Ultimate Survival/Retirement Home

Discussion in 'General Homesteading & Building' started by Tex, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    I plan to build a home on several acres after my kids have grown and left. What type of home would you build and why? I want my home to be low maintenance, safe, and very energy efficient.
  2. TechAdmin

    TechAdmin Administrator Staff Member

    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.

    Good topic!

  3. George_H_M

    George_H_M Active Member

    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.
  4. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    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)

    Monolithic Dome Institute

    Has anybody done haybale construction, underground homes, or any other alternative building technique.
  5. SierraM37

    SierraM37 Well-Known Member

    Our Home Build

    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.

    Hope this helps a little. Todd
  6. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member


    Arrrgggg... just wrote a nice long post... and got logged out when I tried to post it.

    Basically... straw bales are good. High insulation values, good for the environment, etc.

    You'll need to find a local source to help you along the way. check this out...
    Camel's Back Construction - FAQ

    It's canadian, but still answers a lot of questions.
  7. red haranguer

    red haranguer New Member

    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".
  8. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    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.
  9. BIGJ

    BIGJ New Member

    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

    Welcome to Super Block Systems.com

    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.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  10. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    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.
  11. RedRocker

    RedRocker Active Member

    I'm in the same boat, we have 17 acres in Bowie and looking to build.
  12. trace

    trace Guest

    If you want it to be energy efficient, see if you can build it into the side of a hill; that makes it a lot cooler in the heat.
  13. billinthehills

    billinthehills member

    read an article other day on using old car tires filled with sand and layered like bricks. A steel belted radial 2-3 feet across filled with sand sounds pretty energy efficient not too mention cost effective as tires could be had for free. Anyone else seen or heard of this concept? I belive it was titled earthen homes.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  14. chesterburrito

    chesterburrito Guest

    Isn't survival supposed to be rugged but retirement is supposed to be comfortable? Why have a survivalist style retirement?
  15. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    I want to build something comfortable as well. If I can provide my own utilities, I won't have as many bills. That stretches my retirement savings further. If I'm not spending money, they will have a much harder time taxing it. My kids will inherit my place and my lower cost of living if they want it. Besides, if we ever get to a SHTF situation, my life won't change as much.

    I toured this guy's home when it was 100 degrees outside. His 2700s.f. house was very comfortable and had only a 1 ton AC unit outside. I didn't like where it was located or the facade of the front entry, but the inside and the back covered patio were beautiful. His roof and patio cover caught rain water and fed it into a concrete cistern. A wood burning stove near the back patio entry would heat both domes easily.

    Charca Casa Dome Home
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  16. Big B

    Big B Well-Known Member

    Look into berm homes ,if you have no hills, or a berm home up against a cliff or big hill. The earth provides an amazing amount of insulation ,cool in summer and easy to heat in winter.
    In the plain states these homes were plenteous at one time.
  17. xj35s

    xj35s Guest

    go log...

    We have been looking to build on our 17 acres. Modular homes are $75-$100 psf. These log homes are around $17 psf, but it doesn't include wiring, door/windows, or roof. I think I can do the work with family and friends for far less than the modular companies can.

    They have an R value of 20. Can be built solar. all natural too.

    Of all the log home companies we've looked at this was the best. They build the home fully before it goes on the truck. They insist on assembling it on site so it's right. They are the least expensive of all companies and most caring.

    Canada's Log People - Log Homes Crafted with Quality and Pride - Home
  18. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    I love the look of a well built log home, but I worry about fire and termites. A "box" house made of log or any other material would lend itself to solar panels on the roof. They make amorphous solar panel strips that adhere to metal roofing material. It doesn't look gawdy and works better in high heat and less than direct light situations.

    I'm looking to provide power with solar and wind. If I find land with running water, micro hydro would be good. If I'm not on the grid, I can supplement with a small generator. Any extra power generated will be shed to a water pump to keep a water supply. If the tank overflows, I will direct it to the garden. I plan to put all power generation and water pumping in my detached shop. That will keep all noise(wind generator and backup generator) and other hassles away from my house. I will concentrate on energy efficiency and comfort in the house.
  19. flatwater

    flatwater Well-Known Member

    We start on an underground house this next spring with a full open south face and about a foot of earth on the roof. I have designed it to get maximum controled daylight . Ambiant temp year around will be about 56 degrees with no help from us.
  20. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

    I'm jealous, Flatwater. My dad framed the inside of a 2000 s.f. underground home with only 1 Southfacing wall exposed. It had a clerestory window for natural cooling at night. I wish I had taken pictures of it, but that was 25 years ago when it was built. From the street, all you could see was a small building that housed the clerestory windows.

    What kind of construction are you using? (concrete, haybale, etc....) How big and are you providing your own utilities? What is the site like? (trees, on a hillside, how much land)

    You should start a picture thread once construction begins.