cinverting a tractor trailer body to living space

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by sancraft, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    Can this be done? You can get pretty big ones for not too much money.
     
  2. margo

    margo Well-Known Member

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    I have read here discussions of using the shipping containers for various things. I would think you'd need access to metal cutting tools? to make openings for some windows, etc.
    What about something like a reefer unit? They are insulated and it probably would be easier to cut window and door openings as you need. T'would also be a great storage unit later on, or even critter housing. Oh, Sancraft, I so want to see you get something done. Did you say you are in Georgia.?
     

  3. Ozarks_1

    Ozarks_1 Well-Known Member

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    We used that type of trailer for storage at the auto salvage yard where I worked. They're "relatively easy" to work with - a metal cutting blade (around $2 each at any good hardware store) mounted in a standard circular saw should work quite nicely for making window/door openings.
    The only minor problem you'll probably encounter is due to the lack of roof overhang, water will tend to come in around the doors/windows - but that can be overcome by making sure they're well-sealed.
     
  4. desertdreamer

    desertdreamer Well-Known Member

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    .........................................
     
  5. margo

    margo Well-Known Member

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    Ooops, Sancraft, I re-read your post and see that you are in Alabama. :no: my mistake.........
     
  6. TexasArtist

    TexasArtist Well-Known Member

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    Have you looked into those big overseas shipping containers? My parents bought 4 of them to store things in and the company cut the door opening for the pantry container and put the door in place for no extra charge. Maybe you could look into that? They are alot sturdier then a tractor trailer body and people have used them to live in. :)
     
  7. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    mtnwomanar (don't know if she still posts here) lives in one in the AR ozarks. she is on todayshomestead.com
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I believe the shipping container type are more doable. There can be a lot of issues with local building codes, but if that is not an issue:

    There is a guy on www.tractorbynet.com that built a shed with a roof over 2 of these containers. Then he had some troubles at home & turned 1/4 of this into a living quarters. He had lots of pictures, it was a very niffty project, well described. I can't remember which section of that forum it was on, perhaps in the 'projects' section - one of the forums right near there, if not that one??? Anyhow they keep their archives, so you should be able to find it. It was a spring into summer project of this year, so a couple months back.

    Well worth the read, very informative.

    --->Paul
     
  9. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    My sister and BIL in Wyoming are temporarily living in a travel trailer (well, they hope it's temporary, as they have two little girls), and got a shipping container for storage. They are using part of it for extra living space.

    Kathleen
     
  10. DrippingSprings

    DrippingSprings In Remembrance

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    I have seen two that were joined side by side used as a hunting clubhouse. They then buried them in the side of a hill with one side out. They ran some vinyl siding across the front and it looks really nice. Alot of semi trailers have that door in the side and it would make a perfect front door. You wouldnt have to worry about tornadoes and insulation that way as well. You could use the front part as a living room with a small bedroomand the second one as the kitchen etc. Thay way the kitchen is in the trailer in the back and will heat the home as you cook. They claim they use a heater to heat it that is one of those lil electric space heaters. then they shut it off when they go to bed and it will stay warm all night in 20 degree or so weather. Get you a couple with a wooden floor and it can be apinted or finished quite nice. Cover the walls with some cloth etc and noone would know it was a couple semi trailers.
     
  11. tprice

    tprice Tp in sc

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    Sancraft: Do a search of the Charleston, SC newspaper, The Post and Courier. I think in last Sunday's paper is an article about a house built using two shipping containers. It really looked nice. Good luck. tprice in sc.
     
  12. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    I am just exploing all options. I've got to get a roof over our heads and with God's help, I will dog-gone-it. I chcked out some sites witht he container houses. The only one I saw a photo of was very modern, almost loaf-like in appearance. I oud do mine with much more of a farm house feel.
     
  13. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Sandra, are there any local contractors that will put up a metal building or carport? They advertise locally here, a 20x20 carport for under 500$. You could get them to put up a roof and then you and the girls could stack straw bales for outside walls.

    And you might look at the strawbale house book by bill and athena steen. There is a studio building in there that some people in arizona did rather quickly and inexpensively.
     
  14. Siryet

    Siryet In Remembrance

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    Contact all the mobile home dealers you can find and ask them if they have any for free m'hs. Explain your situation to them and believe that you will get help. Lot's of decent people out there. You might ask them to put you on a waiting list for one and when they come up with one they could call you.

    You would need a place to put it, maybe a smaller M/h park or a small lot already set up for a m/h.

    Here dealers give homes away that are trade-ins and not up to date so they will not be able to be sold.

    A church group might be able to help with the moving of the home.

    Might not be much but my first homestead home was a 10'x50' mh not in the best of shape. had to put plastic over the windows in the winter but we weren't cold.
     
  15. breezynosacek

    breezynosacek Well-Known Member

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    We had a 20 x 20 double carport. Here you can get them for about the same price. It depends upon the tubing.

    Now, what we did to enclose ours cost us about $500. to enclose three sides. It took a drill, a jigsaw, a tape measure, a level, some angle bolts, some self-tapping metal screws with rubber grommets and some sheets of the corrogated pvc sheeting.

    Okay, we bought the long PVC sheeting and it comes in colors. We used clear at the top for sky light at the peak. We ran 2x4's UP to the framing and that way we could actually have studs to screw the pvc to.

    We framed in a couple of windows that we got at Lowes at a discount. Somebody ordered windows and didn't pick them up so we got them 1/2 off. We got two free doors. Just prayed and God provided. One of them seek and ye shall find thingies.

    We layed pressure treated 4 x 4's across the back bottom because we were desperate and tired and wanted to get the thing finished so we could move our stuff into before we lost it. I believe we used 2 2x4x10's across the top and 2 x 4 studs up and down just like on the sides.

    If you have the opportunity to poor a concrete floor, which I would strongly advise as if you don't water will run in. You can run a nice concrete floor about 4 inches thick, just a slab with no problems.

    The angle brackets are for connecting the 2 x 4's to the tubular framing. If you want door frames and windows in it your going to have to have some studs to connect it to.

    It isn't difficult at all. We got ours done in just a couple of days. A single carport would be even cheaper and is big enough I reckon, to live in temporarily.

    Water runnoff on the roof will cause mold if you put up bales that are not protected somehow.

    There are styrofoam sheets that you can use for insulation. They have special glue to make them adhere to stuff. I don't know what the R factor are on those.



    If you want some pictures I'll be happy to get them to you.
     
  16. BeeFree

    BeeFree Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think you could do alright with a semi trailer to live in. Dh bought me one for extra storage. He put electric in it. Mine has double doors in the back. If you were going to live in one you would need to cut out the metal on the side and put in a door. Mine is lined with about a 1/4 in plywood. Looks like to me if you wanted it insulated you could spray some in behind the plywood. Mine has a wood floor in it. Dh took the wheels off mine and dug a hole an set it down on the ground. You could leave it on wheels and underpin it. Get ready to move, just hook a tractor to it and go.

    I don't see why you couldn't equip it with running water.

    DH bought DD one and it has a skylight in it. There are all kinds out there to be found. He gave 1200 for mine and I think 1000 each for his and hers. That was delivery included.

    An old school bus could be made into a living quarters also. In fact sometimes hunters have found something better and have them forsale around deer season.
     
  17. almostthere

    almostthere Well-Known Member

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    My uncle did the old school bus thing. Ripped out the seats, except the driver seat. He put in a pot belly stove, a couple twin size beds, furniture for storage. The main house didnt have running water, and they used an outhouse so he figured his "guest house" didn't need those modern amenitites either. They eventually sold it to one of thier friends for a hunting cabin.
     
  18. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    I once lived in a converted Hippy Bus,it was real comfy.
    Saw a house made up of 4 boxcars,one yellow,one orange,one green,and another color im not sure of.They did it right,nice paint with the Logos all painted nice.It looked very nice!
    Have thought of this as an option for us when we move.Got lots of thoughts on alternate housing,will pick the best for the site when we find it.Still want my earthship earth sheltered home if at all possible per codes.
    BooBoo
     
  19. BobBoyce

    BobBoyce Well-Known Member

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    I'm sorry in advance for this very long post, there is some good info here.

    sancraft, I did a school bus/RV conversion thing back in the late 70's to a 1965 chevy bus with wayne body, and it turned out real nice. Me and DW lived in it parked on a rented lot for a few years, then used it for storage for a while, then moved back into it after DD was born for a few more years.

    It had 2 bedrooms, full bath with a house sized shower stall, and a full size kitchen countertop with double sink, overhead cabinets, gas range and oven, ect. The inside outer walls were covered with styrofoam sheet insulation (extra insulation glued into the unused windows with sealer) covered with low cost wood paneling. All interior walls were framed with regular 2 X 4 studs and wood panelled. I put a plywood sheeted bulkhead centered over the rear wheel wells and this seperated the front compartment from the spare bedroom/storage area accessed from the rear door. In the rear I built a mirror image of the front bedroom with both bed frames built over the remainder of the rear wheel wells to hide them. I riveted sheet metal over the outside of the unused windows. I painted the entire bus with a custom paint job so it wouldn't be an eyesore. Wired for dual voltage lighting, added a battery bank and inverter, a roof mounted 6' satellite dish on a homebrewed motorized mount, a large roof mounted water tank (heavy duty water bed mattress housed in an insulated protective metal box with a hose running through the roof to the inside), and all the other things needed to be self contained.

    I did all the work myself, built what I could, bought what I couldn't build. Saved a load of money in the process. I used salvaged materials, bought from surplus, closeouts, garage sales, ect where I could find it.

    I ended up giving it to a friend that still lives in it to this day. I've regretting getting rid of it, but at the time, I really had no place to park it. It was getting a little old to keep paying lot rent to keep it parked.

    As far as locating a used school bus cheap, there's loads of opportunities. In 1997, I bought a 1983 chevy bus with a new engine from a private school for $3600 to use as both my moving vehicle, and for towing my travel trailer. I spent $2600 having the transmission totally rebuilt, and another $1500 on having the rear axle rebuilt, then bought all new tires. I wanted it to sure it was going to be reliable for the move, and had the money to spend since I had just sold my farm. I wished I had known then what I know now.

    Cheap school buses;

    All around the country are school boards with a big problem. School bus turnover. A school bus has a limited lifespan in its intended duty. After a certain number of years or miles, they MUST be removed from service. Many school boards , mostly larger counties, hold auctions, or trade them in to dealers. Sometimes, auctions can be a good deal, but many times they are not.

    Many small counties (especially poor ones) usually will have a list of decommissioned school buses for sale. A search on state or county web sites may turn up numerous buses for sale cheap. Looking at one site for instance, turned up a school board site devoted to selling the old school buses of all the counties in the state. I see many listed for $100 and up, with a few under $100. They just want them gone, and you may find what you want. Granted, some, mostly the real cheap ones, may not run, or have major mechanical problems. Usually the condition is stated in the site.

    FREE school buses;

    The magic word... There are a lot of old school buses out there that break down, need major repairs, salvaged for parts (mainly engines, transmissions, ect), or just plain unwanted. A call to a local truck repair shop may turn up some that can be had for free. Of course, it'll cost you the price of a tow, so it's not truly free in the end. A call to a local truck garage earlier this year turned up 5. I went to look and chose one, with the option to come and get others if I want or need them. It's now parked out back behind my other bus, being used for extra storage space. Total cost to me was $100 for a big rig tow truck to haul it here and place it right where I wanted it. That is less than it would have cost me to buy a $100 bus and the gas to go there and drive it or have it towed home. I could care less that it has no engine or transmission, it's not going anywhere. Heck, it's worth more than that for scrap if I wanted to get rid of it. The frame/axles/tires, which will not be needed in my case, could be sold for more than the cost of the tow.

    Bob
     
  20. blanknoone

    blanknoone Member

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    I just want to chime in on the TT vs. CONEX shipping box. I looked at the same choice, and have come down on the side of the shipping containers. For several reasons.

    First, they are structurally much stronger because they are designed to be stacked, even loaded. TT aren't wimpy, but they aren't CONEX's either. Maybe its just me, but I'm a fan of more structural integrity than less.

    Second, they can be dropped right on the ground....you don't have to have either a stair up or a big hole for the wheels.

    Third, my limited experience was the really cheap TT weren't road worthy...that's why they were so cheap. Getting them there could be a problem.

    My father has a 20' CONEXes as a shop on a different location with the works: water, lights, windows, man-door in the side etc. Its real effective.

    I have 2 40' CONEXes for storage. I have them about 10' apart, so if and when the time comes, I can put a roof over and between them as a garage. It has worked out well for me.

    Which is right probably also depends on where you are. I live close to a major ocean port. Because this country imports so much more than it exports, they are piling up and cheap. In other parts of the country, my price comparison may not be as valid, but I definitely got much more bang for the buck for CONEXes.