January 28, 2010 - We met with several framers and decided to go with Danny Spann. Danny had a good price, but it was his attitude that sold me. Building a commercial building from shipping containers is filled with challenges, and I have found craftsman that are excited about solving them are the best ones to deal with. Danny looked at our drawing and questioned how we were planning to affix the roof trusses to the containers. We were planning to use angle iron and a 4" flat plate of 3/16" steel. Danny said he thought there was a better way.
He suggested we use two 2" x 6" boards stacked on top of each other and placed around the top perimeter of the containers. The lower board would be bolted into the top of the container, and the upper board nailed to the lower board. This will give us a nice surface to mount the trusses on. What sealed the deal for Danny was he agreed to install these base plates for the price he already quoted for the framing and truss installation. Danny said his crew would be ready to start work at 9:00am on Friday morning and would have the wall installed by the end of the day. It seemed like a lot of work for just four guys to do.
Posted by on January 29, 2011
January 20, 2011 - The weather turned cold this week (for Houston anyway) with morning temperatures dipping down in the low 20's. The rain didn't help matters. We used window tape to seal the tops of the containers, and used the same tape inside to seal the openings between containers. We bought some small propane heaters that are used atop 20 pound propane bottles and that made things a little warmer.
We turned containers 9&10 into a workshop which helped to keep things organized. We also got a second welder - William Ensign - who helped Adam install the first set of windows on container #2. That was a fine moment to see; the wall of the container cut away, and a window frame (followed by the window itself) installed. We went with narrow windows and chose to turn the windows horizontal for a couple of reasons. The narrow windows are much less prone to theft. Installing them high and horizontal will allow some light to enter the rooms, but not too much, since they will be edit suites and contain monitors. Some tips on window installation and a great place to buy them are shown after the jump.
Posted by on January 23, 2011
January 19, 2011 - Since the job began, we have been working with a portable diesel generator. It is loud and stinky and we were limited to where we could work by the extension cord of 220V welder. On some days we also used a gas generator which made things twice as loud and stinky. These generators will only let you use120V or 220V, but not both at the same time. We typically used the generator for the 220V, and ran extension cords from the epic studio for the 120V hand tools. This set up often resulted in tripped breakers, and inconsistent power. Today all that changed...
Posted by on January 19, 2011
January 14, 2011 - This week we just about finished cutting out all of the common walls (only one more wall to go)! With the common walls removed, we needed to add 2" x 2" x 1/8" steel columns to support the floors and ceilings. It is amazing how "bouncy" the center of the floors between the containers are when the walls are removed. We had been using Triple S Steel for our red iron, but decided to look around and found another source (on Craigslist) that saved us some money. Roger at SRS Steel Recycling Sales has a nice inventory and worked with us on the pricing for the tubing and 6" C channel we needed.
We then headed over to Triple S for the stairs. They have stair raisers and supports all ready to go. The first job on the list was to build the platform for the second floor landing. Building the stairs was a challenge. It took us some time to make sure the rise and run of the stairs met the ADA codes, but the time spent was worth it since the stairs passed inspection later in the week. We used Sketchup to make sure our stair calculations were right. Adam built a jig to keep the spacing consistent and speed installation. Once they got going, Adam and Mike got the stairs up quickly. After a couple of weeks of climbing ladders with our welding and cutting equipment, walking up the stairs was great. Being able to walk from container to container on the second floor was very cool.
Posted by on January 14, 2011
January 2, 2011 - With the containers set in place, we turned our attention to working on the interiors - specifically, removing the common walls. Our building design includes the removal of 8 common walls, for a total of over 480 linear feet of steel to be cut. The walls of the container are very heavy, and we cut them into 3' wide by 9' tall sections, for another 720 feet of cutting. We really put our Hobart plasma cutter to the test. With 80% of the walls removed at the time of this writing, we have only gone through a couple of cutting tips (they are about $18/tip).
In addition to removing the walls, the floors needed some TLC as well. First, we patched the holes cut in the bottom of the containers by using some of the scrap wood left over from the foundation footings. Next, we power washed the units where we cut the walls out to remove all the slag and dirt tracked in during construction. After the floors dried out for a couple of days, we sealed them using a variety of oil based paints (since color did not matter, we used "Oops" paint purchased from Home Depot and Loews. "Oops" paint is paint that has been returned by customers. Since it was custom mixed, it cannot be restocked and is sold at a deep discount. Since the floors will be covered later in construction, color was not important. There are some other money saving things we did which I will share with you after the jump.
Posted by on January 02, 2011