The heart of this building project will be a workshop. I’m currently working in a 700 square foot basement, much of which is dedicated to car space. It’s manageable, but I’m quickly running out of wood storage. Larger projects are also a problem. I started by looking at barns. This fellow - Dano - has come up with some lovely barn plans. But the cost per square foot will be on the order of $60-$80 per, if I have someone else build it. I’d love to build it myself, but it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. There’s nothing there now but a pasture - no tools, and no workspace.
My friends over at NIMBY found me a 24′ high-cube shipping container. “High cube” means they’re a foot taller than standard shipping containers - they clock in at 9′6″. Handy, if you want to store lumber. You can stand it up in the container, instead of stacking it lengthwise. And who doesn’t like ten foot ceilings? That’ll help me get established out there, but realistically, it’s going to be awfully hard to complete an entire structure by working weekends, especially since the land is an hour’s drive from my current home.
So why not make the shop out of containers? Stack them up like legos around a hollow center, and roof the whole thing. Standard steel buildings are cheap to extend lengthwise, but they cost a packet to make them wider (stronger trusses are required) and the costs on going higher are even worse. For a building with 12′ to 14′ ceilings, expect to spent $50/sq foot on a decent sized insulated steel building.
These buggers are STRONG, too. You can stack them 9 containers high. And they’ll hold 30,000 pounds apiece. So that bottom container is holding up an awful lot of weight. Provided they’re not loaded too heavily, there should be strength to spare even if I cut holes in them. And, if not, I can always weld in reinforcing. Of course, I’m not qualified to run the engineering numbers on this. That’ll be expensive, and it almost certanily means hiring an architect to work with the county on permits. Howqever, the materials cost on this structure will be low - The main cost will be the concrete it sits on. Then I’ll have to roof it. But siding? Well, they’re already waterproof. I could paint them. But a little research shows me that they’re already made of cor-ten - or at least, that is what some folks claim. If you’ve ever seen rusty metal used in sculpture, or architecturally, you’ve seen cor-ten. It’s steel, alloyed with a little bit of copper. The result is that the rust becomes an impermeable “skin” on the surface. Once that rust is in place, corrosion stops. I think it looks great. So I’ll sand blast these guys (I’ll have to do something with the paint chips; it’s probably not the sort of stuff you want sitting in your vegetable garden!), spray it with a light solution of hydrochloric acid, neutralize after 24 hours, and voila!
Inside, I don’t know how much container I can cut away before they become too weak. But if I have my druthers, it’ll look something like these images. Note that the model is quick and dirty - the openings aren’t lined up any way in particular. I’m reminded of the interior of fort point, except that I’ll roof over the interior courtyard.
I like it - it messes with my sense of what is indoor space and what is outdoor. It also blurs the line between residential and industrial. I’ll put an office in here, somewhere, and a glass shop, and who knows? Maybe a little living space will steak in. Turns out that if you add up all the floor space, it’s about 7700 square feet. The interior courtyard will be 40×64 (2560 square feet), but the container spaces make up the balance.
Next, cantilevering… but that’s for another day.