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Kiko Denzer on Art

[Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales, and cob

Shody Ryon qi4u at
Fri Jun 27 22:06:31 CDT 2008

Even though I have no official say about which topics are posted, I am glad this topic was posted and I like the replies too. I would like to give my unexperienced opinion about this which is that the structure of shipping containers offer little in the way of shelter as they are and the modifications required to them in the way of insulation, windows, etc can easier be dealt with in more standard, as well as alternative building techniques. Containers are also somewhat high in embedded energy and might therefor add a large carbon foot print, for those that care.

Their advantage might be the speed and ease of dropping one off at a location and the low labor intensity of on sight work, because it is dropped off assembled, if no or few modification are made to it (on site). As strong as they look, I do not think the middle of the walls are strong enough to berm earth against and therefor would not be a good candidate to build full cob against the exterior, without the go-a-head from a cob expert or structural engineer. Without this go-a-head, if the wall gave way with all that weight behind it and it fell on someone, that person would be lucky to survive. Most of the strength of the shipping containers are in the edges so they can be stacked high, but little or no weight is pressing on the exterior of the walls toward the interior, so they are not built to be strong in that way, as I understand it, from another list.

I assume the attraction of a shipping container is that it is an enclosed space that appears usable as a living space. Since hominess and insulation are 2 high priorities for many of us regarding our abode, containers may not supply these in adequate amounts and the enclosure they supply may have to be replicated with other material to the extent that one may ask (her) himself, “why did I get that container again?”

A wood framed rectangular cube might cost less to to frame than the cost of the container (with out the siding, drywall, etc). It would have joist and stud spaces that could be insulated covered with gypsum board, roofing and siding, or completely built with cob for less, but with more labor intensity perhaps, but could also be shaped like a giant cat.

If you would like to be able to pick and leave in a moments notice, a container might offer some value in that regard, however, I would see if a pick up is really available. I was told that drop-off accompanied with $2000 are easy to come by, but pick-ups are not easy to come by at all.

I realize others like the idea of using shipping containers as houses or elements for construction. Variety is the spice of life. To those that like them, I genuinely and sincerely hope you all build houses that you love and are very happy ;-)