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Hybrid shipping container - strawbale house

 
Tom Connolly
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Has anyone used straw bale to insulate the exterior of a shipping cargo container house?
 
A Tabor
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What are your thoughts on how it would work? What advantage would using the container be in this case?

A big part of what makes using containers in buildings is that you are brining a prefab weather tight unit on site. The more you move away from taking advantage of that weather tight structure then the closer you come to using the containers for artistic reasons rather than practical, and it can quickly start making more sense to simply use structural steel and building things from scratch instead. Containers can be annoying to move and work with on site, each being its own shipping trip in, needing heaving machinery to move them around and place accurately. Compare this to being able to have a single flat bed unloaded and two people carrying each piece as needed.
 
Tom Connolly
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My thoughts are that this would be my first house while I prepare the rest of the land, and the final house. The container offers the advantage of being an "instant" house - lay the foundation, position the container, add wiring, simple plumbing and it is, at a very fundamental level, very livable. If my plan unfolds as I hope, the ultimate purpose of the container will be as a store house, to store dried foods, maybe part of it as a root cellar, a freezer, etc. For about 50% more it is possible to buy a container that was used as a refrigeration container to ship fruits and veggies. The refrigeration unit would most likely be shot, but I would be buying that kind of container for the extra insulation it has. I was thinking that the container, being water tight, would be an ideal structure to use for this purpose so that the stored foods would be protected from the elements, rodents, etc. The straw would give the container a nice degree of insulation, making it easier to control the interior temp and conditions of the container and requiring less energy to maintain it. It would also be my "practice" home, to help me learn how to put up bales, install windows, wiring, etc.

Also, I have narrowed my choices of where to live down to 3 different areas. Two of them are in/near deserts, so insulation becomes a significant issue in temperature control. I do not want the container to end up being an oven!
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Sounds smart. I think you will need to build a roof with substantial overhang, and use a breathable finnish if you want the bales to last.
A steel roof with a white finish feeding a rain catchment would be a great investment.
 
Tom Connolly
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William Bronson wrote:Sounds smart. I think you will need to build a roof with substantial overhang, and use a breathable finnish if you want the bales to last.
A steel roof with a white finish feeding a rain catchment would be a great investment.


Great ideas - thanks! Most of the sites that I have looked at use some kind of stucco - I am hoping that the soil of the land that I buy will contribute to the making of the wall preserver. While I think I am only 80% of the way to understanding permaculture, I find the ideas, knowledge and willingness to take risks of the people that join this forum to be very wonderful and stimulating! I know that permies are into more than just homesteading, but homesteading with a "treat lightly" approach to living, to nature and the rest of the world. I hope someday to meet you all....wanna come to China for a visit?
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Lol, I actually would love to take a slow boat there!
Btw, it occurs to me that you might want to try a the clay slip/straw slip casting method, as it it said have greater fire and pest resistance than straw alone.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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If it is something short term, yes sounds good. Long term you will get all sorts of moisture/condensation problems.
Otherwise I always think it is a good idea to get some builders to get the outer shell of the real house done fast instead of spending
a lot of money and time in provisional buildings.
 
Tom Connolly
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Angelika Maier wrote:If it is something short term, yes sounds good. Long term you will get all sorts of moisture/condensation problems.
Otherwise I always think it is a good idea to get some builders to get the outer shell of the real house done fast instead of spending
a lot of money and time in provisional buildings.


Moisture inside the container or moisture problems with the strawbale?
 
Thadeus Eustacius
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Straw is biodegradable in the presence of moisture. The steel container next to the straw will condense moisture onto the straw and it will rot. Stawbale construction requires walls that encapsulate the straw be made of breathable material, such as plaster. You could use containers for the load bearing structure but you'd need to get artistic with a torch and scallop the container walls so that the straw would be exposed and plastered. I think a post and beam wood structure is easier. Alternatively, you could join containers side to side to get volume, and then put the straw on the inside with a vent wall between the straw and the inside container wall to get rid of moisture and isolate the straw from the steel. You would vent to the outside, top and bottom holes in the container several places. Build a 4x4 base for the straw and fill with pea gravel. Put rigid foam on top of the bales to isolate from the roof.
 
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