Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Starting With Nothing

What's the first thing to look at when you buy a property in the middle of nowhere that has nothing - no power, no water, no housing? You're starting fresh but it's still very easy to become overwhelmed by all that has to be done.

Realistically we're looking at a 3 to 5 year time frame before making the complete move from a house in the city to some sort of cabin or shelter that'll be completely off the grid.

So where to begin?

We're thinking of moving in two stages - the first being a summer place - maybe 2-4 months out of the year. That means that heat won't be an immediate issue. For any extended length of stay, the obvious concerns are water, power, shelter and waste disposal.

In our case, year round aquifers are plentiful in the hills behind the property, so drilling a well goes to top of the list. For human waste we could build an outhouse as a temporary solution, but we've been looking at composting toilets. The latter can be easily moved later into a more permanent dwelling in the future.

I can see that our first projects are going to be simple - maybe some small sheds - for firewood and tools. And maybe a deck for a yurt - our first temporary housing alternative.

For these simple goals we're already talking about a building a good complement of tools. Suggestions in Chapter 5 of Logs, Wind and Sun by Rex and LaVonne Ewing apply to most construction sites:
Sears 7" worm drive saw - expensive but you won't regret it for heavy duty work
12V cordless trim saw with 5" blade
Compound Miter Saw
At least two drills - variable speed and reversible
- 3/8" cordless for screwing down decking and plywood
- 120V 1/2" drill for tougher jobs
Reciprocating Saw
Builder's Level

See the book for more startup information

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