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Author Topic: Converting a shipping container into a Home  (Read 8712 times)

Offline e551st

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Converting a shipping container into a Home
« on: October 11, 2009, 08:41:42 AM »
Not sure if this is the correct forum, sorry if its the wrong area.

I would like to know if anyone has converted a shipping container into a useable building/ Home. Pictures would be great.

I've been thinking about this at a BOL. The BOL would be located in the VA, North Carolina area.

Any other ideas or suggestions are welcome.

TIA.

Online KYdoomer

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2009, 10:02:35 AM »
Nope but I got the quotes and after this land contract goes through, that's what I'm planning.  I found a company in Memphis that will put a door and windows in for about a thousand dollars.  I think total shipped cost was about $3500.  I agree with Jack that cost isn't the main factor.  I plan on putting this in an area on KY lake that gets hit regularly by tornadoes and strong storms.  The cost is good, I could get a trailer for that cost that would be a little bigger and little better furnished but it would not stand up to the storms.  Also, when I was young, we lived in a trailer where a tree fell in.  If not for a closet door that got replaced by a stronger one a few years before, my parents would both be dead right now. 

Take a look at this video though, this is what I plan on emulating. 

Shipping Container Home in Costa Rica

I'm going to run 4 small corner footers and embed steel plates that I can weld the container too.  I may also find a hill and inset it into said hill.

I can give you the name of the company as long as you tell them I sent you and they should give us both a discount.  (Just kidding)

J

Offline Steve W

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2009, 10:26:33 AM »
Good sources for used surplus Containers would be appreciated.

Would like a couple for storage. 

Prefer the Corten Steel type. 

Suggestions?


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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2009, 10:40:25 AM »
I've been working with ConGlobal.  www.cgini.com I believe.

The containers are Corten.  I asked specifically.

Of course, my guys are in Memphis and other select cities.  Your best deal is going to depend on where you are located.  Shipping takes up a lot of the cost.

J

Offline e551st

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2009, 11:17:50 AM »
Thanks for the replies.

ConGlobal has a contact in Norfolk, which is only an hour away, sweet!

There is a business selling used containers about 4 miles away from here, but I've never checked the price.

To me, using a container just seems to be a more viable route for maintenance, than having a second home. My wife and I have had two houses in the past and upkeep suffers on the secondary house, unless you have plenty of time.

Just surfing the web here's an interesting set up in Tailand, but I'd mount it to a concrete pad, instead of pillars.

http://www.jetsongreen.com/2009/08/simple-functional-green-container-home.html

Here's another thread at Arfcom that I found interesting too.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=10&f=17&t=510228

The only drawback I'm getting right now, is from the wife. She isn't comprehending the reason behind a BOL, and expects the 2nd location to be an actual house. ???

My brother and I are going to be working on this project and hopefully it will come to fruition in the future.

Again, many thanks for the input.

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2009, 12:05:40 PM »
No problem, glad ConGlobal seems to be working out.

Thanks for the links, I had not seen them before.

I'm getting the same stuff from my wife.  I've used several different routes.

1.  The property we are buying is for retirement.
2.  With inflation, the longer our money is in cash, the less its worth.
3.  Its a vacation home.

But I have told her the real reason.  If we have to leave for some reason then we have a place to go. 

Good luck though and let us know how things go.  I'll reciprocate if I ever get going!

J

Offline e551st

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2009, 06:29:00 PM »
No problem, glad ConGlobal seems to be working out.

Thanks for the links, I had not seen them before.

I'm getting the same stuff from my wife.  I've used several different routes.

1.  The property we are buying is for retirement.
2.  With inflation, the longer our money is in cash, the less its worth.
3.  Its a vacation home.

But I have told her the real reason.  If we have to leave for some reason then we have a place to go. 

Good luck though and let us know how things go.  I'll reciprocate if I ever get going!

J

Will do.

"If we have to leave for some reason then we have a place to go."

This is key in survival.

Good Luck

e


Offline mobilus

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2009, 08:10:24 PM »
Once you have the shipping container in place, consider installing a metal roof with enough of a span that you can put a porch on one side and a carport on the other.  By using the shipping container as the center support, all you'd need in the ground are poles to support the eaves.  This would also create some "attic space" on top of the container.  Covering the container would also help keep it cooler, a big problem that folks experience. 

I remembered following a thread on tractorbynet that you might be interested in: http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/projects/33401-my-container-barn.html

Best of luck.

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2009, 04:50:16 AM »

I would like to know if anyone has converted a shipping container into a useable building/ Home. Pictures would be great.

Any other ideas or suggestions are welcome.


Issues with the shipping containers are as follows when using for living space:
1. Heat - if you have ever been in a metal building in summer you know how hot they get.   You will need to something for airflow through the container as well as insulating the exterior of the container.  Metal is a totally crappy insulator, but good at difusing heat where you don't want it in this instance.

2. Toxic paint - fairly sure the paint finishes on these containers for the most part contain bad paint additives.  You will need to fully cover the existing stuff with fresh paint of adequate thickness applies so no bleed through or cracking later that exposes you or family to the stuff.

3. Toxic flooring - the wood in the footing of these containers until very recently is very impregnated with anti-termite perservatives; think outdoor lumber.  The wood should be removed and debris vac'd and space washed down appropriately. Finally new flooring that is safe for living environment should be installed.

Back to #1 - heat - you can spray foam the exterior of the container and get a fairly high R-Value without losing sq footage.  I've heard of a company in Florida that did just this for their call center folks to work out of.  Said it worked very well. Essentially then you have a super built freezer building like restaurants have.

Another simple route that might be cost competitive and equally durable is to build out of SIPs.  Just a thought.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2009, 02:17:02 PM »
If you're near norfolk, hit me with a PM. I'm about 20 minutes north. About to get a TIG welder, and would love to help out, depending on where you put your BOL.

I'm looking at expanding my network, since I just kicked someone from my group - he turned into a walking liability.

He has a concealed carry permit, but carries openly, and p&m's about people looking at him weird @ wally world.

*facepalm*

Anyhow, I used to fly model airplanes and we  used one of these as a storage shed. Tack welded on some braces and the like and we put shelves down the whole length of it. When we lost the use of our airfield, we just hired a semi to come pick it up and carry it to a member's farm until we found another place to fly and merged with another club. Blue insulation foam helped with the heat problem, but we also hit the roof with that reflective metal paint, and the sides were painted white. some 2x2 furring strips would let you attach all the siding options you want, and insulate the crap out of it, although you'd likely need to put a real roof of some kind on it. I just built a shed, and rather than shingles, I'd reccommend roll roofing - looks like shingles, but a bit chintzy (you can always put shingles down on top of it), but all you have to do is unroll it, no individual tiles to nail down. Hell, for that matter you could bolt one of those aluminum greenhouses to the top of it and weld a ladder right to the side of your container for access.

that brings up the portability. If you make your piers/footing/slab such that you can either unbolt or slice off your welded connectors without interfering with the truck attachment points, then you have a portable BOL. I can see running all your plumbing/electrical out the side and working it like an RV hookup, and just tossing a little "decorator" bench/planter box over it to hide the pipes.

Awesome idea. for a couple thousand that sounds reallllllly tempting.
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Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2009, 03:28:40 PM »
I am kind of wondering about one for a combo chicken coop/shed/goat shelter

partially buried into a hillside.

three entrances, with walls (and doors in the walls) between the three parts.

would that work?


would the earth berm-ing on one whole length and partially on the ends help with the heat?  it would be facing south (which would be an advantage in the winter time, but bad in the summer)

also, what about again burying one in a hillside (I live on the side of a mountain - LOTS of hillsides around here) with just one end exposed, to use as a cold storage/root cellar?

what kind of roof supports would I need to use so that the weight of the earth would not collapse it?
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Offline Orionblade

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2009, 04:38:29 PM »
I would say that you wouldn't need a whole lot of support, considering these containers are routinely stacked six and eight high with cars, motorcycles, and even smuggled humans in them.

I'd be more concerned with rust, so maybe a spray-on bedliner would be a good idea, at least for the roof and the part that'll be buried.

I plan on doing that inside a concrete hot tub I've got planned for when I do my deck, since you can get it in a variety of colors like gloss black, flat black, light gray, dark gray, medium gray, charcoal, mauve, and midnight black.

 ;D
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Based on thorough experiments involving kissing in the rain, exposing shoulders to direct sunlight, and dancing by the light of a silvery moon,  I have found that, within the bounds of frostbite and decency, hapiness is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing worn.

Offline HelenWheels

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2009, 05:05:23 PM »
I would say that you wouldn't need a whole lot of support, considering these containers are routinely stacked six and eight high with cars, motorcycles, and even smuggled humans in them.

I'd be more concerned with rust, so maybe a spray-on bedliner would be a good idea, at least for the roof and the part that'll be buried.

I plan on doing that inside a concrete hot tub I've got planned for when I do my deck, since you can get it in a variety of colors like gloss black, flat black, light gray, dark gray, medium gray, charcoal, mauve, and midnight black.

 ;D


Not a lot of support but some - my research is showing that the corners are the strongest points of the containers and that the suppliers recommend that after-market use of them in-ground would be best served by some type of "roof" support over the top.
      

Offline Gas-Mask

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2009, 07:01:11 PM »
I think that delivering goods in a refrigerated container from LA to Denver is about &1900.00   (Mom does that for a living).  I'm thinking, it could be less for just an empty one... $1500.00?  No energy for the reefer and more mpg due to less wight of the empty container.  But how about unloading ?  You still need to get it unloaded @ your place regardless of your method of delivery.... 
Anyways...  Just a thought....

You might get a friend or a neighbor (that's a trucker of course) to do it for just the cost of Diesel?  Or you could trade services?
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Offline GotFurryKids

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2009, 10:08:06 PM »
A word of caution about shipping containers. The roofs are the weakest part of the container. The roof is not built to support any weight or load, it is made to blow out in the event of an explosion. Yes they do stack them  8 to 10 high at the ports and on the ships, but the weight is supported at the corners only.

Getting them delivered is not much of a problem.  Call a towing company. They will deliver them on a roll off truck.

You can find them for sale in any large city in the US. Here in El Paso they sell for $1500.00 to $2500.00 depending on the condition.
 
Another thing is the containers you see in the Walmart parking lot at Christmas  are not shipping  containers.  They are storage containers and there is a big difference in the way they are built. 
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Offline outoforder2day

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2009, 10:26:24 AM »
Not sure what the policy is on linking to another forum, but here's a post over at ZS that I found particularly useful on this subject.
http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=53485

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Offline TheGOM

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2009, 12:01:46 PM »
Just found this thread and haven't seen these mentioned yet. Look around his site. He has some interesting ideas.
http://square1containers.com/Hunting.htm
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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2009, 02:27:52 PM »
Bob Vila has a video on hit website that discusses the use of Containers.  The one I saw was completely built out and you could not tell it was made of containers once they were done it looked like a house.  I personally thought it was over done.  The one thing I thought was awesome is the use of ground up ceramic mixed with paint and applied to both the interior and exterior.  I don't recall exactly but I believe each coat added like an R19 rating so you didn't loss any space with conventional insulation.  If you recall the space shuttle uses ceramic tiles so the concept is very workable.

http://video.bobvila.com/m/21320565/converting-steel-shipping-containers-to-housing.htm

Offline idelphic

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2009, 10:26:39 PM »
Friend of mine made one his home this last year.  He is his own builder - everthing is to code.  He is using 12v for his power, and has a breaker panel you would see in a normal home, but rated for DC.  He left the main doors alone, just worked around them, did cut a 2 x 3 (or so) hole in one door and added a window.  Added a solar powered vent stack at the other end and it draws well, so was comfortable. 

He added a standard exterior door to the side about 10' from the main doors himself.  So I would go that route,.. took a bit of work, but was doable,.. and didn't cost $1000,.. 

I'll see if I can get him to take some photos of it.  IIRC - he's going to put in a composting toliet later on...  and he has all the panels to install solar on the roof.
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Offline pwh

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #19 on: November 01, 2009, 05:05:44 PM »
Pics would be great.

Offline e551st

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2009, 06:37:45 AM »
Sorry, I've been working overtime for the man since my last post. A lot of good information here, thanks for the input.

Orionblade, thanks for the offer. I live 1 hour west of Norfolk, and currently the property(40 acres), my brother and I have in mind is about 45 mins farther southwest. We haven't had time to check it out because of my work schedule, which will not change until mid December.
Heck the only reason I'm able to post now is due to the weather we are receiving right now.

Anyway, I did manage to scribble an idea back in October. Using 3 containers and a passive ventilation roof. It's not to scale by any means and not definitive. I haven't really worked out the doors, or windows for ventilation, but probably looking at 3, or one on each container.

Top looking down, and front view


Side views, and back



This design appers to be the easiest/ quickest to do.



idelphic, that would be great if you could get some pictures of your friends home.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2009, 02:39:32 PM »
Weather - HOLY SH!T!!!

Actually that's what i'd be saying if I wasn't prepped. My only problem now is power - but that hasn't gone out yet.

PM me with your location info/phone number and I'll post it on a bunch of websites.

*snickers*

Nah, be happy to give you a call and chat about feasibility of home-brew welding. We would need power on site, that's for sure - unless I get these batteries and get some load/runtime data. I'm kind of keeping an eye out on the water rising right now, but don't mind chatting as long as you're with power and all. I'd be happy to do any/all of the welding (whatever's possible with my particular welder) and get a buddy or two to help out so long as you provide beer and the occasional sandwich or gatorade.

Hell, build a little fire pit and
Neat design btw. Very securable, and relatively low overhead in terms of additional structure to be built.


Personally I'd go with an apex roof, just because my experience with simple shed rooves with long runs and low rises is kind of crappy. We get such high rainfall around here that a low slope roof like that will have problems with damming if you get leaves up there - not enough velocity for the water to wash the leaves out of the way, and it kinda piles up.

If you didn't want to cover the whole thing at once, you could plan for some of that clear ondura stuff over the courtyard later, but put in all your brackets right now (at time of construction, anyway).  Anyhow, the idea would be to do a higher slope shed roof - same height, but shorter run, so that your roof formed sort of a ring, following your plan, instead of a single shallow roof covering the whole structure. This could allow you to turn that inner area into a greenhouse sort of deal later if you'd like, and with that sort of height, I could totally see an orange or lemon tree right smack in the middle, kept pruned to about 8 feet tall, providing interior shade, air quality, and drop-dead gorgeous fruit and aroma through some interior windows. That simple ring structure might be the single best asset in terms of comfort and defensiblity, as well as energy efficiency - a greenhouse in the middle would provide much-needed warm air in the winter, if properly insulated and ventilated to the interior.

Plenty of options there, but as always, just my .02

PM if you want to chat in more detail, or just catch up when I'm over in norfolk next week.

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Based on thorough experiments involving kissing in the rain, exposing shoulders to direct sunlight, and dancing by the light of a silvery moon,  I have found that, within the bounds of frostbite and decency, hapiness is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing worn.

Offline millwright

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2009, 10:01:01 AM »
I have given thought to using containers for storage\living area. With a MIG welder and plasma cutter any configuration would be fairly quick and easy. Any pieces cut out for doors and windows would provide material for connecting passages.  External skin on metal stud lath would provide space for insulation without sacrificing sq.\ft. and give a more conventional appearance. Doors and windows should install in a manner like metal buildings.
Concrete work would be limited to pier holes and cardboard tubes with rebar and a weld plate imbedded in the top, easily DIY. Poured piers can be set at any elevation above ground level, 2ft for plumbing access or 4ft for dry storage and mechanicals (a\c & water heater).
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Offline Truik

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2009, 08:07:34 PM »
I was trying to find a series of videos on youtube I watched quite a while back. He had them delivered to his plot out in the desert and he welded them together, cut out the walls and finished it throughout to look like a gorgeous home inside. It was truly amazing.

As I could not find them, I just sent the search results page.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=shipping+container+house&search_type=&aq=f

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2009, 11:05:30 AM »
I checked with the admin for the forum, who stated that it was OK to cross post this thread. 

<------------------------------>
This is a good friend of mine who started this project about 3 years ago.  He has done all the work himself, and continues to build upon the containers.  Power is supplied by solar panels, and at some point when he constructs the slopped roof, they will be move there.

http://www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showthread.php?t=284605
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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2009, 10:11:44 PM »
Another option along the same lines as a container is a construction site shed, donnga we call them down here.  Like containers they come in two basic sizes and they are just as easily transported.  They are normally around twice the price but with the collapse in the construction business tons of them are showing up at auction at greatly reduced prices.  I think that when the second leg on the economic collapse gets under way there will be some real bargins on them.

They are built on steel rails, designed robust for transit, have excellent insulation qualities and usually have good security features since they are designed to be left unattended on lonely building sites.  hey have quality fittings and solid walls and floors, all designed to sit out in the weather and NOT RUST.  An added bonus is you can get all sorts of internal designs with rooms, kitchens, they even make ablution ones with showers and toilets in them.  It would be an easy matter to put one up on blocks, bolt a few channel sections out from underneath and construct a veranda to it.  Best of all, because they are transportable you don't need government approval to put one up.  Down here at least.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2009, 01:53:21 PM »
I actually forgot about those...

And I HAVE ONE!!!

lulz.

My grandfather owned a construction company back in the day with alot of crazy jobs all over the place. He had a 1964 Stainless Steel Fruehoff trailer (and the rig to tow it) as his rather large portable tool box. Everything from a compressor and a couple of jackhammers all the way to stick welders and a somewhat portable 3' by 6' drafting table that he built himself.

We still have the trailer, and a tree fell on it. Put a "monstrous" 3" dent in the top corner. Them suckers is built.

I have plans for eventually returning her to somewhat running order - not much to do but change out some wheel bearings and fix up the bumper/lights and put on new wheels and tires.

If you can get something like that, and just want ONE "container" it might be your best bet. I'll try and get a photo, but it's all corrugated stainless steel on the outside, a ladder frame underneath, and 2 by 8" treated decking inside. During hurricane Isabel, five trees fell on or around it, so it took us a good 2 years worth of cleaning up around the property before we got around to regaining access to the interior - no leaks or anything.

Anyhow, as far as utility goes, if you can get it to a location, it's perfect with all that flat roof area for solar panels and the like, and something as simple as a port-a-john could serve as a vague semblance of civilization. He towed this thing all over the place, from new york to the eastern shore (he poured the concrete for a launch pad at Wallop's Island - and yes, I still have the blueprints ;-)

If you get a used one, it's likely already set up with shelves and all, and maybe even a small office area, so it could be a great option, depending on your objectives.

Just as a note, I kind of see three strategies emerging around these containers -

1. Use a single container for a base of operations, then expand from that if SHTF, with outbuildings/extra storage/etc.

2. Use several containers welded up in lieu of conventional building materials and have some semblance of a normal home/office/etc.

3. Use one or more containers in a scalable container "farm" with porches or patios or paths connecting the single-purpose containers - a "home" container, a "storage" container, and a "barn" container, for example.

I think the construction trailers fit well with 1 and 3, not so much with 2.

Just my .02

Orion
You can't run away on a world that's round.
You're only comin' back to where you'll be found.

Based on thorough experiments involving kissing in the rain, exposing shoulders to direct sunlight, and dancing by the light of a silvery moon,  I have found that, within the bounds of frostbite and decency, hapiness is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing worn.

Offline ktg748

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2009, 11:11:13 AM »
Here's another link if you want to go upscale....

http://www.3twenty.ca/

Imagine yuppies in a container!!  :D

collegeb

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2009, 12:08:04 AM »
I read an article months ago about an apartment complex over in the UK that was being built out of these storage containers. And it was going to be a very high end modern complex. Very trendy. This idea of using shipping containers is a neat one. I've seen some pictures of these things turned into hunting cabins and what not on other forums. If you live where it gets cold get a wood burning stove.

Offline liftsboxes

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Re: Converting a shipping container into a Home
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2009, 01:32:39 AM »
This is a great thread to read at 2:32 in the morning.