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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure really where to post this???
I use to have bookmarked sites that converted semi cargo/cold storage trailers (not real sure what to call them) into livable housing. When my pc crashed, I lost my bookmarks.

I'm throwing my soon to be dwelling issues out here.
This is what I have planned, and would sure appreciate any and all input, suggestions, or any kind of help, please! Please, give me the good the bad and the ugly too!
There is no way I can afford to buy one of those container units that I seen posted. I need to make use of what I do have on hand.

I do have (2) 18 wheel storage trailers....or what~ever they are called? One I store in, the other is almost empty.
How complicated would it be to convert the empty one into an efficiency type dwelling?
Should I take it off the axles? I do not plan on moving it from its location now or ever really. Could it be tied down while on its axles? I just don't see "me" being able to unaxle the trailer really! I have NO intentions to stay in it thru bad windy weather any ways. I am in a hurricane area, both trailers stayed fine thru the past few hurricanes here, neither tied down now.

I visualize only 2 rooms needing sectioned off, bathroom and a sleep area. Could even give up the sleeping area and use a sofa sleeper. Open living, kitchen area. Thinking of using camper size appliances, shower, and bathroom necessities. Hopefully buying used to cut costs there too.

Some of my questions rambling thru my mind are;
What/how to cut thru trailer walls to add a few small windows?
Suggestions on inexpensive insulation before paneling interior the walls. I have paneling on hand.
Would it be cheaper to frame walls and then add insulation or buy some type of foam board (glued up or ??) then panel over? I know cheaper isn't always better too~
Best way to heat???? Am drooling over those hot water on demand tanks.

I have on hand french doors, could they be framed up and installed where the 2 back doors on trailer are now? I would like to have this as my kitchen area. Also thinking/hoping the french doors would visually increase the size inside too. The single side door on trailer now, frame and install a reg sized front door? Is this possible???

I will be doing this myself, limited to minor experience, but its gott'a get done! I have been a go'fer and done repairs to mobile homes eons ago. I can dig lines, run pipes, swing a hammer, work a screw gun and run a tape, lol. Just zilch exp. at determining weigh load for roof when remodeling.
This is going to be my new home, leaving a really bad marriage, and permanently this time. Foolish me, tried again at it, same ol' stuff still after 25 yrs of it. Just refuse to live any longer with a pathological lying narcissistic! Not exaggerating there either~

So here I am job hunting, (its gonna be part time min. wages too) trying to determine how to move into and live in my storage trailer. Positively eager too!

Looking for forward to hearing ALL advice/suggestions!
Apologizes for being such long message here, ventings and rambling ons.

Thanks sooooo very much in advance:)

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I am thinking about making a shop out of a semi-trailer box, so I am interested in the answers you get. I don't know a lot about how the boxes are framed, but they have to be able to withstand substantial wind shear, so I am thinking it is pretty solid. Here are my thoughts:

1. I would definitely get the axles off and set it on sleepers and tie it down with ground anchors. Better safe than sorry.

2. I think you can frame any kind of door or window in the existing doorways that you want. the only issue will be how to arrange the siding & trim between a smaller door and the existing opening.

3. I would glue rigid foam insulation inside and cover with panels. Fast, cheap and easy.

4. I would run electric in conduit pipe down each wall, surface mounted.

5. I would give some thought to building a bit of a loft at one end to create some useable space either above or below your bed.

I am assuming that you are not worried about code.

I would also wonder if it would be possible to swap such a trailer even-up for a smaller but fully outfitted travel trailer? Since you have the other one for storage, it might save you a lot of time.

Good luck.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The Paw, Thanks for your input here. No, not really, I don't have codes that will be of any issues. It's in the country. Only code is for when I put in the septic and field line, having that inspected "before" I can have electric turned on. Fortunately this will work out well.

Good to hear that advice using foam insulation. I was sure hoping to hear that:)

Oh gosh, getting it off the axles:eek:!!!....I figured that's best, but I sure don't have a clue on how to do that!
Are ya talking about having to use jacks to let it down? Sorry, but I am totally clueless. OMGosh, now the thought of me using jacks....well that just down right terrifies me!
I need to leave it up enough to be able to go under and plumb for that dearly necessary room!! Done the frontier route before, so having that convince "inside" with running water is a luxury that I really want to keep!

I have extra sheets of good tin I could use to cover any exposed areas after trimming in for the doors/windows to fit. Just need to use sealants there also, well I reckon?
At this point, looks aren't my top priorities. Well neither is inside looks really, just need it to be safe and functionable. I can work along with improving as I can.

Don't know about maybe finding a trade for it for a camper?? Actually I visualize having more space inside the trailer. Besides, time is an issue for me.


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If the trailer is in good mechanical condition underneath and you are not interested in keeping it mobile, you might try contacting a trailer repair place close to you to see about swapping the running gear out from under it in exchange for setting it onto whatever foundation you might have in mind. The running gear under a trailer is expensive and they would have the equipment to move it and set the trailer down one end at a time.

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328 Posts
I admire your abilties and your plans.
If I were closer, I would enjoy helping you set it on the ground and setting it up to live in.

Thats because I would like to do it for myself too.
Anyway, you might consider putting your thoughts on Craigslist, asking for someone to help you.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
oldcj5guy, oh wow Thanks so much for telling me that! I didn't know this at all. I'm listening and learning, (or trying to learn lol) and yall are such wonderful teachers!
I'm guessing its all still good under there, have moved these trailers 3 times before.

brewswain, Thanks for saying that, but my abilities are so limited, its just the push knowing I gott'a do it and get'er'dun. How sweet of you to offer your help, if you were closer. Thoughts do count! Thanks!
I'm so far from the closest Craiglist listings.
I'm ok with asking folks how to do something, but I am no good at asking for an extra hand. Just never could bring myself to ask for that. I wouldn't now, I'm so broke I couldn't even offer to pay for their fuel to come to help, let alone for their time/knowledge/helping extra hand.

I just talked with my daughter, my trailers are sitting on her 5 acres. (BTW she owns her property) Any ways, she tells me the trailer I am wanting to do all this with is full of wasps in the walls. Oh just great~ Now any suggestions on what to do for getting rid of them? I've not been allergic to stings, but daughter is highly allergic to stings. Just an obstacle, one of many yet to come I'm sure LoL.

Again, my sincerest Thanks to everyone!

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15,491 Posts
We had a shop full of wasps. I just got that spray can of stuff that you stand way back and spray away. It took a couple of times to take care of them all - there were hundreds of them. I think we used 4 cans of the spray. You have to soak the nests with it - but you will have to wait until spring less they are still flying around now. Then remove the nests.

We looked into the storage container homes last year. Dh is always into something different. I wish you well. We erased our links or I would send some to you.

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9,212 Posts
It is great that you are looking at alternative housing solutions!

I do want to warn you about something: In some areas of the country zoning laws can be extremely strict, with projects being red tagged or closed down for little reason.

Of course, there are other areas that anything goes, with little or no restrictions.

Don't forget that there is, as well as zoning, there are code issues that you would have to deal with in some areas.

A county might not care what kind of shelter you build, but might red tag you on a septic system, electrical, plumbing, etc.

If you have children involved and living with you, there might be issues of having running water available, seperate bedrooms, etc.

Again, the key word is "might" in all the above situations.

Please DO NOT KILL THE MESSENGER. I am not trying to degrade or down play what you want to do.

I don't want to see you spend $8000, and then have the rug pulled out from underneath you.


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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Clove, np and Thanks, as I have asked for any and all kinds of input, and I sincerely mean this! Its ALL greatly appreciated!

I have so much on my plate right now, that I can easily over look, aka forget, even the simplest things.

I do know that for the county I will be in, the septic and field line need inspection before covering before the electric comp. will turn it on. Of course this also means meter box and wiring used too. I already planned going to code for electrical and plumbing as I am definitely striving for safety. I just won't cut corners there.

It will be just me living there and 2 fur family members.

Fortunately as far as zoning ordinances goes in the rural area I will be in, they don't care what ya dwell in, LoL...just as long as ya can pass electric comp. codes. I will get up with the electric comp. before I start...just to be absolutely sure nothing as changed since I last knew of it. Ya might not never know.

Thanks again Clovis! Appreciate it!

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675 Posts
Have you considered a post frame building? They're generally referred to as pole barns. For example, I had two built last year. Both are 36 x 60 x 10 high. Each was just 8500. Smaller buildings are cheaper. If I wanted to live in one of those. All I'd have to do is put in plumbing and electric, pour a concrete floor, insulate, partition walls, and drywall. Maybe cut out for a few windows. I'd install french doors at each end where the sliding barn doors are now. Voila, instant housing or at least habitable while you're finishing the inside. I don't know what kind of finances you're working with, but a secure roof over your head before winter seems like a good idea.

Oh, it took a day and a half for each barn. Three days total and I had the livestock under roof.
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