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04 / 29 / 2021

Oh boy, have we learned some hard lessons this year. From what we can tell, our experiences in building a house are predictable, which is pretty frustrating, to say the least. But regardless of how many wrenches are thrown at our heads, we have continued to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge!

Let's see; since our last update, we've continued to install InSoFast panels to the exterior shell of the shipping containers to get the base layer of insulation. Then we add additional rigid foam insulation to meet the energy code requirements. There are three basic ways to insulate shipping containers, all inside, outside, or both interior and exterior. We chose to insulate all on the shell to capitalize on the unique details available in shipping containers that you wouldn't find in traditional stick-frame home construction. After completing insulation (most of the house is insulated, we still have a few areas to tackle), we've applied waterproofing tape to our seams and begun wrapping the house in Tyvek.

We've waterproofed and installed 33 windows and sliding doors. The oh-so-clever Jason constructed a davit to hoist the windows to our upper level, which was no easy feat considering our heaviest window was over 300lbs! Thankfully, we had some help from some kickass neighbors and friends for the heavier windows to help us lift and act as a counter-weight.

"We have stairs!" Jason built a beautiful staircase from Parallam beams, and we've all enjoyed not having to use a ladder to climb to our upper floor.

We've also had plumbers, electricians, and fireplace installers onsite and will share more details about that in our next post.

03 / 25 / 2021

To save as much construction cost as possible, we came into this project planning to take on many of the tasks ourselves. Interior framing, for example, has been in our scope, with exterior framing to be tackled by our contractor. Fortunately, we had some helping hands chip in to expedite interior framing and used the experience as an educational opportunity for fellow architects.

Roofing was to be framed by the contractor, with roofing professionals installing the roofing insulation and single-ply PVC membrane on top. Framers laid down the beautiful wood car decking over our atrium (which is our exposed ceiling) and built the framing for insulation on top of the containers. After a bit of a delay and to get the job done, we took on the additional (contractor-changed) scope to add a second sloped roof above the car decking. But at least now, we can rest assured that the house will no longer rain on us.

02 / 23 / 2021

When people tell you that building your house is stressful, they aren't effing kidding. There has been a lot of profanity, a lot of stress, and many sleepless nights. We could go off the rails bitching about this process, but we'll save that for when it's all over, and we can reflect with clearer minds.

We will say that there was very little progress for almost three months, much to our extreme disappointment and dismay. We finally started seeing some momentum again with the much-awaited installation of steel beams in our living room. Regardless of the delay, we are hopeful that we will meet our summer move-in goal, though that means the next couple of months will be hell.

In the meantime, we have a wood-framed garage, our atrium space has steel beams and columns (finally) welded into position, and some wood in-fill framing between the steel structure. We rented a boom forklift (David and Jason got to drive it!) and a manual material lift to install the beams and steel columns. Welders were onsite for a few days to get everything installed.

Next up, we'll have roof/exterior framing and then roof construction, so we can get moving on plumbing, electrical, and windows installation.

Please send us all the good vibes you can to ensure this project keeps moving! Gretchen will be over here eating her whole bottle of "less-stress" gummies!


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