Thursday, November 25, 2010

Coming To The End

11/25/10 Thanksgiving Day!  While not much has changed as far as a picture could show, lots of work has been going on.  The HVAC unit has been installed.  Insulation has been blown in the attic space. Toilets and sinks have been set.  Plastic placed under the house and secured to the foundation walls (non-ventilated foundation).  The old container floors have been sanded and urethene is being painted on this week.  As best I can tell, the floors are mahoghany plywood and have finished up nicely.  The kitchen is complete except for the gas range hich I am waiting to find on sale. We have received our final inspection and are waiting for the certificate of occupancy to arrive in the mail.  I plan to begin moving in next week (God willing and the creek don't rise).    This is about it unless someone has questions.

Bidet and toilet (both salvaged). Floor and toilet surrond marble.  I was shocked to find after purchsing the marble that it was "made in China".  Too late to take it back.

Mahogony Plywood Floors (gouges from freight being dragged out)

Salvage cabinets and sink from Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Dishwasher salavaged from relative's remodle.  Range hood new.  Countertops new from Lowe's delaminated during installation and got full credit.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wainscoting and Sheetrock

9/23/10 Waincoting is from wood we had sawed roughly ten years ago.  It was from 125 year old, 125' tall pines.  It has been air drying since then.  We sawed it to length, planed it, and grooved each edge to provide for overlap.  My brother Thomas helped me do the planing and my wife Mary Jane helped me install it.  Smith Drywall is doing the sheetrock installation.  Smith has found the sheetrocking to be a little more difficult due to issues of extra height and it being a converted shipping container.  We still have to finish the ceilings of the porches, blow the isulation on top of the containers (1' in addition to the 4" inside), HVAC installation, floor sanding, install cabinets and kitchen, marble on bathroom floor, doors and trim inside, and probably more than I have thought of.

Moving Forward Again !!

9/23/10 It has been a while since I last posted.  We seemed to be stalled and there was really nothing to post.  Electrical and plumbing work is done mostly in the walls and under the floor and does not make for great pictures.  The tankless/instant water heater has been installed along with the propane tank.  I was adamant that we not pierce the roof of the containers any more than necessary, so we used through-the-wall, house-trailer bathroom vents.   Now that the wiring and pipes are in, the insulation and sheet rock could go up.  Progress is more visible as you can see in the pictures.  We continue to comply with Chesterfield County building codes and meet our regular inspections.  We hope to have a final inspection before the start date anniversary. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Roof and Gable Coverings In Place

The metal roof is now in place.  This view shows the covered entry.  The space for the covered entry was made available due to extending one container eight feet beyond the other two.  This placement makes for a more interesting layout but increased the cost of the foundation and the truss placement.  There are a number of things I learned that have increased the cost that could be avoided in the future to reduce cost.  I will attempt to make a list of those items in a later post.

This view shows the opposite end of the house.  To the left is an open space under roof to be used as a carport.  Beyond this space is the screened porch.  To the right of the open space and to the left of the center container is a small private porch which is accessed from the master bedroom.    I do not plan to put any additional covering on the outside of the house.  It will be painted a consistent color to blend it all together. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Change Of Plans

If you noticed that there was no plan for roof trusses in the original drawings, you have just seen evidence of the unstable process of building an unconventional building.  I had originally planned to use salvaged material intended for the walls of a metal quanset hut to form the porch roof.  It would have been so expensive to get it engineered to comply with code, that we made the decision to go with a conventional roofing system using new material.  The roof covering will be Galvalume 5V metal (tin), attched with screws.

Roof Trusses

The prefabricated roof trusses took very little time to install.  Mac Pfifer is the framing contractor and with his crew and the help of a boom truck, placed all trusses in one morning.  It took them the rest of the day and the following morning to tie it all down and tie it all together.  This view shows the vaulted ceiling shape of the screened porch.  The space from which the picture is taken will be the carport.
There is no real front or back to the house.  There is a primary entry on one corner, but the screened porch is designed to be a living area and is contiguous to the kitchen, dining area, and den.  The roof extends over the entry porch.  We plan to leave the container doors in place (second container to the right), to be closed for security when the house is locked.  When not in use, the container doors will be opened against the adjacent containers.  Storm/security shutters may be installed over the windows using the cutouts from the window holes.  This may happen later depending on money and schedule. 

Interior Framing and Screened Porch

The screened porch is approximately 16' x 24'.  It must accomodate a Pawley's Island Hammock and a picnic table.  It is supported by concrete piers on the outside and brackets welded to the container on the inside.  This view shows the the sliding glass door (salvage) to the den and the kitchen window which is over the sink. 

Interior framing has been installed.  We made the decision to frame out inside because sprayed urethene insulation was expensive, plus Johnny felt that the plumbing and electrical would be less expensive to install within the interior framing.    The rooms are all clearly defined now and one can get the feel of the layout.  The living room windows are shown from the inside.  The windows must still be sealed with foam from the inside and outside to connect the framing on the inside and to close the corrugations on the outside.  The windows must also be loosened and caulked between the window and the container.  One window will have to be replaced as it had been broken by vandals.

Progress Again

In order to make the unit as tight as possible, I chose not to penetrate the top of the containers.  Upright bolts are welded to receive two wood 2x4 anchor plates for the trusses.  You can see the corner block with holes used for lifting and locking the ocean going container.  The anchor plates will have to fitted around the corner block. The first of the 2x4 anchor plate is bolted down.  A second anchor plate will be attached to the first.  This run is along the front of the house.  Both anchor plates have been attached to the entire perimeter of the house.  Beams have been installed.  The beams were necessary to cover the porches, where there was no container to support the trusses.  Temporary posts are supporting the beams.  Hollow posts will replace the temporary posts, through which hurricane straps embedded in the foundation will tie the beams and roof trusses to the foundation.  Brackets had to be fabricated from 1/4" steel plate, and welded to the containers to receive the beams.  The brackets are approximately 3" wide x 11" high x 8" deep.  The same brackets were welded to the container to receive the support beams for the floors of the porches.  I feel sure there are standard manufactured brackets that can be purchased to avoid having to have them fabricated. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Windows, doors, and other musings.

3/30/10 Things continue to move slowly for several reasons.  The rainy weather has caused delays.  The contractor is trying to juggle several jobs.  Since it is a new concept for the county building inspectors, everything must be engineered and stamped.  It is a new process for the engineer and he, too, is juggling jobs and doing research.  Since the last post, we have gotten all the windows and the sliding glass door installed.  Windows and doors are built to be installed against a flat surface, which must be created within a corrugated wall.  We tried two different ways of installing the windows.  One of the pictures shows how we have used 1/8" flat stock to bridge the low spots in the corrugation. Angle iron was used to true and stiffen the wall to receive the window.  The other was a full frame made of angle iron.  Another picture shows the concrete block bases for the support posts for the porch and carport roof. We hope to begin the framing next week which includes installing the roof trusses, building the decks and framing out the inside.  As to the inside framing, we determined that an exterior sprayed foam shell was too expensive and we would use conventional insulation within an interior wood frame.  Johnny felt this method would make electrical and plumbing installation more efficient.  We are planning to further insulate and increase retro-reflectivity by adding ceramic beads to the exterior paint (see NASA web site on ceramic paint).  We continue to shop at the Habitat for Humanity ReStores.  An eight foot entry door with side lights for $95 is hard to beat.  We also bought a full set of kitchen cabinets (no countertop) for $800.  If anyone has questions or comments or suggestions as to information sources, you can email me at

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slow Progress

1/22/09 Since the last post, Johnny and his crew have finished welding the containers together. Since the roof will not be installed until later, the containers had to be sealed where they joined. It took two tries but the second effort was tight.

Next the container walls were cut out where not needed. We now, more or less, have one big room. The next step will be to put in the interior divider walls that will define each room.

We are now debating whether it will be more cost effective to insulate with exterior spray foam or with interior conventional stud wall and insulation. We are trying to understand the pros and cons of "ceramic" paint, and whether to use inside, outside, both, or not at all.
We are also trying to understand the best and most efficient way to install exterior windows and doors.