My head has been spinning with construction pretty much non-stop since yesterday evening.
I've realized concrete is not as great as I thought. Even from an insulation value. Cinder block has an insulation vaue of about R1. You can get 1" thick foam board with an insulation value of R5. Even if I build something out of concrete I'll still need to insulate it. And ideally you would have insulation then thermal mass. Preferably not the other way around.
I kind of hate to say it, but the modern technique of wood, fiberglass insulation, and drywall makes a ton of sense. It's fairly easy, light, and solves a number of problems all in one go. Drywall seals very well and you just patch it with putty so it's seamless. Even carpet is very easy and adds insulation -- even though I greatly dislike it.
Also looking into shipping containers. I would need to insulate it with foam board. Preferably 2" thick R10 but that seems harder to find. Maybe can do that on the roof and R5 everywhere else. I would leave one container door open normally and frame in a door to the outside. Run a PVC pipe to the back with an exhaust fan, then one without a pipe as an inlet. This is to get good circulaton throughout the whole container. No windows or cuts on the container. A 20' container also seems doable to move with a beefy enough truck and a gooseneck trailer. 40' starts to get on the extreme end of things.
Since the foam insulation board comes just like plywood in sheets of 4x8, it fits probably without cutting in the 20x8x8 shipping container. And I think the height is actually a little over 8', so can put insulation and then another layer of plywood as the floor. Of course a secondary roof over the container would be ideal. I'll try to get a couple quotes on having one delivered. The steel container will probably kill cell or wifi signal so that will also be a consideration.
Of course then for any construction, having a place out of the wind and rare rain is ideal. Shipping containers are great for that.
Home Depot sells some shed kits that are somewhat reasonably priced. But they tend to not seem optimal for adding insulation and being inhabited. I've been looking into building my own structure out of wood using concrete footings as a foundation. If there's sag I can just jack up the sagging end and add shims under the main beams, just like with pier and beam. Not as good as slab for sure, but a whole lot less work and more portable. Much easier for me to do by myself.
I'm quickly realizing the cost of even the most basic structures. For a 16'x16' it easily could be $4,000 or more and take me at least a week to put together, I imagine. And then there's trucking the materials out. My truck is a short bed which means I can't lay the plywood flat with the tailgate up. And I may end up bringing it in from El Paso as times. I am curious about Home Depot or the local Van Horn hardware store delivering.
I have always been curious of a structure in a truck bed in terms of supplies. Now am also thinking about how it would be ideal to have something that could fit in a truck bed and you could build off site.
4x8 is probably even too tiny for me to live in for long. But, can fit a single sized bed, clothes, and possibly work out of it. It can also store a motorcycle out of the elements later on.
I'll try to describe what I've been thinking. Made largely for low cost, insulation value, portability, and reusability.
Starting with the main beams. 2x6x8 cedar since they will be bare and exposed. Cross beams are 2x4x4 every two feet.
Flooring is 3/4" plywood, 1" foam sheet R5 insulation, then another bit of plywood. Maybe 1/2 or 3/4". I think two 1/2" plywoods would be fine since they are stacked.
Long side walls are sheets of plywood (probably not the ugly kind, the smooth finished type) mounted to the main beams with screws. This is fairly weak initially. 2x4x8s are mounted on the outside every two feet to hold the next sheet of plywood (seam is horizontal). They are probably mounted on the main beams with two screws, so not quite 8' up. 2x"s are mounted on the inside to hold the foam board between and then hold the thin plywood to hide the foam board. The interior boards do not go all of the way up. At the top is a diagonally mounted board. The entrance wall is the tallest and the back is the lowest. A plywood, foam board, plywood stack is the base of the roof that is mounted on this. It will end up being somewhat longer than 8' given the pitch and to offer a tiny bit of flashing, maybe 4" per end. Thus the plywood side walls look square while the roof ends up going between them. This is kind of needless but I don't see a reason to adjust it. There will be a couple 2x4 braces running along the underside of the roof base, going between the large side walls. The short and small end wall is finished like the sidewalls with plywood, insulation foam board, and more plywood. The entrance end has a 6" step up provided by a 2x6x4 board. This will have PVC channels for water, electricity, and such. Maybe four of them, 2" in inner diameter with plugs when they are not needed. Angled slightly down so rain will drip out.
The rest of the entrance wall will be hinged under the flashing. There will be two fold-out legs, probably a handle. It will be insulated like the other walls. Possibly just 1/2", foam board, and 1/4" to save on weight so it is easier to open. Opening will shield from the rain and offers a shaded canopy area.
I have not accounted for windows. I imagine some basic LED lighting.
Still not sure what I want to build. This may not be intelligible at all but I wanted to write it down, partly to try and get it out of my head.
I may leave for Van Horn next week. Possibly this upcoming weekend even.
I still need to buy a generator, skill saw, and possibly an air compressor. Truck still has a bad clunk on the front right side that I've not identified. I have shocks on the way for the truck (might fix the clunk and the shocks are pretty bad either way), and tires for my DR-650 that should be good in the sand.
As I recall one of the least comfortable elements was the wind shaking the trailer (got much better after I put it on blocks) and the noise. Both of the coyotes and the trucks on I-10. The trailer just does not feel secure to me. I know mice can get in, probably snakes if one wanted to. I think maybe I will leave it for storage and cooking for a while.
Guessing the 4x8' structure would cost about $1,000 in supplies even with insulation. Earth bags or any of the alternative construction types would take me much too long before having a comfortable place to sleep and work (on my laptop). I'm hoping I could assemble it in two days. Also need to figure out ventilation for A/C. Possibly can do another PVC pipe on the end of the unit as exhaust, but right through the wall.
I imagine finishing out a shipping container would also cost about $1,000 and take me two days, maybe just one. But I am betting it will be at least $3,500 delivered. Though it may be enough space for me to live in comfortably for a while.
Thank you for reading.