Off-Grid Survival Trailer for Full Time Living: “Building a Home Out of Two Shipping Containers”

by | Jun 20, 2016 | Emergency Preparedness, Headline News | 39 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 4.01.18 PM

    Still image via YouTube

    Whether you’re looking to return to paradise or escape the collapse of society, more and more people are looking to get away from it all and rediscover their inner-rugged individual self.

    The off-grid, self-sustaining bug out lifestyle has a growing appeal and is an important part of most prepper’s strategy… in some ways it is the ultimate security investment, especially if it is set up for power, water and raising your own food.

    Living unconventionally calls for unconventional solutions. It is geared towards the DIY prepper, and often involves making good use of re-purposed items. The suburban home mortgage is neither secure, nor affordable, nor resilient in a crisis.

    But the modified shipping container, or tiny home or cabin structure, along with many other options, offers many aspects that are. They can be built debt free, and depending upon your environment, can be made to withstand the elements – and perhaps more importantly, maintain lights, water and shelter regardless of whether or not bills are paid, or the grid remains up and running.

    Planning for the rest is up to you.

    Check out this custom-built off-grid home – double trailer design that has afforded freedom for this bold couple in Australia:

    Here’s what Kirsten Dirksen wrote about it on her great off-grid YT channel:

    Paul Chambers had began building a home out of two shipping containers as a project, but when his wife got tired of suburbia and put their four-bedroom home on the market, his project became the couple’s full-time home (Paul’s ebook: www.buildshippingcontainerhous­

    Paul and Sarah Chambers were living in rural Scotland when Paul received a job offer in Australia. They packed their belongings and moved to a large home with a pool in an Australian suburb. After only a few months, they began to tire of spending so much of their income on their home. They also felt they’d lost touch with nature and a more active lifestyle (“there weren’t even any trails for walking”, explains Sarah).

    So they sold their home and moved with Paul’s “project”: two shipping containers he’d been transforming into a kitchen/bathroom + bedroom/living room. They found someone willing to let them park their new home on their rural property in exchange for making improvements to the land.

    When the couple first moved onto the property, the home was a very simple shelter and over the following three years, they built the containers into a proper home.

    Their home is completely off the electric and water grids. When they first moved to the bush they used a 3kw Honda generator, but they’ve since installed 2Kw of photovoltaic panels and a bank of batteries and phased out the generator. They have enough energy to power their home with all its conventional appliances, including a standard fridge/freezer. For heating, they rely on firewood (collected from fallen trees on the property; they have “not cut down a single tree”). For air conditioning, they use fans and AC “during really hot days”.

    In the beginning they had to rely on water deliveries, but Paul has since installed an extensive rainwater capture setup- both on the roof and gutters beneath the home- which provides for all their water needs: 65 square metres of rain water collection in 10,000 liters of storage. The indoor bathroom includes a shower, but Paul built an outdoor, open air bathtub which they heat with solar in the summertime.

    They’ve also created an extensive vegetable garden inside a netted garden cage (after the animals and hot sun destroyed their first attempts). For eggs, they have two hen houses.

    To be sure, this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but the important thing is that it is possible.

    Paul Chambers has written a book on how he built the home, and what it cost. He also explains the aspects of his project home in greater detail on his YouTube channel.

    Read more:

    Think Inside The Box: This Awesome Disaster Shelter Is Cost-Effective, Easy To Build and Insanely Durable

    Worst Mistakes To Avoid When Going Off Grid: “We Wish We’d Known”

    Going Off Grid? “Here’s what to do about water…”

    How This Man Converted “Underground Shelter Using 20ft. Shipping Container”

    In the 50s, Preppers Retreating to Off-Grid Shelters After Attack Were “Treasonous”


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      1. first!…to say im jealous

        • that is really cool though…just not in austrailia. too many killer spiders and snakes, not to mention gun laws

          • My thoughts exactly.

      2. They make it all look so easy. But one needs a youthful able body and both skills and money and equipment. I lived near a couple who got a container and turned it into a bedroom. It kept them dry during winter storms. But, they both got sick because the metal box was hot as hell when the sun beat on it. And it was like an ice box on cold nights. Since they were just renting, they didn’t want to invest in insulation, which is absolutely necessary. That said. If you build around a solid frame, you could build something which would be pretty solid. Also, it can become mobile if you buy land somewhere else.

        • The key to this, is that the Shipping Containers are considered Portable, therefore you do NOT need a permit to place a portable container or shed/ cabin on the property. Only when you start digging foundations the permitting comes in. Build decks on floating cement blocks and pads, and you do not need a permit, since everything is portable and can be temporary. Tell then you are remodeling it for a friend. Or just say, I need a shed to keep my tools in here, while I clear the land for a house. Just don’t tell them when. Also The country folks here in FL respect the way of living, and just tell them it is a Hunting / Fishing Camp on your land. They will probably say good luck, later, enjoy..

          BTW/ The containers in this video look hideous, and need a really cool CAMO color scheme to give a low foot print out in the woods. Blue doors in the woods? really?? See that a mile away. If you look trashy you will get complaints. So hide your shit… Hide your foot print, use natural concealment grow hedges and trellises around your camp for that Stealth Living environment. You will also then blend in and see more nature. Had a nice preggo Doe come to about 30 yrds from my cottage door tonight. Looked and meandered on to another part of the property. I checked my trail cam yesterday and the deer are moving around on the property at night. Tonight Mon is supposed to be the brightest Moon in like 77 years someone told me. SO go out there tonight, and look out and let your eyes settle into the darkness and watch it come alive. Listen for sounds as well. Sharpen up your senses. Post SHTF will be all hands on deck. One is None and Two is One.


          • put 4 tires on it and a tongue then the permits go away…

        • One also needs a liberal zoning county to allow things like this. Today in America, more and more counties are not allowing this kind of houses as they do not meet “code” requirements. Some might say – to hell with that, its my land and I’m out in the middle of nowhere, to that I will say that I own property out in the middle of nowhere and the county has started using areal photography to look for changes to properties, then send out code inspectors. And this is in Arizona…

          • code inspectors are funded by the county–where I live they have no money to send county code inspectors out very often, and even if they do find code violations, you can tie them up for months as long as you dispute their findings..

          • Australia has one of the worst building restrictions in the world. To say its a nanny state is an understatement. The ‘greens’ have made it near impossible to do anything outside their cocooned city limits and many a dam or highway has been blocked for going ahead because a frog or fish was found near construction. Farmers have been driven from their land in many areas with ‘water entitlements’ being taken from our food producing bowls and redirected to marshlands to protect a duck or swan. But these same green vandals think nothing of scarifying the landscape with wind turbines which maim and kill thousands of our bird life, including our wedge tail eagles. We have our Federal Election in 2 weeks and I notice The Fishers & Shooters Party have added ‘Farmers’ to their name. This is where I shall be parking my precious vote. And did I tell you that the left have created ‘marine parks’ up and down our coastlines where fishing is ‘off limits”?

          • Yes, Isn’t it great to be living in the land of the free!!! What a joke! Your land, your house and they tell you what to do or not do with it….that is bad enough but then they charge you for the privilege of them bossing you around!

            We need to chase them all out and go back to Grandpa’s days. Oh yeh! Can’t do that…it would mean they would have to use common sense and there is nothing common about the crap they come up with these days!

            • not to mention the simpletons that live in housing developments that have even MORE restriction in them….now THOSE people are the REAL dumbshits….those are the “constitution-free zones” covenants, codes, and restrictions..PFFT!….shove ’em up yer ASS!, i will never live in one of those.

      3. I have a 40′ insulated reefer container that has been converted to a “studio”.
        It was an easy convert. Problem is that in Amerika you can’t legally do this kind of stuff. I have a “regular” fully permitted house and my studio is a detached office/overnight short term guest house. But for not too much more money I could convert the studio into very livable housing for my sick mother. Easy to clean, just hose it out and disinfect.
        But there is the little problem of Democrats that have made it impossible to have innovative housing solutions.

      4. BfromCA, Correct you are. I have been working on mine and sealed off a room about 10 ft. long in the back and insulated it with radiant reflective styrofoam and 1 inch plywood and put siding along the back half outside and painted the roof and south end with the solar reflective elastomeric paint. The paint works awesome for keeping heat out. I also have 2 -120mm fans in the floor pulling in cool air from under the container and a 80mm fan blowing warm air out the top. I also drilled 3/8 holes along the sides at the top for air venting. I glued reflective heat barrier to the inside walls too. It works pretty good and keeps things from getting too hot.

        I ran off some wheeesky and some rum that turned out great. One of my neighbors wanted to learn how so I showed him and got him set up and he is doing very well 🙂 Damn weather sucks around here, hot or windy as hell all the time. Hope everyone is having a good summer, I still have just under a month before it’s back to work. Party on!

        • Genius, good to see you commenting. Was concerned the feds took you away!

          • When the Guy said it took him 2 years to get a shower, installed, You got that right, and same with the toilet. Its all an experiment living off the Grid. There are always a dozen projects waiting in the wings, and more you see every day living off the grid BOL, and I am doing this solo. The best part is nobody yells at me ever for anything. lol It will take a special kind of woman who is handy smart, clever, dependable, and Very Hot looking that I will allow out here. Somebody who enjoy gardening.

            This guy in the Vid is using 12x 250 watt panels, That’s 3000 Watts. This is more than double of solar watts, than what I am using, I have about 1200 and I have plenty of electric here in FL. Did you all notice the OUTBACK Solar Monitor. Good gear. I’m using an Outback 80 and it is working amazingly. Just added some more distilled water to the batteries yesterday. Its been charging so well and fully daily, I am going to add 2 more 6 Volt batteries for 10 total for energy storage. Then I am going to add a small chest freezer and will be able to get better buys on mean and food storage.

            OK here is a BIGGIE: My Solar Installer Guy said it pays to ground a solar system, and its components with a good grounding rod etc. He told me someone else’s system got hit by lightening here in FL, and it completely fried everything. Down to each solar strand of collector in every panel, it heated the strands and it turned really black. Every component was fried he said, it was a total loss. And it had to be totally replaced. SO Ground Everything and put up some tall spikes above your system and try as best you can to thwart off lightening. This case it may have not made any difference. But grounding has to help somewhat.


        • Genius, glad to see you back. We were worried about you. On living in a container, that idea turns me off. Cousin bought a 40′ container a few years ago that she uses strictly for storage at the BOL. You’d be surprised how much in the supplies they’ll hold. Storage, yes. Living in one, no. That’s what cabins are for.

        • Genius:
          Hi! Glad to hear from you. I like the idea for a fan on the floor and ceiling. I’m assuming they can be closed off for cold days. I have a broken swamp cooler, if you’re ever in town, drop by with some tools and bring the liquid refreshments. I get mighty thirsty watching other people work.

      5. bury it….yes, it’s more work….but….

        • Those comtainers are not structurally sound enough to bury. they will collapse.

          • like i said, with “more work” they can, and ARE where i live. they DO have to have supports installed. the beauty where i live(desert) is that when buried, the temp is a constant 60 degrees or so. i know a friend that had one. not sure what problems he may have had with his here in the desert, but SOME have suggested condensation is a problem.

      6. Great video! Where can you do this and get away with it? Besides moving to Australia?

      7. I’m with b hot in summer cold steel in winter. Not for living in IMO. Hill dirt over the top and it’s good root cellar. i can see the appeal of them though. They are rugged.

      8. Thanks for sharing

      9. If everyone refused to pay the very high cost of living what could or would the authorities do? Mow us all down? I didn’t ask to be born into slavery, there is enough land for everybody to have a place to live naturally free. Born in the wrong century.

      10. disguise them. make it look like a old mobile home on the outside. Mobile homes are taxed as personal property. its a lower rate than a convential home. Don’t even think about burying one. They cannot hold the weight the sidewalls are too weak. You can bury a school bus. Cover the windows with sheet metal. cover the entire bus with tar paper and then use plastic house wrap over that. then cover with dirt. be certain to install a French drain to drain the bottom. cross ventilation is necessary to prevent condensation. a buried bus will remain at a constant temp year around. About58 degrees in the Qzarks.

        • yes, you CAN bury them…many HAVE, but i don’t know what kind of bracing you have to do, and moisture-proofing is also a problem, but not insurmountable. i was going to bury two end to end, to make a shooting range in the middle of my city, but ended up selling the house….still might do it next place i land.

          • By the time you do all the reinforcing necessary to bury one. It would be more feasible and viable to just form up and pour concrete. Do a internet search and you will find plenty of collapsed & failed attempts to bury shipping containers.

            • after searching, it’s obvious the most important consideration would be the water table, but like i said, i live in the desert, so not concerned with that so much. and anything you do to make a underground shelter is expensive. but cheapest would be a container, even after shoring it up.

              • Those 40 ft containers sell for around $2000 here by the time you get them delivered. I buy school buses. I find that the schools sell them when the get too old and become unreliable. Ive bought no running ones for as little as $200. and I bought a running one for $625 and the most I ever paid wa $1000 for a good running diesel bus. I take the body off the chassis and its easily manageable to move with my rubber tired backhoe. My barn is built with school buses placed end to end along each side & the back. board and batten covering the out side. That makes secure storage for tools and parts. Ive installed shelfs and lights and its really handy. I buried them to about 1 foot from the windows on the outside. The barn is benched into the hillside facing South east. Open in the center I used the bus frames for trusses and uprights. covered with a metal roof Ive let ivy and honeysuckle vines cover it. you cant hardly see it from the air. Google earth don’t show it. Very warm and comfortable in the winter.

      11. How do they compare to a camper?

      12. Earth cooled shipping container for under $30K.

        Worth watching for all those who say it’s not possible.

      13. I’ve read a lot online about the issues involved with burying storage containers, and I think I’d rather try to berm one side of a container at ground level, and moat the other side. Our terrain would lend itself to an application like that- cut into a higher part of a hill and then drop your prepped container down and push the dirt over the top and edges you wish to conceal from the air. Less pressure and moisture issues to deal with.

        We have some of the nosiest, self-important little dicks around here following every work truck looking for code infractions. They were our best friends (not) up to a few months after we completed our house. I was polite to the very end, even though they were loathe to relinquish control of our build. They have a job to do, but they enjoy it WAY too much. Idiots didn’t even know what a rain chain was, and they were telling me how to build my house.

        The key to doing what you want on acreage around here is keeping OPSEC and not showing off to your friends. Same goes for secret rooms and/ or storage.

      14. If you are looking at room layouts, container positioning, storage ideas, bathroom alternatives etc. the best source is Pinterest. They have thousands of ideas and if you are contemplating getting a container, just ‘pin’ it on your ‘container house’ board and you have all your ideas within easy access. They don’t have to look like someone discarded their rubbish on the side of the road and after looking at many colour schemes on Pinterest, the colour scheme I would like is black with perhaps some contrasting timber panelling at one end in a cedar colour. This would blend in well in the Aussie bush too.

      15. New Zealanders are quite innovative when it comes to building small homes. Traditionally they have used bachs, pronounced backs, as family holiday destinations all over NZ for generations and this knowledge has given rise to homes built on the small size. Have a look at Lunchbox for some great ideas. A few years back Christchurch experienced a major earthquake and to get business back up and running quickly, they used shipping containers. The concept struck a chord with not just local business owners but tourists and many coffee shops, restaurants, pop up clothing stores etc have remained in the containers and are thriving.

      16. The tiny home movement is growing within the millenial age group. Many cite not only the freedom from maintaining a huge home, but also from the onerous taxes that most jurisdictions levy on homes especially for local school boards. Going with a smaller footprint frees up both time AND money. Don’t know if I could make the leap to something that small at once – but I admire those pioneers who do and are making it work.

      17. These two containers don’t look like much but they certainly seem like they could serve as a self-sufficient refuge when all hell breaks loose.

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