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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been seriously thinking about posting a thread discussing building. It seems that there are a lot of questions about starting a homestead, or getting started with a raw piece of real estate. While there are many, sites and info on general construction, most of them have no consideration of your wallet and fewer still have no consideration for survival/preparedness. The sites I have seen, as well as books, have some kind of drawing that looks like a kid drew, and some idea about how it might work, but it so hard to find actual photos, and information about how well some idea has performed.

The main issues that seem to be needing would be starting with building on the cheap. While I see many posts on advising how to build that 2800 square foot underground concrete bunker (for $300,000), I think many of the subscribers to this board are not anywhere close to that. If someone can afford that, then they probably would not be on a forum looking for advice. What I think the vast majority of people are needing advice on just getting started on something they can afford.

These are the ones that want to move out into the country, start a little homestead or retreat, and build from there. They have a few survival supplies, guns, gear, bug out bags, ect. But are having a hard time making the next step that they want to do because of finances or whatnot. In all the great info here, and indeed, on the net, that next step is what is missing .

A couple of examples, how about a small 864 SF house for about $12,000? (not including land, well, or septic) That is the house pictured below, or a 768 SF house for $4200? Built with all new materials, all above or at national codes.

I have been close to, and have had many contacts in the industry for a long time. What I don’t know, I usually know who to ask. I will be naming all brands, companies, and retail locations. No hypothetical guesswork. If I don’t know, I will say so.

Send some feedback if you guys think this would be useful, or tailor the direction to go with it. I have learned so much over the last 20 years, I wish I could have found someone who had done this stuff back then, I would have saved myself so much heartache and cash.


---John

864 SF 2 BR before, and two weeks later. Investment at this stage, $7600.00
 

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Why is the Rum gone?
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Looks like a nice place.

With the ample crawlspace there, I would consider digging a safe room/bunker/storage area under the house with a trap door access in a closet above. Pour a concrete floor and use concrete blocks(reinforced and filled with concrete) for the underground retaining walls. Add a concrete roof/ceiling and you're all set. It would be a big (relatively speaking) expense, but might just come in handy.

I'd also cut the wood line back a bit to prevent a storm from dropping trees on the house or a wildfire from burning the whole thing down.

Looks like you have a great start to a wonderful little place.

Good Job!
 

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This is EXACTLY what I wanted to do up north. (Im in Ontario,Canada) and I know the perfect place to do so. It's on crown land. Since the dollar between us is pretty darn close to being the same, you think something like that would cost the same out here ? I've been trying to find out. And can a nice little home/cabin/cottage be built by 3 regular shmoes like my buddies and myself with the proper instructions ? I'd love to do this more than anything.
 

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This Is exactly what the wife are doing right now. We were renting an older farm house but will be mooved out by the end of next month. For less than $40,000 We picked up just less than 10 ac. with a deep well, pond, small 1 seperate shop and a smaller 2 room cook house down by the pond.There is an older trailer there that was added on to with solid 2x6 construction and a roof was solidly placed over the entire structure. It is only 100 sq feet but it will do for a while. The plan is to enlarge the shop to the demintions I want and then move in to it while we deconstruct the trailer/house and build an ICF house. I may take some time but It will be greatly worth it in the long run.
BK
 

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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks AV8R

Looks like a nice place.

With the ample crawlspace there, I would consider digging a safe room/bunker/storage area under the house with a trap door access in a closet above. Pour a concrete floor and use concrete blocks(reinforced and filled with concrete) for the underground retaining walls. Add a concrete roof/ceiling and you're all set. It would be a big (relatively speaking) expense, but might just come in handy.

Thanks AV8R, Great minds think alike I guess, the one shown above, is not mine, it is my son’s. However, to speak to the awesome points you made, I put together something here to show what happened one night.
 

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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
you think something like that would cost the same out here ? I've been trying to find out. And can a nice little home/cabin/cottage be built by 3 regular shmoes like my buddies and myself with the proper instructions ? I'd love to do this more than anything.
Northern Viking

Well, get some benchmark prices. And lets see how close we can get. It seems logical since all of the OSB I have used the last few years came from Norbord http://www.norbord.com/. Based in Toronto. It has stamped on it “a product of Canada”.

Get some Local Prices:
2x4x8 SPF or 2x4x92 5/8 SPF (precut) - whichever is cheaper.
2x4x12 SPF
2x10x12 SYP
7/16” OSB
½” OSB
A bundle of shingles (33.34 Square feet)

With these as benchmarks we can make a pretty good guestimate.

I have said that if you are physically able, and can read measurements and instructions safely, just about anyone can do something like this. (disclaimer on safety is coming later)
So yes, I believe you guys can pull it off.

Let me know anything that might be in short supply locally and prices might be up.
For Example: don’t buy OSB during hurricane season anywhere in the lower 48.
See my posts below (they might help.)
 

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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
First things first.

I am going to operate under a few assumptions here.

1. You are looking to purchase land and build to do something that might fall under one of the following categories:
A. A survival retreat or BOL.
B. A small homestead.
C. A hobby farm.
2. You are trying to; or ready to take action NOW.
3. Funds are what is holding you back.
4. You are ready to do all or most of the work yourself.
5. Your ultimate goal is to be at some level of self reliance more than what you are now.
6. You have an eye for seeing what isn’t there yet (important).
7. You are willing to set aside your ultimate dream plan, in order to do something NOW.
8. Other people will chip in where they can based on their own experiences.

Things you should know:

I am largely familiar with construction techniques, customs, and codes primarily on the east coast. I have built for floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. I have never built in the desert, or in an area where earthquakes were a major concern.

I am not a real estate agent.
I am not an attorney.
I am not an architect.
I am not a residential design engineer.
However, I have many friends and contacts that are the above.

Two things that come first:
1. The land you are going to acquire.
2. Start scouring the local hardware/building stores for deals.
 

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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The land you are going to acquire.

The land you are going to acquire.

As I pointed out before I am not a real estate agent. I have purchased land before obviously, but I am sure there are people both here and IRL that can help with more detailed questions in that area than I can. That being said, I have purchased three pieces of land over the last twenty years, with the idea in mind of a self sufficient homestead. Each time, I later found something better.

In most of the northern half of the USA, the time to be looking, is NOW( January-May.) There are not many leaves on the trees, and the weeds are not high, you can still see the lay of the land. If you wait until July, then you are going to have a much harder time trying to see what you are buying, especially if the land you are looking at is wooded.

Speaking of wooded, What are you looking for? A wooded lot for a cabin? That is great, but now you are limiting the amount of sun that will hit your garden or solar panels. An open Lot? Well, now you can grow corn, but you have no easy access to firewood and the winter wind will cut through you whenever you step onto the porch.

Many areas to consider here, from a main building (house) standpoint, everyone recommends a south facing slope(in the northern hemisphere), and for many good reasons, one of which is solar gain. It is also well recognized to have a wind block in the north - north west, either conifers, or a natural hill. In Fung Shui, the best setup is a south facing slope with hills to the north, east, and west, creating an “armchair” effect. Now from a weather point of view that is near as perfect as it gets, but from a tactical aspect, it is now possible to gain high ground on either side of your house.

So how to you create a reconciliation these disparities? Well, You could build your house on top of a hill and clear everything around you like a firebase in Vietnam, or you could plan to defend your home from the adjacent hilltops instead of from the house.

Aside from the lay of the land, what other resources are available? Wooded acreage = firewood for life. Natural spring? You will never go back to city or well water. Just want you to start thinking of things to shop for.

When I Started my current homestead, my estimating cost on the buildings was almost flawless. What I totally screwed up on, was the driveway. I wanted a long winding driveway. Well, I got it, and it cost me about five times what I had estimated. It is over 1500 feet long, and has cost me more than my house has so far. So, be thinking about road access. Picture your beautiful winding driveway through the woods under two feet of snow or after two weeks of rain.
 

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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Start scouring the local hardware/building stores for deals.

Start scouring the local hardware/building stores for deals.

This is where the real money saver ideas come in.

SOS Resale
In every big box hardware store they have a special order program, where they can order exactly what the customer wants, this largely applies to items that are custom made, for example, windows, doors, kitchen cabinets, and counters, but can apply to almost anything.

Why?
--The customer can look online, or in a book and order that cool thing they have fallen in love with.
--The store does not have to stock every size of every color of everything that is available.

The downfall (for the store).
All of these stores, allow returns for just about any reason. That includes all special order items. These items cannot be returned to the manufacturer like stock items can, as the were custom made. These items then have no place on the store shelf. They sit around on carts, or in tucked away places until a Manager says to get rid of them. Many things are destroyed. However, many things are put on what Lowes calls “The SOS Resale List”.

This is where they are trying to recoup anything they can out of the return. Most of the time, for only pennies on the dollar. Look for them, ask for them.

Commercial Sales
At Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, 84, and other Big Boxes, they have a commercial or contract sales department or area. Go and Meet these people. Talk to them just like you would here. Good customer service (both ways) is built on relationships. You will have the worst time ever going in and asking for a “contractor’s discount” like so many books tell you to do. If you get any serious attention at all, the first thing you will hear is “Do you have a Commercial Account”?

With a working relationship, you will do so much better. Learn who the staff is, learn their names, and stop and chit-chat every time you are in. When you stop in to get a can of dry film lubricant for your magazines, stop by the commercial desk and ask what the current price of metal roofing is. If they are not super busy, something like that WILL start a conversation. Either he/she will engage you to enquire what project you are working on, or it could go to something about the price of steel because of China or whatever.
84 Lumber is notorious for this. I can have somebody call them, and ask the price of a 2x4, and then I can call and ask for Joe and ask him what my price is on about 80 2x4’s if I come down today. Every day of the week my quoted price will be much better. Why? I know Joe.
Remember their names. (did I say that?) Then one day you are going to be purchasing a house package of lumber and guess who is going to help you out with the prices? Yup.

One last thing close to this topic, don’t forget scratch and dent. That has been said many times before , but it does work. If you see an item you like, but it is damaged, don’t be afraid to ask about a discount. Associates are empowered at these big boxes to make these decisions, even if they are afraid to. Unlike someplace like Walmart. Just make sure it really is damaged, not just a torn box or something. (a dent in a steel entry door is a good example)… and your offer is reasonable.

SO, you are working on your relationships at the retail level, and you are looking for items that have been returned, or are damaged, and are a great deal, work on that and next time we will go over the deals and how to get the most out of them.

In my current house, I have almost all Peachtree (http://www.peachtreedoor.com) windows, and I paid $20 each for them.

I am just touching on many of these topics. If you have a question about, or would like to, add to any of them, post it, and I can go into greater detail.
 

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Builder
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This Is exactly what the wife are doing right now. We were renting an older farm house but will be mooved out by the end of next month. For less than $40,000 We picked up just less than 10 ac. with a deep well, pond, small 1 seperate shop and a smaller 2 room cook house down by the pond.There is an older trailer there that was added on to with solid 2x6 construction and a roof was solidly placed over the entire structure. It is only 100 sq feet but it will do for a while. The plan is to enlarge the shop to the demintions I want and then move in to it while we deconstruct the trailer/house and build an ICF house. I may take some time but It will be greatly worth it in the long run.
BK
you meant 1000 SF?

Wow, that is awesome ! You did great! Just a well can be very expensive, and as I mentioned before, road access. And you have something to live in while you work. The life of commuting, and sleeping in tents (which, BTW was great survival training in itself) while trying to build, and working full time, well it sucks.
Great Job!:thumb:
 

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Why pumice/shotcrete is your friend

For less than $10k plus land costs

you can build any size home you wish.

I have worked with Nader Khalili and others who build low cost housing.

If you are REALLY low on funds, you can do the superadobe method

Basically you dig a hole and use that dirt to fill polypropolene bags to make snadbags. sand bags secured on a track of barbed wire, one on top of the other makes 'superadobe'

It's back breaking but ridiculously cheap.

For the outer stucco you can use papercrete and chickenwire.


Most of the cost of the house is the internal niceties and basements.

It's actually cheaper to build upwards and then berm the main floor.

Another way to do this is use chickenwire and rebar to create a large dome structure. Then shoot a foam layer followed by shotcrete/pumicecrete On the outside shoot papercrete. it's shootable. All told this can be a tad more expensive but much less backbreaking.

This is what I plan to do. Couple this with earthship greenhouse front and youve got a great home.


There are some great books out there like the Earthbag home.
 

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If you know 'building', can you tell folks how to strengthen their existing locations, like beefing up door frames and all that?
A couple of things:

For door frames I'd go 4x4 posts, using carriage bolts to screw the top to the two sides

You can also keep those frames in place along the wall by running 2 x4's laterally from the side posts of the frame across the walls on either side.

That door ain't movin.

I did this for a false wall in a store front. I lived behind that wall for a 5 years and operated a store in front of it.

The back wall was concrete with a steel door.

The door in the wall was also steel.

If you have the patience for it you can laminate your own bullet proof doors.

Looks like a normal door but the back of the door is 1/4 inch steel plate. You are gluing successive layers on top of that plate of spectra fabric, wood, spectra, wood, etc until you get the thickness of the door. You want 5 layers of spectra if possible.

Thats ok if you want it to look like a normal door.

Otherwise steel wood steel is the way to go. You can buy these though.

Saferooms can be constructed this way with metal sheet, spectra/dyneema, bullet proof plastics and or poured concrete.
 

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Thanks AV8R, Great minds think alike I guess, the one shown above, is not mine, it is my son’s. However, to speak to the awesome points you made, I put together something here to show what happened one night.
:thumb: Yep i like that. :taped: Sometime before fall i hope to start an underground home, i need all the advice i can get. I have done a lot of construction and building but the, structure and drainage, electrical issues. Not to mention one of those late night building sessions, sometimes one would have to work late to finish up something. :D:
 

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:thumb: Yep i like that. :taped: Sometime before fall i hope to start an underground home, i need all the advice i can get. I have done a lot of construction and building but the, structure and drainage, electrical issues. Not to mention one of those late night building sessions, sometimes one would have to work late to finish up something. :D:
I recommend Rob Roys books. I have them all. Mike Oehlers book on underground home building is great.

Good luck btw.

Log
 

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i wish you lived here

I am going to operate under a few assumptions here.

1. You are looking to purchase land and build to do something that might fall under one of the following categories:
A. A survival retreat or BOL.
B. A small homestead.
C. A hobby farm.
2. You are trying to; or ready to take action NOW.
3. Funds are what is holding you back.
4. You are ready to do all or most of the work yourself.
5. Your ultimate goal is to be at some level of self reliance more than what you are now.
6. You have an eye for seeing what isn’t there yet (important).
7. You are willing to set aside your ultimate dream plan, in order to do something NOW.
8. Other people will chip in where they can based on their own experiences.

Things you should know:

I am largely familiar with construction techniques, customs, and codes primarily on the east coast. I have built for floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. I have never built in the desert, or in an area where earthquakes were a major concern.

I am not a real estate agent.
I am not an attorney.
I am not an architect.
I am not a residential design engineer.
However, I have many friends and contacts that are the above.

Two things that come first:
1. The land you are going to acquire.
2. Start scouring the local hardware/building stores for deals.
you are the type of bloke i am looking for here IN AUSTRALIA, if you KNOW of a bloke like that that LIVES IN BRISBANE AUSTRALIA. then pass along their or my details thanks. regards steve
 

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I'm figuring $90,000 in construction costs to build a 30x40 cabin. And I'm planning to finish the inside myself, including building my own cabinets. I must be really high. That's $75/sqft and I'm planning on site prep, well, and septic to be extra. And it won't have a basement. I need to learn from this thread!
 

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A Ghost who Walks
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For less than $10k plus land costs

you can build any size home you wish.

I have worked with Nader Khalili and others who build low cost housing.

If you are REALLY low on funds, you can do the superadobe method

Basically you dig a hole and use that dirt to fill polypropolene bags to make snadbags. sand bags secured on a track of barbed wire, one on top of the other makes 'superadobe'

It's back breaking but ridiculously cheap.

For the outer stucco you can use papercrete and chickenwire.


Most of the cost of the house is the internal niceties and basements.

It's actually cheaper to build upwards and then berm the main floor.

Another way to do this is use chickenwire and rebar to create a large dome structure. Then shoot a foam layer followed by shotcrete/pumicecrete On the outside shoot papercrete. it's shootable. All told this can be a tad more expensive but much less backbreaking.

This is what I plan to do. Couple this with earthship greenhouse front and youve got a great home.


There are some great books out there like the Earthbag home.
The other things i'd tell them

Is if they have a Site ....they can start buying concrete block, and 2X 's a little at a time Like other preps.

Get several storage sheds or tarps and store the materials untill you've got enough to start building.

Putting in a Basement or building a wall isn't realy all that hard to do.
but it takes time and attention to details.

Digging the Hole by hand is a Pain

And any construction work can be back breaking work be ready for that part of it.

If you can read ....the knowledge is out there just waiting for you.
Find it, Read it and learn from it.

Even if you hire it done .....knowing how and why something is done that way can and will help you save $$$
And knowing How and why can help you from getting riped off as well.
 
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