Monday, May 9, 2011

Home Base

Well, here it is. Alan is standing in the doorway of what is to become our new home.

The container (may also be referred to as a conex, The UltraShed, or the crapshack) is in very good condition, with a little surface rust above the door (as you can see in this image).
Why a shipping container?

There are over 17 million shipping containers on earth, in a multitude of lengths. These containers are built to last for many, many years of hard use, incredible structural strains, and arduous travel by sea, train, and road. Building a home from shipping containers not only makes use of the incredibly strong structure of the container, it allows you to reuse a precious resource: steel.

This isn't exactly a new idea. The conex has been used as emergency shelter for many years, but the idea that you can make modern, comfortable homes from them has really only emerged in the last couple of decades. Since then, the idea has taken root with many architects, and several amazing projects have been born.

For instance, Keetwonen student housing. Using 8'x8'x40' containers, deKey created a beautiful, modern student living area that offers individuals their own showers and kitchenette, and separate living and bedroom spaces. There are 12 buildings in the complex, each 5 containers high, and varying in how many containers per building.

While the Keetwonen project leaves the industrial roots of the container very visible for visual effect, that doesn't have to be the case. Nor are you limited to just one container-- far from it. Well-planned container housing is very modular, and during construction multiple containers can simply be welded together.

ZeroCabin has some amazing examples of the modularity and design possibilities you have with container buildings.

In addition to the sheer neatness of the idea, a container home is very cheap to heat and cool. After all, it's only 320 square feet. Not only that, they can be made into hurricane proof homes, offices, stores, and medical centers in places like Haiti and Costa Rica, and erected quickly in an emergency.

This is all ignoring the most obvious reasons of 'why' a container home: It's cheap, and it's custom. You can create a floorplan that best suits your needs, decorate and install windows and doors wherever you would like, and all for whatever budget you have for the project.

While this, admittedly, would likely not pass muster in an HOA controlled neighborhood, it seems to me that someone interested in building a container home is also not interested in a home like all the others. We aren't either.

We have had discussions about our future housing plans, and always said we could handle living in a small, well-designed home. Of course, at the time we were talking about homes clocking in at about 1000sqft. This is going to be a bit different.

The Timeline
Our lease is up on June 30, 2011. The shipping container must have been rendered at least habitable at this point-- if not very comfortable or polished. Luckily, as we are all students and teachers here, we are all free for the summer beginning June 1. This means that from Friday, May 6, when the preparations started, we have 7 weeks to design, engineer, and build a house.
The area where the container is going has already been graded and cleared, and the basics of the foundation have been laid. Please see the next update for pictures and an explanation of how it's going to sit.

1 comment:

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