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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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  1.  
    Hi all,

    Can anyone recommend a good resource on container self-builds? Looking for specifics (dimensions, materials, timelines, plans), not just pretty pictures and platitudes. I searched on amazon, and found only self-published books. Bought one, and it had a typo in the very first word (Tis instead of this). I suppose small/micro/nano houses would fit into the same category.

    I am keen to keep the full container functionality on the outside, so that the house can be shipped from country to country, as my partner and I move frequently. From what I understand, condensation, insulation, and watching out for toxic paint are the key points. We both have asthma, and I have experience with pressurized HVAC in homes and chemical labs. We probably will get a brand new container.

    Currently, we rent an apartment, so the idea is to rent a space to put a 40 ft container on, and spend weekends slowly building it up from the inside, w/o actually hooking it up to a sewer/mains. Move it when we are ready. Giving this 2 years or so.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTime7 days ago
     
    Interesting idea.
    The general consensus on here is that financially converting a shipping container does not make sense. But you have specified that you want it to be portable, which makes a difference.
    Many shipping containers are sold off cheap because they are not allowed to be used on ships any more because of the craning involved. So worth looking into that as it may not be transportable after all. Also when transporting, there will be a certain amount of twisting of the container, so any permanent fittings need to be able to cope with that.

    The rest is really just basic engineering. So if you cut a hole for a window, you need to make sure that the structural integrity is intact.
    Electrical installation may also be difficult as rules change around the world. In the UK a shipping container probably comes under the same rules as static caravans.
    Water and waste may also be a problem. Don't forget about rainwater drainage.
    Thermally they can be treated the same as a houseboat, so look up about spraying polyurethane foams. Once set and after a relatively small amount of time, PU is fairly inert (though some people will say that anything that is not 'natural' causes problems).
    Condensation can be, to a certain extent, controlled with ventilation, ideally with heat recovery as well. By keeping everything electric, which can include a wet heating system, you avoid the problems caused by local combustion. You would need to do a risk assessment on the affects one this.

    Then after all that you need to site it. Pretty hard to do in the UK as councils don't like the idea of people living anywhere that they have not approved.

    Have you thought of a sectional building that is easy to pack up, basically a glorified tent.
  2.  
    Thank you for the comments! I agree that if we were bound to live and die in the UK midlands, it would not make sense to start with a container. But we are likely look for a country which is less restricted on new building ideas, and more restricted on nature destruction (and more friendly to foreigners).

    The point on using the same principles as used for house boats is very good, I should have thought about that. There should be plenty of resources on houseboats. Even their dimensions are similar to containers!

    I have seen containers which come with sliding side doors, and those could be purchased new. Thus, I was hoping not to create new (large) holes in the container. Once we move, the metal doors are slid open, or opened to create a wind-shielded patio, and a more traditional window/wall would be revealed behind. Does that sound crazy? We would not go for super-cold climates.

    Regarding volatile compounds: I agree on polyurethane and I disagree on 'natural'. Moulds are quite natural, so are dust mites, pollen and other allergens. I am a fan of simple inorganic compounds for clean are (concrete, metal, glass, or inert polymers). Natural compounds (cellulose- and lignin-based ones) rot unless encapsulated in non bio-degradable compounds. Certain types of epoxy are pretty good for that. We use epoxy in clean labs, particularly the vacuum type (the non off-gassing ones). From the chemistry perspective, any two-part resin (epoxy, silicone, polyurea), in my experience, is better than thermo-plastics. Thermo plastics are meant to melt and flow at high temps (PVC), whereas epoxies and poly-ureas are a one-way reaction. However, PP (a thermoplastic) is consistently good, and silicones (a two-part resin) sometimes come under-cured and stink. :)

    Re: rainwater damage: it appears that there should be a proper gable roof which could be folded and stored inside the container to be moved.

    Regarding folding: I found and 'folding' houses as well -- but these would seem to need a container to be moved by ship anyway -> we are back to the container concept. And, when I moved from the US to the UK, I used a container for my crap, and the cost was the same as the cost of a new container (6 grand)!
  3.  
    Regarding insulation panels --

    I am considering these, although we may need 2x the thickness. The idea with them is that I can move them around/take them off if I need to get work done to the electrics. I do not want any fiberglass wool spilling out if a wall needs worl

    https://totalcomposites.com/

    Piping: I am thinking to keep most pipes in the floor. Run them between the two panels (not between to the container wall and a panel)
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime7 days ago edited
     
    Posted By: runcyclexcskiI am considering these https://totalcomposites.com/

    FWIW, we have a Lamilux rooflight, which I am impressed by. Also, if you edit your post to be 'Text' type, the link will work.
  4.  
    OK, just changed the type, thanks.

    I am a big fan of sky lights (got used to them while living in California), but I am not sure if having one, as well as cutting structural walls of the container to make windows, would invalidate the option of shipping the house by ship (at container rates).
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