Hubby and I have been trying desperately to find ways to get ahead and have made significant strides over the past few years, to where we now feel more comfortable with our income. We have been frugal with many things, including staying in a tiny 2-bedroom home even with 6 people (plus workers for our oldest daughter who has significant needs).
We have been looking at land in our local area and there are some relatively affordable parcels (about 7-10 acres) that are owner-will-carry, which works well for us because our credit isn't stellar (we had some unfortunate events occur that set us back on our bills for about a year and we foreclosed on our house when the market crashed several years ago). We are hoping that we'll have our down payment in February, and then we can buy some land. Where we are looking there are little to no trees on property, so there would be no clearing to be done, other than weed eating, and removal of some ground-cactus (which we have done before by hand). We are keeping our eyes out for property that already has electric nearby and preferably a well.
We have been doing research for several years on building techniques that we can do that are cost-effective, long-lasting, secure, legal, and ecologically friendly. Personally I like the idea of earth bags, though we are considering a straw-bale home as well. I really like the ease of a straw-bale home, but we don't have much in the way of hay around here (we live in the high desert mountains), so it would have to be imported, which could be costly.
We are up for the manpower that is required to build a home like this, and have a wonderful community of friends that would I'm sure, help. We have dreams of having "house-raising weekends, where hubby, our friends, and I all go out and work on the house, camp out overnight, have massive potlucks and bon-fires, and make it a fun and rewarding experience. We also have a huge eco-friendly population here, and a school that is focused on such efforts, where students can create their own curriculum. My idea is to approach the school to see if there are students who would like to create a class based upon eco-building techniques, and get some hands-on experience in helping to build our house as a part of their curriculum.
Ultimately we want to have a nice home that fits our family and will last, hopefully for generations. In time, we hope to also build a guest house for my mom to live in. She is disabled and currently lives with us. She won't need a lot of space, and I envision something like a hobbit-house for her, as this has always been something she is drawn to.
Gardening is something that I am excited and passionate about. If we are able to purchase the land in the spring, I am hoping to be able to plant some fruit trees, berry canes, and grape vines. I would like to get some of the renewable plants in the ground so that they can begin growing in hopes that they will mature by the time our home is built, or within a year or two after.
I would eventually like to have some livestock such as chickens, angora rabbits (for their hair), and dear-daughter wants a horse, though I have told her that is a VERY long way off. We won't be getting any livestock until we are established in the house and can tend to them every day.
We are new to this, and right now it is just a dream, though one that we are fervently planning for. Any suggestions, or ideas to share? Thank you!
Only suggestions I have are to look into solar power instead of tapping into the grid. And also steel homes. Though I don't know how 'eco friendly' they are but they are virtually indestructible and low-maintenence (no termites etc). You could just build the frame of steel and then use whatever you want for the rest to give it a strong foundation. Sounds awesome though, we are about to do the same Buy some cheap land and slowly build our house with what we save in rent!
Solar is definitely in the long-term planning, though it is very expensive and will take time. We are also looking at the possibility of wind energy from turbines. Those seem to be a bit less expensive, and easier to install on our own. We may be able to make our own over time - we will see.
We are looking at possibly growing an apple-orchard as there is nothing like that for community use / events / etc anywhere in our state, except for one place about 4 hours away from us. I believe apple trees would grow nicely here, and we could do well with it long-term, possibly even "retire" while working the farm. I know that will be years off, but the hope is that by the time we are ready to retire, our long-term plan will already be in effect and helping to sustain us.
Build as much of it yourself-- invest in the states book of building codes.
Talk to others tha have done it. I assure building a house will be the most stressful thing you do. Co-ordinating all the parties can be a nightmare. Have yo u looked at a concrete structure? A farm in VT uses only the heat from less than a cord of wood a YEAR to keep it heated.
ONe big concideration is water--- you didn't mention water. Water is the most imporatn resource. For your family. FOr your fruit trees, to irriigate the plants you want to grow. A year round reliable water source is very important.
I applaud your goals-- been there done that. A lot of work and very rewarding when it is liveable.
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