Written on December 12, 2013 at 04:11
When Kam Kasravi and Connie Dewitt were faced with the decision on how to build a cabin on their woodland property in the Santa Cruz mountains they first considered buying a prefab house. But after realizing that there simply wasn’t enough room to bring in a prefab house down the narrow forest path that leads to their property, they started considering building the cabin out of recycled shipping containers. They enlisted the help of architect David Fenster of Modulus Architects, who designed for them the modern yet spacious shipping container cabin.
The owners wanted a modern cabin, but one that would not interfere too much with the surrounding forest. Today, their 2-story cabin has a footprint of 1,200 square feet, with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms and an outdoor shower, and it cost roughly $600,000 to build. This is still a savings of about $50 per square foot over a more conventional prefab house alternative. The cabin is built on a raised concrete base and they had to cut down two redwood trees in order to build it. The owners repurposed the wood to build the cabin’s staircase.
In designing the house, light and the feeling of being in an open space was paramount. The cabin has 9 skylights, 23 windows, and five glass doors, which greatly reduced the cramped feeling of living in a container. They bought the containers from the Port of Oakland, and opted for dry-freight containers called Hi Cubes. These containers have a height of 9 feet and 6 inches, which made it possible for the cabin to have high ceilings and therefore appear more spacious.
They also left most of the spaces inside the cabin open to further add to the feeling of spaciousness. The upstairs bedrooms are only separated by curtains and screen doors to save space, while still providing some privacy to the occupants.
The cabin was assembled onsite in just 6 hours, though the interior took almost a year to finish. While they initially worried about the industrial look of a home made from shipping containers, they, in the end, decided to leave many of the original features of the containers in place. According to the owners, this creates a nice blend of modern and rural and they went so far as to leave the upstairs flooring in its original state.
An added bonus of building a cabin from shipping containers in the region is the fact that they are earthquake proof. The area of the Santa Cruz mountains were the cabin stands is earthquake prone, but this presents little problem for the shipping containers which are built to withstand the harsh conditions of ocean travel. Since the cabin is made mostly of metal it should also prove fire proof in case of a forest fire in the region.
Written on December 10, 2013 at 04:06
JAYZ Building Solutions of Melbourne Australia have come up with an innovative solution for providing modular, prefab homes. They have recently launched the fully transportable InstantSlide house model, which is part of the company’s latest series of SMART2 (Superfast + Modular + Affordable + Robust + Transportable) accommodation buildings. Most of their designs cater to companies wishing to provide temporary housing for their staff on remote locations, such as on mining sites for example, while they also provide single-family modular homes.
The InstantSlide home is designed based on the measurements of a 20-foot or 40 foot container, and can therefore be transported worldwide just as simply as a standard container. Once the package arrives on site, the model can be assembled into a temporary or permanent home, or even used as an extension on an existing structure. All it takes for the InstantSlide to be assembled on site is the push of a button on a remote control and the assembly takes less than a minute.
The InstantSlide House can measure either 25 square meters or 50 square meters, and can house from two to four people. On site, the modular home can be unloaded by using a forklift or crane, or via a self-discharging truck. The InstantSlide house has a 50-year lifetime and is built to comply with all Australian building codes, as well as electrical and plumbing standards.
The InstantSlide house is built using a steel structure that is able to withstand D2-rated cyclones. The structure is seam welded, and includes a steel sheet external wall and roof cladding with a marine paint finish. The house is fully insulated using rock wool. Bamboo flooring is installed throughout the house, resting atop a termite treated marine grade ply base on a structural steel sub-frame. To create an effective thermal barrier, the house is also fitted with double glazed aluminum windows. The home also has a minimum 5 star energy efficiency rating.
The house comes with a pre-installed bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and are hard wired for television lighting, television, telephone and the internet. The InstantSlide model also has a number of optional features, such as a solar powered heat pump, hot water unit or an AC unit. JAYZ Building solutions also make modular homes of larger sizes up to 82 square meters, though those cannot be assembled at the push of a button.
Written on December 9, 2013 at 04:01
Karuna House, a single family residence which stands on the hilltops of Yamhill County, Oregon has received the Passive House (PHUIS+), Minergie-P-ECO and LEED for Homes Platinum certifications. It is the only house in the world to receive all these hallmark certifications of green building. The house was designed by Holst Architecture and built by the company Hammer Hand.
So as to obtain the three certifications, and become a net zero energy structure, Karuna House was designed and built to have an advanced building enclosure. It also features an optimized solar design that works to drive energy loads to very low levels. The energy needed for the household is supplied via a solar photovoltaic array of less than 10 kilowatts.
The foundation of Karuna House was built by pouring concrete onto a thick layer of EPS (expanded polystyrene) geofoam. To stay within the LEED and Minergie-ECO requirements, the builders uses concrete made with a 30% fly ash mix and locally-sourced aggregate, which helped reduce the ecological footprint of using concrete, as well as diverted fly ash from landfills, and reduced the demand for the materials needed to make Portland cement.
Next the builders needed to create an airtight, watertight, vapor permeable, and super-insulated wall assembly. The interior walls of Karuna House are finished with lime plaster, which is 100% natural and VOC-free, and which was applied on 5/8” drywall. The stud wall was built solely from FSC certified wood. Cellulose insulation, which is comprised of 12 tons of recycled newspapers, was then blown into the cavities between studs, and gives the walls the insulation rating of R-21. The air-barrier was formed using a ½” layer of plywood sheathing covered with a continuous, vapor permeable liquid applied membrane.
Following this, they installed a 6”-thick exterior layer of foil faced polyiso foam (R-40), which raises the house’s insulation rating to almost R-60. There are also three layers of 2-inch foam nested into a superstructure of Z-joists that staggers each layer’s seams, while exterior seams were seated using vapor permeable tape. This is followed by a rain screen system made of FSC-certified cedar siding, which is held one inch off the polyiso foam by FSC 1×4 battens.
Much attention was also placed on the fenestration of Karuna House to ensure its air-tightness, which was achieved by installing triple-glazed windows, and using liquid applied flashing, among other techniques. Karuna house also boasts of a highly-efficient HVAC system, a part of which is also a low-temperature radiant system installed throughout the floors of the home, which works by harnessing the heat transfer power of water to balance temperatures between rooms. The builders also installed a Zehnder heat recovery ventilator, which captures 90% of the heat from the exhaust air and works virtually soundlessly.
Household hot water is supplied via a high-efficiency heat pump. To reach Passive House standards, the installed hot water supply pipes were carefully sized to minimize the amount of hot water left in the lines after each use. All hot water lines were also fully insulated from the mechanical room to the fixture. The builders also installed an on-demand hot water recirculation system, which does not run round the clock as most conventional systems do.
Written on December 7, 2013 at 16:01
After purchasing a 3.5-acre plot of land in Topanga, California, where a rustic 750-square-foot cabin already stood, architect Christof Jantzen set out looking for ways to expand the cabin to house his family of five. He opted to complete the expansion using five recycled shipping containers and managed to create a wonderful blend of the old and the new in the resulting home. Adding the shipping containers expanded the size of the house to around 1550-square-feet.
Speed of construction was important to Jantzen and he managed to build the new home in only four weeks. Another reason for his decision to expand the home using shipping containers was cost. Shipping container homes cost roughly $100 to $150 per square foot to construct, which is much cheaper than alternative construction options. Jantzen, who is the principal of the Studio Jantzen architecture firm in Los Angeles, combined several of the firm’s existing designs to create his home. The building fell to Eric Engheben of 44 West Construction. This is not the first container structure that Jantzen has completed, as he also completed a poolhouse in Brentwood, California, a desert container house, and an 18-container, 2,400-square-foot house in Topanga.
Jantzen purchased the five shipping containers in Long Beach, California where they were also modified prior to transport to the building site. The edges and inner housings of the containers were laser cut to allow the five of them to be assembled together. The container seams were welded together, and the walls and ceilings were furred with rigid insulation and finished using plywood.
On site, Jantzen first gutted the existing cottage, and installed a new kitchen and bathroom inside it, before he added the shipping containers to it. The main living area and bedrooms are all located in the shipping container part of the house.
Covering the entire residence is a single-span, corrugated metal roof with site-welded tubes mounted atop the edges of the containers. The roof also hangs over the cottage part of the home, thus creating unity in the design, while it also provides a covered patio area in front of the home. Furthermore, it offers protection from the rain and wind, while the interstitial space provides cross-ventilation meant to mitigate convection heating within the containers.
Large floor to ceiling windows were fitted into the docking ends of the containers to allow the maximum amount of natural light into the structure. All the windows are also fully operable to aid in the cross-ventilation of the home. To reduce the amount of electrical lighting needed, all the interior surfaces of the shipping containers are painted in light colors.
Written on December 4, 2013 at 15:55
Gregory Kloehn, an artist and designer from California, has transformed a new dumpster into a small home, which is fully functional and can house 2 people. He purchased the container for $2,000 and converted it to include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and even a sun deck. One of the main reasons why he decided to create a tiny home from a dumpster was because it seemed to him perfectly shaped to become a house. The dumpster home is located in Brooklyn, NY, but it is also mounted on wheels and can be transported anywhere on a whim. Gregory lives in it when he visits New York.
Gregory began the conversion of the dumpster into a home by first cutting out a custom entrance into the side of the container. He then insulated the inside of the dumpster with padding and fitted a small sitting area inside it. The living area doubles as the bedroom, while there is storage space built into the sitting area. One corner of the dumpster is taken up by a small kitchen with a sink, a microwave, and a small stove which is powered by a propane tank.
He fitted a six-gallon water tank on the roof of the dumpster, which provides the occupant with drinking water. Water from the tank is also funneled into the tiny toilet, which is revealed when lifting one of the panels that make up the sitting/sleeping area of the home. The water tank is also hooked up to an outdoor shower.
The roof of the dumpster home is retractable and can be lifted to reveal two windows, letting in natural light. There is also a small grill attached to the outside of the home, and there is a sun deck installed on the roof. All told, Gregory spent around $4,000 on creating his dumpster home.
While this is quite a novel idea for a container home, a dumpster can only really be used as a dwelling if it is purchased new. It would likely be impossible to sanitize a used dumpster enough to allow for human habitation.
The dumpster home is currently parked on the property of Pioneerworks, an arts center in Red Hook, Brooklyn. On this same site, Gregory is also currently working on a larger project, which involves welding together four storage containers which will become a bar, restaurant, sound studio and living quarters.
Written on December 2, 2013 at 15:48
The innovative company Ecovative recently “grew” their first tiny house. Or more precisely, after putting together the pine walls of the tiny house, they filled it with the so-called Mushroom Insulation. This insulation proceeded to literally grow in place inside the wall cavities, which already contained all the wiring and plumbing. In this way, the insulation actually glued together the pine boards used to build the framework of the house. The house measures around 62 square feet and is mounted on a trailer so it can be transported anywhere. The tiny house is a prototype and a test of Ecovative’s Mushroom Insulation and they are currently touring the country showing their creation.
To grow this insulation in place, the company used mycelium, which is the vegetative part of a fungus and consists of a mass of thread-like hyphae, as a replacement for traditional insulation. When bonded together with agricultural waste and byproducts like corn stalks, mycelium creates a material that can effectively replace plastic foam insulation. The company has been selling this product for years to companies looking to replace Styrofoam (EPS) packaging with a more sustainable, organic alternative, and they have now branched out into providing it as a natural form of home insulation.
This insulation process works because mycelium, or Mushroom Insulation grows into wood forms in just a few days, and creates an airtight seal in the process. It takes another month for this type of insulation to dry, and the resulting wall is airtight and structurally very strong. This type of insulation can save a lot of money, and give the house where it was used a great thermal performance, since it represents one continuous insulated wall assembly. This type of natural insulation board has a Class A fire rating (ASTM E84) without the use of any fire retardant chemicals. The insulation also has very low VOCs (ASTM E1333), and competitive R-values, which will not decrease over time, as is the case with standard insulation.
Ecovative also produces a number of other sustainable and high-performing materials for construction of homes. Apart from the grow in place Mushroom Insulation, they also offer rigid board insulation panels, while they are also planning to begin producing SIPs with a mycelium grown core, which will be much healthier, safer, and environmentally-conscious than synthetics.
Their Myco Foam Insulated Sheathing is designed to be used on new construction or retrofits, and meets the building code requirements for continuous insulation and all deep energy retrofit goals. This type of continuous insulation raises thermal performance without the need for thermal bridging, while it also provides a continuous air barrier for increased energy efficiency. The company also offers Mushroom Acoustic Panels, which have no VOC emissions or chemical binders, and provide great sound dampening.
Ecovative is selling DIY kits for constructing your own mushroom insulated tiny house from scratch on their website for around $10,000.
Written on November 29, 2013 at 03:40
Ryan Naylor of Grow Design is taking on a a container home build as a DIY project, he is kind enough to have sent some details through on the first stage of his project.
- location: West Asheville – exact location is private for his families sake.
- materials: Mostly re-used, scrap, and surplus materials including (but not limited to) two 40′ HC (high-cube 9.5ft. tall) shipping containers, a spiral staircase, a claw-foot bathtub, penny kitchen floor, etc.
- cost: UNDER 100K total. (property, materials, labor, city fee’s, etc.) for 1400 sq. ft. 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home.
- time to build: 6-8 months
- insulation: spray closed cell foam and batt
- windows: HUGE window panes from the Asheville courthouse (they ordered too many and some in the wrong sizes) and re-used, surplus, windows from friends/family/Craigslist
You can follow his journey at his purpose build blog 40×28.com
Written on November 28, 2013 at 15:38
Architect Virge Temme of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin recently received the LEED Platinum for Homes certification for a private residence she designed near Gills Rock. The home was built by Bay Lakes Builders, and the plans were based on the collaboration of all members of the construction and design team so as to ensure proper integration of all systems. The electric and fuel bills for this 2,600-square-foot house were less than $30 per month on average during its first year. This is only the seventh home in Wisconsin to receive the LEED Platinum certification.
The building process started with the excavation of the meadow where the house stands, while the top soil was stockpiled and used for final grading later. Once the foundation was complete, the foundation forms were stripped and the below-slab plumbing and electrical runs installed. The builders continued with laying thermal tarp to protect the home from freezing rains. This was followed by the installing of under-slab insulation. All the joints were staggered and sealed in this process to prevent air movement between layers. Furthermore, all the penetrations through insulation were foam sealed, which protects against cold seepage and potential Radon gasses.
The roof was then installed, using 16″ I-joists to reduce thermal transmission and to provide additional insulation depth. The I-joists were placed directly over the studs below and the framed walls with studs at 24″ on center to reduce redundant top plate, which also reduced the overall framing materials need. The rafters were then screwed and strapped to studs to provide additional protection from wind. All the intersections were then foam-sealed.
To provide a continuous envelope 3/8″ OSB was added to the under side of rafters. Double 2-4 plates were screwed below the rafters to provide an electrical chase, eliminating the need for roof penetrations. The builders also used ladder framing, which greatly reduced the amount of redundant materials at wall-to-wall connections. Double-wall construction also eliminated thermal bridging and provided space for additional insulation.
The house has insulation values of R-45 for walls, R-60 for the roof, and R-30 for ground insulation. Together with passive solar orientation and specially-coated windows to introduce solar warming, and which also feature overhangs to protect from summer over-heating, there is no need for a furnace or a boiler for space heating.
Other sustainable features of the home include:
- Sustainably-harvested framing materials
- Recycled/recyclable metal siding, roofing and insulation
- Drought-tolerant plants replanted around the home
- Rain gardens for roof runoff
- Only low- or no-VOC paints, adhesives and insulation were used to ensure better air quality
- Floors are made of concrete and sustainably harvested bamboo
- Only highly efficient appliances, lighting fixtures, and plumbing were installed
- The building process resulted in almost no construction waste
Article tags: alternative energy, Development, energy efficiency, green building, LEED, leed certification, LEED Platinum, modern architecture, modern design, passive house, residential, water efficiency
Written on November 28, 2013 at 03:37
Betty Ybarra is about to move into the first house she has ever owned, a tiny home which she helped build. The tiny homes for the homeless project is the brainchild of Occupy Madison, a non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Betty’s is the first tiny house the group has built, and her and Occupy Madison volunteers have been building it for about two months. The finished 96-foot-square tiny home is now ready, and cost about $3000 to build. The money needed to build the home came entirely from donations from the community.
The tiny house has its own bathroom and kitchen, and also comes equipped with a refrigerator and a microwave. During the winter months it will be heated by electric and wood heat. Living in their own house, and not a halfway house, gives the homeless person the chance for a fresh start, as well as a boost for the step in the right direction and being instrumental in changing their own living situation.
The tiny house is mounted on a trailer so that it can be parked on the street, though it has to be moved every 48 hours. However, Madison city officials have changed zoning laws in October 2013, which now allow nonprofit institutions, such as churches to place tiny houses on their property on a permanent basis. Occupy Madison is still looking for a permanent site for the tiny houses, and the organization hopes to build 10 more such houses by 2014. They have plans to group these tiny homes into a village on privately owned land.
Tiny homes for the homeless are made almost exclusively from recycled or repurposed materials. The wood is reclaimed lumber, salvaged across Madison. Most of the fixtures, such as kitchen counters, sinks and cupboards were also repurposed. Most of the wood for the construction of the tiny houses comes from discarded pallets, which the volunteers deconstruct to make the boards needed for siding.
Occupy Madison is currently in the process of building the second tiny house with the help of its future occupant, Russell Albers, which is set to be complete in about a month. As soon as the home is ready for the finishing touches, it will be moved outside the shop to begin building the next tiny house. The Occupy Madison group is currently reaching out to local churches in an effort to secure a more permanent space for the tiny homes.
A similar new housing project for the homeless is also being developed in Austin, TX, where the construction of the so-called Community First Village will soon begin.
Written on November 27, 2013 at 03:33
This studio house is located in the desert near Joshua Tree, CA. It has been fully converted into a cozy retreat for two, and the owners are renting it out for just that purpose. This design also demonstrates just how easily old, disused out buildings like this barn can be repurposed for modern uses. A refurb like this makes for a great vacation house, but it could also easily be used as a studio or office space for a work-from-home individual. Read more