Shipping Container House - Roof & Floor

There are two steps required to turn the chassis into a proper house frame: roof & floor.

Update - September 18 2011

Trusses, beams and a pile of timber

I’ve been in touch with guys from Westlake Timber since June. We confirmed the roof design and double-checked on site. After some delays, on Wednesday August 3rd, the roof trusses, hyspan beams for the living/dinning room and a pile of sundry timber arrived. Work on the roof structure can begin.

We have hired Steve Crutchley, master builder from Christchurch to put the roof structure together. We started on August 4 and finished on September 9. We had a week break during this period because of snow.

I had to be around most of the time to help with new brackets and fixings that came out to light when we were placing trusses up. I also made 6 brackets to attach massive hyspan beams to the containers and posts. I learned a lot about carpentry during those weeks.

Concrete, lots of concrete

When the chassis got inspected on August 12 I knew I can finish off organizing concrete for the site slab and get it done. To be honest, I could not look at all that DPM and steel anymore. You never get used to walking around those obstacles and after months of doing so I just wanted to have the site slab done.

Twelve days after the chassis inspection after second snowstorm of the winter on August 24 we poured 34m3 of concrete into the footings of containers and the central slab. The action started at 6am in the morning and finished at 9am. We had a guy with a concrete pump who poured the concrete and Steve, his son Andy, friend Ondrej and I were vibrating the concrete and laying it into containers and central slab. Ondrej and I stayed at the site after everyone else left to keep an eye on it. At 11am we decided it is all looking great and went down to a local pub for a pint. What a beautiful day that was.

I cured the site slab for the next 7 days.

With the roof being build at the same time, the chassis started turning into the house frame. Walking around on the site slab was a huge change compare to all of the dangers of the chassis. very good feeling.

House frame now finished. Site slab and roof structure re-made the chassis into a house frame.

Update - November 9 2011

Getting material for the steel roof

I decided to get the roof done myself. I wasn’t happy with what I was getting in terms of quotes and service from various roofing companies.

On Sep 27th I picked up phone and rang Steel&Tube Roofing. I got all steel for the house from Steel&Tube. After a short explanation of what I am after I got transfered to the manager. I explained that I would like to get the roof done myself and that I need material to be able to do so. I think that the manager, Mr. Lyall Simpson, didn’t believe me at first. I guess, most likely, because it isn’t common thing to do.

End of the September until November 8th. More than a month of measuring, testing, re-measuring, sorting out facsia, many phone calls, more testing, ordering, confirming, paying & making. Getting all the material required for your roof is not as simple task as it may seem it is. If you want to get it done exatly the way you want it, that is.

I must say I am very grateful to Mr.Simpson for all his help. Steel&Tube is definitely the company for anything steel related.

With all the material ready it is now time to get the roof structure inspected and get the roof finished.

Daily updates - November 2011

7th - I heard a truck coming up the road so I had a look what’s up. Surprised enough. Steel&Tube truck with fascia arrived. Yay!

8th - Very hectic day. First, I went to pickup all of the external insualation polystyren and then I started working on electric and telecom plugs through a container wall. I was almost done when just like the day before I heard a truck coming up the road. All roof material arrived.

11th - Ondrej came with 40x20 battens that we nailgunned to extend and packed up a timber frame for fascia.

16th - I begun installing brackets for fascia. I managed to prepare (bend) them all and installed them on the south (longest) side.

17th - Continued with the fascia brackets on the west (most complex) side.

19th - Continued with the fascia brackets. Finished west side, done north side and almost managed to get the east side done, too.

20th - I took all tarps off the roof to prepare the house for pre-wrap inspection tomorrow.

21st - Pre-wrap inspection day. And it is Monday. I started to not like having inspections by the council on Mondays. To be perfectly honest, I am writing this update from our new house six months later on a sunny Easter day of the year 2012. After six months all I can remember about this day is that it rained, things were looking just fine and the inspection still failed. Well, not really failed, but we could not do it. And I also remember that there was so much drama for nothing. But anyway, I re-booked the inspection for Wednesday, 23rd. Wednesdays are usually good. Because it was Monday and I had roof to place and house to move on with, I chased up concrete quote, checked with central heating guys and let them know about the current status quo and double-check when they could come in to lay the pipes.I also sorted out wool (company that gave us quote originally disappeared), sorted out hardwood for floor and begun separate story with a telecom connection fee.

23rd - After all of the drama, Sun raised again and pre-wrap inspection passed and I could move on and place the roof. Kara picked up wool insulation. This was quite important logistically, because once the roof is on, there will be no way I could insulate parts of north (very low) side of the roof. Insulation has to go in first, then roof netting (50x50mm) then roof underlay and then 40 long (13.5m) and 6 short (7m) lenghts of roof sheets. Well, at least that’s what we calculated and orded. In aubergine colour to make things more difficult by getting non-standard colour. I didn’t know how this all going to work out, but one thing was certain: we had to move on quickly, use the gap in the weather while it is nice and stable weather and place the roof. I discussed the work with Ondrej who was keen to help. Sammy and Jared could join us on Saturday and help placing the roof sheets.

24th - I finished off few remaining fascia brackets on the east side. Fascia can be now installed. I added some electrical ducting to places on the north side where I won’t be able to access once the roof is on. Inspector asked me to place more purlin screws and add some extra brackets around the trusses so I did that. I take photos of these things (just like I take photo pretty much of all important details during the build), just in case I would need to prove anything to anyone. One never knows.

25th - Ondrej came to help me with the roof. We started with installation of fascia that needed to be in first. Trying to add it later on would be non-sense and most likely mission impossible. Then we started added strips of roof netting and then sheets of roof underlay. I was hoping that weather will last and there won’t be any gusty winds to take the roof underlay off.

26th - Saturday. Sammy and Jared came to help us out. Unfortunately we had all of the roof sheets on the ground and we had to carry them all, sheet by sheet, up on the roof so we can can be install them. It was going to be a long day. And none of us done this ever before. Ever. Ondrej and I firstly finished off the roof underlay. The roof was ready for the steel metal sheets. When you are placing roof sheets there is only and only one important thing to do: place the first sheet so it is in square with the whole roof. If you get that one right and continue doing it the same way, you will place roof right. It took us few moments to get quare of the roof so we knew where brackets for the first sheet are going to be. Then it took us “forever” and four of us (Ondrej, Sammy & Jared on the roof) and me dragging a piece of scaffold around and jumping up and down in attempt to get the first piece in. What a mission. But we got her in. At that point we’ve had another 39 pieces to go. This definitely won’t be finished today. We placed another six pieces and finally had something to eat. Kara made salads and BBQ. Day was looking awesome. I was already pretty knackered, because it was my third full-on day so the food really helped. Washed that down with a stubbie of beer and we could continue with work. I was definitely in the “let’s push some envelopes here” day that day. Sammy and I grabbed eight piece out of fourty of 13.5m roof sheets. Gusty nort-easterly wind picked up and swung the sheet sharply. Also sharply, I attempted to get my hands out of trajectory of the steel sheet, because I knew I have not things under control anymore. What a fail. I yelled “Kara” and grabbed my left wrist with thumb and index finger of my right hand to slow release of blood from the cut. I didn’t need to look to figure out it is a deep cut. Sammy on the other side was okay. A bit in shock maybe. But so was I. In the meantime, Ondrej and Kara came, I took a bottle of water and cleaned up the wound. No blood spray so not as gore as it could have been, but I was certainly happy about that. After cleaning the wound with water Kara addded a patch and Ondrej helped putting a bandage out of piece of cloth around and strips above the wrist to stop the bleeding. We jumped into the car and Kara drove me to the hospital in Christchurch. Later I found that Ondrej and Sammy managed to install one more piece and called it a day. Roof had eight pieces of sheet placed and 32 to go. And I was on my way to the hospital.

27th - My first time in a New Zealand hospital. When we arrived with Kara they were surprised I was not in their system at all. I spenit the rest of the previous day in the hospital. Plastic surgeon said that I have most likely chopped into the nerve going through there and he’ll need to have a look. I arrive in the hospital the next day at 10am and spend six hours waiting until it was my turn for a surgery. I went though a few health checks during the day. At 4pm it was my turn. The deal was that we’re going to do it under local anesthesia only. Surgery was an interesting 45 minute long experience. I was quite chatty with the team. The surgeon indeed found that I managed to chop 50% of the nerve and he stitched that one up and then sticked the rest back too. Big thanks guys! After the surgery I managed to get a dinner at the hospital and also finally had some coffee. I haven’t eaten nor drunk anything since the previous day.

28th - I woke up with pain kicking in after the surgery. Southwesterly front came through that day. Unprotected roof underlay concerned me, but I was all too fizzy and things were all blurry around me to so I didn’t care much about anything. I stayed in bed for the whole day.

29th - I inspected the damage after the southwesterly front. All roof underlay apart from the piece under already installed sheets was down. Things were looking rather bad. Interestingly enough, the situation didn’t stress me out at all. I simply accepted it as fact. After running around the town I ended up buying new roof underlay from Steel&Tube Roofing. I kept thinking how am I going to get the roof finished. Ondrej could help, but having only one healthy hand and small window of opportunity for next couple of days of nice weather I just couldn’t imagine how are we going to get this done. I didn’t care much about the hand, because she was all stitched-up alright. At the end I asked at Steel&Tube Roofing if they could come with their truck and get the sheets lifted up on the roof. That way we would need to only install the sheets.

30th - Truck couldn’t come. It was too windy.

We cleaned up all damaged roof underlay and installed polystyren to the top of the east side. That should stop the wind blowing through.

Daily updates - December 2011

1st - I woke up to a quiet and beautiful morning. My first thought was that it is pity that the guy with the roof hi-ab truck cannot come now rather then in the afternoon as he said yesterday over the phone. Dave from Aurecon was coming at 8:30am to re-inspect the chassis and the roof so he can reissue PS4 for us. As it happens, phone rang and the truck was on its way, because it was convenient for him to come NOW. I was more than happy to hear that. And indeed soon after the truck was here and we were palcing two massive stacks of roof sheets ont he roof. While we were doing so, Dave arrived and started inspection. I asked Ondrej to drop my daughter Vivien to school, thanked the guy from Steel&Tube and joined Dave for the inspection. What a start of the day! Once all the morning show was over, Ondrej and I prepared rolls of roof underlay. We installed those, but not in full lenght, but we made only few metres and left the rolls rolled. That way they won’t get blown off. Day was beautiful, but windy. We managed to install 16 sheets and after that we drank more than that bottles of beer. Intense ride so far and we’ve had another 16 long and 6 short sheets to go. Tomorrow.

2nd - Another beautiful and this time calm day. Yesterday we had to always keep the stack of sheets fixed with ropes so wind won’t blow them off. Today we could just place the sheets. There was absolutely no wind. And it was hot. I still don’t know how, but what seemed as mission impossible in the morning turned out to be mission possible and sharply at 5pm on a great day we could open up a bottle of cold beer and called it DONE! As per our tradition, I added a tree branch on the roof, too. It is what you do when you finish roof on the house.

3rd - It was day ten since the pre-wrap inspection and start on the roof. Alone again, I installed “poor man’s” flashing to the west side and cleaned up.

5th - I took all of the plastic, damages roof underlay to EcoDepot. Now I need to start work on the floor and try to finish that off by Christmas so we can start moving things in. I have three weeks to Christmas.

6th - Ondrej picked up hardwood (90x90mm) that I want to use for making a thermal break around the whole perimeter of the house ie. so the concrete floor is not connected to the side of the container around the perimeter of the house. This will prevent the heat leaking through that thermal bridge via the container wall outside.

7th - One thing that is really annoying about this phase is that you cannot have anything inside of the house, because you are working on the floor and you need that space unoccupied by stuff. I had a lot of material and other stuff all over the place. However, now I also had a proper roof above me and not just leaky tarps so I could easily put almost everything under the roof on top of the containers in between roof trusses.

8th - Went shopping for material to Blacks Fasteners.

9th - Swiped the whole floor. Started installing hardwood thermal break on the east side. Also placed few 30mm Kooltherm sheets to see how the thermal break and insulation fit together. They fit perfectly. I didn’t need to cut off anything from the Kooltherm insulation sheets. It paid off that I rang and started organising everything few weeks back. I only had to confirm that cetral heating guys will come next week on Tuesday. However, I haven’t had anyone for placing another 10m3 of concrete on top of floor insulation that will have the heating pipes stamped to.

10th - I knew I need to be done by Tuesday morning and I had a lot of work to do. I spent whole day adding more length meters of thermal break and laaying more insulation.

11th - I woke up early and started work as soon as possible. It was Sunday. I finished off all thermal break installation, placed all the insulation and clean up around. Twelve hour day. Not bad.

12th - All I had to do before the pipes come in tomorrow was to draw all known lines on the insualtion so the guys will know where to (not) lay them. I also picked up 40x15mm hardwood that I will use for control joints in the topping concrete.

13th - Installation of central underfloor heating pipes; day 1. I worked from the house whole day and answered all questions that arised during the day.

14th - Day 2 of underfloor heating pipes installation. All done and set to test state so I know there is no leak from the pipes.

17th - Back in the house after two days working for the business. I had to install more hardwood in the kitchen and also as a base for the bookcases between my office, sunroom and bedroom no.3. One thing that kept me busy during the previous two days was organizing the concrete. I rang a lot of companies around Christchurch, but everyone said no to me. I was trying to sqeeze my job before Christmas. I realy didn’t want to have uncovered kilometer of heating pipes laying around the whole floor over the holidays and until I could get someone to do the job for me. I decided to get it done with help from Steve and Ondrej who both helped me with separate stages of the roof. We set the date for 23rd December. Day before Christmas weekend.

18th - One thing I wanted to do before placing the concrete was laying a row of bricks to mark lines of where the kitchen brick corner and brick feature wall are going to be. This and adding the thermal break are one of my impromptu additions to the plans. I placed row of bricks in the kitchen today. I also done drip-edge on the roof so I could return tools I have borrowed from Steel&Tube Roofing.

21st - I had today and tomorrow to get the control joints done. And I had to take care of kids, too.

22nd - One last day to go. Finishing off hardwood control joints. Staying over night so I can get up early, get few more things finished and get onto it.

23rd - Massive day. Got up before 5:30am. Coffee. Started cleaning up and preparing tools for the day. As I finished first concrete truck comes. And another. Then concrete pump. I am telling the guy they are all an half an hour too early he says he is going to start preparing for the day. He does not want to believe me I am alone here. Steve comes when I am in the services container, already sweating and placing concrete. Steve quickly joins me. Ondrej comes shortly after. Intense start. Things then go quite well in three. After the first truck, the pump leaves and I am told another pump will come over in half an hour so we can catch up our breaths for a bit. Second pump, second concrete truck. Things are going well, however, there is concern we’l be short of concrete and I managed to not mentioned there may be a balance ie. I’ll need more concrete. It’s the last working day before Christmas. I made two spaces in the kitchen in case I would buffer and I started praying that we’ll have enough concrete to finish off the rest of the house. We sqeezed out the pump and the truck and what’s left was few buckets dropped by the leaving trunk in front of the livig room. I had to trow in half of that, but we managed. 10 cubes. Sharp. Phew. It was around noon when we wrapped things up and everyone left. Ondrej and I have gone traditionally for a pint to a local pub. It was beautiful day, Christmas weekend coming up and I was very happy that the roof and floor is done. Well. There is all that additional work and details that still have to come after, but I can say that we have roof and we have floor in our new house.

Next: Exterior