A Sustainable Dream

The Pursuit of Sustainable Living

Month: June 2016

Storage Container Home: Front Door!

We absolutely love how the front door turned out. We found a local company that mills wood and specifically cedar. We really liked the look of the live edge cedar and decided to use it on the exterior around the front and back sliding doors. We bought an older solid core wood door with leaded glass at the Habitat Restore.  The door is 8′ tall and 36″ wide. We decided to enlist the help of the same guys that helped us on the concrete floors. Having experienced help is a great thing. When we got help for the concrete floors it was purely out of needing the manpower. The help on the front door was about the knowledge! It was a good decision and the doors turned out beautiful! :-).

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Storage Container Home: Windows & Doors

Although this was time consuming and I ate a few sparks along the way, it was not all that difficult.  If you remember to measure twice (or three times) and cut once, things will go a lot smoother. Putting steel cut-outs back in is most likely not going to happen. We put in 6 windows and three doors. We found the windows and front door at the Habitat for Humanity’s “Restore” for a really great price. There may have been a chip or two in the nailing strips but that didn’t affect us. We found the brand new sliding glass door at Home Depot (returned item) for $290. It was marked down from $1300 and was a very good quality sliding door.

When we installed the windows we tried to make sure that the nailer was in line with an outside ridge of the corrugated steel (on both sides).  On the top and bottom we just used the outer corrugations to attach to. To install the windows we ran a bead of silicone along the nailer and placed the window into the frame. We then used self-tapping screws to attach the window to the steel. After the window was secured we used great stuff foam to seal off the openings in the corrugations.

We didn’t think it would be a good idea to trust the great stuff to stop water from getting in so we came up with a plan to build awnings. We cut 15″ pieces off of the window cutouts that we already had. The steel is 13-14 ga. and even a small piece of 15″ x 60″ can be difficult to hold in place and weld. So we rigged up a rope around the awning and my son’s waist to hold it in place until we could get the awning tacked up. We also took a piece of 3″ plate steel and ran it along the top of the awning and flush with the container end wall. This trimmed up the awning but also gave me a good seal to the container. We then applied a bead of silicone and did a pretty good job of keeping water out. We did these before we had the new roof. Now that we have the roof we also have a 3′ overhang but in Texas we get rain that blows at seemingly right angles :-).

In the ends of the containers with doors we thought about keeping the doors and using them as security but with 5×6 windows and the fact that the doors block out a lot of light, we thought it would be best to cut the doors off. We used 2×6’s to frame in these windows/doors. We used self-tapping screws to attach the wood to the steel for the outer frame and then nails inside the frame. After that it was pretty much traditional wood framing.

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Storage Container Home: Additional Roof!

Well… the thought of being able to get by for a year with the container roofs themselves was wishful thinking. We originally welded the seems on the top of the containers together with 2″ flat plate steel. Then we used 100% silicone to seal up the seems. Water and gravity are great at finding very small holes that, no matter how hard you try, you can never get totally sealed up!!!

It was time to enact plan B. We moved building an external roof to the top of our priority list. The reason we did that is because everything that needed to be completed could potentially be ruined by moisture (drywall, electrical, concrete floors, insulation, etc.).  The external roof would also have a 3′ overhang to try and shed water away from the house.

Building the roof was difficult work and took us a month to complete. We built our rafters 2′ on center and ran 2×4 purlin at 2’centers as well. For the exterior surface we used 26 gauge R-panel. I checked around and got pretty good pricing on the materials. We were able to build this roof for about $2700. Of course all of the labor was done by us so we saved quite a bit there.

We will try and get this site updated over the next couple of weeks. We have been so busy building that there just hasn’t been enough time.

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Storage Container Home: Concrete Floors

This was probably by far the hardest physical work to date! This is the first time we hired someone to help us because we knew we would be hard-pressed to complete the floor in the time constraints (drying concrete, truck pour time). We first covered the floor with sheets of plastic to provide a vapor barrier between the pesticide treated plywood and the concrete.  If you look on the exterior door of a shipping container it will tell you what chemicals were used on the floor to keep out the pests.  We were worried about off-gassing so we chose to put a barrier down before the pour.  We then installed one inch boards around the edges of each container, as well as a thin steel piece down the center of the living area.  This provided something to screte (how do you spell that?)  off of as well as crack control barriers.  Finally, we laid down welded wire and tied it down to the floor with screws so the concrete would have more strength.  We had all of this done before the truck and the pump trailer arrived.  When the truck arrived we had 30 minutes to pour – which was impossible.  We took 120 minutes to pour, paying an extra $1 a minute after the first 30.  As the pump trailer operators were pouring we were all shoveling and spreading the concrete as quickly as we could.  Once the 8 yards of concrete had been poured and the trucks left we thought the concrete seemed really wet so we decided to run and get a quick lunch at the small cafe in town.  That was a mistake….. by the time we got back less than an hour later it was getting too dry to trowel.  We put water on it and began to trowel to get the smooth finish we wanted.  Have you ever done 1,500 sit ups in one day?  Try troweling too-dry concrete to the tune of 1,300 square feet from a knee board.  We felt every minute of concrete day for about three days after the event! It was a big change for the house.  It made it feel more cozy and less like a steel shipping container!

Once the concrete had cured for 30 days we were able to start staining.  We have a great little stain company just down the road from us (kind of in the middle of nowhere) called Kemiko.  We were able to go visit their showroom, pick our stain color and learn about how to acid stain our floors.  We had to clean the floors several times with a neutral cleaning product (we used the Kemiko brand) then let it dry completely.  The stain was then sprayed on in a random pattern with a simple hand pump sprayer.  This was done twice, then we cleaned the floor until no stain residue was left .  The floor was finished with a glossy wax. I have to admit we were a bit nervous because in our previous home we had stained the floor (it was not an acid stain) and we did not like the results. However, as you can see  by the pictures we did a great job and the floors look beautiful.   We are pleased with the results, although we wish we had been able to get  a smoother finish, but all in all, not bad for a family of do-it-your-selfers.

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