Window Shopping

A lot has happened in the last 10 days but there has also been a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’.

We have started an Instagram account with regular updates – if you’re on Instagram follow us: @smallerhouse_biggerlife.


Once the containers were delivered and put in place, the next step was to cut holes for doors and windows. But to do this we had to know the sizes of our doors and windows. So we went window shopping…

2Cheap1First, Cam went to Pennypinchers to get a quote on frames (no glass) for the doors and windows we would need. They quoted R12 000. Without glass. We figured there had to be a cheaper option. After shopping around at a number of junk shops, Cam found a gem in Somerset West called 2Cheap – a second hand shop which sells a huge variety of second hand doors and windows (amongst other things). Most of these doors and windows are pulled out to be replaced by aluminium but are still in fantastic condition. We left with all our doors and windows, with most of the glass intact, for R1400!

2Cheap_ 2Cheap_2 2Cheap_3

I have realised that this is a bit of a theme in our build – taking something that is someone else’s rubbish (an old shipping container, or old windows), and up cycling it to turn it into something great. Our instinct is usually to go and buy it new but we are trying to do things differently. As far as possible Cam and I are trying to buy things second hand or re-use materials rather than buying them new – not just because it’s cheaper, but also because it’s way more environmentally friendly and we are trying to leave behind a culture of consumerism.

Enough philosophy, let’s get back to the technical details. We had our doors and windows sorted so we could give these sizes to Neil and his team to start cutting the holes.

Windows_ First they brushed off all the rust and painted the patches with a rust proof iron oxide – that’s why they look really patchy. Next they used angle grinders to cut the holes to the sizes we specified.Windows_3Windows_2 Once the holes were cut they welded frames made of 50mm steel bars to reenforce the holes. We had a few hiccups with skew cuts and frames that weren’t level and so unfortunately the whole process has taken a little longer than we planned. Windows_4 Once the bars are welded in, the windows are bolted to the frame. We are still waiting for the last window frame to get straightened up and for some brackets to be bolted in but that should be done by this weekend. Once the brackets are in, we can begin building the bridge that will connect the containers and then in will really start to feel like a habitable space.

While we wait though, Cam has kept busy by starting on some of the interior framework and furniture, meeting with an insulation company and buying the wood to clad the outside of the container – but more on that in the next blog or on our Instagram feed.

To end on an inspirational note – if you are interested in some incredible houses and some of the ways people are using shipping containers around the world, check out this link:


15 thoughts on “Window Shopping

    • Hi Wayne. Thanks for following, I’m so glad you are enjoying it! We put our overall budget in the first post but we will definitely be posting a detailed spreadsheet with our planned budget vs. what we actually are spending – some things are coming in cheaper and some more expensive… We will probably do it about half way through the build just so that we don’t have to update it too often 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Chelsea! Great to ‘meet’ you 🙂 Yip it’s a pretty speedy building process – we’re hoping to be by the end of February (2 month build!)… I hope our build can inspire you guys to do the same or something similar 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Guys, Great to see your new home is taking shape. Will be following you guys, excited for you both! Look forward to seeing this year…!

    Take care,



  2. Hi, I so want to do this, I live in Cleburne, TX and am single, but my granddaughter has friends that can help me do the hard stuff.
    I am very happy I saw your site, this way I can have a idea how and were to start.
    Thank you for sharing and letting us all follow you on your dream:)
    I have enough to get container and start, but no Land, so it may be a while before I get to the point you are at, but I am looking forward to following, Thanks


    • Hi Suzan! It’s so great to hear from you. Things are going a little slowly this week but keep watching the progress and I hope that we can keep inspiring you to follow your dreams too…


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