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.

Skirting for the OKC container home

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.

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Drywall (part 2) continues for the OKC container home

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
Drywall mud
Mud covers the joint between two drywall panels as well as each freshly taped screw head.
Smooth drywall mud
Because I wanted the walls to have a smooth texture in the bedroom and bathroom, the mudding process was very tedious and time-consuming. The conduit at the top appears because I had originally told the electricians there would be a drop ceiling throughout, so they wired it as such. The hole in the wall was where the electricians had originally made an extra outlet to be used as a blank, which is standard for code; however, when Morgan and I were drywalling, we weren’t sure why it was there, and so we removed the outlet box to simplify cutting that drywall panel. Then, the electricians let us know they needed a hole and outlet there after all to be up to code. We eventually came up with a solution to fix one problem and conceal the other …
This is the hole the electricians created to allow for the code-required "future" outlet. I think I mentioned in a previous post that this area would become problematic ...
This is the hole the electricians created to allow for the code-required “future” outlet. I think I mentioned in a previous post that this area would become problematic …
Bedroom drywall smoothing
Another shot of the bedroom walls during the smooth texturing process.

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.

Foam drywall gap
Morgan sprays expanding foam into the gap between the top of the drywall and the container’s metal ceiling. Once the foam dried overnight, we went through and cut it to be flush with the wall.
After mudding the foam, we were concerned when we arrived the following day because a wealth of moisture had condensed on the ceiling. We eventually deduced that the moisture was coming from the mud itself, and, once it dried, we didn't have this condensation problem again.
After mudding the foam, we were concerned when we arrived the following day because a wealth of moisture had condensed on the ceiling. We eventually deduced that the moisture was coming from the mud itself, and, once it dried, we didn’t have this condensation problem again.

Here's the finished result of our work to close the wall-ceiling gaps. It looks great, but man what a [ain to go through removing all the excess mud from the ceiling. Overhead work is an arm burner!
Here’s the finished result of our work to close the wall-ceiling gaps. It looks great, but man what a [ain to go through removing all the excess mud from the ceiling. Overhead work is an arm burner!
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:

PAINT
Morgan masterfully rolls on paint in the bedroom.
PAINT1
Here you can see that we’ve managed to patch the electrician’s crazy-big hole and re-introduce an outlet box to that pesky area above the breaker box. The conduit has also been partially engulfed in drywall mud.
DW-TEXTURE
A little hard to see, but this is the texture of the living room and kitchen areas. It was applied using a SUPER-SECRET proprietary technique known only to HB Contractors …

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.

Drywall (part 1) begins for the OKC container home

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.

Morgan Brown, of HB Contractors, screws a drywall section into place near the bedroom window.
Morgan Brown, of HB Contractors, screws a drywall section into place near the bedroom window.
OKC container home drywall
Morgan screws a drywall section into place above the bedroom door.
OKC container home drywall
This is a section of the kitchen where the water main enters the container through the floor just to the left of the front-door frame. This area became problematic later on.
The interior of this bathroom wall needed to accommodate the HVAC service lines (left and right). The rough in for the sink drain is in the middle.
The interior of this bathroom wall needed to accommodate the HVAC service lines (left and right). The rough in for the sink drain is in the middle. Drywall mud has already been applied in this photo.
Bathroom drywall in OKC container home
Drywall for the bathroom nears completion. This is the only space that received a drop ceiling. Note also that Morgan was able to build a knuckle wall to conceal the PVC pipe running alongside the window’s right edge. That pipe acts as an air vent for the shower and allows it to (eventually) drain properly.

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 …

 

Installing insulation for the OKC container home

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:

OKC container home insulation
Installing the insulation was easy enough because the rolls came in lengths that were shorter than the vertical gaps between the studs. We cut small lengths to make up the difference. Then, it was just a matter of spraying adhesive to the flaps on either side of each baffle and sticking them to the studs.
OKC container home insulation
I had wanted to hire spray foamers to coat the container’s interior, but this proved cost-prohibitive based on several quotes. I settled for R-13 from Home Depot.
OKC container home insulation
We did all the easy gaps first before filling the gaps that would require more cuts. Remember this space in particular; it comes into play later (in a bad way).
OKC container home insulation
Most of the container looked like this once all the interior insulation was installed.

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 …

Framing the bathroom for the OKC container home

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. OKC container home bathroom framing

OKC container home bathroom framing  OKC container home bathroom framing   OKC container home bathroom framing

OKC container home bathroom framing

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.

OKC container home HVAC framing 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. OKC container home HVAC panel

OKC container home bathroom framing

OKC container home HVAC control 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.

Next time: insulation.