inexpensive construction materials mash-up

Renaissance Ronin guest posts and combines two really great low construction methods at Can you REALLY live inside a steel shipping container? | Green-Trust.Org
As a shipping container guy, he starts with the container. But then talks about giving it wings using roofing and earthen walls, specifically earth bags, but why not compressed earth blocks or rammed earth? Alex gives his "elevator speech" below. His $10 e-book is worth every penny too.

Basic ISBU rules;

* You CANNOT bury a container!

You cannot just pile dirt on top of it, either. If you do, it’s called a coffin. That corrugated steel is just to keep weather and bugs out. It doesn’t have the strength required to take that kind of load.

* The insulation goes on the OUTSIDE of the container, unless you’re nuts.

That’s right, I said it. Think about it. WHY make a small place even smaller? Even if you connect ISBUs together to form larger rooms, why rob yourself of living space?

* Use SPF (Spray Foam Insulation) on the outside of the box.

… and then cover it with siding, hardiplank, veneers, bricks, whatever you can find. You’ll thank me later.

SPF Provides insulation, a vapor barrier and a moisture barrier too.

SPF is an acoustic barrier too. Nothing is worse than having to listen to the neighbor’s loud music, or an endless stream of traffic, trains and aircraft.

PLUS, SPF glues everything together stronger than duct tape. THAT helps with shear forces and lateral loads. Shearing and racking for those of you who know about construction.

* OVERINSULATE. Again… you’ll thank me later.

The energy you save will be your own.

* Don’t cantilever or “twist-stack” containers.

ALL the strength in an ISBU is in the end frames – not the side rails. You’ll create point loading disasters. Disasters cost money to fix. Sometimes they cost a LOT of money to fix.

Oh yeah, I know that some of us grew up in the seventies listening to loud music at concerts, (so we’re probably already deaf) but…

* Cutting on shipping containers with metal circular saws or a sawzall is just madness.

Go get a hammer.

Now, go get your piggybank.

Now smash the piggy till his/her guts fall out, collect the shiniest parts, and then go rent a plasma cutter from your local home improvement store., Not only is it much, much faster, it’s going to do a better job.

(And it’s ‘seriously fun’!)

Trying to build a shipping container home using a metal circular saw or a sawzall is done by people who don’t know any better.

* Can you combine ISBUs with other types of alternative home construction?

YES. In fact, we have several projects in the works right now that combine ISBUs with Earthbag technologies, in several different US geographic regions from the Gulf Coast to the High Country.

* Can this be done “affordably?”

Is $50 a square foot “affordable?” That’s typical of what people are paying to build small ISBU homes in the USA, all by their “onesies”.

On my blog we’re talking about a project proposal for Haitian families that suggests that (1) 40′ ISBU shipping container be placed in the center of a building site and then a family could live in it and “build off of it” as time and materials allowed.

This technique is very close to what we have been teaching families for years, In fact, one of our first ISBU homes in 1978 looked (and was built) in just this manner.

Replace those “materials” with earthbags and plaster and you’ve just built a ‘massive’ home with your own hands for pennies on the dollar. Dirt and poly bags aren’t that expensive. In fact, I bet you have dirt in your yard… right?

Teamed with really talented guys like Steve Spence and Owen Geiger, I intend to help families do just that.


metal ceiling said…
Those are great resources, very useful and informative. It's better to use sustainable building materials nowadays to save money in construction.

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