Hello everyone. I'm taking the plunge

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Drbanner, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. Drbanner

    Drbanner Monkey

    im new here and will be new to going off grid but hopefully you folks will help.
    I have 3.4 acres on a 30 acre lot. The other lots are owned by my buddy and his family.
    We have to put a road in and clear some building sites this spring summer. I'm planning to build with 3 shipping containers on top of a cinder block basement.
    Even the basemen/cinder block will be above ground. My 1st choice building site is in a low section of land with a steep 20foot ridge behind it. I'd like to have a live rooftop deck that walks to the ridge.
    Flat live roof with wind solar and a well/septic.
    Still in the design stages so all advice is welcome.
    What type of septic is easiest?
    Anything you would do now that is worth mentioning?

    Help? Be gentle
  2. Drbanner

    Drbanner Monkey

    Worth mentioning is that I'm a licensed welder. My buddy is a plumber our other friend is an electrician so we are trying to do this all without hiring labour.
  3. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Welcome to the tree.
    Don't know much about construction so any advice I'd be giving would likely be bogus. However, you may want to look at these construction materials ...
    EF Block, Earth Friendly Building Materials--ICF Blocks - EF Block ICF Blocks, similar to cinder block but much lighter, and is rated at R-33 insulation value.
    Airlight panels, Wanessa-Sue, Inc. | AIRLIGHT Building Panels™- Owned & Operated by Veterans, pre cut panels that lock together to form walls. Submit a floor plan and they return a kit. All panels are numbered for assembly on-site. These require no concrete for the walls and are rated at R-30 insulation value.
    Drbanner, kellory and chelloveck like this.
  4. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Welcome, and good luck with your project.
    Drbanner likes this.
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Welcome to the monkey @Drbanner. The people here are welcoming and will not be bashing you. You have a great idea but I do have two things you may want to consider. One- if you are building in a snow prone region, I would advise a pitched roof so you have run off. The other is please be careful using shipping containers. Some are quite toxic and can be dangerous to your health. I also wonder about run off from the ridge behind your building. You could have flooding issues.

    Glad you joined.
  6. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    You could also be in danger of cliff deterioration. Erosion is normal, and things do fall.
    If you do use shipping containers, I would suggest you look for reefer units. (They are already insulated) and you have the air-conditioning if needed.
    Yard Dart and chelloveck like this.
  7. Drbanner

    Drbanner Monkey

    Thank you folks.
    I will look into those blocks.
    The ridge is only dirt and not really eroding or reason for concern. Next time I'm up there I will take a few pics.
    The containers will be spray foamed inside 100% and I'm not sure about the roof and if it's worth building another roof on top of the flat roof.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  8. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Welcome to the Monkey!!
    Looking forward to hearing more of your project, as it proceeds.
    Drbanner likes this.
  9. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    I am here to BASH just kidding, tell us more about the site, weather, rainfall, ground conditions.
    I don't like the idea of a container home, and 3 containers on top of a cinder block first story (it's not a basement) is a 2 story home, you should just continue up with the cinder block and frame in a floor, or it can even be poured concrete. Go with a pitched roof, do a metal roof, they will last 40 years and are great for collecting rain water runoff from. The reason I don't like the idea of a container home is that they really aren't cheaper, you will have to weld them together, I know you are a welder but still that is labor, and you must cut out passage ways and windows etc. Cinder block is cheap $0.80 each here, anyone can lay block, after all the Mexicans do a great job. You can also fur out and put in an incredible amount of insulation, give it some thought, run the numbers, we did an 8" block wall and then furred out 10" inside of that, but only one story.

    3cyl and Drbanner like this.
  10. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    First, @Drbanner; Welcome to SM!

    I make sure to seal the exterior of the block to prevent water intrusion. I don't like the live roof thing unless the water barrier is 100% lifetime leak proof. I take it you have a way to get a crane onto the property to set the containers. I am anxious to see how this progresses and what you do with this project.
    Drbanner likes this.
  11. TheJackBull

    TheJackBull Monkey+++

    I love the idea of container homes/shelters. BUT a quick google search will come up with so many articles like this one.
    The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture
    that have kept me from doing it. consider all options and please keep us posted. whatever you choose we all want to see the progress and learn with you, as many of us want the same "type" of thing.
    you may also consider an earth berm type home in that hillside if you want a living roof.
  12. Drbanner

    Drbanner Monkey

    Wow thanks everyone for the feedback.
    I was considering the containers because I'm a welder and have modified them in the past for work as trailers and offices.
    I am not working so labour isn't an issue going forward and using the containers I wouldn't need to build a typical roof.
    The cinder block 1st floor was only considered because it would be cheaper imo than 3 more containers.
    The containers up here are about 2200 for a 40 footer.
    The land is hilly with lots of rock outcrops and high spots. The site I chose is closer to the road and in a " low" spot with all the rain water running of to the side where there's a small pond.
    The live roof was more as an option to help insulate the roof while providing extra space to garden and mount panels and windturbines
    hitchcock4 likes this.
  13. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey++

    Welcome to the Monkey Tree @Drbanner. No advice but I thought I would say hi.
    Like the other advice so far...
    Drbanner likes this.
  14. GOG

    GOG Free American Monkey

    Welcome from the great State of Jefferson.
    Drbanner likes this.
  15. Drbanner

    Drbanner Monkey

    Has anyone here done their own septic system?
    Or put together an electrical system?
  16. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I did my Water, and Electrical, here in Bush Alaska, as well as at my Remote Beach Cabin... There are Threads here, about my Water System, and my Winter Power Systems.... I also wrote an extensive Blog, on Alaska Wilderness Building, that has a lot of information in it that would be applicable....
  17. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Yes, start with a percolation test and place the septic system down slope side of your well.
    Drbanner likes this.
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    At least 100 feet under most codes.
    Tikka likes this.
  19. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    Becareful of the spray foam insode a living space. Pick the wrong foam and you will be outgassing formaldehyde.
  20. AD1

    AD1 Monkey+++

    You will need proper concrete reinforced footing with vert rebar at proper spacing. Then use grouted cells every 8 feet (where the rebar is or what ever your code is. Use ladder wire in between the block at the appropriate vertical spacing so the whole thing wont come crushing down.
    Drbanner likes this.
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