Building a Shipping Container Home | EP02 Moving, Cutting, and Framing a Container House

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hi I'm Ben and this is the house I built out of shipping containers now I've been interested in shipping container architecture for quite some time but I had a really hard time finding good information about how to get building permits or how much would it cost well we did the research we documented everything that we did and now we're so excited to share with you what we learned so check it out this is episode 2 where we'll show you how we move the containers cut them open and started the structural reinforcement after letting the concrete cure for three days we began stripping the molds and getting ready for the day I was most excited about which is crane day this is the single biggest piece of equipment that we rented for this project and it's basically like a giant transformer to pick up the containers they use these fabric straps which are super strong and each one of them has a hook which can hook into the boxes at the corner of the containers we started by moving one the extra 20-foot containers that I bought to store tools and materials on site this is a specialty type of container that opens up not just on the short sides but on the broad side as well next we started moving the other 20-foot container which is going to be the guest bedroom and bathroom this container is lightweight enough that the crane could actually drive while the box was suspended in the air we had to line up the container so that it wouldn't break one of the drain pipes that was sticking through the concrete next up was a 40-foot container which is too heavy to drive with so what they did is he just would pick it up swing the arm around to get it closer and then reposition the crane and do the whole thing again we put some blue painters tape on the corners of the concrete foundation just to give us a mark to aim for the second 40-foot container had too far this distance to travel and it's sort of like watching an inchworm sort of move its way across the desert it took a few attempts and three guys pushing on the corners to get it in the right location now if I was designing this again I would now know that it's possible to get it not exactly where you want it but within about half an inch crane day was a lot of fun but now it's time to turn these steel boxes into a house we started pulling up the floors on the containers now these floors are made out of plywood that is about one in the eighth of an inch thick the steel structure underneath and underside of this plywood is coated with a thick black tar-like substance which is there for waterproofing and they keep the steel from rusting the majority of the plumbing for this house is going to go in this layer right amongst all the steel beams and of course things never line up properly so we're gonna have to cut out a few of them now the pipe that Robert the plumber is working around is going to be the main drain that goes out from the container to the septic tank [Music] originally we had left us a lot longer but once we saw that it wasn't going to align perfectly with the structure inside the container we had to cut it down so it wouldn't break when we drop the container into place this meant that Robert would have to use a jackhammer to expose a little bit of the pipe by removing some of the concrete so we'd have enough room to fit an elbow on it now when I first learned we'd have to do this I was worried it would take a really long time but it actually only took about 45 minutes we then cut holes into other beams so that we could run the smaller drain pipes which will receive the water from the bathroom sink the shower the toilet and the kitchen sink the cut edges of the steel are quite sharp so the plumbers put some twenty minute hot mud and spray foam in between the pipes and the steel beams just to keep the pipes from sliding around and potentially getting damaged now wherever you have drains you also need to have venting pipes and these go all the way up through the walls and out the roof now the black ABS pipe is fine for wastewater going out of the building but for all the clean water coming in we want to use copper this was more time-consuming because the copper has to be sweated with a torch whereas the ABS plastic pipe can just be glued together now in the floor areas that don't have pipes going through them we started filling those places in with rigid insulation we packed in two layers of 2-inch thick rigid insulation and then use spray foam to seal up all the gaps even though this insulation has excellent r-value it's not going to be super effective in this location because the conductivity of the metal is going to create a thermal bridge around it but still we added it in to keep that space full keep critters out of it and to just give us a little bit of extra thermal protection this foam insulation cuts pretty easily with a box cutter so we just cut pieces that would also fit around all the pipes after sealing it all with spray foam and testing to make sure the pipes are watertight we then put the floorboards back on this insulation is just so we can cover up the floors and get to work on the frame we'll show the full insulation details including how we did continuous insulation over this plywood in next week's episode while the rest of the crew was working on the insulation and the floors I began making the structural frames for the doors and windows after double-checking the dimensions of the windows I began making the 45-degree cuts so that I can make a mitered frame the shipping container gets its strength from the continuous corrugated panels so whenever you cut one of these panels you have to reinforce it for these first few windows I decided to use two inch tube steel it works great and is plenty strong but as you see for some of the later frames I switched to angle sections no I did all the welding for the doors and windows using this little Forney welder it's an inexpensive machine that's easy to use great for beginners and powerful enough to build a house with and now for the moment of truth I was ready to cut into the container for the first time now it was pretty nervous about this because you know I paid a reasonable amount of money for these things and we'd spent all this time to get them in the right position so I really didn't want to screw this up I drew out the square that I'm gonna cut out that will allow the frame to fit in using a silver sharpie a level and a piece of cardboard so I could draw straight lines around the corrugation we didn't have electricity from the grid available on the construction site so I set up one of my little goals zero Power Packs with a solar panel and that was enough to keep my batteries for my battery-powered angle grinder nice and charged now I've seen people cut containers open using a plasma cutter but I'm really accurate with the angle grinder it's a much easier tool to use and less expensive I just went slow made sure that was following along the lines I went through quite a few discs but it only took about an hour and a half to cut out this entire window the paint on these containers is really thick so I wire brushed it away to expose the bare steel in preparation for welding I needed a way to hold the frame in place while I welded the frame to the corrugated metal so I built these sliding supports out of two by fours that would allow me to clamp the two by fours to the corrugation and hold the frame nice and flush to the corrugation this is important because when you cut into these big panels of corrugated metal they can bow and flex quite a bit with this technique it's pretty important that the hole you cut into corrugated metal is just the right size because you don't want to be having to bridge across with the welder to connect the pieces you don't have to do continuous seams all the way around I just tried to get about two to three inch welds about every six to eight inches I screwed up an over cut on this piece but I just filled it in with my welder you the second one went a lot smoother I took more time in making sure that my initial drawing on the container was perfect and I went a lot slower with the cutting as well making sure to stay right on the line it was about a hundred and twenty degrees inside these steel boxes and cutting open the window was a great experience not only get to see the view but you get this rush of cooler just a hundred and five degree air coming in you it's definitely worth it to go really slow and get your initial cut out as accurate as possible the welding for the second one was a lot easier because I wasn't bridging as big of a gap between the frame and the corrugated steel on the first window I ended up making seams that were a little bit too long on the second one I kind of got it right and was sticking to seams that were just about 2 to 3 inches long if he try to weld seams that are too long and continuous the heat buildup from all the welding can start to deform and Bend the corrugated metal for the two big 10 foot long by folding doors I wanted a frame that was a little bit stronger so I went with 3 inch by 2 inch tube steel I glued some blocks of wood to the underside of a steel square and then I used that to clamp my tube steel pieces at nice right angles I learned that grinding things once they're installed is a little bit more difficult especially if you have to get up on a ladder so I made sure to grind out all my wells as I welded them now the frames for the doors don't need a bottom piece but I didn't want to move this without one because it might Bend so I just welded in a temporary support I also didn't cut the vertical pieces to length until I had welded the whole thing together this way I can make sure that both sides were even working close to the ground is great because you can keep everything nice and flat but it did make it so that we'd have to flip the frames over in order to cut all the way through from the other side with the angle grinder first frame is done time to make a second one exactly the same for these big doors we started cutting out the openings from the inside since it was easier to get up on a ladder with the nice flat floor black sharpie lines showed up real strong against the light beige interiors so it was easier to cut from the inside because I could see the line really crisply even through all the sweat and fog on the safety glasses no matter what side you're in though it's easier to cut the part of the corrugation that's closest to you so I did do some of it outside as well it's also easier to cut real close and flush to the support beam from the outside because from the inside it's hard to get the angle grinder at the right angle because the floor gets in the way now one thing to be careful for is that when you're cutting the container the walls are under some pressure and all of a sudden every once in a while they will jump or move and this can pinch the angle grinder or snap off a blade these big pieces of metal are bendy heavy and have jagged edges so it's a little bit tricky to handle them without cutting yourself up some containers have welded on steel loops that are used to strap down cargo I just cut these out as well the corrugated metal was welded to this base beam along the container I switched to a heavier angle grinder and just ground this all down I stripped away the paint in preparation for welding and we lifted this 10 foot by 7 foot frame into place remembering the lesson from the windows about bridging the gaps we cut a little bit more on the conservative side and it wasn't quite big enough so we just ground the way until the frame fit in perfectly we started by tacking the frame to the base beam at the bottom corner and then slowly worked our way up making sure everything was still level the three inch wide tube steel was a lot easier to weld to the corrugation than the two inch steel because there was just a lot more surface area to connect the welds to and the radius of the tube steel wasn't sloping away from the corrugation as soon as I got the frame packed in and secured to the container I cut away the temporary support in retrospect I should have welded this about six inches higher than I did just to give myself a little bit more room to cut it off so while I was welding in the first frame the guys started cutting the opening for the second one now you might think that shipping containers are quite strong and don't need any additional structural support but that's not actually the case if you're doing a fully permitted code approved building our structural engineer had to design an interior support system out of to buy lumber and plywood that would meet all the structural requirements from the permitting office this required substantial headers over these large by folding doors we were figuring this out as we went along and we knew that the doors and windows would be the trickiest parts so we were made sure to frame round those and get that all set relative to the drawings before filling in all the wall spaces around them once you have the key structural elements in place using a nail gun to add in two by fours isn't too hard on most of the projects that I have been involved with the header is directly over the door itself but in this case the header has to be tied in to the square steel tube that runs along the upper length of the container and so therefore we had to push the header up and then frame out underneath it the purpose of the header is to provide support over large doors or windows you don't want deflection down on to these frames which neither cause them to break or it could make them very difficult to open the frame we was going pretty quickly but nothing was really tied into the container yet except for the 2x4 that runs along the bottom of the wall that was attached to the plywood that is part of the container floor the stretches of walls that don't have doors in windows or plumbing features went a lot faster because we could panel eyes and build the walls and sections outside we could then drag these into the container and then shoot nails down through this bottom 2x4 or sill plate and into the plywood deck below now I've had a lot of people ask why any sort of additional structure is needed I mean aren't these steel boxes shouldn't they be strong enough by themselves the problem isn't that these boxes aren't strong enough it's where they get their strength and it's from these continuous corrugated panels that strength is compromised when we cut into them even though we are reinforcing where we cut but the more important problem is that this steel is exposed to the outside and it's only about 1/8 of an inch thick if you're relying on exterior steel that's relatively thin for the structural support of the building if someone doesn't maintain the paint and it starts to rust out the whole building could collapse you don't really want buildings that can have structural failures just due to owner neglect the most annoying part of the framing was attaching the walls to the steel containers we nailed these galvanized steel brackets to a 2x4 and then nail this on top of the walls to create a double top plate and then drive self-tapping screws through the holes in the brackets and into the square steel tube that runs along the top of the container now putting this many self-tapping screws into steel is not fun and this took a minute our walls are taller than 8 feet and we're gonna have to add plywood sheathing so we added an additional pieces of 2x4 in between the studs so we'd have a surface for nailing on the plywood the ceiling will be supported by two by fours on joist hangers we didn't nail into two by fours yet because we still have to add insulation and sprinkler systems and other things but we just cut them and set them in place for now so to recap we have a two by four at the bottom vertical two by fours with stiffeners some additional pieces for attaching the plywood and eventually drywall hangers to support the two by force that will support the ceiling a double top plate with brackets attached to the container another tricky structural requirement was that we had to tie down some of the shear walls to the foundation we have to have a steel rod coming up from the concrete now we can get in there one of two ways we can either cast it in place and use a coupling nut or we can drill a hole and epoxy it in there but in either case it has to come up through the container through a top plate where this galvanized steel bracket can be bolted to it and then that bracket can be attached to a four by six or four by four post so Tony wrestled with that but we didn't want to lock the post in place until we knew how the window installation would go after cleaning all the welds with wire brush and then sprayed a few coats of rusty metal primer over the welds the exposed steel that I brushed away on the container and the frames themselves we ran a heavy B decock around the inside of the frame and then press the window into place the nailing flange on the window is going right up against the inside of the frame and then we drove self tapping screws through the flange and into the steel frame now this wouldn't be an ideal building detail in anything but a dry climate like this because you really have to rely on the silicone caulk from the exterior between the window unit and the steel frame to be your rain protection with the window in place Tony then felt comfortable adding in the post so here's how the whole aiming for this end wall looks we have a steel rod going into the foundation that attaches to a bracket that connects to a post which is tied into the rest of the 2x4 framing I recommend drilling holes in using anchoring epoxy to fix two steel rods into the concrete it's way easier than trying to cast them in perfectly now you may have noticed that the part of the floor that the steel rod went through was steel and that's because this is part of the container where forklifts can come in to lift up the container from the end you may notice that our building details are different throughout the project and that's because we were learning as we went the frames I made out a tube steel for the first set of doors and windows work just fine but I noticed that it was very difficult to hold them perfectly in place and it was a really unforgiving detail where you had to cut the window hole perfect so for the next set of doors he used angle steel to make the frames this way I would have a flange that could catch on the hole in the container which would make it easier for clamping getting it straight and it would give us a little bit of a overlapping connection where we could caulk it from both sides I used an angle grinder to notch out the ends of these pieces of angle steel so it did fit together and have a nice flat flange these frames are going to reinforce the openings for the swinging entry doors [Applause] welded the corners added a temporary support piece and then flip the frame over and welded from the other side the 20-foot container which is going to house the guest bedroom has two swinging doors that are parallel to each other that's going to create opportunities for cross ventilation my buddy Eric was visiting so we had ourselves a dueling angle grinder situation Eric is a really talented metal worker and be sure to check out his work I'll put a link to his Instagram in the description box below I feel like this is a much better way to frame the doors and windows not only does the flange catch nicely on the corrugation it actually gives you a really clean aesthetic from the outside as well you also get two different areas to weld the frame to the corrugated metal on the outside you weld right along the opening but on the inside you're welding the edge of the flange to the surface of the corrugated metal it's also nice because it gives us to seems to call one on the inside and one on the outside I'll show finish drawings of the different window framing details next week as I show how I finished trimming out all the windows and doors and also in the next episode of the modern home project will show how we did the insulation install the doors and windows and start having a little bit of fun along the way be sure to check out the first episode and don't forget to subscribe and turn on notifications you oh yeah and our new website check it out we'll still be adding more information as we go but it's worth taking a look now
Channel: The Modern Home Project
Views: 4,105,880
Rating: 4.8689609 out of 5
Keywords: how to build a house, building a house, shipping container houses, how to build a shipping container home, shipping containers, shipping container homes, shipping container architecture, tiny houses, diy tiny houses, building a tiny house, how to build, ben uyeda, building a modern house, the modern home project, homemade modern, container house, container architecture, container building, moving shipping containers, cutting shipping containers, framing shipping containers
Id: sauEsj8YW9M
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 22min 24sec (1344 seconds)
Published: Mon Feb 25 2019
Reddit Comments

These are great! Seriously, these are exactly the kind of videos Iโ€™ve been looking for for a long time. Thanks!

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 5 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/pooppooppoopie ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Feb 26 2019 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

Has anyone else seen videos about pulling up the floorboards, insulating and running pipes below? I havenโ€™t seen anything thatโ€™s as specific as this but would like to see more examples.

Same question regarding using angle iron as door frames instead of square tubing.

Very impressed with these videos and very glad Iโ€™m not trying to build one in California!

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 3 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/tvsjdobcej ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Mar 02 2019 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

Amazing detailed video!

Now I see why people say container houses are more expensive than stick and frame. The structural engineer for this project seems to have just totally ignored the container and designed a standard stick frame house inside the container.

Which might of course be cheaper and easier that dealing with the hassle and the cost of the engineering work to verify a more lightweight construction. This way they can't really say anything since the container is basically just sheathing, not structural.

I would have thought a structural engineer would design with the "remaining" structural integrity of the container in mind. Which lets be honest is still plenty if you don't cut out the whole wall. That foot of corrugated steel with welded steel against it would still provide an incredible amount of stiffness as an I beam and lots of strength.

The argument that the container wall can't contribute structural integrity because it can rust seems ludicrous too. It's weathering steel in the desert. And I think you'd actually prefer to be able to visually see flaws in the structural integrity from the outside instead of not seeing water damage in the inside of the wall.

Do structural engineers use simulation software with e.g. finite element analysis? Or do they just use "back of the napkin" math?

And that pindown from the window riser to the foundation - in case of an earthquake wouldn't you want your container to be somewhat decoupled from the foundation? My guess would be that this way it's almost guaranteed to shatter in case of an earthquake.

PS: Sorry if I sound negative. Maybe it's the best way to do it. What do I know, I'm not a builder :)

EDIT: In retrospect there really isn't much of a downside to putting some more wood frames in there than might be needed. The material costs for some more 4x2 is probably negligible. Maybe you'll have a bit more thermal bridging, a bit more transportation and work and cutting of insulation. And anything different like using thinner beams might make things actually more complicated and take more time.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 2 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/SurplusOfOpinions ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Feb 26 2019 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies

started to watch this from last week. Thorough, easy to understand excellent movies. I will keep watching it.

๐Ÿ‘๏ธŽ︎ 2 ๐Ÿ‘ค๏ธŽ︎ u/EKH73 ๐Ÿ“…๏ธŽ︎ Feb 27 2019 ๐Ÿ—ซ︎ replies
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