An Alternate Design

Alternate Exterior Configuration

Alternate Exterior Configuration

A reader the other day asked about reversing the middle container so the doors could be opened all the way.  I told him that many of my first designs did this, and that there was a lot going for that configuration.  Since I haven’t been to my cabin for a while, and have been short on new posts, I thought I would show what this configuration would look like.

Probably the greatest benefit to this design is the ability to open the container doors all the way, allowing for greater views to the left and right.  They could also be opened half way, as in my current cabin, to block additional summer sun or inclement weather if necessary.  Overall it’s a very versatile design that I almost went with.

The biggest negative from my standpoint was the entry door on the rear (northern) side.  The way my building site is situated the best place for the entry is on the front (southern) side.  The southern side also has the best view which is where I wanted the deck.  You’ll notice I included sliding glass doors on this design for easy access to the deck and as an alternate entry in good weather.  I personally don’t like sliding glass doors, especially in the winter months, but I know a lot of people do.

Alternate Floor Plan

Alternate Floor Plan

The interior layout of this design also has a lot going for it.  The kitchen is larger and a bit more open, the dining area is separate with a better view, the wood stove is centrally located, and the bathroom and bedroom are more amenable to real doors.  The only thing I couldn’t fit in real well was a desk, although maybe that would be a good thing.

I do need to be careful here.  While I was building this in SketchUp last night I was starting to have some builders remorse.  I’m not unhappy with what I’ve done,  its just that I’d like to have to have my cake and eat it too.

14 thoughts on “An Alternate Design

  1. Terry Culver

    Just found your blog – great work so far which leads me to the question – do you have a background in working with wood as you’ve done such neat work? Also regarding the change in layout – I have been researching containers (for my own home project ) and I was lead to believe that the doors only open to slightly past the right angle position and don’t fold right back. Is this the case?
    Looking forward to further posts.
    (And I’m a big fan of SketchUp – 26 house designs so far, getting close to a satisfactory version!!)

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Terry:

      You may be right about the doors, I just assumed they could be opened all the way. I also searched through a bunch of images on the net and couldn’t find any that did. It’s one of those things I never tried with my containers.

      In regards to woodworking, I wish I was good at it. Anything more sophisticated than a compound miter saw is beyond me. My favorite part of building is the rough framing, although with containers it’s obviously not the same. I don’t like the detail and trim work very much which is where a woodworking background would really help.

      Steve

      Reply
  2. Renzo

    Steve, the doors on my container hinge a full 270 degrees so they are flush with the exterior sides. Thanks for the great ideas. Renzo

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Renzo:

      This is good info, thanks. I will have to try it out on my containers as soon as I router out my rafters for the locking bars to pass through.

      Steve

      Reply
  3. Bob

    How did you finish the walls? I’m by no means a construction expert, and this has always seemed like a challenge for a livable container interior.

    Nice work, btw. I think this is a fantastic cabin. Looks like it’s really turning out well!

    Bob

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Bob:

      The walls are just drywall attached to a mix of steel and wood studs. I haven’t started the finishing process yet, as I am waiting for spring when it’s a bit warmer outside and I can have the windows open to dry everything.

      I will probably use a modified skip-trowel/knockdown method to avoid all the effort required for smooth walls – it is just a cabin after all. An interesting variation of this I want to try uses drywall mud thinned with some latex paint and then rolled on the walls with a thick roller. After a little time to dry, the mud is knocked down with a wide blade. From what I’ve read this requires very little to no sanding/preparation and hides a multitude of sins – which I know I will have. Supposedly if you use a heavy enough tinted latex paint there is also no need to paint the walls afterward, although I’m somewhat skeptical about this.

      Steve

      Reply
      1. Gail Lakritz

        These methods are similar to Venetian Plaster, except that it is applied with a trowel. Mix all the paint/compound you will need at one time, as you will never be able to duplicate a color exactly. Also, try it on scrape pieces and let it dry for at least a couple of hours to make sure you have the color you want and can live with. I do several types of plaster effects and have applied accents with a wall paper brush, roller and even a tile float, so I know, given the correct type of roller, it can be done. Don’t apply it too thickly or it will crack.

        Reply
  4. Sayne

    I like your design. But, I do have a couple of questions.

    Do you have a way to lock the doors in the open position when you are in the house? I can see a drunken buddy (Na, hunters don’t drink) laughing and closing the outer doors and going home leaving you in side.

    I realize that for security reasons you want to put in non-opening port holes but did you plan for an alternate means of “escape” and fresh air?

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      Sayne:

      I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked this question, and there is a very simple solution to this. When the doors are first unlocked, I just re-lock the padlock onto the eye of the left door locking mechanism. With the padlock in place, the right hand door cannot be closed without the lock being cut off. The doors will also be secured in the open position with cutouts into the rafters that are fastened with a latch.

      To try to close the doors with these mechanisms in place would take some time and be quite loud. I not only can exit the front door, but both of my 6’x5′ windows are gliders that are legal exits. Even if I was asleep, I’m quite sure I could wake up and rack the slide of my 12 gauge before they could even close a single door :).

      Another interesting thing related to this is that I have excellent cell phone reception inside my shipping containers – even with the external doors closed (I actually tried it once). I never expected to get any reception inside the containers, and yet I do. So, even if I did get locked up, I would still be able to make a phone call.

      In regards to ventilation, I retained two of the original ventilation ports on the shipping containers. While that’s not enough for comfort, it is enough to breathe. I’m currently working on a powered ventilation system, and will be writing a post about that sometime this spring.

      Steve

      Reply
    2. Aunt Raven

      A great way to eliminate condensation through a non-opening window or porthole is the inexpensive rotary non-electric clear ventilator which can be seen here : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vent-matic-Operated-Diameter-106/dp/B001KLX6DG
      this clever device keeps ventilating by inertia even after pressure equilization. They are efficient in small windows in the kitchens and baths in tiny houses, and in non-opening windows in sleeping lofts, even in winter .

      Reply
  5. NeeNee

    Love the cabin… Bathroom idea : Have you consider the use of a prefab shower pan with an offset drain for the base (sizes vary 60×34 / 67×36 or 75×36) with the toilet and tiny sink on one end and the shower on the other end with full water tight enclosure, vented/light and a frosted glass door.

    Reply
    1. Steve Post author

      What you are describing is typically known as a “wet bath” in the RV and boating worlds. While they are very compact, most people do not like having shower water sprayed on every surface and item in their bathroom. And most who have them also can’t wait to get rid of them.

      Reply
  6. blu.wolf

    You could solve the no place for a desk by moving the entry door off center. Then you would have a side with ample room and room for a good sized window too.

    Reply
  7. Karen Myburgh

    I think this is a great design that I wish some one could do in South Africa for low cost housing. The security part of the building and when the person goes to work 04:00 in the morning, they can just lock up and know everything will still be there when they get home. Low income people in South Africa can not afford security systems and in the informal settlements the crime rate is high.

    I just think you have a great idea for a holiday/ weekend place that is easy to lock up and go.
    Regards
    Karen.

    Reply

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