A Grounded Option for the Jet-Setting Homebody

Over the course of 10 years, [Bruce Campbell] has built himself a sleek pad out of a Boeing 727-200 in the middle of the picturesque Oregon countryside.

As you’d expect, there are a number of hurdles to setting up a freaking airplane as one’s home in the woods. Foremost among them, [Campbell] paid $100,000 for the aircraft, and a further $100,000 for transportation and installation costs to get it out to his tract of land — that’s a stiff upfront when compared to a down payment on a house and a mortgage. However, [Campbell] asserts that airplanes approaching retirement come up for sale with reasonable frequency, so it’s possible to find something at a lower price considering the cost of dismantling an airframe often compares to the value of the recovered materials.

Once acquired and transported, [Campbell] connected the utilities through the airplane’s existing systems, as well going about modifying the interior to suit his needs — the transparent floor panels are a nice touch! He has a primitive but functional shower, the two lavatories continue to function as intended, sleeping, dining and living quarters, and a deck in the form of the plane’s wing.

Why undertake such a project for one’s home? [Campbell] cites that the aircraft’s durable construction, fire resistance, and the security of a retractable entrance as compelling reasons, adding that each aircraft is a feat of engineering and thus a worthy abode. There’s also plenty of room for an avowed nerd to live and tinker — doubly so for one who is mindful of green initiatives, and recycling or re-purposing materiel slated for the scrapyard. Additionally, the cockpit still has plenty of its equipment and paneling intact, so if you wanted you could probably turn it into the most realistic flight simulator this side of the Air Force or NASA.

Here’s Campbell’s how-to if you’re in the market for a new home that’s a real fixer-upper and can be customized to your liking.

[via Anonymous and Great Big Story]

29 thoughts on “A Grounded Option for the Jet-Setting Homebody

  1. Such a cool idea! Pity about the massive cost. I personally love the idea of building around shipping containers. It’s the same reasoning he uses – we have these sturdy, spacious things lying around taking up space, why not use them!

    1. What’s so awesome about rusty metal transport containers?
      Container houses make sense only when you plan on moving them, otherwise a normal-sized house from them will never be better in any way, cost or living quality…

      1. You can get a 40×8 shipping container for about $2,500. It is far stronger than anything in common use except steel and concrete construction (which in turn is only economical for really large structures) and hermetically encloses space against the elements for less than $10 per square foot. They are effectively tornado proof if anchored to the ground properly, and can be grouped to create arbitrarily large structures; they are FAR stronger than most construction because of the need for any one of them to support a stack of nine loaded containers on top of itself.. The main limitation is the 8-foot width, which limits you to long narrow rooms if you want to preserve the strength of the original container.

        1. They are only strong in ways that don’t matter for construction – they can only bear weight straight down on the corners, the walls themselves have little strength. For example you can’t bury them. Additionally once you add in the necessary insulation, doors and windows, run utilities, etc it costs far more per square ft than new wood construction and you are limited to uncomfortably narrow rooms. Containers only make sense for something that needs to be shipped frequently, and even then they are an extreme compromise.

          1. [John] is right. They are designed to support the load on the corners. It take very little to start caving in the walls.
            Search for:
            shipping container as shelter

            The prepping community seems to have had some experience with the problems.

    2. IMO using shipping containers doesn’t make sense. To turn them into a usable dwelling you are going to spent the same mount for materials if you construct the same amount of space using conventional construction

      1. Average cost to build a house (in my area) ranges from $120 to $200 per square foot to hire a contractor.
        If I build it myself I can possibly get it down to $65 per square.

        On the shipping container front, say you’re on the coast, or know a truck driver/owner-operator,
        $2500 for the container,
        another $500-1000 for delivery,
        6 yards of concrete for the slab at $90 a yard ($540)
        another $600-1200 for a 2 part spray foam kit (depends on how thick you want to spray it),
        $2000 for a 2 ton package unit,
        $1500 for plumbing/gas and wiring,
        and another $1500ish for roofing.

        that brings us to about $11000 for the original 320 square feet, $32 per square.

        Literally half of what I’ve figured it would cost to build a house by myself in my own time.
        *land cost, permits, and taxes excluded since they’d be the same in either case

        1. Here are some current numbers from upper midwest to facilitate this comparison.

          I am currently stick building a 20×28 building myself. My cost to date is $6,006 materials for 2×6 frame, 1/2″ osb sheathing, 3/4″ roof sheathing, 2×12″ rafters, 5/8″ osb interior, 2.5″ (R10) rigid insulation jacket, standing seam metal roof, 16×7 commercial garage door, 36″ commercial steel entry door, house wrap, roof wrap, fiber cement lap siding plus cedar lap siding, all fasteners, tapes, sealants, anchor bolts, cmu block, several tools to make the job easier, delivery and special order charges. I am planning on adding 52sq ft of windows, but I will make them myself and I don’t see them in your BOM.

          This is a complete R-10 insulated, very tight (comparable to your steel unit, save garage door), structure under $11 per square foot. If I add the cost of the slab work, it comes to $7742 or $14/ft2. These are my actual to date costs. I may be off by about $100 to $200 for equipment rental fees and credit for existing supplies.

          Yet to come:
          My single plumbing/vent stack is $80, wiring (6 circuits, 12 outlets, sub panel, 12V DC) is $480, pre-charged 1ton heat pump $950

          Things brings me a conditioned habitable building for $9352 + $506 permit fee for about $~18/ft2

          Incidentally my city values the building at $21K, which is $38/ft2.

          1. I excluded fiberglass batts. I have R21 insulation for the 2×6 frame already. Not sure the cost. Hope to bring the structure to effective wall R value of 25+

        2. My big box store sells houses (all materials) for about $21/ft2 – $38/ft2 for 1200 – 2000ft2+

          Act now and get 11% discount!

          My obsessive replies on this subject reflect my own extreme planning 6mo of planning my own build.

    1. I would agree. While I cannot say I am intimately familiar with the decommissioned airplane market, there are several locations (generally out West in the USA) where you can buy literally what this person bought and for much less. The person who undertook this even says you can buy something similar for $15k to $20k. Unclear where the other $80k went? Also, was there anything hazmat leftover from the plane or plane parts that needed to be dealt with? The FAQ was unclear.

      Link to the person who undertook this project’s FAQ page, below.

      “On the minimum cost side, a basic fuselage already stripped of any parts of value to the aviation business could be acquired for very roughly $15K or $20K, or possibly much less, depending upon the size of the aircraft, scrap metal prices, their transport costs, labor costs, and secondary factors. And a basic fuselage still provides the fundamental attributes needed to make an aerospace quality home, if the salvage company which stripped your aircraft wasn’t too brutal and thoughtless with their work, and you’re reasonably adept at dressing up areas which were stripped down to a skeleton level, such as the cockpit, equipment bays, galleys, and numerous other smaller areas. For this maximum economy approach, you’ll probably forfeit the wings and tail too. I’d recommend keeping the basic landing gear to serve as your home’s support and earthquake damage prevention system, even though the salvage company will probably strip everything of value around the landing gear.”

      “Install costs break down very roughly as follows: Roughly $17K to move it from the airport across a road to the staging site next door, $20K for staging site rent (about 4 months), $21.6K to remove the wings and tail, $25K to move it to my home site, and $20K in ancillary and miscellaneous costs. But very roughly 30% of those costs were mud and weather delay costs – the price of executing the project in Oregon during a La Nina winter. And another very roughly 20% were learning curve costs – the price of choosing inappropriate vendors and inefficient methods.”

      http://www.airplanehome.com/FAQs.html

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