finishing/finished photos

We found out we couldn’t stay on top of this blog while also working on the project. So now that we have finished up and moved in…here are some photos. We still have some little things to add, but we’ve heard “it never end” with keeping up with a home and adding and removing things as life goes on. This adventure is clearly not over, in fact, its just begun…stay tuned

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I’m learning how hard it is to balance building a home, writing a blog about it, running a business, and keeping somewhat of a social life. So I’m sticking with the short and sweet for now and leaning heavy on the “A picture is worth a 1,000 words” concept, so this might be a novel…

First up: cutting the cut-outs from the windows and doors, stripping the paint off, polishing them up, and welding them together for the wanes coating in the bathroom. Pictures so far don’t do our bathroom justice, but when its finished it will be the first thing i will want to show anyone….

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Next up: Installing the breaker box and hallway wall..

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Then the real fun… :/ and probably the reason I’ve quit drinking until this project is over. We scored this beautiful reclaimed 30+ year old, custom oak, 3/4” T&G, flooring and although it was only $1/sf the real cost came when we had to pull all the old nails (that alone took 5 hours and a 12 pack each), cut off the old T&G (because it had a bevel and was stained too dark), run it through the planer,and then put new T&G on it…but you know what, I see it as a cheap but amazing experience we had in building this project. Josh, the super human that he is, was the one who located the wood and convinced me it would be worth it…I had my doubts, but now I’m a believer.  He really can make anything look unique and spectacular, this is the look and concept we wanted.

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Until next time I remember how to log in to post an update…

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To the windows, to the wall…er.. to the floors.

So I’ve decided instead of impressing you with my superb writing skills and wit on this post that I would keep it simple. And yes, the “superb writing skills and wit” was a joke…although I have a healthy enough ego to pull off a statement like that I have a wife that humbles me by correcting my poor spelling. Here are the progress photos and some attempts at clever/witty captions. I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on what we can do as far as a bathroom floor…?

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South wall and window with heart pine vertical planks and bamboo on a 45* angle.

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North wall mirrors the south wall and will actually have a mirror as the “window”. it was either that or a selfie of myself ;)

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A darker shot, but you can see the “mirroring” effect we were going for.

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With the back doors closed. Still deciding what we are going to put on the doors for the finish, maybe a shelf system or a bench with storage…

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Blood, sweat and beers have all gone into this project thus far. The bamboo cut on a 45 are as sharp as my false sense of wit..

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Sanding down the edges, lips and humps in the sub floor before laying the final floor.

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Getting there…

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This will be sanded smooth and refinished with a stain and sealer

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Bedroom: before

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Bedroom: during

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Bedroom: after. same bamboo the we used in the living room on the walls.


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woot woot! Progress continues on the container front. Friday Josh and I mostly drove around on supply and material runs while trying to figure out what we were going to put up for the finished wall. Wanting to stick with the reclaimed/salvaged and sustainable materials we only looked at new materials in the stores and online for ideas. We thought about stripping down pallets and running them trough the planner, using 1x’s run horizontal, cork-board, and bamboo plywood. All those ideas seemed like a good idea at the time, until we tried to find or implement them. Loosing hope, Josh mentioned seeing some “you-pull-it” floating bamboo flooring on Craigslist (Janine and I had mentioned wanting to do bamboo walls so Josh had been keeping an eye out) so I looked into that…score! With that decision made we now knew we would need to find some 1/2″ plywood to use as a “sub-wall” to put the bamboo against as the finished wall. Again, not wanting to buy new if I could help it I posted on facebook that I was looking for some wall materials and got a lead that paid off big time! Turns out there was a local construction project that was getting rid of their plywood scraps and I caught them just in time. I was able to salvage enough to do all the walls and then some :)

Here are some photos of the progress:


Salvaged plywood sub-wall going up.


This wall will mirror the south wall with a mirror in place of the window


trimming out the window


bamboo cut at a 45 angle in the living room

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Enter Title Here: < I'm at a loss there

It’s a new day, it’s a new year…it’s the same project. We have started to come to terms with the fact that our fantasies and realities exist on two very separate planes. I honestly thought by now we would be done and showing it off, but no. The sealing of the doors and windows did not go as smoothly as I had hoped and by the 4th or 5th attempt ( the one that finally worked) my enthusiasm for the overall project was non-responsive and in desperate need of resuscitation. Janine sensing my frustration and defeat with the project started interviewing new husbands, luckily for me she had no luck but instead found Josh. Josh was looking for work and had the right skills and attitude, but most of all he showed enthusiasm in the project concept, not just the “job”. So it’s  been a few weeks and hectic schedules but Josh and I have been able to co-collaborate and put a few hours into getting this project moving again. Below are some pictures of where we are at now…


Our unfinished “kitchen” wall using the 3/4″ reclaimed T&G heart pine “flooring” after running it through a planer.


We changed our mind with the shower we were going to use…and about a million other things on this project ( Josh has been a saint with his understanding). Here we are taking out and reinstalling the bathroom wall framing studs to fit our shower


It is a good bit bigger than the original one we were going to use. I hated having to do it but we had to cut out and redo the shower plumbing to fit the new stall :(

I was able to salvage a truck load of new 1/2″ construction plywood cut-offs that will be used as a kind of sub-wall that we will attach the finished wall to. The finished wall, at this moment, looks like it will be bamboo “flooring” that we found on Craigslist glued to the 1/2” plywood.

A few other ideas that we wanted:

4×8 sheets of bamboo plywood for the wall = $250/per sheet = NO.

1 x 4,6,8 or whatever reclaimed planks run horizontal but we couldn’t find a source and I’m not sure how the finished product would turn out anyway.

so that’s where we are, this weekend we should get a lot done and I should be posting more often now that things are moving again.

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Windows and Doors: Round 2

I’ll start this short post by saying that the problem with “unconventional” building is that there aren’t really any “pros” like there are with the “conventional” method. And conventional builders (and Code Enforcement too) tend to have a creative/mental block that makes them difficult to work with Luckily, my uncle is skilled in the conventional methods and has been a huge help and is able to work with our random, unconventional and creative ideas we have for the SSSMH.

Now the windows…
Installing vinyl windows into a 2″x2″ steel frame is unconventional and care should be taken when installing and sealing them. Don’t be afraid to use more sealant then is suggested, because the suggested amount is for conventional use. I made the mistake of being conservative with the sealant when installing the windows and now I’m dealing with having to dig out the low expansion foam gap filler, re-sealing the windows (much less neat and clean than the first time), and then refilling the gaps with a better gap filler that won’t fall apart with moisture…I used an acrylic based product the first time and that turned out to be a mistake. The window manufacture hot-line then recommended a polyurethane based foaming gap filler instead.

In theory, we should be sealed by tomorrow afternoon and the “brick-mold”(?) installed around the doors helping seal them in too….and yes I had to dig the acrylic based foam out of the door gaps too..:/

Is this project done yet? lol

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Oh, good times :/

So we kinda got the windows and doors in, still needs to be sealed up a little more.

southside windows doors

But the real good times, and the reason I’ve been MIA with the blogging, is we had a visit from code enforcement. She said because it is being build on the chassis we can do whatever we want…..except sleep in it on our own property. But we can take it to a campground and live in it…?

Not to worry though. We’ve been talking with the local building dept. and they were confident we could get it approved as a single family dwelling on our property if we get a Structural Engineer to sign off on our plans. That would include the blocking up of the chassis and the tie-downs to keep us from blowing away in a hurricane.


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yay, I found my wood!

As the title suggests, I’m excited about this wood. It’s plenty long and more than enough to get the job done, ~650 sf. We will have a good bit left over and plan to stain it a lighter color than the floor and use it for some of the walls (thinking bedroom and kitchen). This wood is reclaimed 3/4″ T&G hart pine flooring found on Craigslist from a local demo job.

hart pine

The rest of the walls will also be reclaimed wood. I was kinda nervous about this part until I found my confidence while on After seeing so many finished projects that used reclaimed wood and turned out beautiful I decided to take a walk around our family property where things have been “accumulating” (< polite way of suggesting a hoarding problem) and found some Cedar panels that will finish the walls and ceiling. I'll do a single "before and after" post, unless it looks like crap. In that case I'll do a "what not to attempt" post.

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The intent. Questions, ideas, thoughts?

While continuing to wait on the doors and windows to come in, I thought I could explain the SSSMH project a little more.

The concept is to build a comfortable and safe living environment with absolute minimal impact on the building’s surrounding “site” without compromising public health and safety. By using a multifaceted approach to address electric power, water supply, waste-water system, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, the design will accommodate all the living needs, and legal requirements for a permanent dwelling for two occupants.

The structure will consist of a 40′ ISO shipping container mounted on a chassis (for ease of mobility) with no modifications that affect the structural integrity of the container. Construction will meet or exceed all applicable standards and codes, or their intent, set by regulating authorities. However, the SSSMH concept does not fit any of the of the traditional “Home/house” definitions set by any of the regulating authorities. It is NOT a: Mobile Home, Modular Home, Manufactured Home, Stick-built Home, or RV. Nonetheless, it is being constructed to the highest standards for long term sustainability and durability.

Interior framing will use 2 1/2″ metal studs to eliminate mold, insect, and potential fire damage insuring long term sustainability and comfort. Double pane, high impact, LowE3, argon filled windows and sliding glass doors will also be used to to increase the energy efficiency of the SSSMH.

Insulating the container and maintaining comfortable inside temperatures will be done by using an over all passive solar design (1), Light color exterior paint will be used to reduce heat gain on the steel container, 2 – 2 1/2 inches of spray-in closed cell foam will be used on all interior walls, the ceiling and underside of the container, double pane, high impact, LowE3, argon filled windows and sliding glass doors will also be used to to increase the energy efficiency of the SSSMH. And finally, a “Mini-Split” heating and air conditioning system will be installed for climate control.

(1) The design of the SSSMH is so that the container is facing east-west to reduce the surface area directly exposed to the sun thus slowing the heat gain.

Electrical power needs will be accomplished by:
(a) Reducing consumption and using small, energy efficient appliances.
(b) Solar
(c) Wind turbines.
We may potentially go with a grid-tied system so we can sell excess power back to the utility and also have “back up” power for potential inconsistencies in solar and wind generation. This is also an attractive option because it allows us to help put clean energy back into the grid for others to use, thus reducing demand on dirty power.

Water suply: The majority of fresh water will be obtained through a rainwater collection system. Rainwater, as it leaves the roof is diverted into a surge tank that drains into the water filtration
system that then drains into the holding tank(s) to be pumped/plumbed into the SSSMH. Since standard flush toilets are a tremendous waste of pure drinking water (In typical household, 35 to 45% of all household
potable water is flushed down the toilet) the SSSMH design incorporates a waterless remote composting toilet system
(ANSI/NSF approved).

Waste-water system: Since the composting toilet system eliminates the “black-water” the remaining waste-water that is generated from the sinks and shower will be reclaimed for watering our garden.

Our intent is not to build a cheap affordable dwelling. The intent behind the SSSMH is innovation, to create a dream home for a chosen lifestyle and mind set. Like those who have chose to live on their boats, have become “full-time RVers”, built “earthships” as their dwelling, or live in “tiny houses” we don’t want to settle for someone else’s dream home. Our goal, our dream, and our lifestyle is to find solutions to real problems. Right now energy and resources are being wasted everyday even as their value increases and we are faced an “energy crisis”.
By using/reusing a shipping container, sustainable materials, and energy and resource conservation practices we are living our dream, not sacrificing it for an end product.

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Where oh where can our windows be? We are ready and waiting for our windows and doors to come in. The first order was sent and turned out to be the wrong windows, they didn’t have the flange we needed. So we were upgraded for our trouble but now have to wait until sometime around the 10th.

While we’re waiting we decided to do some yard/garden prep, even though I said that I wouldn’t focus on that until we were finished with the SSSMH. I’ll have to find some “before” pictures of this spot, until then trust me, this is a huge difference.

West Side

Also, since I have some time I’ll point out a few things I already know I will do differently next time…and yes, there will be many “next times”.

1) Find the windows and doors that we want and buy them first, Along with any reclaimed materials we want, THEN get the shipping container.
2) Frame only the inside exterior walls and ceiling, get the foam sprayed in, then frame out the bathroom.
3) I would like to build more SSSMH’s in a dual purpose warehouse were we can keep and sell salvaged building materials to the public as well as use the inventory for building the SSSMH’s.

Please feel free to post questions about this project and let me know what aspects you are most interested in. I will do my best to explain how and why we picked the practices we are using.

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