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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Building Homes Using Surplus Steel Shipping Containers by Walt Barrett

There's a lot of talk about housing these days. Housing is very expensive and so is land.  Some of us in the inventors and manufactures community are constantly racking our brains for better ideas.  One of the ideas we have found that gives you the biggest bang for the buck is utilizing used steel shipping containers.  Some of them are even insulated for shipping refrigerated food etc.  I personally have spent a great deal of time thinking about containers and how to utilize them and it really is not that complicated.  The first objection that always come up is that a steel container makes a great solar oven.  This is true of course unless you keep the sun off it.  Many people do this by making earthen gardens on the roof.  Twelve inches of earth makes a great insulator and a pretty garden as a bonus.  You can also paint the exterior in any reflective color, or apply some kind of insulated siding, or ever grow ivy vines on the exterior, or all of the above.  You can can also bury a well designed container home in the ground.  As long as you make the proper provisions to prevent flooding.  Just think, no more tornado problems if you are several feet underground. Heating and cooling would become next to nothing because of the constant 55 degree temperature.  I would take very little solar for example to provide heat and the new LED solar lighting systems are dirt cheap to install. cooling would only take a very tiny air conditioner to remove the humidity from the air.   Many people will say they do not want to live under ground.  So just bury three sides in the side of a hill or berm and live a southern glass wall exposed.  I have also thought that I would buy the whole container with a concrete stairwell going down into a glass roofed atrium dug next to the container, or surrounds by four forty-foot containers.  This would be a great setup.  
Imagine your lot being just a lawn or garden or both with your home under it.  I also envision a large screen TV that also doubles as a window but mounting a 360 degree camera above ground.  
   The steel exterior would have rigid foam glued all over it to meet the local codes if there are any and you might consider surface mounted wiring on a painted interior as a big labor saver.  I would use solar electricity and make this home totally off the grid.  Our company has already built one above ground test bed micro home with standard type lumber. Now we are considering building a small Underground home as a test bed for our solar products, lighting systems and composting toilet products. Perhaps a 20' or 40' container size for a retired couple.  I could see an all DIY project for $10,000.00 carefully spent dollars. It could totally eliminate your worries about tornadoes if you live in one of those areas. We may never go commercial with these ideas, but we feel obligated to test them.  We have to develop more affordable housing and it also must be less expensive to heat and cool.  The ideas to accomplish this project are endless.  Walt Disney called it "Imagineering."  So set your mind free and imagine how to build something better in the affordable housing field.  It needs to be done.  You know the old saying, "Find a need and fill it!"
By the Way, In case you were wondering, Battery Chem USA is sponsoring all the research we do.  Our goal is to raise the standard of living for everyone.  It's not hard if you try. Now go invent something!

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