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 3, 2018 - 1:10pm

The lesson found in corn!

One could look at the pricing of housing or rentals, however, a complete history of our downward spiral could also be seen in "corn"! I remember, long ago, that we could buy 13 ears of corn for one fiat dollar. Today, we saw a pack of dried out fresh, gmo corn, for one fiat buck per ear. The results? >>>>>> The gmo corn will get us off the SS systems early and the cost has risen to empty our wallet.

Part of health will be found in never eating corn ever again, never drinking any pop/beer/fruit juices, throwing away the sugar jar, cutting back by 90% on wheat products and getting out those walking shoes. Finding the correct bugout home, with all its assets, will be useless, if your gut is in a war for survival. Jim

Jun 3, 2018 - 3:16pm

Californians fleeing to other states & counties - Cost Of Living

REALIST NEWS - Californians fleeing to other states & counties - Cost of living
Jun 3, 2018 - 3:35pm

Push on Jermone!

I went through a similar process of building a long-term home while staying mortgage free. In short, we downsized our original plan of an average 1400 sqft bungalow on an acreage, to a house half that size. As we found out, materials and labor costs keep rocketing up, so we had to sacrifice space to stay on budget.

Our house is cozy and sometimes feels a bit squishy, but we also remind ourselves that we are mortgage free, and being on an acreage, we can expand later if we feel the need - but always staying out of debt. We have a well, and using geothermal heating/cooling which we are very pleased with. We are thinking solar as well, but there is just no getting around the need to be on the grid.

Good luck on your journey,


Jun 3, 2018 - 3:57pm


Just the other day we were looking at the list of homes in our area that are behind on their taxes. In this county they have an auction, where the bidding starts at a 15% return on your money when you pay the back taxes on a property. Other bidders can bid it down to 12--9--6%, in the county's effort to discover who is willing to accept the lowest return on their money to pay the back taxes, and possibly have a chance that securing the property for themselves.

A bidder is not given title to the property until 5 years have passed, after paying the back-taxes each year. But, this is an excellent way to earn 9-10% on a few thousand dollars. That is how most of the bidders see it.

This has been an educational process for us, coming from a state where you are nearly guaranteed to secure the property by paying the back taxes for something only two years in arrears. Actually, it is a little bit comforting to live in a County where you do not lose your property quickly if you fail to pay the taxes.

Katie Rose
Jun 3, 2018 - 4:47pm


Have you thought about alternative home building techniques?

Since I am an old Hippie, I have always been interested in these techniques.


"Here are 12 alternative building methods you might not know about:

  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs):
  • Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs):
  • Steel Metal Buildings:
  • Precast Concrete –
  • Strawbale Homes –
  • Cob Homes –
  • Adobe Homes –
  • Rammed Earth Homes ....."

For awhile I was very interested in straw bale homes until I learned that they were subject to mold issues. Since I ended up in the hospital due to a severe allergy to moldy alfalfa, I am not at all interested in straw bale construction. I am interested in COB, though.

Check it out. There are lots of inexpensive options. Since there have been many who have blazed the trail ahead of you, I would do a search on all the alternative techniques available. These folks want nice homes they can build themselves -- CHEAP!!!

This is one of the things us "old hippies" got right.

Jun 3, 2018 - 5:27pm

Boomers becoming assisted living habitants

means that a whole lot of housing will be coming onto the market. At the same time, interest rates rising will decrease mortgage affordability. And we all agree (can't we) that this booming economy is a mirage, based on enormous tax cuts just when the economy really didn't need a jolt.

And trump tax laws don't really make real estate the good investment it once was.

= Sell real estate now...

But.... don't give up on your dream DJ. Just downsize it a bit. Why not dig a big hole, drop a trailer unit down with proper barrier between trailer and soil (cement), add a periscope, and underground water tank, and you will survive any shtf scenario.

Key Economic Events Week of 4/6

4/8 2:00 ET March FOMC minutes
4/9 8:30 ET Producer Price Index
4/10 8:30 ET Consumer Price Index

Katie Rose
Jun 3, 2018 - 5:32pm

(No subject)

Sorry folks, I accidentally reposted the same comment about alternative building techniques.

Pug Nuggets
Jun 3, 2018 - 6:00pm

I was thinking the same thing, Katie Rose

Only with a log home. It's my dream to live in a log home. Did a little looking into it and found a site that does the butt-and-pass method. They offer classes for about $1,000 in Vegas, but then you have the value of all the other people who have taken the class in their forum. They have a free side, too.

www.loghomebuildersassociation.org is the site.

Katie Rose
Jun 3, 2018 - 6:19pm


Not to rain on your parade, but....

I have some feedback on a log home. My younger sister built one and lived in a Christian commune. She said over time she got very tired of how dark it was. All the inside walls were brown. She also had problems with artwork. It was hard to hang.

She ended up painting the interior logs all white. Then she married a wonderful man she met there and moved away.

She said it felt "claustrophobic" with all that brown interior.

Perhaps you could rent one for awhile to see if you have any of the issues she had.

Jun 3, 2018 - 7:07pm

Not P.C. but P.D.! (Practical Departure)

There are a few things that one may do to get ready for the bugout lifestyle ahead: We have been filling our garbage can with the massive amount of junk, stacked in our garage. Most of the stuff will never ever be used and it is a burden to move it again. When in a national panic event, those items will just be left behind. So, why not downsize the garage and the closets now?

We have eliminated most of our credit cards and would like to have zero. Everything we buy is followed by others, watching our purchases. One of the two cards that we still have was hacked last week.

Grab some extra cash (every month) and pay for as much as possible with fiat. Forget about obtaining credit card points, security is worth much more. When my grandparents bailed out of the Ukraine by night, they had what they could pack on their backs and freedom was the reward of the bold. Let us not by like Lot's wife, looking back at the former city/assets and lifestyles or we may be stopped in our tracks at the worse time, even after walking out of the mess of the big city. jmo Jim

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Key Economic Events Week of 4/6

4/8 2:00 ET March FOMC minutes
4/9 8:30 ET Producer Price Index
4/10 8:30 ET Consumer Price Index

Key Economic Events Week of 3/30

3/31 9:45 ET Chicago PMI
4/1 8:15 ET ADP Employment
4/1 9:45 ET Markit manu PMI
4/1 10:00 ET ISM manu PMI
4/2 10:00 ET Factory Orders
4/3 8:30 ET BLSBS
4/3 9:45 ET Market service PMI
4/3 10:00 ET ISM service PMI

Key Economic Events Week of 3/23

3/24 9:45 ET Markit flash PMIs
3/25 8:30 ET Durable Goods
3/26 8:30 ET Weekly jobless claims
3/27 8:30 ET Personal Inc and Spending

Key Economic Events Week of 3/9

(as if these actually matter)
3/11 8:30 ET CPI
3/12 8:30 ET weekly jobless claims
3/12 8:30 ET PPI
3/13 8:30 ET Import Price Index

Key Economic Events Week of 3/2

3/2 9:45 ET Markit Manu PMI
3/2 10:00 ET ISM Manu PMI
3/2 10:00 ET Construction Spending
3/4 8:15 ET ADP employment
3/4 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
3/4 10:00 ET ISM Services PMI
3/5 8:30 ET Productivity & Unit Labor Costs
3/5 10:00 ET Factory Orders
3/6 8:30 ET BLSBS
3/6 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 2/24

2/25 9:00 ET Case-Shiller home prices
2/26 10:00 ET New home sales
2/27 8:30 ET Q4 GDP second guess
2/27 8:30 ET Durable Goods
2/27 11:30 ET Goon Evans speech
2/28 8:30 ET Pers Income and Spending
2/28 8:30 ET Core Inflation
2/28 9:45 ET Chicago PMI

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.
2/21 9:45 ET Markit flash Feb PMIs

Key Economic Events Week of 2/10

2/11 10:00 ET Job Openings
2/11 10:00 ET CGP Hump-Hawk House
2/12 10:00 ET CGP Hump-Hawk Senate
2/13 8:30 ET CPI
2/14 8:30 ET Retail Sales
2/14 9:15 ET Cap Ute & Ind Prod
2/14 10:00 ET Business Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 2/3

2/4 10:00 ET Factory Orders
2/5 8:15 ET ADP Employment
2/5 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
2/5 10:00 ET ISM Service PMI
2/6 8:30 ET Productivity & Unit Labor Costs
2/7 8:30 ET BLSBS
2/7 10:00 ET Wholesale Inventories

Key Economic Events Week of 1/27

1/28 8:30 ET Durable Goods
1/28 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
1/29 10:00 ET Pending Home Sales
1/29 2:00 pm ET FOMC Fedlines
1/29 2:30 pm ET Powell presser
1/30 8:30 ET Q4 GDP first guess
1/31 8:30 ET Pers Inc and Spending
1/31 9:45 ET Chicago PMI
2/2 10:00 pm ET Chiefs win SB LIV

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