Container home couchsurfing: Culture comes to you

I’ve been an active member of the CouchSurfing.com community since 2009. The site enables travelers to find hosts around the world who are willing to open up their homes and offer up their hospitality. It’s like AirBnB but free of charge and more social, in that the homeowners/primary residents usually interact with their guests.

It appeals to those who, like myself, prefer to visit a city less like a tourist and more like a local. Further, because not everyone is comfortable letting complete strangers into their homes as overnight guests, the people I’ve hosted and stayed with through CS are usually like-minded, easy-going folks who become fast friends.

It’s because of these built-in character traits among CSers that it’s easy to feel a sense of community with guests and hosts. Just by virtue of being a member of the site, it’s likely you already have quite a bit in common with those you encounter through it. Birds of a bohemian feather…

Over the years, I’ve probably hosted about 100 people from various apartments and houses I’ve lived in, mainly in Oakland and L.A. Since moving into the container last year, I’ve hosted CSers on about 18 occasions. Who knew OKC was such a touristy destination for international travelers? I’ve had guests from Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Eritrea, Spain, the U.K., Quebec, Nashville, NYC and L.A. Some were pretty crunchy hippy types hitchhiking across the U.S.; others were on road trips across Route 66; and some were just in town for work-related stuff or headed West to relocate.

But how?

“But Josh, you live in a 270-square foot box that’s only 7’8″ or so at its widest interior width. How can you host strangers, sometimes three at a time, in such a small space? How long do they stay? Doesn’t it get cramped?”

Good questions! My CS profile limits the number of guests to three at a time, and that’s the max that I’ve hosted in the container. Usually, surfers only stay for the night and leave the next morning, although one has stayed for a week recently.

Yes, it does get kinda cramped at times, and not everyone is capable of keeping their things quarantined into an orderly mess, which can complicate moving about the space (and drive me crazy). I’ve tried to learn from each surfer what works and what doesn’t in this space. It helps that hosting surfers has been something of a hobby of mine for so long.

CS considerations from early on to present

Even when designing the layout of the container and considering furnishings, the ability to host travelers was a consideration. For example, I knew I would want to create two completely private spaces, one for myself and one for guests, plus I would want bathroom doors that locked (to spare everyone some potential embarrassment/awkwardness). I also knew I would want some kind of spare bed, so, taking a cue from the name of the site, the plan was always to have a couch that could convert into a bed and a living room that could accommodate both configurations.

container home couchsurfing
Couch bed.
In the living room, I use an old footlocker as a coffee table. This footlocker actually does three things:

  1. It’s a coffee table.
  2. It stores bedding for the fold-out couch.
  3. It can store surfer luggage during their stay while the bedding is on the hide-a-bed.

There’s also an unused kitchen cabinet that can be conscripted as a makeshift locker. As long as we keep the floor clear, the space remains navigable, and my mind remains free from clutter-related stresses.

What’s in it for me?

While it’s nice to save some money while traveling and stay someplace for free, CS is also (and more importantly) about sharing cultures and exchanging perspectives. Guests are generally very gracious and willing to cook, buy a drink or two, practice languages or otherwise contribute in a positive way in return for even just a night’s stay.  Just look at the maple syrup and caramel a Canadian recently sent me by way of saying thanks:


Plus, I like hosting. I like being an ambassador for OKC and making recommendations for what I consider the best things to do, see and eat. Sometimes I personally give the guests a tour of the town; other times I’m busy, and they do their own thing. If we’re both at home, though, I find it a welcome change of pace to have interesting conversations with a temporary roommate.

There’s also the possibility that a host, while traveling, would be able to stay with someone they’ve hosted before. While this kind of reciprocity isn’t expected and certainly not required, I have stayed with prior guests in Poland and Germany and met up with prior guests in Holland. So, while it’s a free platform, the fringe benefits of networking help create value for everyone. At the very least, for times when I’m unable to travel, I can let the world come to me, one guest at a time.

Give it a whirl!

For those who travel frequently (and would like to travel frequently if only it weren’t so expensive), I highly recommend joining CS before your next trip. Even if you’re not sold on the idea of staying at a stranger’s home or hosting them, it can be a great way to find event listings in a new city, meet up with locals and/or other travelers, find rides to share or simply get recommendations. Because it’s free to join, you have nothing to lose. In return, you may just make some really good friends and have the kinds of experiences money can’t buy.

Container home end cap receives windows (finally)

As was alluded to in a previous post, the last of the windows have been installed in the container home end cap. It’s a highly satisfying finishing touch that makes the interior look and feel bigger while also adding a touch of class to the curb appeal.

Interior acoustics have improved, too, versus the previous metal doors, and it’s warmer on the couch now that there’s less thermal transfer between the outside air and the interior surface of the end cap.

Last, replacing the industrial look of the natural cargo doors with sleek glazing from Thermal Windows definitely brings the project into the 21st century of modern design aesthetics.

(For the technically minded, these are Comfort Select 36 low-E argon gas-filled dual-pane windows. Much like the Pella windows throughout the rest of the container home, they were selected for their energy efficiency.)

Here’s how the process went down last week:

First panel for the container home end cap

container home windows

It was a crew of three led by John (kneeling behind window above, obscured), who has 15 years of experience installing windows. His young crew members were attentive and efficient in working as a team to steady the heavy glass panels during a rather windy afternoon.

Second panel

With the first panel tenuously held into place with one screw on the left-hand side, the second panel was brought in to butt up against it. A strip of vinyl known as snap trim was later hammered into the thin channel between the two panels and would eventually fill all the gaps between panels and the end-cap frame.

Third panel

This weld in the end cap’s frame, as well as its counterpart on the other side, threatened to be troublesome for the installation of the third panel. The original measurements had allotted for some expansion of the frames, but all three panels would need to be raised simultaneously to make a proper fit.

Through the use of shims and a pry bar, the crew was able to work around the welds and slide the third panel up and into place.

From there it was just a matter of installing the rest of the snap trim, drilling the remaining screw holes and inserting screws through the window frames and into the end-cap frame. Last, a bead of caulk was run along the interior and exterior borders of the window frame, and the glass was cleaned with a spray solution and paper towels.

Of course, the next thing to do is get some curtains. It feels a little like living in a fishbowl or some kind of weird performance-art piece at the moment, especially at night when the lights are on inside but it’s dark outside.

I hope to get some that can be raised UP from the floor instead of DOWN from the ceiling. That way I can get the benefit of the light, sky and trees without exposing myself to the neighbors.

One last note: As was planned, the cargo doors remain operable. Although I intend to leave them both wide open 99 percent of the time, I will have the option to close the end cap in case of extreme weather or extended absence.

OKC container home deck: You get what you pay for

I have dreaded writing this post, mainly because it concerns the aspect of the OKC container home that is most embarrassing to me: the back deck.

The back deck took longer than planned to get installed — mainly for monetary reasons. My usual work partner was unavailable (and slightly unwilling) to take on a project as substantial as I wanted this deck to be. Add to that a diligent search for the most affordable quote from local contractors, and the wait was about a month from the site being ready for it to the work actually beginning. When I finally did pull the trigger on what I thought was an excellent deal, I only wound up getting exactly what I paid for.

Live by the Craigslist, die by the Craigslist

container home deck
A cheap futon, rug made from recycled plastic and Christmas lights have been added to the deck as the weather has warmed. These items also serve to mask some of the deck’s shortcomings, which I will eventually remedy this summer (I think…).

When the professional deck contractors I contacted in OKC wound up returning quotes in the $5,000 and $6,000 dollar range, I began to despair. That would make the deck one of the most expensive single aspects of the container home so far.

So, I turned to CL.

I love CL. Used it all the time in California and even some here in Oklahoma. It didn’t take me long to find a post for an independent contractor (more like just some random kid) who said that he worked to support his wife and kids and would never screw a client over. He seemed like one of those simple, good-hearted, salt-of-the-earth people based on the writing in his post, and so I decided to give him a shot.

The kid came out, and we looked over the site and talked over the requirements. he took some measurements and said he would get back to me with a quote. When he did, it was only like $2,000, including materials (only $1,400!). He said that if things wound up being more expensive or that if he messed up something and had to gov over budget that he would absorb the cost personally. Although he said he had never built a deck this big, he said it should pose no serious problems.

So I got him a Home Depot card for the $1,400 and told him he could keep any that was left over. He began working right away, by himself, and completed the whole job in a total of about four days.

The problems became clear, however, once he was finished.

‘A big ol’ bag of mashed-up a–hole’

Even though I knew at first glance that the deck had problems, I didn’t want to go over it with a fine-toothed comb and point them all out to him. At $2,000, I figured I could remediate whatever he had messed up.

Problem was: He messed the whole thing up.

NONE of the decking boards had two screws in them, which would (and has) led to cupping of the wood, even though it was pressure-treated. Some of the screws in the decking boards weren’t even screwed into a corresponding foundation board AT ALL! Just hanging there loose.

Further, the balusters along the borders of the deck were unevenly spaced and would not pass code. Very few of them were leveled true, and mostly not even level with each other. The stairs are a nightmare. Some of the deck boards extend all the way across the width, but others have been cut at random and the remainder made up at uneven intervals.

Last (and these are nit-picky issues, I grant you), much like the cock-ups from the roofing-insulation guy before, some of the boards were facing with the label side up, while others were properly installed label-side down. And I had specifically told him to remove the paper labels stapled into the ends of each board before installing, and yet they persist to this day.

As my good friend Morgan Brown of HB Contractors joked:

“This looks like a big ol’ bag of mashed-up asshole!”

A lesson in Zen philosophy


And so, as Morgan helped me go over all the mistakes made in the construction of the deck and how to remedy them, he offered some sage advice in the process. I had wanted to call the CL guy up and complain, tell him to get back out here or else face a lot of bad press on CL, but Morgan pointed out that that would be futile. If a guy is going to do a job so poorly from the outset, he’s obviously incapable of doing it right at all. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing: It wastes your time and annoys the pig. Don’t do it.

At the end of the day, I had gotten what I wanted: a deck of a certain size that I could stand on and lord over my back yard, a place to enjoy breezes and sunsets and entertain friends. Was it perfect? No, not by half, but it did exist. My feet were off the ground, and it had cost half as much as some quotes and taken half the time, too.

I have a deck. It exists. It sucks, but it is mine.

I have a deck.

Take the OKC container home 360 tour

In the course of my day job, we recently acquired a 360-degree camera. I was fortunate enough to use this device to take some pics of the OKC container home in 360 degrees. Take the OKC container home 360 tour below by clicking the play button on each image and then using the mouse to navigate each immersive space. For those of you with VR headsets, you can click the three dots in the upper right of each image and activate VR mode, then use your camera and headset to view each area as if you were there:

Front yard

Living room

Kitchen

Bathroom

Bedroom

Back deck

Container home windows coming soon…

From the get-go, the plan had been to fill the opening where the standard container doors go with floor-to-ceiling windows. Unfortunately, budgeting issues caused me to delay that mostly aesthetic aspect (or so I thought) in favor of paying for more practical things that I could actually afford.

The unexpected snafu caused by that delay only became apparent as the weather grew colder. Because the natural doors have no insulation and are essentially one sheet of metal, the inside of the doors basically gets as cold as the outside of the doors. When the weather sank into the teens in Oklahoma City during December, I was getting massive amounts of condensation on the interior of those doors, which is right behind my couch. Further, that condensation was eventually freezing, so it was like I had a big block of ice right in my living room.

So much for thermal efficiency.

Through a combination of determined miserliness and motivation borne from being uncomfortable at home, I finally pulled the trigger on calling a regional company’s OKC offices, Thermal Windows, and getting a quote on floor-to-ceiling glazing for that much-neglected yet highly costly aspect of the project.

Decisions, decisions

I was struck with a bit of deja vu upon being presented the options for solving my end-cap problems. Looking at the image of computer renderings above, the models on the left and right sides were quoted far cheaper than the one in the middle. At the same time, the one in the middle was the one I really liked. After some hem and hawing, I decided to go with what would make me happiest, and soon enough a representative came out to get the measurements exactly right.

These will be similar to the Pella windows installed throughout the rest of the container: dual-paned and thermally efficient, with a layer of argon gas filling the inside space between the panes.

Hiccups in the process

I was told from the time I ordered the windows (late December) that they would not be available for install until sometime in mid-February. Once again my ignorance with regard to lead times in contracting for residential construction needs was laid bare, but at least I had my foot in the door.

Or so I thought.

There was some confusion as to the color of the window trim I had chosen. I forget the specifics, but it was something like the color I had selected originally wound up being unavailable in that particular material. So, I had to re-submit a signed order form. Then, I received a phone call one Friday morning in January from the install guy who had originally came out to do the initial measurements. He told me he was notified earlier that week that the factory had “lost” the measurements, which had “never happened before.” Although he could not properly explain why he waited several days to tell me of this delay, I advised him to come out right then to redo the measurements.

Waiting game

Today is Feb. 10, and I haven’t heard a peep from Thermal Windows. I expect they could be coming to install any day now, and I can’t wait to take those pictures, but dang: not a very professional company so far. We’ll just have to wait and see how their final install works out and if they’re willing to give me a discount should the delays add up to a significantly longer than expected install date.

Squirrel Park container development going up in OKC

The Squirrel Park container development is making fast inroads in northwest OKC. Located in the Asian District on the southeast side of the intersection of 32nd and Classen, the development consists exclusively of container structures and was designed by the same Londdon-based firm that created the OKC SEA complex near Deep Deuce. Eventually, an artist’s rendering of the project dictates that it will look something like this:

Squirrel ParkFrom an archived post on OKCTalk.com from August 2015 (presumably made by Pete Schaffer, the developer):

Developer Peter Schaffer received approval yesterday from the Planning Commission to move forward with the project, which will feature four unique homes. The units at Squirrel Park will initially be for lease with the possibility of being sold as condominiums later.

The units will span two lots on the south side of NW 32nd just east of Classen and represents more urban infill where housing demand has surged in recent years.

The architect is AHMM of London, the same group that designed the recently-completed OKSea project, which was also formed out of containers.

AHMM continues to make an impact on urban Oklahoma City, having already designed Level, Mosaic, The Plow, Duncan Bindery, the American Energy Partners fitness center and the recently announced Bob Moore Headquarters.

Here’s a gallery of more images from that same archived post:

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Looks like it’s going to be a really sharp development. Given that permits were issued in 2015 and construction seems to be only about a month down the road, I feel a lot less bad about the fact that my single-unit home took two years to build from concept to move in.

HCI: Available for giving container home presentations

So, since founding this blog and moving into my high cube, I’ve subsequently been fortunate enough to have various groups within the Oklahoma City metro ask me to give some presentations on container homes — specifically MY container home, of course.

Real estate appraiser’s group

In September 2017, I spoke at a meeting of the Appraisal Institute’s Great Plains chapter. Kelly Hogan with Scope Property Valuation Specialists had heard of me by chance through a mutual friend, and she was needing to provide some kind of presentation for the Great Plains chapter’s monthly meeting.

There were about 30 to 40 people in attendance, all of them hyper-aware of the local real estate market. Their questions were largely related to the more technical side of property ownership, zoning and taxes, but they also had more personal curiosities about design choices and the practicality of living in 270 square feet.

Main takeaway: Because there’s no loan classification for container homes yet, a significant amount of difficulty exists in getting a container home loan, either for buying or borrowing against an existing one or borrowing in order to build a new one. Personally, Bank of America (my bank since 2008) denied my application for a loan (although I imagine some kind of self-financing could be arranged in the event I sell my unit). At the same time, there are a few large-scale container projects (to be discussed in a future post), that seem to indicate that if your project is big enough (or you know the right people) one can secure a loan for these types of unique structures.

Earth Rebirth: Environmental consultants and sustainability collective

Speaking to members of the Earth Rebirth environmental collective Oct. 5, 2016, in Norman, OK. (Photo by Deon Osborne)

The Earth Rebirth organization based out of Norman, Oklahoma, contacted me in August about presenting to their group in early October. Even though the appraiser’s chapter turned out to be a good meeting with an engaged and curious audience, this was the type of organization more in line with what I thought constituted the “container home market,” because the ideals of Earth Rebirth (sustainability, environmentalism, recycling, etc.) are reflected in the container home itself.

There were somewhere between a dozen and 20 people in attendance during the course of the evening’s talk, and many were already familiar with container homes and other tiny living solutions, having done their own research already and currently seeking to downsize their living situations.

Main takeaway: People who are sympathetic to the environmental and sustainable aspects of container developments are very enthusiastic about the concept but largely lack the funds to start their own projects. (See lack of loan availability above.)

Minimalists.org OKC group/Tiny House Collective Oklahoma

A man by the name of John Stuart happened to attend the Earth Rebirth session, and he subsequently invited me to speak to members of his group(s) shortly thereafter. (OKC minimalists can be found here, while the local tiny house collective exists online here.)

A much more modestly sized group of like-minded individuals gathered on a recent Saturday afternoon in the sanctuary of City Pres church in OKC, which will host meetings for free. Much like the environmentalists from the previous meeting, this group consisted largely of people who had already gone down the online rabbit hole of container home research, and one had even purchased a vacant lot in northeast OKC with the sole purpose of container development.

Main takeaway: Again, the desire is there, but the money remains and issue, and I emphasized that there’s no real money to be saved on the front end of building a container home unless you have the tools and are able to do a significant amount of the cutting and welding yourself. Further, for building within city limits, obtaining permits and hiring out inspectors can add up to a prohibitive cost for most people.

Would you like me to present to your group?

I hope this gives you an idea about what kinds of groups I’m available to speak with. Of course, I’d gladly talk the ears off anyone who will listen. Currently my presentation appearances are performed gratis, but secure your place early before demand rises high enough for me to start charging! 😉

Please feel free to email me for availability and more info: josh@highcubeindustries.com

Wheeler District: Will container homes dot the neighborhood?

Have you been to the new Ferris wheel in OKC? It’s actually an old Ferris wheel, imported from its original home on the Santa Monica pier in greater Los Angeles. It currently stands as a symbol of progress for ongoing development in OKC’s Wheeler District.

Located on the south side of the Oklahoma River, which roughly divides the city’s north and south sides, the Ferris wheel represents the northernmost point of what will eventually become a “mixed-use neighborhood development on the grounds of the former Downtown Airpark.”

From a NewsOK story interviewing developer Blair Humphries about the project:

Blair Humphreys said that he is looking at renovating the terminal building into a community hub (with more details to be revealed at a later time) and building a first phase of housing that will sell at an average price of $250,000 to $350,000. The zoning application also includes plans for what Humphreys calls “tiny homes” that might attract young couples and families just starting out.

Although I’ve made the case before that container home are not tiny homes per se, I did reach out to the Wheeler development crew to offer the services of High Cube Industries. Lo’ and behold they actually responded, albeit to say, in part, that other people had already contacted them about container homes potentially filling their tiny home allocations, but it was better than nothing. Additionally, they said those types of additions wouldn’t even begin until 2018, most likely, and maybe even later (and, in my mind, maybe not at all).

Containers already in use at Wheeler (kinda…)

Wheler District
The eastern-facing side of four containers near the ticket booth/concession stand for the Ferris wheel. (Josh McBee)

At any rate, I recently visited the area to check out the Ferris wheel. Didn’t go for a spin, but I did enjoy a bottled water in the shade of four 40-foot containers that have been welded together to form a shade wall/wind barrier for the little courtyard that serves as the Ferris wheel’s ticket sales/concession stand.

Wheeler District
The western-facing side of four containers form a barrier against wind and sun on the grounds of the Ferris wheel in OKC. (Josh McBee)

I imagine they’re the same containers that the various pieces of the wheel came in, but I don’t know that for sure. Still, I found myself in poignant reflection as I sat in their shadow, as if maybe their simple implementation signaled a true motivation upon the part of the developers to make good on their promises of eco-friendly urban development in the Wheeler District.

As the wheel spins on like a gear in a giant clock, only time will tell.

Examining container home energy use

Now that I’ve been living in it for a few months, I wanted to examine my container home energy use. It’s an exercise that not only helps me visualize my energy costs, but it illustrates for interested parties the real-world rewards of container living.

For the record: I’m not a miser when it comes to energy use. When I leave the house for work in the morning, I’ve left the AC running several days this summer (by accident), and I almost always keep the thermostat set between 73 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, I have a pet peeve about lights on in unoccupied rooms, and so I am generally anal about that, but for the big energy drains (fridge, central heat/air), I keep myself happy.

Container home energy use data

The data in the following table come from OG&E’s weekly energy summaries, which I get delivered to my inbox (just about) every week. My email inbox indicates my first one was from late March, but I didn’t begin living in the container full-time until May. Still, energy use from before Spring reflects heater and wall-socket use while construction was ongoing. Energy use from May forward reflects actual, daily living activity.

OG&E’s weekly summary emails contain three categories relevant to this study: average use, efficient use, and my use.

Green boxes indicate weeks where I was more efficient than OG&E’s qualifications; red boxes indicate weeks where I was less efficient than that rubric. Some weeks are missing because they don’t appear in my inbox or I just can’t find them 😛

DATE
(7 DAYS TO)
AVERAGE EFFICIENT ME DIFF. EFFICIENT DIFF. AVERAGE
03/26/16 $24.00 $10.00 $16.00 -$6.00 $8.00
04/02/16 $32.00 $10.00 $12.00 -$2.00 $20.00
04/09/16 $41.00 $9.00 $8.00 $1.00 $33.00
04/23/16 $24.00 $9.00 $7.00 $2.00 $17.00
05/07/16 $44.00 $9.00 $4.00 $5.00 $40.00
05/14/16 $51.00 $11.00 $6.00 $5.00 $45.00
05/21/16 $46.00 $10.00 $8.00 $2.00 $38.00
05/28/16 $57.00 $13.00 $6.00 $7.00 $51.00
06/04/16 $53.00 $13.00 $6.00 $7.00 $47.00
06/11/16 $63.00 $16.00 $9.00 $7.00 $54.00
06/18/16 $74.00 $19.00 $11.00 $8.00 $63.00
06/25/16 $83.00 $21.00 $10.00 $11.00 $73.00
07/02/16 $77.00 $20.00 $10.00 $10.00 $67.00
07/09/16 $76.00 $22.00 $12.00 $10.00 $64.00
07/16/16 $79.00 $21.00 $11.00 $10.00 $68.00
07/23/16 $89.00 $24.00 $13.00 $11.00 $76.00
07/30/16 $80.00 $21.00 $11.00 $10.00 $69.00
TOTAL $993.00 $258.00 $160.00 $98.00 $833.00
OVERALL AVERAGES $58.41 $15.18 $9.41 $5.76 $49.00

Summary

During the 17 weeks of available data, I have spent a total of $160 on electricity as charged by kilowatts per hour, which is almost $100 less than an “efficient” user during the same period and well over $800 less than the average user. (Granted, average users live in larger houses that contain more people, so it stands to reason that, even in a traditional home with only adequate efficiency measures, I would likely surpass most average users as a single occupant.)

My overall average for the period comes in at just under $10 per week. Meanwhile, “efficient” users average $15.18 weekly for the available dates and average users spend almost $60 per week.

As you can (hopefully) see, there were only two weeks back in Spring where I was less efficient than OG&E’s measure for that category. Otherwise, I have beaten their “efficiency” standard by an average of $5.76 each week and crushed the average user by about $50.

Conclusion

While the construction of the container home repeatedly exceed my budget estimations to the point of being more expensive than traditional contruction on a per-square-foot basis, the useful life of the container home seems to be paying dividends in the form of consistently reduced electrical costs, even compared to OG&E’s definition of an “efficient” user.

Further, OG&E has a habit of raising their rates per kilowatt hour during times of peak use, which is between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays during the summer, because summer in Oklahoma means consecutive weeks of temperatures approaching and over 100 degrees. So users who pull a full air-conditioning load during those times will face exorbitant rates compared to other times. Similarly, OG&E’s rates consistently go up over time, but living with an energy draw so far below the average threshold presents one way to mitigate those charges. I have a long way to go in terms of use and/or future rate changes to even come near an average user, so I don’t have to worry about even those daily rate changes.

Last, I can’t tell you how many people tell me I should get solar or go off the grid, and believe me, that would be great if I had the capital to fund such an addition, but I think the current data illustrate that I don’t even need solar to realize incredible energy efficiencies. The combination of a small living space with thorough insulation and a full-sized central heat/air unit removes the need to employ drastic technological additions. Plus, it’s just so much easier to be on the grid at the moment … and I get the added enjoyment of sticking a metaphorical middle finger up at the utility provider that would seek to charge an extra fee EVEN IF I DID HAVE SOLAR.

So, come visit. I’ll set the AC to whatever you like.

Vanity and shower enclosure for the OKC container home

The bathroom has been one of the slowest areas of the OKC container home to come together. It’s a very important room in any house, but it has a lot of moving parts, so to speak, and all of those parts need to match somewhat from a design standpoint, and they also need to meet code requirements to pass inspection.

Had I the whole thing to do again, I would have turned the entire layout of the bathroom 90 degrees counter-clockwise. The current layout created some tricky decisions with regard to meeting code, such as the clearance needed on other side of the toilet and the distance of the vanity from the shower curb. The placement of the drains is also less than ideal, but accommodations had to be made to allow space in the walls for the pocket doors to slide. That’s why the pipes run underneath the vanity instead of inside the walls.

Further, the placement of the sink drain is completely off, but that’s what happens when you’re making decisions on the fly with plumbers who’re in a hurry to make their holes and move on to the next job.

At any rate, it’s turning out to be a pretty sweet bathroom, I think, and everything works great. There’s still a bit of cosmetic work to do around the walls at the top of the shower tile (which you can’t see in the pics below), and I still need a mirror, which I think will be a medicine cabinet with built-in LEDs and its own independent switch.

Special shout out to BL3 plumbing. They’re fast, friendly and affordable, and I could not have completed the bathroom build without them. Also, another big thank you to Tom’s Custom Shower Doors.

container toilet
Installing the toilet was easy enough. It’s a Water Sense-rated dual-flush model, and actually the cheapest one at Home Depot at $88. It would’ve been nice to have a black toilet, but black ones are outrageously expensive.
container vanity
The vanity needed to be no deeper than 12″ to meet code requirements with regard to distance from the shower curb. So, I wound up using hanging cabinets mounted on this footer, which was simply a box made from 2x10s.

container vanity

Here’s Morgan Brown of HB Contractors cutting out a hole in the cabinet’s top to allow for the placement of the sink. We actually could’ve cut out a bigger section and avoided the guesswork, but we wanted to maintain the structural integrity of the cabinet as much as possible.

Here's a view of the cabinet unit I chose. I removed the doors for staining and to protect them while other work continued, such as painting the footer black.
Here’s a view of the cabinet unit I chose. I removed the doors for staining and to protect them while other work continued, such as painting the footer black.
container vanity
Here’s Morgan Brown of HB Contractors cutting out a hole in the cabinet’s top to allow for the placement of the sink. We actually could’ve cut out a bigger section and avoided the guesswork, but we wanted to maintain the structural integrity of the cabinet as much as possible.
okc container vanity
When I ordered the sink from Amazon, I also purchased the drain kit that other customers had bought. This turned out to be wise, as the plumber needed at least part of it to piece together the rest of the drain system.
okc container vanity
Next it was on to the sink/faucet for the vanity. The basin is only 9″ in diameter and was actually designed for use in a boat. The water from the faucet falls perfectly into the middle of the drain.
okc container vanity
The counter top I chose was a quartz remnant from Builder’s Warehouse. As with the kitchen counter top, you kinda have to go with the flow when it comes to the color of the remnant that fits, but I thought the white-on-white turned out pretty nice.
okc container vanity
After the cabinet doors were stained, the whole thing just kinda came together at once. I still need to paint the side of the cabinet black, add a small towel rack and install a mirror though…
okc container home shower enclosure
Here’s Tom’s son from Tom’s Custom Shower Doors in OKC installing the end panel of my shower enclosure.
okc container home shower enclosure
After about an hour, the whole thing was finished. Works perfectly, too.