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93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
4/17/12 1:41 p.m.

Can someone explain shipping container homes to me? I get that look very cool and modern but I am a bit stuck as to how they are a reasonably cheap way to build a house. From what I have seen a container cost about $4k for a 40'x8'x8' container. It seems like a regular wood framed house would be a cheaper way to go.

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/17/12 1:44 p.m.

Perception is often more important than logic.

I've built several. They are not cheap. If done well, they are very expensive.

Good luck trying to convince people of that.

Derick Freese
Derick Freese SuperDork
4/17/12 2:06 p.m.

To me, it seems more like a smug factor is the attraction of these houses. If I had access to free or cheap containers, I think I'd consider it, but if I had to buy them on the open market at normal fair value, I think I'd go with other alternative construction methods that are better suited to being energy efficient.

Cole_Trickle
Cole_Trickle Reader
4/17/12 2:12 p.m.

Every house that I have seen (online) looked really nice. I need to see some half-assed ones to really get an opinion on how an average one turns out. Also, how do you insulate/wire/plumb one?

Keith
Keith MegaDork
4/17/12 2:18 p.m.

Given the trade balance with China, seems to me there should be a whole lot of shipping containers available in western port cities. I'd love to play with building one, although trying to make it ape a stick-built house inside would make it pretty difficult. The trick would be to accept the nature of your starting material.

I'm going to be staying in a container hotel! Well, sort of. It's a Flexotel, a flat-pack hotel room that's good for temporary setups such as Le Mans. Not the same thing, but pretty cool.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
4/17/12 2:25 p.m.

I do really love this idea though.

JoeyM
JoeyM SuperDork
4/17/12 2:47 p.m.
Keith wrote:

Cool!

jonnyd330
jonnyd330 Reader
4/17/12 2:54 p.m.
93EXCivic wrote: I do really love this idea though.

That looks awesome, where did you find that? Anyone build a garage out of one?

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
4/17/12 2:56 p.m.
jonnyd330 wrote:
93EXCivic wrote: I do really love this idea though.
That looks awesome, where did you find that? Anyone build a garage out of one?

http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/shipping-container-homes-460309

Found it on here.

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/17/12 5:54 p.m.
jonnyd330 wrote: That looks awesome, where did you find that? Anyone build a garage out of one?

Unless you are prepared to climb out the windows of the car, you can't build a garage out of one. They are 8' wide (outside dimension).

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/17/12 6:03 p.m.
Cole_Trickle wrote: Every house that I have seen (online) looked really nice. I need to see some half-assed ones to really get an opinion on how an average one turns out. Also, how do you insulate/wire/plumb one?

Yeah, invariably, people think "free" and then post links to the mobile Puma store built by Lot-Ek (easily a 3/4 million dollar structure- perhaps double that).

I can get free containers all day. They are STILL expensive structures.

It's the wiring, insulation, ductwork, air exchanges, egress routes, toxins in the floor, lead paint, roof connections, drain lines, code compliance issues, lack of adequate glazing, ventilation, etc. etc. etc. that cost butt loads of money.

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin Reader
4/18/12 11:41 a.m.

We are just in the middle of putting a new washroom building at our track. The plan was to use 2 40 foot containers so they can be locked up for security. But by the time the city got through with us, it was cheaper to put up a stick frame building with a foundation. Seriously. Engineering sign off, architect, reinforcement to carry snow load, rip up floor and replace to satisfy health requirements, and a whole bunch more.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
4/18/12 11:50 a.m.
SVreX wrote:
Cole_Trickle wrote: Every house that I have seen (online) looked really nice. I need to see some half-assed ones to really get an opinion on how an average one turns out. Also, how do you insulate/wire/plumb one?
Yeah, invariably, people think "free" and then post links to the mobile Puma store built by Lot-Ek (easily a 3/4 million dollar structure- perhaps double that). I can get free containers all day. They are STILL expensive structures. It's the wiring, insulation, ductwork, air exchanges, egress routes, toxins in the floor, lead paint, roof connections, drain lines, code compliance issues, lack of adequate glazing, ventilation, etc. etc. etc. that cost butt loads of money.

Do you have any resources one should be looking at if they want to build an affordable and modern styled home with a very open floor plan? I've come to the conclusion that any houses that i like that are already built i can't afford because they're usually 1) too big, or 2) overpriced.

Sooo... i'm thinking i might have to build my first house, and i'm looking for a modern take on the old "garage with a loft." Just two people, won't need more than 1500sq ft living space for any reason.

Any good sites, guides, ideas, or magazines i should be subscribing to?

We were looking at the shipping container homes, but not to the point where we were figuring costs, and you've pretty much sunk that idea in the water in this thread. So now it's on you to give me more ideas to replace them.

jonnyd330
jonnyd330 Reader
4/18/12 12:13 p.m.
SVreX wrote:
jonnyd330 wrote: That looks awesome, where did you find that? Anyone build a garage out of one?
Unless you are prepared to climb out the windows of the car, you can't build a garage out of one. They are 8' wide (outside dimension).

That would work for a miata just put the top down.

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/18/12 6:30 p.m.

In reply to 92CelicaHalfTrac:

If shipping container design elements appeal to you, why not just modify shipping container floorplans and designs and stick build them?

Much cheaper, and easier to get through code issues.

I'm not sure what the old "garage with a loft" is. If it is a living/ sleeping area open to a garage, it won't get through any code review.

If it is an apartment over a garage, then it's not too hard (assuming a couple of things like fire separation and exits that do not lead through the garage). Do you live in an area that code review will be an issue?

Jay
Jay UltraDork
4/18/12 7:08 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Yeah, invariably, people think "free" and then post links to the mobile Puma store built by Lot-Ek (easily a 3/4 million dollar structure- perhaps double that). I can get free containers all day. They are STILL expensive structures.

Not to derail the thread, but how do you get free containers? I need one to use for some, y'know, shipping.

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/18/12 8:10 p.m.

Free ones usually have some pretty bad damage (read: note suitable for shipping without work). Decent ones are available for $1800- $2500.

I buy them from a dealer outside of Valdosta, GA. Cowart and Son.

CarKid1989
CarKid1989 Dork
4/18/12 9:31 p.m.
93EXCivic wrote: I do really love this idea though.

use this in the backyard like a far removed lounge entertaining. i like

93EXCivic
93EXCivic UltimaDork
4/18/12 9:39 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Free ones usually have some pretty bad damage (read: note suitable for shipping without work). Decent ones are available for $1800- $2500. I buy them from a dealer outside of Valdosta, GA. Cowart and Son.

So let's say I wanted to not build a house but something like a garden house/ not attached lounge area out of a shipping container, would I run into a lot of code issues? More wondering then anything.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
4/18/12 10:14 p.m.

In reply to SVreX:

Loft over garage is what i had in mind.

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/19/12 6:46 a.m.
93EXCivic wrote:
SVreX wrote: Free ones usually have some pretty bad damage (read: note suitable for shipping without work). Decent ones are available for $1800- $2500. I buy them from a dealer outside of Valdosta, GA. Cowart and Son.
So let's say I wanted to not build a house but something like a garden house/ not attached lounge area out of a shipping container, would I run into a lot of code issues? More wondering then anything.

Maybe, maybe not.

If it's a building, it needs a permit. I suggest attempting to not call it a building or house. If it's a mobile storage unit, it is more likely to not fall under the jurisdiction of code enforcement.

If it is on residentially zoned land, you may not get away with it.

If there is plumbing, electric, HVAC, etc., those items will need to meet code.

Local guidelines will then step in.

For example in my county, installation of a mobile tool shed (like those sold at Home Depot) requires a permit, in spite of the fact that it has no foundation, was not "built" there, and could be moved off the property at will again in the future.

So local zoning and covenants will have the greatest impact.

If there are local laws against portable structures, long term use of storage units, junk or eyesores collecting in yards, you will be at the mercy of your neighbors and code enforcement. Their interpretation of the codes will be very conservative and likely unfavorable if neighbors have complained. The system is designed to bring in revenues, and is complaint driven.

If you are great friends with everyone on your block, they love what you've put in your yard, and you serve them copious amounts of beer all the time when they are hanging in your container lounge area, you should be golden.

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/19/12 6:50 a.m.
92CelicaHalfTrac wrote: In reply to SVreX: Loft over garage is what i had in mind.

That doesn't clarify it.

As I said, if it is a living/ sleeping area open to a garage, it won't get through any code review.

If it is separated, it might if done correctly (fire separation, separate exits, etc).

Most people don't want to sleep in an area that could collect fumes and vapors from automobiles, gasoline, paint thinner, etc.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
4/19/12 7:37 a.m.
SVreX wrote:
92CelicaHalfTrac wrote: In reply to SVreX: Loft over garage is what i had in mind.
That doesn't clarify it. As I said, if it is a living/ sleeping area open to a garage, it won't get through any code review. If it is separated, it might if done correctly (fire separation, separate exits, etc). Most people don't want to sleep in an area that could collect fumes and vapors from automobiles, gasoline, paint thinner, etc.

Oh sorry, i see what you mean now. This is why you're the expert and i'm not!

I'm just interested in living quarters above the garage. Separated as much as necessary to satisfy code is fine. (Although i STILL would love to have a warehouse like Han's in Tokyo Drift)

I guess what i'm mostly curious about is if a 1500sq ft garage with 1500sq ft living space above it is cheaper than two separate 1-story structures.

jonnyd330
jonnyd330 Reader
4/19/12 12:04 p.m.
92CelicaHalfTrac wrote: (Although i STILL would love to have a warehouse like Han's in Tokyo Drift)

Me too, that garage was awesome

SVreX
SVreX UltimaDork
4/19/12 12:28 p.m.

It depends.

It probably is- until you try to sell it!

There are very few buyers (or banks) that will place much value on a building like that if it is the only living space.

Because of that, you may not be able to finance the construction.

It would also depend on whether you were going to heat and cool the garage, and how you insulate.

Where I live, many houses are built on slabs. The ground temperature remains stable enough that it is not necessary to insulate the floor.

Therefore, it is cheaper to build a slab floor than to buy the wood and insulation to build the 2nd floor floor. It would be better for me to build additional square footage on 1 level, and I'd get it back at resale.

This is probably not the case where you live.

Scenario #1 (2 story) vs Scenario #2 (1 story):

Assumption: No heat in garage, concrete slab floors on 1st floor

  • Roof area will double with #2
  • 1 will have 1500 SF slab floor + 1500 SF framed floor, #2 will have 3000 SF slab floor

  • 1 will add 1500 SF fire rated ceiling

  • 1 will add 1500 SF flooring insulation

  • 1 will add stair case and exterior entrance

  • They will have equal exterior wall areas
  • 1 A/C load will increase because of floor over unconditioned garage

  • 1 will likely have more plumbing and less electric wiring

The only thing more expensive in Scenario #2 is the roof area and the land to put it on.

If you pay 10% more to build Scenario #2 (I don't think you would), but take a 20% hit in resale value when it comes time to sell, its a bad idea.

UNLESS you site the building with the intent of your living space becoming a future apartment for a buyer who is going to build a bigger house in front of it.

Sorry if it sounds like I am not answering your question. There is a lot more to it than most people think about.

And anybody who tells you "Houses cost $xxx per square foot to build" is lying to you.

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