House site from the valley below

It starts with a site

OK so the picture above is not the site. But it does show the ridgeline that the site is on, from the valley below, to give some perspective because it is a stunning place. This gorgeous bit of the Blue Mountains has inspired the project. The objective is to create a shipping container home, customised to this lovely location, and to do it mortgage free! The first challenge is that the site will most likely be classed as BAL Flame Zone, so the build will have to fit very strict Australian standards for bushfire areas. Surely, starting with steel boxes has to be a good thing…

This will not be a fancy 13 container, architect-built project, it’s a simple two to three container project aimed at creating a cosy mountain home that is easy to heat and cool and has a small footprint. So if you are after fancy there are lots of other websites to look at, this is about documenting the process and all that it entails. It may be painful at times.

Small stone paths wind through the garden.
Small stone paths wind through the garden.
garden bench for sitting in the sun in winter
There is even a bench for sitting in the sun in winter.

winding path to driveway

House site with gully view
The house site overlooking a bush gully.
House site with happy owner on it.
A happy land owner. This may be the house site, depending on the bushfire assessment and where I am allowed to put it.
House site from the valley below
The house is up on that Blue Mountains ridgeline somewhere.
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12 thoughts on “It starts with a site”

  1. Not sure if this helps, but opposite me, Jenny Kee built her studio in corten steel cladding (a glen murcutt design) (sorry, some major name dropping there) in a fairly high bush fire zone. Was built a number of years ago (maybe 10?) Happy to ask her if you’d like. Great idea to document the journey.

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    1. That would be great, thanks Adele. I know where Jenny Kee used to live, not sure if she’s still there, lovely big block. Sounds like her studio was built before these new standards (2009) but definitely worth asking!

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    2. That’s a generous offer but I suspect the zoning regs (especially in relation to fire) may have been tightened up rather significantly over the last 10 years.

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  2. I love this initiative. My home is made up of three old army cabins all linked up – would never be approved today since they’re hugely flammable. If I were doing it again it would definitely be with containers.

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  3. Kellie! This is so exciting. If anyone can do it you can woman!! I am really interested and excited to follow the journey. Hopefully I can come and see it one day. Life is so busy at the moment. I just started a new teaching job at Riverview. Look forward to reading the updates. You are amazing!! Xxx

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  4. Well done Kelly, am glad I pumped into you today.Dog walking is such a good way to keep up with all the goings on! Will be looking forward to your updates and hope you get all those difficult requirements sorted.
    Will get the wine chilled for the day the container sets down. Rock on Susan

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  5. Hi,
    Ive been slowly doing a similar build on the central coast using 2 40ft HC containers. I also am currently working through the bushfire FZ final certification. I already have the containers installed and am waiting for the windows. I have considered drenchers and sprinklers and some spray on ceramic coatings to provide a compliant wall system, in the end as the system needs to be certified compliant by the installer, slight variations on a tested csiro system can slip through if someone is willing to certify it…

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    1. Hi Ben, thanks for the comment, good to hear someone else is working through this process. Yes the trick is the certification, which can be very expensive. I spoke to Council here and they said even if a specialist certified an alternative solution, it’s only acceptable if that certifier is registered and the solution can be demonstrated to have been tested and meet the BAL FZ requirements ie either FRL 30/30/30 or AS 1530.8.2. I guess a slight variation might work, that’s the option I was going for with INEX a while back as the container steel would just add another layer inside of an approved INEX wall system, and so would not undermine the FRL properties. Would be keen to know how you go. Have you found a ceramic paint that’s been BAL tested? Good luck with it!
      PS if you’re not BAL Flame Zone there is much more flexibility, and sometimes you can make changes to reduce your BAL rating as well. Unfortunately none of that applies to my build.

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