- Bob Vila TV Shows >
- Storm-Ready Housing > Episode 1: Building with Steel Shipping Containers
Converting Steel Shipping Containers to Housing
Bob joins Askia Aquil from St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services (SPNHS), project manager Ray Price, and general contractor Buba Barrow, while they are in the process of constructing an affordable, energy-efficient, and storm-resistant home from converted steel shipping containers. David Cross from Tampa Armature Works (TAW) explains how the 700,000 abandoned containers that clog U.S. ports can be fitted as intermodal steel building units (ISBUs) that are perfectly suited to quick, affordable housing for storm-threatened regions. Bob watches ISBUs cut, skinned in sheet metal, and sprayed with heavy-duty insulating SuperTherm ceramic coating to prevent heat buildup and transfer.
- Part 1: Constructing the Stem-Wall Foundation
- Part 2: Converting Steel Shipping Containers to Housing
- Bob talks about the vast number of steel shipping containers abandoned in America's ports. Because America is no longer an exporting nation, only an importing nation, it is too expensive to return the 700,000 containers clogging American ports. Tampa Armature Works (TAW) converts these containers to intermodal steel building units (ISBUs). David Cross of TAW explains how, from the basic structure of the container, almost anything can be built.
- Part 3: Finishing the Steel Building Container
Bob Vila is in St. Petersburg, FL, learning how to create affordable, energy-efficient, storm-ready housing from recycled steel shipping containers. Bob and the team build a roomy, single-family home that improves this once-blighted neighborhood and creates opportunity for first-time homeownership.
Also from Storm-Ready Housing
Bob reviews progress on the container house, noticing the truss-roof system attached to the steel frame. Bill York and Rob Davis from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) explain how the roof is attached to the frame with welded bolts and hurricane straps. Once sheathed in plywood, this roof will withstand winds up to 140 miles per hour. The PGT WinGuard windows are also code-compliant and feature double-pane energy-efficient, and impact-resistant, glazing to keep the home's envelope intact. Also, in addition to visiting the historic neighborhoods of St. Petersburg, FL, Bob meets with Kelly Cafarelli of the Home Depot Foundation and Todd Pittman of Neighborworks to discuss their efforts to build affordable homes and sustainable neighborhoods, like this one, across the whole country.
The St. Petersburg container home is roofed and ready for exterior finishes. The Tampa Armature Works (TAW) crew completes the new front wall by welding a piece of 16-gauge sheet metal to steel framing strips, then by cutting a window opening with a plasma torch. Surface burrs, voids, and seams are repaired with a metal filler. After the crew applies a latex galvanized-metal primer, they spray the exterior with an elastomeric stucco coating and finish it with SuperTherm insulating ceramic paint. Next, Bob meets Leslie Chapman-Henderson of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) who assesses the building and presents Bob with Florida's Governor's Hurricane Conference award for his efforts to promote storm-preparedness. Inside, Bob meets architect and designer Steve Armstrong who explains how this incredibly strong structure offers flexibility for traditional or open-plan layouts. Bob also reviews design possibilities for container housing with TAW's David Cross.
Bob briefly looks at the rich architectural history of St. Petersburg, and the development of its waterfront parks and neighborhoods. He also reviews the construction progress to date. Architect Steve Armstrong and project manager Ray Price join Bob to review the insulating ceramic coating that was used to paint the exterior and protect it from heat buildup. They also review the innovative finishes and design features that helped them transition the exterior surfaces from corrugated metal siding to sheet-metal panels to concrete block to wood with a unified finish. General contractor Buba Barrow joins Bob for a tour of the finish work and interior layout, starting on the tiled front porch, moving through the open-plan family, kitchen, and dining spaces, and into the four bedrooms, each faced in mold-resistant wallboard and painted with an orange-peel textured finish. The kitchen is complete with oak cabinets, laminate counters, a bottom-freezer/upper refrigerator unit and an energy-efficient dual-drawer dishwasher. Last, Bob meets with David Cross to discuss the future of building with converted shipping containers.