Where to begin is the question. To know the exact point of commencing and reasons for a beginning.
Of’course I have been giving this some thought for a length of time. In a serious way for a couple of years before the container. I had been making trips to Portugal to look at properties in Lisbon and southwards from there. Even as far back as 2001 as a family we toyed with the idea of a holiday home in the Algarve.
I think it was whilst doing the Renewable Energy module along with the Oceanography module as part of my bachelor of science degree with the Open University that I understood the path I must take. I can’t recommend Open University highly enough! I had superb support, with the course material being made available in audio format as well. Both modules were very good but I would say that the Oceanography module would have been better if it had been for more credits to cover all the topics in-depth. This is because it covered such a wide range of topics from geology, biology right up to monitoring the Earth from space via environmental satellite systems and data modelling that goes with them. This was during 2013 and 2014.
Prior to this the original idea was to come to Portugal and buy a flat or a town house and hopefully make a living by teaching English as a foreign language. This could probably work in a city like Lisbon where there is more demand for higher levels of english or in an area of Portugal where people speak and think in Portuguese.
But not here in the Algarve I think. I have found most of the native population and the resident communities of foreigners speak English.
While working through the afore mentioned course modules I gained insight into how energy from the sun drives our weather systems and provide us with other forms of useful energy such as fossil fuels â€“ (yes your gasoline was originally solar radition), biomass (e.g wood), wind and of course solar energy which we can harness directly in the form of solar thermal (for hot water) and Photovoltaic (for electrical energy).
This helped change my thinking and I was able to appreciate that being able to grow once own food and generate ones own energy was in the right step to living a more independent life. And a life less dependent on fiat currency (money) as a resource. And so I started looking for a bit of land rather than holiday type properties.
Time was ticking, two years on and still nowhere to go.
The house was already up for sale so I decided to buy a shipping container. Yes, one of those big metal boxes that brings your goodies from China.
I went for a single use 20 foot long shipping container from Budget Shipping Containers . They provide an excellent service. I went for a single use container as they are almost new and have a valid shipping license which increases your transportation options. They also come with a wooden floor as standard which is nice.
This is where I was going to put my things if the house was sold before my move. Coordinating the delivery truck with a mobile crane capable of offloading it from a different company proved a little bit of a challenge. But we got there in end and had the container sitting in my front garden.
Seeing as I did not know exactly would end up I will end up decided to make the container habitable as a sort of makeshift mobile home.
This involves insulating three sides of the container as well as putting in wiring for lights and sockets. The hardest bit I remember was getting the ceiling panels fitted in as they were quite heavy. I think I used 9 mm OSB. Behind the OSB panels I used 50 cm of foam insulation. I can testify that this is sufficient to keep out the heat during the height of summer in the Algarve.
My brother Yuri is a very talented chap. He is multi disciplined and can turn his hands to most things. We experimented with solar photovoltaic technology as we doing up the interior of the container. It was new and exciting stuff. I also had some very good help from my friend Jorge . My other two friends Anthony and Jacob also chipped in helping with the wiring and carpentry to put the OSB (oriented strand board) panels in place. It all went quite smoothly.
All the hardware material was sourced from the Wickes hardware store. I got most of the solar kit from Bimble Solar.
When I finally found a spot in the eastern Algarve, I used Algarve Freight to transport the container first by sea to Setubal and then by road. They really did an excellent job.