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Shelter Brainstorm Bucket.  RSS feed

 
Jimmy Pardo
Posts: 11
Location: Pacific Northwest
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So there's a bunch of established designs for alternative housing, but each has it's own pros and cons. I thought it would be interesting to try to list the popular concepts alongside it's benefits and shortcomings, perhaps even the concepts compatibility. I think future shelters will be quite unique, each being a hybrid of the best ideas concerning the structures stability, insulating properties, water-proofing/catchments, and so on.

Depending on your region you might be more interested in certain shelter types.

I live part of the year in a very dry and hot place and the rest of the year in a cool and wet place.

Shelters I'd consider for the dryer and warmer places? Leah had mentioned shipping containers and I think there's mucho potential in that, but I haven't had first-hand experience with them. I hear they get really hot during the summer and pretty cool during the winter, but I think if you were to keep the sun off the metal with.....I don't know.....(this is where you guys chime in) a layer or two of polyethylene? Then shore up dirt on both sides(15-35degree hills)? Grow some crops on your new insulating hills that will potentially be getting the occasional rainfall. Perhaps not so deep as to crush the container, but burying the container two to maybe four feet would lower the roof and make the side hills/insulators/gardens not so steep. I see these hills coming just up to the roof of the container and maybe a roof patio of sorts right on top of the container with a canopy to pour rainwater right on your garden...hammock, grill, sliding roof for warm stargazing nights. Yeah, I dig it. But I'm sure there are some holes in this concept. What do you guys think? For a semi-dry, warm place is this a viable concept?

Where do you live and what special needs does you region require?
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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The shipping containers don't appeal to me very much. If you're into welding and metal cutting, I guess you could do more, but living in a metal cave just doesn't appeal to me.  Windows? A big headache, I suspect.

They're not all that big for living in, what a max of 50 or 60 feet long x 10 ft wide?  Either all your stuff would have to be freestanding, or you're faced with drilling into the metal.  In a small space, having to have everything sitting or standing on the floor is going to take up valuable space.

I work around these containers all the time. They seem to be in pretty poor condition by the time they get rid of them.  The last RR use seems to be to transport garbage.  It can be pretty strong just parked downwind from them.  As rusted as they usually are, I wonder if you could really clean them out well enough that odors wouldn't remain?

Could you seal the rust well enough not to have the whole thing collapse eventually?  If you wrapped it in plastic, would that keep it dry enough that you could cover it with a thick layer of soil?

I had a metal shed when I lived in Las Vegas. Blistering hot in summer, I will guarantee.  Few people ever bought a second one.

Using one for storage or an emergency shelter seems okay, but as a regular living space?  I'm not that hard up yet.

If I won the lottery, I would go with a straw bale/passive solar home.

Sue
 
Jimmy Pardo
Posts: 11
Location: Pacific Northwest
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straw bale/passive solar home - I dig it. Lot of ups.

Although,  I hear you need a whole bunch of friends to help built it or a lot of free time. Are they expensive?

Concerning the PSP Container thingy...

I think a cutting torch should make windows pretty easy. As far as smell and rust goes...
Just pick out the right one since there are many to choose from. Sure some were used for garbage and who knows what else, but if it's going to be my home I would probably pick a not so stinky, not so rusty one.

metal cave? If you just plop it down and stick a bed in it, I guess, but I see a lot more. I was imagining a very aesthetically pleasing interior with all kinds of storage space. You could easily build a supporting rack that would span the length of the container walls and bam, you could set up a storage/loft, suspend your bed all bunk style, cabinets, you name it. I don't need to much to live comfortably. That's why I was thinking just one would be sufficient. If you have a lot of stuff or just need more room, buy two, three. These things can stack like nine high.  Check out the concept image I attached. That thing looks radical. I want to live in that.

As far as soil and the Polyethylene liner, I think careful installation of several layers along the sides and roof would be plenty to keep the container dry. The weight of the soil though is a concern so perhaps instead of shoring up dirt all the way up to the roof one could just have the side hills at 4 to 6 feet?
quikHouseRender.jpg
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Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
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there really are a ton of possibilites for the storage containers as that pic reveals. They can be more that a cave! I can understand sues hesitation both because metal requires some skill to work with and it can deteriorate but the common construction materials now have the same set backs we are just more familiar with them. insulation has always been a problem with them in my mind but hilling dirt seems the easiest. many windows are made with argon gas to increase their insulative qualities would an argon gas bubble wrap do anything?
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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It may well be that I am negatively influenced by the containers that I see.  I spend an inordinate amount of time in railroad yards and watching trains go by (my job).

The inner frame is a good idea, and I hadn't thought of that.

A loose outer wrap seems like an invitation for problems.  It just now occurred to me that maybe a plastic or rubbery substance could be painted on the entire outside of the unit before it was put in place.

Not entirely covering the container with soil seems counter-productive to me.  You would lose all that insulation, and expose the top to even more weather.  Granted, it would take a LOT of soil to cover it properly, but the soil wouldn't radiate the heat and cold through the walls as much as direct exposure would. 

Straw bale homes cost about the same as regular homes to build.  Owner-builder saves a little, but the stuff involved  other than the bales is all the same.

Sue
 
Jimmy Pardo
Posts: 11
Location: Pacific Northwest
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uh...just some super-rough funky drawings.

Not to scale. 
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DSCF3616.JPG
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Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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Did you ever read The Swiss Family Robinson?

That's what you plan reminds me of.  I love the Grand Staircase!

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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love the poop beast 
 
                                      
Posts: 92
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My dream is to build a stone house from the rocks on the property, but I'm doubting I'll live long enough.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22492
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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dvmcmrhp52 wrote:
My dream is to build a stone house from the rocks on the property, but I'm doubting I'll live long enough.


Check out slip form techniques. 

There are several good books on the subject.  Plus, the nearing and nearing book, while not particularly thorough on this topic, they did mountains of stuff with slip form and building with rocks.

 
Leah Sattler
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dvmcmrhp52 wrote:
My dream is to build a stone house from the rocks on the property, but I'm doubting I'll live long enough.


maybe you could just incorporate the rocks that are relatively accessable into the foundation or something. or use them to hold heat on a south wall, that sort of thing.
 
Kelda Miller
Posts: 769
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Here we go:

Shipping Container since someone else already brought it up. I think, can work well. A friend of mine uses them as vacation homes. for real! they seem to hold heat nicely once the woodstove is lit, but lose heat like a cabin would. Wall hangings might work nicely for insulation. And yep, the storage under the bed, bed-on-a-loft idea works nicely

Straw Bale Pros: cozy and gets cozy fast. Cons: are straw bales 'local' if they come from eastern washington? (i live on the westside). Do you have enough friends to get those suckers all up, done well, and plaster the thing up before the rain? or even just a foggy day?

Cob Pros: so versatile and beautiful and Really engaging for a whole community to work on. Cons: if it's Not a whole community it can take one person a Long time to finish it! Also, because it's thermal mass, it takes a long time to heat up once fire's been out for awhile. But then, it will stay warm nicely for longer. Oh yeah, and how local is that clay?

Other Earth like adobe or rammed earth. i've never worked with it. anyone else?

Stacked stone Pros: WOW! thermal mass Cons: it takes a lot of skill and a lot of time. It's like a lost art almost. The Nearings are Such exaggerators!

Wood Local resource around here! although 'salvage' may not be cheaper, and 'certified sustainable' ain't going to be cheap either. Insulation and thermal mass, though. Fast to work with Versatile.  There's a reason people like it so much!

Cordwood EAsily a local resource. Oops except that cement bit! Pros: I've heard it's fun to work with with basic skill level Cons: you have to plan out the wood a few years in advance. and how to do foundation?

Treehouse Lovely and cold! And today, I found one of the neighbor cats curled up on my bed
At least it wasn't a raccoon family!


 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
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With strawbale, you may be able to contract with a local farmer for the bales.

You get the walls and roof up first, period.  A little fog isn't going to hurt anything if you get it before you get the walls coated (outside)-- there's moisture in the concrete or plaster, too.

Cob, adobe and rammed earth types:  I've heard they're fine if someone is home all the time to feed the fire -- otherwise, they're very cold and slow to heat up. 

Adobe in hot climates has to be very, VERY thick to stay cool in summer.  The standard adobe type of home now has much thinner walls, they heat up during the day all the way through, and then don't have the chance to cool down much before the sun comes up again the next morning. Necessary wide eaves may make passive solar heating in winter a moot point.

Stone wicks heat from the inside to the outside in winter, and can act like adobe in summer unless thick or shaded.  Kelda's right on stacking stone -- not the easiest, from what I hear.

I just finished a quadruple-walled cardboard box doghouse for my rescue dog who refuses to be housebroken.  It's got extra insulation top and bottom, and has had two coats of shellac so it doesn't get damp.  Okay, NEXT!

Sue
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22492
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Since this thread is so loaded with stuff about shipping containers, this could be a good spot to mention my new video about one house made from a shipping container:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csNeFYs8qpg

 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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A recent shelter idea I've been kicking around is to use pallets to build a space frame.

I've seen lots of pallet-based structures, and the central problem seems to be that a pallet doesn't span very far, even though each is a very strong structural member.

It would take some experimentation to work out sturdy, simple acute angle connections.

A half-cylindrical structure made this way could probably be built fairly big and still be safe.
 
Lloyd George
Posts: 159
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The shipping containers make stellar modular structures...from portable tool sheds/workshops, to low buck simple housing...now, here is hte zinger for me, yeah, they can be a pain in the ass, but migine for a moment how easy it is to make them solar friendly...big flat top...sides nobody wants to look at anyway...adding passive solar heat and cooling would be childs play, as well as modular/stowable phtovoltaic cells...stupid easy to add utilities to as well...tank up top for solar hot water...composting toilets...

Windows and doors are not that hard, and storm/zombieproof shutters....easy peasy...
 
Brian Knight
Posts: 554
Location: Asheville NC
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Great thread! Quick rundown from my point of view. These are generalizations, actual results may vary:

Shipping Container Pros; Modular. Cons; Potentially high labor costs and difficult to work with. Can be troublesome to weatherize, small, not building code friendly.

Straw Bale Pros: Good insulation, renewable material. Cons: High Labor Costs, Not code friendly in many places, higher potential for mold problems, painfully thick walls eat up interior floor space(higher cost per square foot) and block light. Much more expensive than similar performing assemblies in my area.

Cob Pros: renewable, DIY potential. Cons: Poor insulation, High labor costs, Not code friendly

Other Earth like adobe or rammed earth. Same as Cob

Stacked stone: Same as Cob. Better for veneer/cladding than full wall thickness.

Wood; Can take many forms with many end results. One of the fastest growing methods I like is double framed walls insulated with cellulose.

Cordwood: Same as Cob

The reason shipping containers are so appealing is their pre-fab nature. Pre-fab is a broad term and can be applied to many conventional building techniques that are much easier to work with and pass inspection. Panelization is a great way to combine pre-fab and custom site-built flexibility.

Structural Insulated Panels SIPS Pros; Panelized or Modular, good insulation, low labor costs, wood component is more sustainable. Cons; foam component is unrenewable (by volume foam is >95% air. I believe that reducing monthly energy costs is of paramount importance and that this a good use of this resource for the most permanent and longest lasting component of any structure; the building envelope) With this philosophy, it could be argued that a SIP home is more sustainable in the long run than a less efficient, more renewable material home that burns more fuel for the life of the structure, dare I say even with wood as the fuel source..
 
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