Sat, Jun 2, 2018 - 5:43pm

When I started writing this series about my prepping Odyssey of building a home for the future, I had intended to post a chapter each week this summer as the project unfolded, hoping that folks here in T–ville might learn from some of my blunders. I think we have a fine opportunity to learn such things today. But our project has taken a dark turn.

In a word we have abandoned it.

Plan A was to build a house which looked rather normal. But our architect slapped us in the face with reality, showing us what it actually costs to build a home in our county, exceeding our budget by at least 100%. The whole point was to own a home free and clear of any bank’s lecherous hooks snagged into the property via an evil mortgage.

Plan B endeavored to redesign a building that would be within our budget. We explored the possibility of a large metal RV garage with an apartment built inside, and became very excited about it. While Plan B certainly lowered costs into a range that seemed affordable, as I received bids from concrete contractors, metal building suppliers and installers, the cost added up to a point still in excess of our ability to keep it free of banking encumbrances. The rising price of building materials (caused by the need to rebuild Houston, I presume) provided the final nails for the coffin. For example, the cost of plywood in our locale has increased by 25% just since February.

All this while, we kept one eye on the real estate market looking for a property that would meet all of our needs, which included not just having a master gardener’s dream property, but space for our aging relatives to live with us. But the market here in central Arizona is very strong, with retirees from the Phoenix area desiring to get out of the big city and into a climate that is a few degrees cooler. Homes are overpriced right now-- especially homes with a bit of acreage, irrigation, and farm animal privileges.

I’m the dreamer of the family and my wife is the realist. Frankly, she had to point out to me that Plan B was still not viable. And so we began discussing plan C, which we’d held in the back of our minds in a little closet where we wouldn’t have to think about it.

Plan C:

Three years ago we purchased a property in the area. It is more of a ranch compound than a typical house. We made the purchase because home prices had already begun to climb, and this particular property was a steal. We planned to use it as a rental produce to produce another income stream, but we also discussed setting it up as a SHTF location, although it was not ideal. The 2 acre lot has a main house currently seperated into two apartments, along with two ancillary buildings—a studio apartment and an empty building where a small church once met. The property has no water service and when we hired a well driller, we discovered that the water underneath the property is brackish. So, like many people living in rural Arizona we bought a trailer with a water tank, installed a cistern / pump system, and began hauling water to the property.

The property has been a great rental, strengthening our budget nicely in the past two years. In four more years it will have paid for itself.

Plan C allows us to save our fiat and using it to continue improving our property. We shall convert the old church building into an apartment in which my wife and I will live. It really does have a nice feel to it. Then we will construct a new garage/workshop/man cave, along with some covered parking. Finally, we will add solar electric & hot water systems for each building.

I still have some hope of installing a water line. I have been negotiating with the local privately owned water company to extend their water lines a mere 700 feet to our property, but this company is slippery, changing their price three times (higher each time, of course).

We plan to move there next year, at which time we will ask one of our tenants to find a new place. When my wife’s elderly mother needs more care than today, we will have her move into one of the apartments. When she needs full-time care we will re-convert the apartments into the original large house and move in with her. The small studio apartment (shown at right) will be available in case one of our kids, or some other relative needs help. While water will have to be hauled and rationed, we will have more than enough room to help people we love. I hope to build a rainwater capture system for greenhouse gardening in the old horse corral. The soil there is wonderful.

Plan C allowed us to make a significant metal purchase two weeks ago with part of that construction budget--the cheapest silver we have bought yet! We added a few ounces of AU as well.

But overall, I am discouraged that my lifelong dream of building the perfect house to live in cannot yet (and may never) be realized. And I am discouraged that budget constraints have steered us toward a less than ideal location.

And of course I’m discouraged that metals are capped into these tight ranges.

So, what’s new about all that? Most of us never fully realize our dreams.

I simply have to shift my thinking, again. I must remind myself that these low prices for silver and gold allow us to continue stacking. In the present case the rethinking of our project will benefit us greatly in terms of financial preparation. Reducing our cost from 100K all the way down to 20-30K means that more fiat goes into metals, and perhaps into other properties as our cyclical economy turns downward and foreclosure “deals” reappear in the market. We shall be watching homes and properties for sale in the area closely, looking for something that can strengthen our family’s position. In fact, my wife is taking a class today to become a realtor, hopefully to earn some high commissions in the next year while the real estate market is still hot. Overall things are good but it can be difficult to let go of a dream.

And I must remind myself of one of the lesser known facts about living in central Arizona -- the beauty of the land.

Sitting on the porch in the evening, watching the sunset, feeling the temperature drop as cool air drifts down from the mountains, listening to coyotes yipping as they run up and down the dry wash, breathing in the pure dry air as we sleep with the windows open, snuggled under a warm blanket.

Edit: Ooops. I just noticed the ever-lurking presence of Chase Bank marring this sunset pic that I snapped a few weeks ago. I think there is a message in there for me.

About the Author


Jun 2, 2018 - 5:53pm



I guess I'll have a double!


Jun 2, 2018 - 5:55pm


And then some, it seems.

Thanks Dr. J for enriching the Weekend reading!


Jun 2, 2018 - 6:43pm

Reality Check!

The costs of new construction is much/much higher than the custom buyers realize. Over the last three years, even I am shocked at the increases. A building permit, in my area, is over $35,000 for a SFR, $50,000+ for a double condo, and the property taxes are above the clouds, (mine being over $1000/mo.)

Much of the lumber has risen to $900/1000 b.f., OSB at $18/sheet and the labor only on concrete flatwork at $2/sq.ft. On top of that, there are not any workers to do the job. Framing labor has risen to over $7/sq.ft. for easy construction and it was $3.50/sq. ft. just 3 years ago.

Currently, the best buys are on existing homes. He who has newer rentals is in the drivers seat, seeing great gains and some cap rates as high as 10%. We built 2 new units almost 3 years ago, kept them, costing us "X" to build. We have already received almost 35% of the entire project back from rent income and the appreciation, in today's market, giving us a 2X current value, yep, doubled the value in less than 3 years.

Dr. J., find what you are looking for, in the area of wants and needs, buy QUICK. jmo Jim

Jun 2, 2018 - 6:45pm


Thanks. Your posts over the years have added to my wisdom, and enabled me to comprehend that my architect was not exaggerating the costs. I have a tendency to delude myself about such things (cost of building) and need to hear the truth from multiple sources--especially from a builder I trust.

Jun 2, 2018 - 7:40pm

Record lumber prices

According to this report from srsrocco lumber is at record highs. Is it a bubble? or the run up to hyperinflation? I don't know. Good luck with your current option. No one knows what the future will hold. Ideally, everyone wants a 2 million dollar prepper underground mansion. Realistically, the workers will probably come back to said mansion and dispose of the previous occupants before moving in mad max style.

My advice... stay happy, healthy, and wealthy. Whatever that means.


Jun 2, 2018 - 8:40pm

Keep stacking Doc!

I think you are on the perfect path, it's just not the one you thought it'd be.

We're just one monetary event away from you getting any of today's $250,000 homes for a tube of ASEs (my est.) easy. Silver hasn't even twitched the pinky of it's monetary power yet. Still setting there getting beat on by Wall Street's silver chart day after day after day... patience.

Jun 2, 2018 - 11:04pm

On the Other Hand . . .

Rather than chase rising (soaring?) prices, I wait for the impending real estate crash. My precious HODL of silver 10 oz. bars will come in handy when doing some real estate shopping in 2020! When TEOTGKE happens, people will be stripped of their "wealth" (illusory as it was), and bargains will be sitting there like diamonds on the beach for those with the means to purchase them. This has happened throughout history, and will repeat itself long after we are all gone.

I abhor benefiting from other people's misery, but anyone who doesn't see this coming (and has a house I covet!) was just plain comatose . . . Anyone with a $3 million home, who is forced to sell it for $1 million in silver -- sorry, it's hard for me to feel sorry for that person. My home cost a modest $365k, and if my insights [into the markets] allow me to "upgrade" [into their property] , I have no guilt in doing so.

Am I a terrible person? I have made many sacrifices to maintain my PM holdings (to the detriment to my stock holdings/wealth!) so I feel any future movement which benefits me is no more than karmic payback. I don't plan to remove myself from society, and live a life of splendor, but plan to do good within my community, to the extent I am able. I fear the needs will greatly exceed my ability to "help", but that is all I can do. At least my "aid" will not end up in the pockets of the banksters . . .

Jun 3, 2018 - 2:31am

Home Affordability

Dad wasn't a rocket scientist, but he did work with them. He occasionally stayed at a Holiday Inn too. One of his infamous statements was that when the average wage earner could no longer afford the average home, prices would come down. But, that's not the biggest problem with future home prices.

Plagiarized from Burning Platform:

<<Real household income continues to fall and nearly 25% of all households with a mortgage are still underwater. Young people are saddled with trillion of government peddled student loan debt and will not be buying homes in the foreseeable future. Dodd-Frank rules will result in fewer people qualifying for mortgages. Mortgage insurance is increasing. Obamacare premium increases are sucking the life out of potential middle class home buyers. Retailers have begun firing thousands. The financial class had a good run. They were able to re-inflate the bubble for two years, but the third year won’t be a charm. In a normal housing market 85% of home sales would be between individuals using a mortgage, 10% would be all cash transactions, less than 5% of sales would be distressed, and 40% would be first time buyers. In this warped market only 40% of home sales are between individuals using a mortgage, 42% are all cash transactions, 16% are distressed sales, 5% are flipped, and only 27% are first time buyers. The return to normalcy will be painful for shysters, gamblers, believers, paid off economists, Larry Yun, and CNBC bimbos.>>

You know the saying; "Opinions are like --------, everybody's got one." My opinion is that home prices will collapse and that silver prices will skyrocket. Doc Jerome's instincts are quite correct, his recent acquisition of additional silver will one day morph into the refuge of his dreams.

Jun 3, 2018 - 8:15am

Thank You Dr Jerome

Wow! This post has been very helpful as some of my future plans and dreams are beyond my present reality based on the current rising price of homes and building materials. Glad my current small condo is paid off and all debts are now zero. Guess I will continue to stack precious metals and a small percentage of crypto currencies. I welcome the coming shock/crisis/changes to get it over with and discover the true value of everything including the dollar and other currencies, precious metals, stock markets, bond market, home prices, and crypto currencies. The big "IF" for me is the coming NEW reality going to be free of central bankers, fraud, and criminality so we can go back to an honest system. Q Anon has made many references in recent weeks to something happening on June 11th. We shall see as his own deadline is just 8 days away!

Ferd Torgerson
Jun 3, 2018 - 9:14am

Keep Dreaming, Dr. Jerome

Sorry to see your present state of discouragement. Things could still turn around for your situation.

Aside from watching the real estate market, have you considered bidding on tax foreclosures in the area you are looking to settle in? In checking, it appears Arizona does have foreclosure auctions where you can bid on properties that have delinquent taxes. You may be able to pick up a bargain there.

Just search for Arizona Foreclosure Auctions in your choice of search windows.

Good luck.


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Key Economic Events Week of 2/17

2/18 8:30 ET Empire St Manu Idx
2/19 8:30 ET Producer Price Idx
2/19 8:30 ET Housing Starts & Bldg Perms
2/19 2:00 ET January FOMC minutes
2/20 8:30 ET Philly Fed
2/21 Fed Goons all day at Chicago Conf.
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