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.
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.
Constructing the skirting was one of those projects that I envisioned in my head as being pretty straight-forward and easy, but damn if it didn’t wind up taking about two weeks (and still has some finishing touches left to do!)
Building the panels we wanted to use from scratch was painstaking, plus they were heavy and cumbersome to move around after they were assembled. Even after powering through panel creation, we then had to face the many tedious tasks of pre-drilling holes in the concrete piers from which we could mount brackets and then affix the panels to them. We also shot screws through the bottom edge of the container directly into the framing of each panel. Last, a series of stakes driven into the ground behind each panel further stabilizes the skirting, and we caulked and coated all the joints for waterproofing in addition to painting the whole deal with truck bed liner.
The tedium of drywall continued even after all the panels had been measured, cut and screwed into place.
The process continued like this:
Cover each and every screw head with drywall tape.
Smear drywall mud over each taped area.
Smear and spread drywall mud into joints where edges meet and corners where edges fail to meet corners flush.
Wait a day for the mud to dry.
Spread mud over entire wall to create desired surface (textured in living room and kitchen, smooth in bathroom and bedroom).
Wait a day for mud to dry.
Sand dried mud and reapply to create smoothness/a
Prime and paint the newly textured/smooth walls
Morgan devised a nifty solution for bringing the walls flush with the natural contours of the container’s ribbed ceiling: By shooting expanding foam into the gap between the top of the drywall and the bottom of the ceiling, we could create a tightly sealed surface on which to apply mud. Then, we could caulk the very top where the mud meets the metal of the ceiling. Prime and paint that and we’d have a seamless wall that conforms to every angle of the ceiling.
Around this time, we also had a problem with Kluck, the plumber. Although generally a mild-mannered and soft-spoken guy, I had encountered what was revealed to be his hot temper way back when the plumbing was starting. He had become irate at the fact that there were some variables to be sorted out in the midst of planning and cutting holes for the plumbing system’s various drains and vents. All of a sudden, he began raising his voice and swearing at me on that day, and I really didn’t know what to do. After his blow up, he left, and his son explained to me that that’s the real Fred Kluck, and although I don’t really want to work with anyone as unreasonable and rude as that, I needed a plumber, so I decided to give him another chance.
Well, Kluck blew his second chance when, in the midst of Morgan and I trying to figure out how we could complete drywall under the sink, Kluck blew up in a similar fashion at Morgan. Although I wasn’t there, Morgan told me he thought they were going to come to blows. So, I allowed Kluck to return once more to collect a check and then fired him directly after. While it’s good riddance on one hand, I’m left having to find a new plumber to complete the job on the other.
Meanwhile, our toil continued. Here’s some pics of the painting and texturing:
NEXT TIME: A miscellaneous post including the pouring of the parking pad, passing final electrical inspection, passing plumbing rough inspection, and installing one of two pocket walls.
Given how small the container’s interior is, I though drywall would be a two- or three-day process.
I was wrong.
At any rate, Morgan and I purchased 26 or so 3/8″-thick drywall sheets from Home Depot. We decided to complete the drywall installation for the bedroom first; that way, we would have one room in which we could store all the crap piling up in the container while we worked elsewhere.
The first part of our drywall process basically went like this:
Measure for the space that requires coverage.
Measure out and mark with a pencil that space on a drywall sheet.
Measure and mark for any outlets, switches and other abnormalities in general.
Use an Exact-O knife (with a sharp, fresh razor blade) to cut along the pencil lines. Rather than actually cutting THROUGH the sheet, this merely scores the top side.
Position the scored sheet so you can break it along the score lines using your knee.
Use a rasp to file off any irregularities in the cut edges, and use a drywall knife to cut out rectangular holes for outlets/switches.
Place the cut sheet against the wall and affix using drywall screws. (Ours were self-tapping screws suited specifically for the aluminum studs framing the container interior.)
So, we repeat that process ad nauseum, with Morgan doing the measuring of the space and telling me what to write down, then me measuring and cutting on the actual sheets. Then Morgan would screw them in place as they became ready.
Next time: Drywall work continues with taping, mudding, texturing, sanding, priming AND painting. PLUS: A nifty solution for bringing the walls flush with the natural contours of the container’s ribbed ceiling …
The installation of insulation constitutes perhaps the easiest step so far in vastly improving the container and making progress toward a livable space. The worst part about the task is working with insulation.
In my younger days I sought employment as a day laborer in Durango, Colorado. My first (and last) day of work for that company consisted of manually unloading a semi-trailer’s worth of hard-to-grip, mostly torn insulation bundles. We were issued neither gloves nor safety masks, but hey: This was 1999.
Even still, I wonder if, as I and a few other misfits desperate for cash bungled our way through that Herculean effort, the concept of a cargo box as dwelling unit wasn’t subconsciously burrowing into my psyche. The lasting impression of that task, besides a phenomenal case of itching once it was over, was that semi-trailers may look big from the outside, but you really have no idea just how big they are until you’ve plumbed the depths of a loaded one from front to back.
At any rate, here’re some shots from the OKC container home’s insulation install, taken over the course of three days in December 2015. Luckily, I had stashed two pairs of coveralls along with some other old oilfield gear in the container several months earlier, which allowed Morgan and I to work itch-free:
My biggest concern about installing the cheaper insulation is that it may hinder my ability to gain Energy Star certification. The organization has minimum requirements for WOOD-FRAMED buildings, but nothing for a metal structure like a container. My only consolation is that I remain able to afford at least having the exterior of the roof and floor covered in closed-cell spray foam and then weatherproofed, so maybe that will help offset whatever deficiencies arise upon examination of the interior insulation.
Next time: The arduous (and, inexplicably, contentious) drywall process begins …
Near the completion of the HVAC install for the OKC container home, work began on framing up the walls and ceiling for the bathroom.
For this task, I tapped the skills of a very talented and friendly contractor I knew from way back in the days of undergrad at OU (early 2000s). Morgan Brown, of HB Contractors, is a local actor and voice talent who once lived in an apartment across from a good friend of mine. In that apartment, Morgan had transformed the interior into a series of shelves and cubbies that ultimately made the small space more efficient, and it was just this kind of drive, initiative and talent that I was hoping to tap for my container project.
Initially, we were working under the assumption that the first order of business would be to frame the bathroom so we could install the pocket doors on either side of the bathroom. This would allow us to drywall the whole place at once while also giving the plumbers clear dimensions for the shower fixtures.
So, we built the walls for the bathroom first. This consisted of vertical wooden studs anchored to the existing aluminum-stud framework.
Since the lines for the HVAC and plumbing were already installed, we had to build the walls and ceiling so as to accommodate them while also leaving room for access should maintenance be required in the future.
Next came the rafters for the bathroom ceiling. We started with a wooden frame around the ceiling-mounted air handler. Since that unit was already fixed in place, it would dictate the spacing of additional framework.
This frame around the air handler’s enclosure would also allow Jason (HVAC) to install the metal frame of the access panel, which covers the unit. We needed that installed before calling in the HVAC inspection.
With the framework finalized, we created a space for Jason to install the final HVAC register that would supply the bedroom. We also had to install a temporary piece of drywall on which to mount the digital thermostat.
And with that, the HVAC install was complete. Inspection was passed without any issues.