Friday, September 12, 2008

From Refuse to Refuge

Did you happen to catch Wednesday night's episode of "Top Design?" If not, blogger-friend, Julia, has a thorough and fun wrap-up of the show on her blog, Hooked on Houses.

In this week's "Top Design" episode, designers were asked to decorate bomb shelters. I don't remember the exact dimensions of each shelter, but I think they were something like 12'x14'. Not big. Decorating a bomb shelter may seem a bit unrealistic, but it reminded me of container living.

Have you heard of container living? There's really a movement right now to turn shipping containers into liveable accommodations. Yes, THOSE shipping containers. Apparently, it's cheaper to keep manufacturing these things than it is to send the used ones back to Asia, so now there's a glut of them here in the U.S.

As you can imagine, shipping containers are not huge by residential standards, but it might be fun to see what you could do with one. They run 8' wide and 8'6" tall and come in your choice of 20' or 40' lengths. I read that you can purchase them on Ebay, and sure enough, you can! I found a 40' one with a starting bid of less than $2,000, and shipping to Austin from Chicago is less than $150. I know. Cheap, right?

Once you decide on your container, you'd have to figure out some sort of base -- footings or decking. That might also involve leveling ground. Containers come with a door, but I don't know if you'd want that as your main entrance, but maybe so. You'd probably want to add a couple of windows. Of course, the container won't start out with plumbing or electricity, so all of that would need to be added.

One of the great things about these containers is, because they come in standard sizes, they're as stackable as Legos. That means you could build a two-story house or stack as many as you want!

We own a little piece of land outside of Angel Fire, NM. Currently, there's no road, electricity, plumbing, water or septic tank. It would take quite a bit of money to put all that in place, and that's before we even get started on a cabin. I'm not saying we're definitely going to turn a shipping container into a mountain getaway, but before you poo-poo the idea, take a look at these...







These next few shots show the stages of what went into building this particular mountain retreat.






As you can see, the containers start out as rectangular boxes, but you're only limited by your imagination. You could add a pitched roof, a wall of windows or glass doors, and even a stucco or split-log facade. No one would ever know you started with a box.

Are you inspired or repulsed? Intrigued or bewildered? Before you decide, come back for tomorrow's post on small space living.

11 comments:

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

Ha! I LOVE the idea Sandra!! Ingenious! And just look at what was created! Wowza!!

Country French Antiques said...

Pretty wild!
I wouldn't mind living in a container as long as it was full of French antiques :)
Interesting post!!!

Jerri Lynn @ Southern Sassyness said...

This is one of the most interesting posts I have ever read - what a great idea!

By the way, I don't think I have ever caught even one episode of Top Design. I know you mentioned it to me before. I need to watch it - looks fun!

Nola @ AlamoNorth said...

Interesting...I like them best when they open onto a large open area; I'm a bit claustrophobic. But as a cabin, or storage, looks like a good deal. I'll be back to see what's next...

Liz said...

Hmmm.. not so sure if I would use them for my own house. But an ingenious idea nevertheless. :)

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

I missed the episode Sandra. Isn't it amazing how these can be transformed? Just wonderful.

As for size, one winter in Illinois, I lived with my mother father and little sister in an 8x16 ft trailer with no plumbing or refrigerator. Mother cooked on a two burner hotplate. I was 8 years old. One of these would have seemed like a palace, to us. Incidently...we moved up to an 8x27 ft trailer, from that one. We were a military family and many military families lived in small trailers, during the 50's.

sandra/tx said...

Shawn, I think I'd love it if it were furnished from goodies from your shop, too!

Pat, interesting about your history. Hard to believe people could live in such tiny quarters nowadays, but you're right. It really wasn't all that long ago when many people did.

Hooked on Houses said...

I'm fascinated by these, Sandra! Great post. They're almost like modern art that you can live in. I love how everyone uses them in different creative ways. -Julia

P.S. Thanks for the shout-out! :-)

Millie said...

I just love this post Sandra! Son #4 works at a very remote mining Exploration site in Northern Australia. The living quarters are renovated shipping containers -very nice, with bathroom,lounge, desk, air-conditioning, cable, etc. but I will be sending him these pics, as I know he'll be amazed!

The Mining industry affectionately calls these mini houses 'dongas' - very Australian!!
Millie ^_^

sandra/tx said...

Millie, that interesting about your son living in a shipping container. How does he like it?

Anonymous said...

my heart started beating faster when I just saw this post. Like you, I intriqued. I have my storage container decorated already. Good going!!!!