To be short this is my goal as well. My primary goals are for the homestead to be secure, off the grid for energy and water and able to provide food year round. I'm a gadget guru so I spend a lot of time looking at homestead automation. I would want a lot of automation involved to make it easy for us to focus on other things. Such as timed irrigation from rain water collection, fairly self sustained food plant choices, etc.
Well if money was no object . I would build a home that could hold me and my family comfortably. Be powered with wind/solar/water, geothermal heat pump for heating and cooling , and have all the creature comforts . The exact design is still evolving in my head but right now money is the reason I live in an urban area and not on a nice plot of land. Hope this gives you some ideas.
My wife wants a country house with lots of windows and big porches. I like them, but I want something that is low maintenance and energy efficient. I want to provide my own water and electricity and the need for air conditioning in Texas makes that very expensive. I like concrete dome houses. I toured a concrete dome house that was 2700s.f. and it only had a 1 ton AC unit outside. These houses are tornado proof, fire proof, hurricane proof(except for flooding), earthquake resistant, and can even be buried for an underground home. A coat or two of industrial paint is the only outside maintenance needed for 50 years. If you have several too close together, it looks like a hippy commune, but it can be done tastefully on several acres of land.
They are made by inflating a dome shaped balloon called an airform. From the inside, you spray in a 3 inch thick layer of polyeurathane insulation. Next, the rebar is installed along with any outside wall conduit for electrical boxes. Then 3 inches of concrete are sprayed inside. After the concrete dries, the doors, windows, and interior framing is done. It costs about $110/s.f., but there is little need for insurance, since the house is so durable. These houses have stood through forrest fires, hurricanes, and even a tornado with only minor damage. (windows broken)
We built our home on 12 acre's in the Sierra Nevada foothills in 2001 - Actually broke ground on 9/11/01 ironically.
We didn't plan in terms of total preparedness but did do the following:
2 wells on property that I wish the state of CA didn't know we had. they'll come suck it up when the H2O crisis hits. Need to find a way to get the water up without power or alternate power.
Radiant Floor, Wood burning and gas fireplace on top or traditional HVAC system. Need to re do the radiant floor so I have a solar bypass to use that free sun rather than the gas H2O heater.
I did get a tractor with a backhoe and want to build a storage cave/rootcellar that is concealed.
We've got the veggie garden in and are up to 8 chickens.
I would've had a fireproof safe dug and built into the slab.
Check out many of the 1970,s The Mother Earth News magazines. They contain many low cost, energy efficient homestead ideas. They cover sod, passive solar, active solar, log construction, etc. They also have many low cost plans for alternative power including wind, solarand water. There are also plans for ways to make fuels for your vehicles. An excellent source of information from the "back to the landers".
If I can't get my wife to go for the dome house, I may look into an earth bermed hay bale home with a metal roof. I'll have energy efficiency and she will have a big porch and a country decor.
Whatever type of house we build, we will start with a 30x50 shop with covered RV parking. We can live in the RV while we get water, septic, and electricity situated, and build our home. The shop can house power generation and washer/dryer, refridgerator/freezer, and stuff storage until the house is built.
Geo Dome or Deca Dome are the most effecient. Next step - if you can't get your wife to buy off on those would be an ICF structure (insulated concrete form). We built our ICF home in '03. Basically the walls are a foot thick. 3" styrofoam insulation inside / out and 6" concrete center. Re-rod gets put throughout as well. There are plastic strips throughout that you can screw your drywall, etc. to. Its like huge lego blocks. We just used a jigsaw and cut channels out for all of our electrical (check your local codes). I was very surprised how easy it was.
There are MANY different ICF manufacturers we went with Superblock
I'm not sure how handy you are but these forms are VERY easy to put up yourself. Bracing is the most important thing along with a concrete pump & concrete vibrator.
Our home is about 3600 sq/ft including the finished basement and my father's home next door is about 2000 sq/ft and we use exactly half the propane to heat our home that he does.
With recent changes to the economy I'm now looking at adding an inline multi fuel (wood, corn, cherry pits, etc.) furnace in case things get scary. At the time I wasn't sold on geo thermal - my mother in law has it and its been a maintenance nightmare for her. However I've been researching it further and the systems today look much better - so its not out of the picture yet. Also - since we're on 35 acres I'm looking at windmills. One that interests me a lot is the Whisper 200 - google it. Seems very effecient and easy to install / maintain.
I like the idea of insulated concrete. It's bug proof and fire proof. Something like Superblock would suit my wife better and could still be used in an earth bermed house. I still like the simplicity of a concrete dome, but I like options. Keep them coming.