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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been dating my fiancee for almost 2-1/2 years and popped the question last November. (She said yes, by the way.;)) We are in the early stages of looking for a house, and I'm adamant that since we have the financial means to buy a house and turn it into our permanent homestead, now is the time to do so, not just for financial reasons (building up equity toward ownership) but for legal reasons as well, namely that if we don't own the place where we live, especially given the economic and social climate in the U.S. right now, if something were to happen to the person or company that owns our home, we could end up as refugees.

When I moved to my current hometown nine years ago, the first apartment I lived in (actually, it was a 1900-era house that had been subdivided into apartments) was in a great location close to work. But just under two years after I moved in, my landlord filed for bankruptcy and everyone in the building had 30 days notice that they had to find somewhere else to live.

More recently (actually within the past month or so), my uncle and his wife were given notice by their apartment complex's property manager that their lease would not be renewed when it ended on Sept. 1 despite the fact that they had lived there for eight years and had never been late on their rent. They were, however, one of only two families still in the complex who had lived there before the entire complex sustained severe flood damage two years ago, and my uncle and his wife had justifiably demanded that all flood-related damage, especially mold, be remedied before the complex told them that the apartment was ready for them to move back into after the flood, but the complex had just painted over some areas without removing mold-ridden drywall and other such problems. The flood made hundreds of homes in our area uninhabitable for several weeks to several months, and there was really nowhere else my uncle and his wife could move because of a lack of available apartments or houses within their price range. So they kept putting pressure on the complex management to fix the health hazards that just got covered up after the flood, basically being a huge pain in their butt, even though he had every reason to demand that things get fixed. So then a letter came a few weeks ago stating that their leased would not be renewed and that that they had 30 days to vacate. After eight years in the same place, this sent my uncle and his wife scrambling to find somewhere to live. The prospect of moving hadn't been on their radar at all.

So when my fiancee and I started looking at houses a few weeks ago, she said that she really felt uncomfortable at the thought of buying a house because of all of the responsibilities and upkeep that come with it and that she'd really prefer that we rent, at least for a while. I'll mention at this point that I'm 39, she's 31 and this will be the first marriage and first house for either of us. Suzanne is also disabled--she has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair when she's away from home, although she usually uses crutches or just scoots along on the floor when she's at home.

I told Suzanne that right now is exactly the time we want to look at buying a house because of low interest rates (and quite frankly, I'm expecting rates to soar soon), and that even though there would be more work and upkeep involved in having our own house instead of renting, we would be paying less per month on the mortgage, taxes and insurance on a $50,000 house than we're paying in our combined rents right now, thus leaving money that we can set aside for maintenance issues. She countered that the thought of owning a house and being responsible for upkeep, maintenance, fixing things, etc., really scares her. I told her that this is a team effort--she wouldn't be doing this by herself--but the conversation started to veer into her concerns that I was really ignoring her fears about home ownership. MY biggest fear, especially since my fiancee is disabled but considering the possibility of either of the above situations or other SHTF scenarios, is that we WOULDN'T have control over where we live and that we might not be the ones to determine if we're allowed to stay there. I've been trying since we started dating to get Suzanne to see that this country is heading for an economic train wreck of historic proportions because of the unsustainable and obvious overspending in D.C., and I've been storing food (dehydrating most of it myself) since before Suzanne and I started dating and she thinks it's great that we'll have plenty of food for an extended period in case of an emergency, but as I see it that's all a moot point if we have nowhere to live or no control over where we live. And I don't think we've got a long time to lock down low interest rates before they start to skyrocket, which would probably make home ownership even less desirable in Suzanne's eyes if we were paying more for a mortgage (because we didn't take it while the rates were lower). We're both in agreement on the kind of house we want (my only two criteria were that it have a full and fully enclosed basement, and enough land to plant at least a few fruit trees and a garden), but we seem to be miles apart on the issue of owning versus renting. She's not yet seeing the looming financial apocalypse in this country, and the more I talk about the urgency of buying now, the more she seems to resist the idea. So if any of you have any advice on how I can either get Suzanne to see that there's no good reason not to buy a house right now since we are able to afford the payments, I'd appreciate any help.

684 Posts
If you are SERIOUS about 'Sustainable' and 'HomeSteading',
Then pick a place that has a state park or national park as a neighbor,
Or pick out a section of land about 40 acres or larger so you don't wind up with people building right out your bathroom window!

Pick someplace with a south/south western facing hill side.
This is CRITICAL if you are going to take advantage of Passive Solar,
Which ALL of the old timers did!

If you live in cold climates, build facing dead south to the arc of the WINTER sun.
This will give you good morning light into the home to help heat it up when cold outside.

If you live in a 'Moderate' climate, shift the house a little more facing south east so you pick up morning sun, but the hotter afternoon sun is avoided.

If you live in hot climate, situate the house facing east or north to avoid harsh sun altogether.


Use large windows in the front of the home to collect the morning sun.
INSULATED concrete floors will grab sun like a sponge!
Tile helps transfer the morning heat into the concrete so you have warm floors an hour after sun up,
They heat up all day on cold days, and radiate heat all night long saving on your heating bills.

Same with 'Thermal Mass' fronts, poured concrete or actual brick facings on the home, let them soak up the sun all day, radiate it all night, repeat the next morning!

Since winter sun is LOW in the sky, and summer sun is HIGH in the sky,
You use a PORCH to shade the front of the home in the summer so you don't soak up a bunch of heat when you don't need it.

Lots of glass in the front, and I'm talking Triple pane, Gas filled, Low E coatings, will reflect the heat away when the sun is high, but let it in when the sun is low,
And it will help keep your INSIDE heat/cool where it belongs,
Plus it makes for NOT having to use a bunch of lights in the daytime!
Nothing like a lot of light to beat seasonal 'Blues' either!

I use "Light Pipes' in everything but our bedroom.
Lets in outside light from the roof, no need to turn on lights unless it's dark outside.
Bathrooms, storage room, laundry room/mud room, ect.

If you are the type to use it effectively, go with EARTH SHELTERED HOME cut into a hill side.
Saves us a TON of money on heating, and especially COOLING bills!
HIGH CEILINGS is the cure to the 'Underground Box' feeling most people have with earth sheltered homes, have at least an 8 foot ceiling and it will feel wide open and comfortable.

We went for the closed cell expanding foam insulation everywhere.
It's about 4 times as expensive as fiberglass, but it's also 6 times as effective, and since we went with 8" studs in the front, we are about 20 times more effective insulation value than 3" of fiberglass would be.

We opted for a 'Sod' roof, many people don't. There are considerations you need to address for a sod 'Green' roof, but it keeps the home snug as can be, and I mow it instead of replace shingles every few years.

It does disallow solar panels on the roof, which are good, and it does make water collection from a metal roof impossible, there are draw backs,
But since we have a pretty good size shop/garage with metal roof for rain collection, it's not an issue for us.

I also had to construct 'Pads' for the Light Pipe collection points for interior lighting, so that was another thing that wouldn't have been necessary with framed roof..

Now, if you are still with me,
Thermal Windows, INSULATION-INSULATION-INSULATION! Seal up EVERYTHING and control the air flow through the house!

Radiant floor heating was the BEST thing we ever did besides an earth sheltered home! Cheap, efficient, low cost operation and SILENT operation, Warm Floors in the morning, which the "Little Woman" just LOVES!

Even with the heat/boiler turned off, the tubes in the front under the floor will heat up the floors in the back from sun exposure, so you have a reasonably warm floor even in the dead of summer when everything is turned off!

It took us 4 years to get this house built without a HUGE mortgage the bank wouldn't let us have without an unreasonable interest rate...
So we paid for the poured walls, radiant floor heat & floor, and most of the other 'Framing' construction out of our own pockets,
Then pretty much financed all the 'Finish' work,
Cabinets, doors, boiler for floor heat, windows, ect. and we could get a reasonable rate on that stuff.

Most banks are absolutely unwilling to give loans for stuff like solar arrays, inverters, drilling wells, ect. this side of California...

So we paid for all that out of our pockets,
I had several solar panels and one large inverter, and I used my battery powered mini-pickup as the battery bank in the beginning,
But once we got the place going, we added several more panels, inverters, ect...
More tax credits and more production/redundancy in the process...
LEAVE ROOM FOR EXPANSION! If you build racks for panels, leave expansion room!

When we re-financed from just land to building the house, it all was IMPROVEMENTS to the property, making it worth more, and getting us a better interest rate,
Plus the Government gave us a tax credit on the 'Renewable Energy' set up...

One step at a time!
We've been working about 12 years on this place, and it's about where we want it!

Large shop to work in, makes money for us by doing local fabricating/welding, machine work,
And everything pays for it's self.
Homesteading proper is HARD WORK!
Pretty much sun up to sun down every day,
But it's YOURS when you are done every day!
Other than Mortgage and taxes, everything we produce around here is OURS!

We're not working for the electric company, the water company, we have a large garden which produces income and most of our food (although Starbucks is getting some of my money, I can't make that at home!).

When setting the garden, we grow decorative plants that sell like crazy,
Take little care in the garden and make CASH MONEY...
The extra garden produce makes CASH MONEY,
The fruit trees make CASH MONEY every year,
And much of the fabrication, welding, machine work I do in the shop makes CASH MONEY...

Since I 'Tele-Commute' most days to my 'Regular Job', I get to save much of the money I would spend commuting in these rural areas, and that helps...
So anything you can do on the internet to make a buck is a good thing.

This is a GREAT place to have kids run wild and grow up smart and strong!
Our nephew and grand nieces and nephews are always barefoot and in a hurry to get into 'Country Trouble' somewhere around here!
Right now there are two of them blowing up inter-tubes in the backyard where I can see them playing, and I suspect there is going to be some inter-tube and hill action anytime now!
Just farm kids being farm kids!
I don't have to worry about creepy folks or drug dealers around here, just the occasional bee sting or scrape which all kids get learning what NOT to do...
(Part of that common sense lessons of what NOT to do!)

Nothing like seeing them climb the fruit trees for apples, peaches, ect.!

So I say GO FOR IT!
If you can stand the slow pace of life a 'Homestead' produces, and if you are strong enough for the work,
Then there is no better way to live or raise kids!

684 Posts
You are also correct about owning, but there is a third option you haven't listed...

Contract, or 'Rent To Own'...
Contract purchases usually have a balloon payment at the end,
The idea of a contract purchase is for you to finance 100% of the land and any existing buildings,
You actually OWN the property, so you can make any improvements you want to, and after a set term, usually about 5 to 10 years, you make a balloon payment...
Which since you have paid more than 10 or 15% down already, and have made improvements, about any bank will give you the mortgage on the land for that balloon payment and then you owe the bank instead of the land owner.

Most motivated land owners are more than willing to do that because it's a Win/Win for them,
If you buy, they get tax free income for 5 to 10 years before the purchase,
And if you default, they get the land back with improvements, which makes the land worth more, and they got 5 or 10 years of tax free income while you fixed it up...

On the other hand, You still get the tax deduction while you are paying for the property, and the interest rates are usually pretty good with contract purchases.
And you are fixing up YOUR land if you don't default,
And if something happens you do default, you walk away without a ding on your credit rating...

If you buy 'Land' and not 'Real Estate', something that is tillable, then by all means have someone FARM the extra acreage while you are not using it!
That is INCOME to pay taxes, insurance, pay some of the contract or mortgage, ect.

If you can work a garden or plant something that will produce some income, it's better than nothing! So DO IT!
One neighbor let the locals move in old vehicles they were using for future projects or scrapping out slowly,
When metal prices went way up, and jobs went way down, people defaulted in their rentals, and he took action and crushed the vehicles that didn't pay for themselves, and he made a TON of money on that deal!

Another guy rents 'Garden' lots to city dwellers,
Gets paid by the square foot, gets paid to till the land for the gardens in the spring, and turn them over in the fall.
He sells compost on site which comes from the site (Leaves, weeds, anything that will compost)

We grow decorative plants and sell produce from the garden, which is a tidy sum every year...
We also lease tillable farm land, and the stuff on the hill sides we rent to horse owners...

If you have the land, there are ways to make money from it!

If you are into that sort of thing, hunting leases are big business!
Some guys are getting THOUSANDS of dollars for hunting leases on fairly small tracts of land around here!

Some places, the state will pay YOU for letting the land go back to 'Habitat'.
There is a guy down the road getting about $1,700 an acre for 'Habitat' land from the state...
He's allowed to hunt that land, so He's also selling hunting leases on the same land under the table...
I don't recommend you break the law like that, but it CAN be done fairly easily... Since deer season is fairly short, around two weeks, it's VERY unlikely that a hunter is going to be caught on that lease land...
And it's a Trespassing fine if he's caught, most times the game guys will just tell him to climb the fence and get off the 'Protected' property...

If he's staying in residence on the property, then he's a 'Guest' and it's legal for him to hunt the land, no issues...

You can rent for different seasons around here, Turkey, Deer, ect. and make money off each season!

If there is 'Industrial' land available, don't over look it, not all of it is 'Toxic'...
We purchased some coal mine lease land,
The strip mine purchased our land, but didn't strip mine it, it was the tail end of a tract they had to purchase the entire thing to get at the coal, but there wasn't enough coal under the property we purchased to make it worth while (Too much hard rock), so it was never stripped, and we could buy it without buying a bunch of land we didn't want...

Not every 'Industrial' site is toxic either,
Recently a couple we know purchased a river front loading and unloading company, nothing produced there, so no toxic issues,
They made a HUGE house out of the old warehouse that is right on the river, which you CAN NOT do anymore, and they have a nice business facing the river supplying food, drinks, ice, bait ect. to recreation river users.

With south facing frontage on the river, they pay NOTHING for electricity since they went solar,
And the constant traffic on the river allows them to make a good living in the store, and even sell tie up slip space along their considerable 'Sea Wall' along the river, which you can't make for yourself anymore,
But if it's 'Existing', they can make 'Improvements' to it,
Like electric hook ups, fresh water hookups, sanitation lines, ect.

Just think outside the box a little.
We have a 'Summer Camp' down the road, a bunch of kids down there every summer swimming, playing games in the middle of a corn field.
They make a MINT every year on that silly little summer camp in the middle of nowhere!
If you can stomach the 'Religious' types, a religion themed summer camp is always a gold mine!
They are more than willing to pay for the seclusion/indoctrination of their new crop of brainwashes that will contribute cash to them for a lifetime,
So if you can put up with that, it's money in the bank.

Never forget the power of a CO-SIGNER!
If you have someone that will Co-Sign for you, then you can get financing for about anything.
It's amazing what a government guaranteed load or co-signer will get you!

720 Posts
I do understand the school of thought that buys into the double drip theory, But I also feel missed ot on a chance get beck into the stock market when it crashed down to 6,000 or so a couple years ago. I was waiting for mid to low 5's and never bought in. I'm not talking morgage the house kind of money, just weekend at vegas kind of money. Buy I still kick myself. It's pushing 11,000 right now. I don't think it's a safe place for long term investing right now, I think it will probably fall again and if I bouhg tin I'd be selling out right about now, day trader style.

I think home prices are set to drop a bit with the end of the tax prop-up and the end of what I feel the tarp bubble coming to an end. I think they will pour more money into the sinking ship or stand behind the wheel as it goes down. Job numbers are not looking that good and that to me indicates recovery or not.

I would buy now, but I would carefully hunt for a bargain. I picked up both ofmy houses very far below market valvue. The first guy was getting divorced, sleeping on the floor with a tv on hid milk crate clothes dresser. The house was on the market for 10 months with no bites. They wanted 150K. We got it for 106K. in 1999 or 2000 Deals are out there if you look

My second house is 1/2 of a twin in a better town with good schools and I have a 5 car garage. I just don't have much room for a garden. I'd put 30 gal drums cut into pots on the roof if I had to. I paid 109k for this place 3 yrs ago, but sold the place for 245k. I accualy took out an equity loan on the first house, bought this one and spent 6 months fixing it up, mostly my self before moving in. Moveing was pretty easy since I had six months to do it. every time I drove down to rip out a wall or hang some rock I tossed a couple boxes in the car. I had most of it down here when it came time to leave the old house. I only made 2 trips with the help of my ucles van and landscape trailer to get the big stuff moved. My little '85 mercedes did the bulk of it.

I was looked at all kinds of houses from bare acres in the wood to $45k shacks in "poor" areas to $300k mini farms before settling here. I drove the realator's nuts, because my range was to varied. Yhey gave me access on line to the MRLS (?) the site where realitors find houses. I did ny own leg work and did a drive by to see how it looked. If I liked It I tried to set up a walk through and place a bid. Most of the "deals" I liked where gone in one day. I miss getting in my bid by a hour or two. So deals are out there, do you homework and DON'T OVER SPEND.
At closing on my first house I was able to pay off both houses and have enough left to pay off the 10k that I put on a card getting material from homedepot. I didn't walk away with alot of money, but I walked away free and clear. 3 yrs later I haven't finished all of the work here. My upstrairs closet, and my front room are still waiting, but I pick away at it.

I was beat up pretty bad in a car crash a few months ago and I've been on worker comp "welfare". It basicly cut my pay in half and greatly increased my bills since I do all my own work. Car makes a noise, I fix it, roof leaks, I fix it etc.

If I didn't play my cards right and I tried to keep up with the jones, my family would be camping on a relatives floor and our credit would be shot.

But again I would buy now. I have been thinking about a small $60-80K condo to rent out or instaling solar on my nouse. Both would cost the same. I'm leaning to solar. Both should bring in some money for a long time. The solar should have less maintance and basicly I hate people. So I don't want to deal with a J/O tenant.

The wanderer
4,350 Posts
survivalprepdotnet, the bottom line for most women is reassurance. She wants to feel safe and secure, and that's probably excaberated by her disability. Keep reassuring her that you will do all you can to see that things are maintained and that it's not as hard, expensive, or time consuming as she imagines, but DON'T blow off or negate her concerns. Address them with calm, steady reassurance. Even if you don't have answers for some of her concerns, be unbending in your assurance that you will find a way and that you REALLY believe you should buy and not rent.

By buying instead of renting, any improvements or adaptations you make to the house (such as for a wheelchair) will be YOURS, to do as you please and to keep forever. That should be a selling point right there.

Buying IS the right move. Insist on it, but lovingly. Tell her it's the best way you can show her how much you love her and want to take care of her. Don't believe women's lib crap that women don't WANT to be taken care of. Deep down inside, you guys are always going to be our protectors, our knights in shining armor. We do admire your strength and courage. I'm sure it's inside her, too, even if she doesn't bring it to the surface.

Reassurance. NEVER tell her she's wrong about how she feels. Instead, convince her you can take care of whatever comes up. (But don't be arrogant and brush things off!)

YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
Gypsy - I think you nailed it!

From a guy's point-of-view, knowing that your money is going into something tangible is a requirement. When I purchased my place in Calgary I was tired of the rental-scene. When I first moved here, I rented a bedroom in a "family home" - I didn't fit in that family. Then I rented a house with a couple of room-mates - they turned out to be dicks. Then I rented a basement suite, it flooded. Then I rented a whole basement - the landlords didn't like my vehicle parked in the back yard, didn't like it in the front yard, didn't like it at all .... stress!

Then I bought with the thought in my head that I was renting from the bank. Great decision, but, I ended up with some PITA neighbors and some great neighbors. I am tired of the city-life, so, when this house sells I will be heading back to the country-life that I grew-up in and, if everything goes according to plan (selling price vs purchase price), I will be able to pay-off the new place in less than 10 years.

I consider the purchase of a home, as long as I get the same money out of it as what I put into it, the best rental situation around!

Reverend Coot
3,848 Posts
I never like rentin anything, all I'm doin is making payments fer somebody else. At the end a the year, I got a box a reciepts an they got property.

Buy. Also whith her dissability, ya can make changes ta yer own house that suit her without the worry a havin ta move in 6 months an start all over again.

She is gonna spend the money one way er another, ya might as well spend it on yer own stuff. Upkeep isn't that huge of a deal if yer mechanically inclined at all. Most of it the homeowner can do. The rest if ya shop around an maybe do a bit a barterin, can be resonable.

Just don't buy a dump with the thoughts of, oh, we can fix this this an this. That gets expensive in a hurry an ya gotta live in it while doin the repairs. Find a decent place that's had resonable care an buy it.

Hope it all works out fer ya.

720 Posts
The only thing I have against buying right now is that I feel there is a better chance for prices to fall rather than rise. Of course that's just my personal feeling and thats why I advise to find the best bargain rather than find for your dreamhome. If you pay top dollar and prices fall for a few more years you will find yourself underwater like the millions of other americans who have keeping up with the jones' instead of just finding something affordable that will work for them. A honda will get you work just as well as a lexus.

I'm just saying becare, it's still uncertain times. I feel home prices are still artifically propped up by the tax credit and things will soon "equalize" (i don't know what word to use) with out more credits or hand outs.

If you feel prices are set to fall quickly for a yr or two, than renting for a year and buying the same property next year, at a lower price, might work. I guess time will tell.

YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
The prices around here are dropping and have dropped significantly as well, but, even with the the drops in "value" I still can sell my house for more than what I negotiated originally years ago.

Don't think of a house as being a way to play the stock-market, flipping house for house till you get your dream-home. Better is to buy cheap and small, stay till you own more than 3/4's of the house then sell and only buy something that you only need to put half the money down. That way you will always be "safe" from the rise-n-fall of the real-estate market.

720 Posts
The key word in that you negotiated the price years ago. Many people, including my sister and her hustband are forced into short sale by unforseen events like job loss, injury etc. In my sister's case they got a very good deal ( at the time ) but that was only 2 yrs ago. Her husband is in the Airforce and should have been here longer, but was transfered. They were lucky. There's enough of our family here to look after the house. They have rented it, hoping prices will come around and they can sell it.
It is like the stock market, it's an investment. The biggest one we make. They say that over any ten year period houses and stocks do well, but if need to sell in a year or two you could be in trouble.

OldCoot, I have to disagree. As I said earlier, buying my dump that needed a lot of work was the best move I could have done. I do 90% or more of the work myself, at least before I got hurt. I fixed up two bedrooms and the livingroom before moving in. That way the furniture could be put in place and we didn't need to move it. I did one bathroom, while we used the other. I did the kitchen and a few other things before my crash put a stop to the repairs. If I bought a normal house in move in condition I would not have been able to keep it while trying to get over this injury. I'd be bankrupt and living with relatives for along time. We are just getting by as it is, and dipping into the savings for big things like new car tires or roof repairs. The rest I'm putting off untill I'm back on my feet.

The wanderer
4,350 Posts
It's still a gamble on whether house prices will go down, or up, or stay more-or-less steady. Prices started dropping here, then in the last month they jumped up again.

The world being what it is and where it's likely headed...I'd want the security of owning. IMO I'd look for a lower-end price but in good, livable condition. Then make the changes and improvements you need for your situation, and settle in for the long haul. You'll take forever to get where you want to be (figuratively) if you're playing games with your money (or your time).

If you have the time, skills, and money to work with a fixer-upper, that might be the way to go, otherwise, DON'T.

Go for the security of owning a home. I would think she wouldn't want to rent and have that possibility of having to move always hanging over your heads, especially with her special needs.

If you're not in the military and have no reason to think you'd be transferred to another town/city/location, and your job is reasoably secure, you should be okay. Even if the house you buy now drops in value next year, that won't matter if you're still working and don't plan to try and sell the house. You'll still be able to pay it off.

If inflation or hyper-inflation hits...then you'll be sitting nice! Your mortgage payment is locked in, but rents could skyrocket.

YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
If inflation or hyper-inflation hits...then you'll be sitting nice! Your mortgage payment is locked in, but rents could skyrocket.
That happened here. Hyper-inflation where there were not enough places for people to own or rent. People living in their campers in camp-grounds just so that they could work - not because they were homeless-bums - but - because they were homeless-achievers who couldn't find a place to buy or rent, no matter the cost.

What was being rented at $300 / month in the '90s turned into $1000 / month "suites" over night. What was a "reasonable" $900 / month rental property became $2500 / month rental property.

Renters were being evicted all over the city (one senior on fixed income who lived in the same place for 20 years was evicted by the landlord because someone with more money wanted his place and was willing to pay double for it - ya, it got into the local papers) - it was a complete meltdown for many people.

After the crash, landlords couldn't find anyone to rent their places and last I heard, there were over 2200 homes on the realestate listings for Calgary. Rental property prices became reasonable because it was better for the landlord to have a little bit of money instead of tryin' to gouge for their millions.

1,922 Posts
I've always liked the idea of ownership, paying rent is like throwing your money away. Although there are some nice places that can be rented dirt cheap. I have been on both sides of the fence and prefer ownership.

684 Posts
I didn't have a choice of going 'Off Grid'.
Since I do machine work and weld a lot, I would have rather been on a 'Split System', meaning solar with Grid Intertie,
But the local power company wanted WAY too much to run power lines back to my place.

Phone company wanted a ton of money, and the water people wouldn't even talk to me about putting in a water line.

It's extra work, there is no question,
Washing panels, extra weeding around support gear, and the cost can be Daunting in the front end,

But there are some resources you can use also,
Rebates and tax credits, you MUST keep up on the paperwork, but it's worth several thousand dollars to do the paperwork!

Think it through,
If sun tracking will gain you 30% or 40% in production, then do it.
The tracking rigs can be pretty cheap all the way to VERY expensive, but if you do as much of the work ("Sweat Equity") as you can, then the labor costs come WAY down.

The cheapest and best way to get started is research.
I recommend 'Home Power' magazine, it's pretty much a showcase of manufacturers products and some of the best, neatest installs out there.

You can take about HALF the cost you see on those pages off if you do 90% of the work yourself, and if you are no stranger to a string plumb line, tape measurer, and framing square, and you have enough IQ to run a power saw without cutting your fingers off, then you can save a TON of money on the install.

If you are just staring out, put your money in PANELS!
Cheap panels will be a pain in your butt for the next 20 to 40 years,
I made that mistake, and I won't do it again!

When you make your solar rack (PV or Thermal) build it STOUT!
Wind is a real big deal, and I tried those spindly little poles that hold 4 or 6 panels, and every couple of years I was out there putting in new poles again.
Now I use either large treated timbers (for parking/storage space under the panels) or I use 'I' beams for single posts, which I don't use anymore.

People are always amazed when they see a 'Car Port' with gaps between the roof panels, but it's not actually a 'Car Port', it's a solar array that just happens to shade my parking spot or give partial cover to the lawn mower or whatever you want to put under there.

If you are 'Homesteading', never turn ANYTHING down.
If you get the opportunity to take bricks from a wrecked building, then by all means take those bricks!
Even with the old mortar stuck to them, they make a GREAT 'Floor' for car ports, side walks, patios, ect.

I got some steel from a tear down of an old building in town, and although it was bent somewhat, short pieces have been used in a bunch of projects around here, and what you don't use is money in the bank at the scrap yards.

I've used a TON of lumber from tear downs in my projects.
People always make fun of my 'Patch Work' looking projects, compost bed frames, hot boxes, concrete forms, ect.
All I can say is, when you make this stuff, you KNOW it's going to rot down in a few years, so what's the difference?
Compost bed frames rot particularly fast, anything that sets on the ground will,
But you can't use treated lumber because the chemicals used to keep it from rotting will leach into your compost, then into your food supply when you start your plants or spread that compost on the garden!

So FREE lumber is always a good thing!

Concrete frames are always a waste of lumber, once the cement has stuck to the forms, it dulls saw blades at a rate I can't afford to replace, and the wood always rots very quickly after being used for concrete forms.
So the 'Free' lumber is always a good idea.

When I do something like rabbit cages out of used lumber, I often use that cheap wood paneling on the outside to dress them up a little.
You can buy 'Stray' pieces from lumber stores for CHEAP (last of discontinued lots) and it dresses things like outbuildings, cages/pens up a little.

Broken bricks make everything from decorative landscaping rock to driveway bed material!

Free rock, no matter the source, is always welcome!
You need HUNDREDS OF TONS of rock for a 'Homestead' before it's over!
Full bricks get sorted out for use as listed above, broken bricks get laid in drive way beds, or broken up for ground cover, drainage, ect.

Many times when a place is purchased, it will have a parking lot,
When the new builders are there, they will take up that parking lot,
Slabs of driveway (no matter what the material) make GREAT gravel drive way/parking area bed to keep your rock from sinking.
The gravel in the driveway (even if it's hard on top, there will be gravel underneath) is GREAT for drives, drainage projects, ect.

I contracted to remove an old hotel, bricks, driveway, ect after it was torn down. I had to RENT the equipment, and buy a big old magnet to separate all the nails, metal, ect. from the stuff,
But a 'Bobcat' rental was $135 for 8 hours run time, and I had pretty much the entire thing moved in two days.

I went out, cut down my driveway path, preparing for base material,
(Which left me with a pretty large pile of dirt I didn't know what I was going to do with)
Brought the material out there, dumped it in the trench for the drive,
leveled it out, and then brought the gravel/top material out and dumped/leveled it out, 'Swept' it for nails, ect. with the magnet,
And I SOLD THEM DIRT for backfilling the site!
Had the truck loaded BOTH directions!

Sold them the dirt I excavated out for my container to go underground, and solid them the dirt we were removing to build the shop!
I still amazes me you can SELL DIRT!

Try and make a buck on EVERYTHING!
I wan't contracted to pick up the metal from the site, but the General Contractor asked me if I wanted to haul it off, and he got me some extra money and had his people load it to get rid of it.
(Great old brass hand railings, lots of steel and copper, ect.)

I pick up things like hot water heaters, old cars or car parts, ect. all the time around here, some times they pay you to carry it off!
While I'm preparing my loads of scrap for the recycle yard, this stuff all adds weight that pays me!

I have a deal with some of the local contractors, they will call me when they have extra bricks or blocks from a job,
They cut me a deal on them, and I get a LOT of scrap from them for free, just to get it off their job site.

I REALLY don't care if a concrete block is chipped if I'm going to make a rock/gravel/compost bin out of it,
Or if I'm going to break it for backfill or drainage...

I Really don't care if the bricks match in the green house when they are just going to hold up a table or be 'Thermal Mass' to keep the green house warm at night and cool in the daytime.

I get a lot of storm windows and 'Take Out' windows from the contractors.
They make GREAT 'Sun Rooms' (Lower sun version of a 'Green House' and particularly great for 'Hot Beds' for starting really early in the spring)

unless you have an unlimited budget.
I don't.

I won't take you long to learn the difference between 'Trash' and 'Salvage'...
And remember, what you don't want, SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE will BUY!

NEVER put a 'Free' sign on anything, charge SOMETHING for it.
You can SELL what you can't give away! Trust me on this!

720 Posts
Today the news reported a 30% drop in home sales, there's a shocker. The tax break is done and the sale are back in the trash. A house is now worth about the same as it was 10 yrs ago.

I'm no expert, but simple supply and demand means states that more homes for sale = more competition = lower costs = more people underwater and more forclosures. Which leads to less tax income for the city which equals higher taxes and gov jobs cuts and so on and so on.

I agree that owning is better than renting, but I wouldn't buy yet, or I'd be very careful to find a steal of a house, as I already posted. There's no sense in climbing onto a sinking ship. I still think home prices will fall. I'd get my ducks in a row, have the loan ready and watch closely for things to turn around, then buy.

I don't know your situation, but I'd hold off if I could.

I was thinking of shopping for a investment property to rent, like a small house or a condo, but I'm leaning toward installing solar panels instead. I think I'll have a better ROI and I don't have to deal with any A-hole renters. I can only put up about 4KW. I need to use more before I can install more. Our regs. stink. That system should run about $22-23K and break even in 4-5 yrs with all the kickbacks. After that it's money in the bank, or ammo in the closet :)
I don't think any rental can do that for me. The fed tax credit will allow me to move some pension money, but I need to talk to a few pros to come up with a good plan first. I'd like to use the pension to cover some of the solar, but I think there's a penalty and nothing burns me up more than giving money away for nothing. I don't mind paying the fair share of taxes on the pension, but I'll be damned if I have to pay them extra to get MY money.

I'm not saying don't buy, just be careful. Buying a house is like buying a new car. As soon as you sign the papers you loose money, at least for now and the next several months.

52 Posts
My boyfriend was also fearing buying a house. I did own one previously, so I knew it was not that complicated. But for him it seemed as something only rich people could do. I understood why when we started looking at houses. He wanted a "perfect" one. You know, the kind with no repairs to do, with a nice garden, fence and everything. With stone walls and wood floors... You get the picture. One evening, after visiting some houses within our budget, and sitting in our basement appartment dark and humid kitchen, I asked him : do you feel any of the houses we visited tonight had worst kitchens than this one? For sure he said no. I must specify he really enjoys cooking. Then I asked : do you realize that none of these houses cost more per month than this dark, damps apartment? Finally, I said : don't you ever dreamed having a room of your own for your dirty hobbies (he likes to make wooden stuff)? We will never be able to rent an apartment with more rooms or in a better building than this one. The next week, we where buying a house. Not a perfect one. But it's eventually going to be ours when paid.

When trying to convince someone to buy instead of rent, and the argument that you won't have to pay indefinitely a rent is not enough to convince that person, then you need to find positive things that ownership would offer. But to do that, you first need to know that person, what he/she dreams of, and then find a house that makes his/her dreams happen. And : manage expectations!

1,922 Posts
Housing prices are still falling here, lots of great deals on all types of realestate. My buddy is looking at a duplex, $13,000 asking realtor says offer bank $10,000, needs about $10,000 worth of repairs, nice 2-1/2 car garage behind it.;)

YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
Sailaway - that is freakin' cheap!!! There isn't a place around here that is selling for less than $150k (and those are selling for the land-only) with the current average price sitting around $400k.

A place around here for $10k would be a used camper-trailer with no truck to pull it!

1,922 Posts
Naekid, the city I live in Sandusky is almost 80% rental property, section 8. Most of the renters are minorities and the job base for the area is all but gone. Alot of the property is owned by slum lords who have run it into the ground. There are great deals for handyman types. Jobs around here that pay well pay $8-12.00/hr. Right now they are few and far between. Every Tuesday in the local paper there are 3-5 pages of forclosures. When my divorce is over I will be looking for more property myself.
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