After I pay off my mortgage and get all the travelling crossed off my list, I want to build some sort of permanent dwelling. I've researched all sorts of houses, strawbale, adobe, SIPs, Rastra, cob, wood, metal, cement block, earthship, and now...shipping containers. Many people have played around with the idea. I haven't seen a finished house in real life yet just drawings and pictures. Some are connected together, some stacked, some single. I just saw another article about them on CNN, Shipping container houses.
My idea is to bury one. Yup, I want to bury one. I like the idea of an earth-bermed home here in Arizona. It seems like the cheapest way to regulate the temperature and maybe avoid the need for air conditioning at all. After all, the cave down the street maintains a nice 68 degrees year round. If I bury my house I should stay cool too right?
A shipping container would appear to be a perfect choice for an underground house. It is very strong, made of steel, and is just the right size for one person (or more if they get along well). The dimensions are 40ft. long, 8ft. wide and 8-1/2 ft. tall. I'm living in a 35ft. by 8ft. RV right now (with two 3ft. slide outs for the couch and bed). I think a shipping container would be quite comfortable for me.
I drew what I think it would look like:
I added a greenhouse area so I can grow plants and get a lot of light in if I want to. Ok, I know, that's going to make it hotter inside.
There are a few other things I haven't figured out for the utilities. I would like to have solar power. I don't know how much that would cost exactly, I have heard $10k or more. I would like a small fridge, computer, microwave, toaster oven, fan, heater, lights, TV and a few outlets.
Hot water could be solar most of the year. I could still harvest rainwater off of the garage roof but I would have to have a little RV type pump for water pressure.
Most of the water could be re-used on the landscape through a grey water system.
Then there is the whole sewage problem. Sure there are composting toilets to eliminate the need for a septic system but they are expensive. Hauling a camping toilet over to the existing septic system would get old really fast. A new septic system would cost, I am guessing, $6k but if I have a backhoe burying my shipping container he might as well dig a hole for the septic tank while he's at it.
It would be really easy if I could just bury my RV. Its all plumbed, wired, furnished decorated and everything. I can't imagine what the neighbors would think about that!
Here's some more links on shipping container houses:
Bob Vila visits a company that makes large homes out of shipping container skeletons: Bob Vila video
and here is a neat interior picture of student housing
I would love to be able to set up a container as a storage unit on my property first and then turn it in to a home later. That would allow me to empty out the mobile home and have someone haul it away. I think the county would make me get permits for the entire project though. That means more money up front that I don't have and I would need to hire someone to help get the plans approved.
Here's the estimated costs:
Shipping container: $2,000
Delivery and set-up: $1,000
Foundation and ground work: $3,000
Modification for doors and windows: $1,000
Water system: $1,000
Electric system: $1,000
Septic system: $500 to $6,000
Oo..oo..and here's my version with 2 shipping containers side by side. You know how construction projects go...always growing.
So, I will just dream, scheme and plan until I get my mortgage paid off. That's hopefully only 2 years away.