the structures and working on the land.  My tiny little plot (2.5 acres) is miniscule comparitively and I struggle with balancing the need for the two.  Also gotta find time for the wife, 19yo and 12yo to have fun.  Unfortunately, none of them find "working" on the cabin or land fun like I do.

That is a big compliment!  Thanks so much.  As far as the time and productivity... I'm just blowing off my regular job more and more. ;)  Eventually, I'm going to move to this cabin permanently and then the real fun will begin.  Still a year or two away!  I am looking hard for a used container right now because I will use it as a storage barn/shop.  I have a perfect spot for one and I LOVE what you have accomplished here!   More pics please!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on December 29, 2014, 07:49:51 PM
Sorry for the delay, life stuff holding up progress as usual. 

I do need to add a correction to something I said earlier.  The delivery charge was $500 for both containers, not the price of the containers.  The containers were $2400 ea.  Total cost of ownership to get them to my lot was $5300.  Sorry for the confusion.

I managed to get back to the cabin right after Christmas and installed the closet (1ft deep by 5ft long, did I mention its a SMALL cabin?   :) ), then finished up the ceiling and baseboard trim.  I poly'ed the 1X4 8" trim at home just took my miter saw, pancake compressor, and brad nailer with maximize my onsite time.  The only thing left is a few shelves in the closet , and some outside outlets that will wait until spring.  Below is the picture I took with it all done. 

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/Finished.jpg)

One other thing I added to the cabin was an improvised antenna.  Its just a piece of wire with an alligator clip on one end for the radio and a snap swivel on the other end for the mast.  The mast is a telescopic pole for flying banners.  I use some welding magnets with a hole in the middle to hold the mast up against the container.  When I'm ready to stow the antenna, I just collapse it, pull the magnets off, secure it to the inside part of the container, and shut the door.  I fished the wire between the containers by poking it through the seal I made earlier.  The wire stays attached to the mast when collapsed and feeds under the rubber gasket on the door.  Takes longer to tell you about it than to to deploy or stow it.  Here's a cruddy pic of it in action in the little bit of snow we got.

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/mast.jpg)

This is really just Phase 1 of a larger project.  Phase 1.5 will be a shed/temporary outdoor shower this summer. Phase 2 will be two more containers for a bunk house and permanent proper bathroom (toilet w/septic system, indoor shower, and sink) and storage. Phase 2.5 will be a deck for the aforementioned containers w/permanent outdoor shower (temp shower hardware will get re-purposed here and shed turned into a proper shed/ generator shack). Phase 3 will see a metal roof / carport placed over all 4 containers for sun shade and additional protection from the wet. Phase 4 is a 20X24 concrete pad with an up-slope retaining wall between the two sets of containers. being between the container sets, it will also be under the roof/carport. We'll use this covered space for a picnic table and outdoor kitchen. We probably wont have all this finished until 2017, time and funding driving the schedule.

I'll be submitting a show suggestion to Jack.  Maybe we'll hear me on a podcast one of these days. 
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Alan Georges on December 29, 2014, 08:05:35 PM
I'll be submitting a show suggestion to Jack.  Maybe we'll hear me on a podcast one of these days.
And it'll be a good show!  I'm looking forward to it already.  Thanks for posting everything so far, and keep'em coming.  It's really inspiring to see a success like this, especially for those of us who are still saving and dreaming toward our own BOLs. 
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Bubafat on December 29, 2014, 09:09:51 PM
Amazing build but what keeps some sicko from locking you IN your house by closing/locking the container doors?
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: nelson96 on December 30, 2014, 08:41:54 AM
Amazing build but what keeps some sicko from locking you IN your house by closing/locking the container doors?

Oh Crap, I didn't think of that.  Just the thought of something like that happening would be enough to keep my wife from staying in it.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on December 30, 2014, 08:58:16 AM
Great question!  When we open the cabin we put the locks back on the latches in the 'open' position.  The doors wont latch without all four latches in the  proper position.  Anyone looking to lock us in would have to cut the locks, shut the doors, then add their own locks.  At the same time, they would have to do the same thing at the back of the cabin where the second set of doors and large bay window (ie, secondary fire egress) is located by the master bed.  The wife has mentioned using a chain to lock one the front doors to the porch rail, and we may add that in the spring. 

We had thought to add an escape hatch in the floor that's locked from inside.  However, with the floor supports spaced 1 ft apart, none of us would be able to fit!  In an ideal situation, we would have cut the floor, removed a section from several floor supports, welded in a box frame, and added the hatch.  At the end of the day, we decided with the locks and two points of entry/egress, the hatch wasn't necessary.  A hatch in the roof was deemed too much of a risk to the weather/water tight integrity.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: nelson96 on December 30, 2014, 09:19:22 AM
Great question!  When we open the cabin we put the locks back on the latches in the 'open' position.  The doors wont latch without all four latches in the  proper position.  Anyone looking to lock us in would have to cut the locks, shut the doors, then add their own locks.  At the same time, they would have to do the same thing at the back of the cabin where the second set of doors and large bay window (ie, secondary fire egress) is located by the master bed.  The wife has mentioned using a chain to lock one the front doors to the porch rail, and we may add that in the spring. 

We had thought to add an escape hatch in the floor that's locked from inside.  However, with the floor supports spaced 1 ft apart, none of us would be able to fit!  In an ideal situation, we would have cut the floor, removed a section from several floor supports, welded in a box frame, and added the hatch.  At the end of the day, we decided with the locks and two points of entry/egress, the hatch wasn't necessary.  A hatch in the roof was deemed too much of a risk to the weather/water tight integrity.

Good plan, but I would be more comfortable sleeping at night if I had motion detectors that would go off to alert me that someone is in the area. 
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: mactexas on January 29, 2015, 07:45:21 PM
I linked to this thread because of today's podcast. In your introduction you say you are close to a corps of engineer lake. Would that be Truman Lake? The reason I ask is because my family owned 80 acres of property near Warsaw on the road that went over the dam. I really like that area of the Ozarks. Unfortunately the property was sold in 2000 after owning it for 45 years.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Mike Centex on January 29, 2015, 09:53:26 PM
I really enjoyed your interview with Jack. I learned a lot!  I Have been considering getting a container for storage but I'm in TX so the heat may damage my contents without substantial insulation added.   I can see how much work you've put into the project and it looks great.  It's even better when you can bring the whole family in on the project.   I think you are both correct, burying one is not a great idea.

Best of luck to you and family!

Michael
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: John Doe on January 29, 2015, 10:26:37 PM
 :popcorn:

nice!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: blacktalon606 on January 30, 2015, 07:22:21 AM
So, what would you say the total cost of this project was not including land?
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Rodent on January 30, 2015, 10:39:00 AM
Enjoyed yesterdays episode. Where did you purchase the tongue and groove knotty pine used on the walls? I am having a tough time finding it locally in Florida.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Carl on January 30, 2015, 01:09:57 PM
I bought some popcorn so I can see more of this. Containers were a common place to live when I lived in New Orleans and I want to keep up with this project.   :popcorn:
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: suzysurvivor on January 30, 2015, 02:17:36 PM
incredible!
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Carl on January 30, 2015, 02:20:51 PM
incredible!

I like your street clothes....
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: suzysurvivor on January 30, 2015, 08:29:57 PM
I like your street clothes....
well, you know..you need a fur coat in Maine. :P
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Alan Georges on January 31, 2015, 08:15:10 AM
Uzi, I just finished the episode.  Great job man, and hats off to you and your family.  I learned a lot – probably that I don't want to undertake a container cabin, but if I ever do it's great to have the path blazed.  Thanks.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: reconprepper on February 01, 2015, 12:27:02 PM
uzi just listened to the show and looked up the pics on here.
Question for you........do you have to put those post in the middle to support the roof?
What if I had traditional trusses built and installed outside to sit on top of the shipping containers. Could I get rid of the post you have then?????
I really like the openness but not found of having the post in the middle of a room where the two shipping containers meet.
Thanks so much for being on the show.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: raginrick on February 01, 2015, 11:37:17 PM
Awesome podcast episode and it's great to see the pics. Keep up the good work. Very valuable info given out. Made me second guess a container.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: Uzi4U2 on February 28, 2015, 02:30:32 PM
Hi guys. Sorry for the delay in answering all your questions.  Work has been busier than ever, a high-class problem for sure.  Thank you all for your kind words.  This has been a project I've looked forward to for years, and God willing, we'll enjoy it for generations.

To answer some questions:

I linked to this thread because of today's podcast. In your introduction you say you are close to a corps of engineer lake. Would that be Truman Lake? The reason I ask is because my family owned 80 acres of property near Warsaw on the road that went over the dam. I really like that area of the Ozarks. Unfortunately the property was sold in 2000 after owning it for 45 years.

Yep, Truman, not too far from Warsaw.  No lake-front property, but the cost is so much less, its truly affordable.  Not to mention family is next door and about 1/2 mile away.

So, what would you say the total cost of this project was not including land?

We have probably $8-10k in it without the land.  Comes out to about $27 - $33 per sqft.  Not bad at all compared to stick built home price, but not great compared to a prefab shed/cabin.  This is one of the reasons that I say I'd have to really think hard about doing a container cabin again.  Also, there's no plumbing, so no kitchen or bath.  Yeah, we have counters and cabinets, a small fridge, microwave, and hot plate.  The next project is two more containers placed 24" feet away.  Not connected, but next two each other on line with the current two.  One will be a bunkhouse (queen bed, bunk beds, small counter/table) and the other will be a bathhouse/storage.  The thought is to then cover all four containers and the 20'X24' space in between with a metal roof. the space in between will become an outdoor kitchen/patio/outdoor den.  The metal roof will shade it all, provide rain catchment, and a place to mount lights and ceiling fans over the patio.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd probably go with 2 40' set next to each other but with a 3' space in between.  Put in a floor between them, and block off one end.  Cut 20' of side wall out of both on the opposite end of the blocked off end.  This would give a 20X20 living room & kitchen w/bar counter on one end.  The flooring that was put between the containers becomes a hallway down the end that still has sidewalls.  Put up stud walls perpendicular to the sidewalls and you could get a decent 3 bedrooms and 1 bath out of  760sqft.  Not huge, but not a step up from what we have now.  Insulate the crud out of the exterior walls, and metal roof over the whole thing.  Something like this

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/Suface%20Two%20Contaners.jpg)

Here's another design I came up with. 5 containers with attached garages designed for sloped property.  First 2 containers (basement) are in a 'T' shape.  20' at the top of the T, 40 on the riser of the T section.  Not buried, but placed in a dug out (ie, soil not touching the container).  Top  3 containers shaped in a 'U'.  Open end of the U over the bottom 20'ft at the top of the T.  Floor joist over the riser of the T for the floor in between the sides of the U.  Main living space and kitchen goes here.  Container area in the sides of the U would be bedrooms, bathroom, storage etc....  Bottom of the U is the main entryway, storage, and stairs to the bottom of the T container.  Top of the 'T is a workshop/garage for ATV/UTV's.  Riser of the T is storage and maybe a strong room.

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/Simple%205%20with%20garage.jpg)

Last design is if I hit the lottery.   :D

(http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/MDSuess/Cabin/ContainerCastleCompare.jpg)


Enjoyed yesterdays episode. Where did you purchase the tongue and groove knotty pine used on the walls? I am having a tough time finding it locally in Florida.

Got it at Home Depot.

uzi just listened to the show and looked up the pics on here.
Question for you........do you have to put those post in the middle to support the roof?
What if I had traditional trusses built and installed outside to sit on top of the shipping containers. Could I get rid of the post you have then?????
I really like the openness but not found of having the post in the middle of a room where the two shipping containers meet.
Thanks so much for being on the show.

Yeah, the posts are to support the roof.  The sidewalls provide rigidity and some support for the box beam above.  Without the sidewalls, the beams sag.  The easy way to fix it is with beams.  The harder (and better IMHO) would be to weld rectangular tube steel on edge the length of container.  Its what they guy at http://www.tincancabin.com/ (http://www.tincancabin.com/) did and looks really good.
Title: Re: A Shipping Container Cabin That Actually Got Built.
Post by: SusanG on March 09, 2015, 02:12:50 PM
Just stumbled across this and thought I'd post it here, for inspiration:

http://aetherforce.com/10-epic-homes-built-from-2000-shipping-containers/