I refer you to this post for reference on what I'd sorta kinda been kicking around in my head for the last few years about my house. My vision sort of changed a few months ago, when I realized that if I went out instead of up, it'd probably be cheaper and not fuck the roofline up as much.
My kitchen remodel and floor replacement still hasn't been done. I've been putting it off over and over again while I agonize about what to do with the house expansion idea. I feel it'd be a bit silly to remodel the kitchen and then a few years later rip it all out to expand the house to almost the palm tree in my back yard.
One of my closest friends started a construction company about a year ago. She's done a lot of traditional remodel and construction jobs, but her real passion is using shipping containers as parts of buildings. Her company is building a beautiful, beautiful house with four shipping containers that I'd buy in a heartbeat if I could afford it. (And when their website goes live, I'll be pimping like I've never pimped before.)
For those of you not as obsessed with shipping containers as me and my friend (and my brother, but that's another story), they're the things you see attached to the back of semis driving down the highway. Because the United States imports much, much more than it exports, there's a glut of them in the country. They're designed to stack on top of cargo ships, be picked up with cranes and be towed across the country on trucks. They're not, for those of you worried about my sudden decline in socio-economic status, trailers. They don't have axes or wheels or anything like that. They generally come in either 40'x 8' or 20'x 8'. They're either 8'6" or 9'6" high, depending on the container. They're made of steel, thoroughly reinforced, very well insulated, and (this is the most important part) they're cheap. A brand new (meaning only used for one shipment) 40' container costs about $3,200.
Anyhow, I don't remember what I was doing but a few days ago, but I had a sudden and profound shock when I realized that I could use shipping containers to expand my house.
My vision, during the epiphony, was to take two 20' containers, put them side by side, push them against the house, and cut out the middle steel, to make a 20' x 16' addition. Throw in a bathroom, laundry room and closet, and I have a brand new master suite. I'd let the architect, my brother, work out the details. I figured that I could expand the roof line to extend to cover the part of the house that was expanded, plus put a deck in on the other half of the expansion (I think my house is about 35 feet wide).
Last night, my friend came over for a glass of wine. I dragged her outside and showed her what I was thinking.
She went absolutely crazy with the idea. They'd been working with new construction for the containers, and she was in awe with the thought that they could also be used for home expansions. She thought that it'd probably be even better to just get a 40" container and cut it and half instead of two 20"s, since it's easier to find the higher ceilinged 40". We walked around the yard a bit and paced out where the containers would fit. It was perfect for making sure that the palm tree survived the ordeal intact. We also confirmed that it wouldn't be a big deal to get the containers up my driveway and into position behind my house using a forklift (my biggest concern with the idea was that we'd have to rent a crane and lift the suckers over my house).
We went back inside and got a pen and paper and started playing with designs.
And then she started figuring out how much something like this would cost. "Tricked out" as she said, using good tile and fixtures in the bathroom, using cool glass on the windows, making good wooden floors, her estimate was about half of anything I'd ever dreamed a house expansion could cost. She even threw in a sodded rooftop deck. And given how well everything is going to be insulated, I don't think that the 320 square foot expansion would drastically increase energy expenditures.
And the cool part is that I wouldn't have to live with a gaping hole in my house for a few months. Most of the construction would take place in her warehouse, though there'd probably be a month or so of finishing everything out once it got to my house. But the basic structure would arrive to my house intact, and it'd just be a question of attaching the containers to my house and to each other in a single day.
I'm sure I'll take a bit of time to ponder this whole thing (and get in touch with Maddie to see how difficult a home equity loan would be to do this), but I'm terribly, terribly excited about the prospect.