Wednesday, October 8, 2014

8'x20' Kitchen / Bathroom / Laundry Unit

ESP floor plan

The ESP module is a concept in development that could inexpensively simplify and speed-up the process of turning buildings such as barns, sheds, or garages into livable homes.  It could also be used to improve the lives of people living in substandard housing situations.  The ESP (Essential Systems Pod) is an 8'x20' high cube steel shipping container that would be fully insulated, and its interior would be completely finished with full kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities.  


Why do this in a shipping container? Because they are inexpensive, readily available, sturdy, and easily transported.  In certain communities, the ESP module could be freestanding and shared by two or more families.  Even that would be a huge upgrade to living conditions in many parts of the world.  To do that, the plan could be adjusted so that the bathroom and laundry each had separate entrance doors from the outside, and doors would be added to the kitchen entry.  By eliminating the passageway between the kitchen and bathroom, the kitchen could take on a U-shape, allowing increased storage and counter space.  Using this initial plan as a nucleus, all these adjustments would be simple to do.

ESP cross-section through kitchen

The kitchen would have a two bowl stainless steel sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, range, pantry, base cabinets, counter-top, wall cabinets, and range hood.  It would be fully wired and have outlets, switches, and lighting.  All appliances would be standard sized and the layout would be highly functional.  The design also includes lots of awning windows for natural ventilation, daylight, and views.

ESP cross-section through bathroom and kitchen

The bathroom has a standard full-sized tub/shower combination, a water conserving dual flush toilet, a 36" vanity, a linen closet, and a full-sized stacked washer/dryer.  The wall of the linen closet that faces the vanity could be home to a tankless water heater (that's right, recessed into the wall) to provide unlimited on-demand hot water for the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen.  Alternatively, a small water heater could be located in a kitchen base cabinet,  in the bathroom vanity, or in the linen closet.

As I mentioned, the ESP module could be attached to an existing building, like a freestanding garage for example, to transform it into livable space.  The modules could be prefabricated so that they could be inexpensive and easily shipped just about anywhere either individually or in quantity.  In many locations they could be used to improve the quality of the housing stock considerably.  The units could either add functions the housing doesn't already have, or upgrade and replace it so that space in the existing building could function better for living, dining, and sleeping.

When attaching it to another building I think it makes sense to do so with a short corridor.  This would allow air circulation between the existing building and the new module to avoid moisture build-up and rot. It would also allow any doors and windows on the existing building to remain functional.

I made the video below to more fully explain the ESP module concept, and show it in a variety of situations.  If you enjoy the video, please "like" it on YouTube, share it and comment.


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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

8'x40' Shipping Container Home Design

I've designed and drawn-up my first 8' x 40' steel shipping container home plan.  It's a 320 sq. ft. tiny home design.  While it's specifically designed for a shipping container, there's no reason it couldn't be a stick-built tiny home plan as well.  In fact, if you did that you could put on a gable, gambrel, or shed roof to get some extra storage or sleeping loft space too.

View from the kitchen looking toward the great room.
By definition, a 320 sq. ft. home is pretty modest, but I tried to make it a livable plan with a sensible layout, reasonable amenities, and lots glass for daylight and outside views.  It's not a palace, but I think it's nice for its size.  As you'll notice in the plan, it has a linear layout with a bedroom at one end, a bathroom at the other end, and a great room and kitchen in between..  This could be a guest house, granny flat, in-law apartment, ADU, backyard rental unit, vacation home, or full-time residence.
Exterior including back

Exterior including front

Floor plan for 8' x 40' shipping container home.
The great room has a dining area, living area, propane fireplace (suitable for heating the entire home when needed), triple patio doors on one side and triple awning windows on the other.  This space would have plenty of natural daylight, even on overcast days.

Great room

View from great room toward kitchen.

The bedroom has enough room for a queen sized bed, bedside table, and a large armoire.  I chose the armoire instead of a built-in closet because it allows for more storage and better organization in less space.  The bedroom also features a set of patio doors leading out back.  With the door to the great room open in cold weather, you could enjoy the glow of the fireplace while laying in bed.  If you installed a Murphy-type bed in there, especially one that transforms into a desk when the bed is upright, you'd gain quite a bit in terms of the functionality of the space.


The kitchen is more complete than you see in most tiny homes.  It has a big refrigerator/freezer, full-size stove, 18" dishwasher, large sink, six linear feet of wall cabinets, decent base cabinets, and enough counter space to actually prepare a meal on.  It also has two adjacent closets.  I was thinking that one could be a broom closet and the other could house batteries and an inverter for a small solar electric system.  You might choose to put a water heater in one of the closets, or you could put a small one under either the kitchen counter or the bathroom vanity.

Galley kitchen and two closets flanking the bathroom door

The bathroom has all the standard fixtures, plus a stacked washer/dryer combination and a linen closet.  I debated including a larger shower, or even a four foot tub/shower combination, but ultimately I decided on a 32" shower so I could fit the linen closet in too.

View of the bathroom
Take a virtual tour of the home and listen to my description in the video below.  If you enjoy the video, please "like", share, comment and/or subscribe.  Thanks!

How Much Would it Cost? 
I haven't done an estimate on this design, but I did do a rough one for my first 8x20 design.  It came to about $10,000 in materials (assuming they are all brand new), not including the shipping container itself, or labor.  I'm inclined to say that this design would be about twice as much as my 8x20 design.  Granted, it doesn't have twice as many kitchens, bathrooms, and washer/dryer sets, but the kitchen and bathroom are larger and more developed, and there are more windows and doors which tend to be expensive if purchased new.   See my 8x20 design and it's estimate by clicking here.

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