Homesteading with a Shipping Container – Part 8, The Carport

Kevin Hayden – &

November 8th, 2011

We are on a roll!  Homesteading with a Shipping Container, Part 8!  In the last segment, I answered some questions that I’ve received via email and the comments section, along with showing you a few of the other projects that are happening out here at the Elysian Fields.  The biggest endeavor currently underway was the camping trailer carport and I’m proud to say that it is finished thanks to the help of some great friends!

The weekend’s forecast looked great and we were not disappointed.  I met the motley crew at the Project Saturday morning and got right to work.  Ralph, from, and who has lots of construction experience, helped me set the 6th and final post for the carport while Mark, of, and Emery, my girlfriend, began general clean-up of the property and other materials.

It was a massive undertaking because I have been hauling various building materials and cool finds out to the property and it was starting to pile up!  In fact, it started looking like a miniature scrapyard!  The left-over 2×4 walls from the initial cabin build attempt were stacked near the shipping container and had been exposed to the elements for 8 months. Other pristine, new building lumber had been placed under tarps but the sun had finally eaten through the thin plastic covering, and a collection of plywood, bricks, rebar, and a hundred other things were strewn about in hap-hazard fashion.

Had to use bracing - was by myself. No easy task!

Anyway, I wanted to share a few pictures of the “before” so that you could gain a better understanding of how the carport was built or perhaps answer some questions.  I’ve learned that just because I may not consider something important, others won’t.  I’ve read a LOT of articles about owner-built cabins or alternative architecture, and I always complain for the lack of that one photo that could show me how they did something – that one tidbit of information that would make my own build easier.

I set 5 of the 6 posts by myself and used a rotating laser level in order to establish a “baseline” (that’s not the technical term, but it sounds reasonable to me!), and from there, I measured upwards a set distance in order to mark off the top level where the joists would go.  Because the posts were all set at variable depths due to uncompromising ground, this was the easiest way to achieve a uniform measurement in my opinion.  It also required me to stand on the roof of my truck to make the marks and measurements.  Did I mention I only had a 6 foot ladder and these are 16 foot posts?

Laser level would spin around and create a line on all posts. Pretty handy!

Thankfully, this time I had help and they brought a lot of ladders and professional equipment.  Whereas I had been pounding nails with a hammer, Ralph brought a professional framing nailer and a plethora of other goodies that made the job soo much easier!  Thanks again, Ralph!

After we got the final post plumb and in line, we set up a game plan.  The carport was laid out to be 12’x24′ with no specified height yet.  We put up pressure treated 2x8x12’s as the outer rim joints and untreated 2x6x12’s as the main rafters/joists.  We allowed for a 1/2″ drop per foot for rain water runoff and applied old, reclaimed 2×4’s (from the old cabin walls) on top of the rafters.  Finally, the corrugated metal roofing would be attached to these 2×4’s.

Of course, as we continued placing the rafters, it became quite evident that I had done a rather poor job at setting the posts squared.  Add to that, the bowing, bending, and warping of the pressure treated wood, and we had to get creative with a few of the measurements from time to time.

Almost finished with the rafters! Putting the last metal panel up!Mission Accoomplished! You can see the shed cabin and shipping container in the background, plus the newly CLEANED up area!The carport is finished! Yeah!

Putting the last metal panel up!The carport is finished! Yeah!

The carport is finished! Yeah!

After finishing up the carport, we still had some daylight left, so we decided to frame up a small window in the shed/cabin.  I use the shed mainly for storage nowadays, but for weekends where people come out to help work on the Project, it provides a perfect studio apartment.  I figured a small window might do it some justice!  Its future intended use is as an office or workshop, so I might as well install it now!

We also cleaned and organized the 20 ft. shipping container, got the valuable wood and material secured inside, along with a variety of other minor projects.  I feel really, really good about how much was accomplished and it paves the way for the container to be framed out, sheetrock installed, and most importantly, a functioning bathroom!  Once framing and insulation is completed, I’ll begin on the timber-cabin add-on.  I decided that framing and having a functional bathroom was the next priority… but all of that takes money and time.  Something I don’t have much of these days.  I’ve got several donation links over at and you can donate here, as well!

My goal is to be able to move back to the property by spring of 2012.  This requires a water well pump, installing water lines, basic bathroom (I have the septic tank installed, just need to get walls, flooring, toilet, etc purchased and installed), and a few other minor projects.  If you’d like to help, hit the donation links or if you’re in the area, send me an email and we’ll see about getting you out there to the Elysian Fields!  I’ve had several emails from people wanting to come out and lend a hand, which is awesome!

All donations will go towards building materials, such as insulation, framing lumber, concrete, etc.

Until next time, please feel free to leave your comments and questions below or use the Contact Form on the navigation bar up top!  Stay tuned!

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