Shoot holes in my plan!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Dubai Vol, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Dubai Vol

    Dubai Vol Well-Known Member

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    For those who just tuned in, the story so far:

    So I live in Dubai, but I'm from Tennessee (the VOLunteer state.) Met Mrs Dubai, a wonderful English lady, shortly after I arrived, and it's been nine great years, and now six years of wedded bliss. For those who adhere to the traditional anniversary gifts, the sixth year is the iron anniversary. So naturally I got out the torch and hammer and made her this:
    [​IMG]

    Yep, an Iron Butterfly!

    Anyway, we have 16 acres in timber in east Tennessee to retire to one day. As it happens, I've just left my job and am now "at liberty" as they say in merry old England. So here's the plan: (you thought I'd never get round to it!)

    We had already planned a holiday (English for "vacation") in Tennessee starting next month. That time wil be devoted to making preparations for building a house starting next spring. Contacting suppliers and so forth; I won't bore you with the long list I have. Suffice it to say it will be a "working vacation."

    Then, next March, I fly in and get to work. By then I expect to have completed drawings for construction. Oh, in case I forgot to mention, I'm an enginerd, which means I know a little, and know even better that I don't know nearly enough, and am working hard to close the gap.

    So, I fly in, buy a vehicle, set up camp (I plan to live on site)

    drive a well (may do this next month, the TVA lake is 18 feet lower than our property, so I'm hopeful that a driven well will allow a shallow pump. If not I have options on drilling)

    get power: the residential power line cuts across a corner of our land, so that shouldn't be a problem.

    Clear the driveway and dig the foundations. I'll be pricing the work next month, and decide what to pay for and what to do myself.

    Get the concrete trucks in to pour footings by mid-April.

    Up to this point I'm mostly a supervisor. Then the real work begins, because we're planning to do stone walls. If there isn't enough native stone on site, there's a quarry 8 miles up the road. Part of the work next month wll be to get a number of books on slipform stone masonry, though I've already decided on a modified technique. It's the enginerd in me.

    Bottom line, I think I'll be doing very well if I finish the outer walls before the first frost next year. I realistically expect to have them better than half finished.

    So, what's the point?

    Right now I'm 44, young and strong. If I wait, I may not be able to undertake such a task.

    Inflation is eating our savings. I'd rather turn dollars into a house now when I can afford it.

    As I'm between jobs, it's an ideal time to take on this project.

    Current estimates say residential construction costs ~$100 per square foot. And that's for lousy stick construction. Imagine what I'd pat a mason to build stone walls. If I save $50K next year by doing what I can myself, it's the same as if i'd earned $50K and paid somebody to do it for me. Better, after taxes.

    I'll be incorporating lots of ideas into this house. Earth sheltered, earth tubes, a masonry heater, a geothermal heat pump (by which I mean a regular heat pump that operates on geothermal temps supplied by earth tubes, making it absurdly efficient.) In total, I'm looking at a house that heats and cools itself, with wood heat for when it's really cold and a two ton heat pump if all else fails.

    The downside: Mrs Dubai is stuck here, so we'll be apart all next spring/summer/fall apart from her vacation. She's bought into it, but isn't thrilled.

    So, how stupid am I? Better to get the criticism now than to mess up later!
     
  2. featherbottom

    featherbottom Well-Known Member

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  3. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    I'd wait till the Mrs can come with.
     
  4. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    I think, once you get there and check out the sources (small lumber mills and such), that you can build much cheaper than $100 psf. If you can have a few of your trees harvested and cut on site ( I am assuming you have hardwood, or at least hemlock) you will have much better and stronger lumber than you can buy at the local lumber store, and have it for much less. You can also have it cut in non-typical sizes (3x8's for instance). You can probably get your hands on plenty of rock in E. TN as well :) Here at my place we have a nice creek with a great gravle bar that provides all the gravle and sand we could want. I even trade access to others for goods and services.
    As far as your timing, I think that is good. My wife and I made the move a few years ago when I was 43. I dug our footings, poured them and layed the foundations myself that first fall (we lived in a tent till we got the main part dried in). I'm in a lot better shape now :D but I am starting to feel age creap up on me. I foud a job in a local lumber mill and that had come in very handy as well.
    I say if you want to do it, do it. No time like the present. And ,you might fall on your face, but think of the fun you'll have :dance: :D
     
  5. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mr. Dubai Vol,

    Being an LSU grad, I would at first say that you are in over your head with only a lowly Tennessee engineering degree. However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, assuming you finished near the top of your class. When you get in trouble, feel free to call a REAL TIGER of an engineer in myself. Just kidding. Go TIGERS!!!! BTW, we play IN Knoxville 4 NOV 06 and WE ARE NOT, repeat NOT, looking forward to putting up with Fulmer's shenanigans. Whutduyuthink? Is he gone after this year?

    Sounds like a good plan. I too would tend to get the structural part of the home done prior to having the missus over. Subbing yourself is great for saving money but oh so slow (speaking from experience) But still a great idea! When the majority of the work is done that you'll never see again (foundation, mechanicals (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc), and interior walls) it would then be safe to get her over. Most of the problems will arise during the foundation, framing, mechanical phase. SHE will be needed on site for the pretty stuff (paint, fixtures, flooring, etc), that is, the girlie stuff. If you can get the majority of that stuff done from March to say, September, subbing it out yourself, I would say that is a pretty substantial achievement. You can work on the insides in the cold weather too. Possibly she could arrive to see the beautiful winters you guys have, too.

    As for the rock, I have no opinion except I know the stuff is heavy. We have no rock except for the politician's heads down here but I think if you have the time and energy, you'll save quite a bit doing it yourself. Beautiful no matter how it goes into a home

    Good luck on the project. Sounds like you're off to a good start.

    ray
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    One brief question, how are you going to insulate the slip form rock exterion wall? You are going to need lots of luck driving the well point in a rocky area.
     
  7. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ................Whatever plans I had formulated would be Implemented with MY wife in residence . This home is for Both and Both should be there from start too finish . Besides the physical aspects of the actual building there is an Emotional facet of this situation that revolves around "Shared Experiences" and IF you shut her out of the Process you will regret this decision for a long time into the future . These shared experiences are , in one sense , a Renewal of your lifelong committment too each other and are very important in solidifying the marriage bond over time in my mind . fordy... :)
     
  8. Wildcrofthollow

    Wildcrofthollow Well-Known Member

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    I, too, am 44. My wife and I are currently building our home on our land. We have just about completed the little 10 X 10 cabin that we will live in while we are building the house. (We are sleeping in it now) We go out and work on the cabin and homestead for four day weekends to make this happen. It is just the two of us. Now, I am also young, and strong and determined. I suppose that I could have done it all by myself, but I would hate to have done so. So I am another vote for take your wife with you. When you both work together, a lot more gets done and you both reap the rewards of reaching for the goal together.
     
  9. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    How are you framing the roof? I'd go with timber frame, with open vaults. that would be cool!
     
  10. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    I see a problem! You mention having native stone on site to make walls with and you also talk about driving a well point....these two items are mutally exclusive. In other words, if you can do one, you're likely not going to be able to do the other.

    Good luck and keep us informed!
     
  11. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    Cool Butterfly!

    Also, I'd like to vote for having Mrs. Dubai with you. Time away from your other half will drag on....you won't have anyone to bounce ideas off of....you'll get cold and lonely camping out on your property without anyone else around.

    I don't know what the building department is like where you are in TN but be sure to drop by there when you are on holiday. Get as much information from them about what you can and can't do for yourself and find out what building codes they use - buy the code books (just to warn you, they can be expensive) so you can study them before you come back in March. Also,check county ordinances about 'camping' on your property-around here they only let you camp a certain number of days per year.....it's a stupid rule but unfortunately it's one they enforce around here.

    Check with the locals about wells in your area. Surface water doesn't always mean there's water underground AND if you are in an area with rock quarries, you may run into problems driving a well yourself-you may have to have the well drilled, so check it out so you can budget for it ahead of time.

    :)
     
  12. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    I would get an estimate from the power company for running electric to your t-pole and house. Could be alot more than you bargained.
    I would also contact the local building and zoning office about your masonry walls. I would make sure these are still within code....as wild and wacky as some counties can be, I would know for sure before I began.
    clove
     
  13. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    depending on the water filtration system (or not) i would opt for a real well to get decent water from a good aquifer. if you use a driven well, you may as well be drinking creek water. (not that that is so bad...i use spring water that is not filtered or purified).
     
  14. Shadow

    Shadow Well-Known Member

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    Tenn has some strict codes on some things lots they have just adapted inthe past few years. My farm on the north boundry is the Al/Tenn line I know the people in Tenn have much more problems with codes than we and We have plenty. Just check it out. You do not want to have to tear it all out like one did just a half mile cross the line did last summer.
     
  15. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    Remember, in some states the wife gets half.
    I vote to get her there before you spend the time or the money.
    Sounds like she is just humoring you.
     
  16. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's hard to think of any valuable input on your plans, because I have "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" playing over and over in my head... It's hard to get something like that dislodged... Especially that interminable drum solo...


    ARRRGH!

    *shaking head* Okay. I think I'm alright for now.

    Cool METAL butterfly. ;)

    As for your plans, they seem great, EXCEPT... Dang, dude, I would so hate to be separated from my True Love for that long... I know, I know, sacrifice for the common good and all... but I think DH would feel the same way; in fact, I can hear him say, "I'm not going without my Pony!"

    Can you plan extended holidays there together?

    I really honestly see your POV financially and time-wise (and the body IS all downhill from here on out)... But what will it do to your relationship?

    If it were DH and me, I'd say, "Better to build a little place we can both inhabit while we work together on the big place, than to be separated for so long from one another."

    Just sayin', since you asked and all. And I'm not an engineer (DH is, though); I'm in the "soft sciences" as they say. So that's what colors my POV.

    Pony!
     
  17. Dubai Vol

    Dubai Vol Well-Known Member

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    :D

    Thanks, I'll keep that in mind!

    The driven well is "plan A." From the topo maps I see two likely spots, and if it doesn't work I'll be out a couple hundred bucks and have to haul water a couple hundred yards until I get a well drilled. But yeah, it's on my list of things to check on next month.

    Insulation will be expanded polystyrene under the slab and on the exterior of the underground walls, and on the interior of the exposed walls. Ground water temp is 63 degrees, which I'm looking to take advantage of for both heating and cooling. Hence the earth tubes. I've been toying with the HVAC setup quite a bit and have a good plan for that.

    Much as I'd like to have Mrs Dubai with me, it's not an option in the near future. She has a great job here, and she's not the type to jump off into the unknown. The plan is to get as much as possible of the stonework done next year, and then it can sit there without rotting away until we get around to moving back and finishing it out. That could be anywhere from one to five years down the road. One of the things I like about the plan is that it gives us a year to see how things are going in Dubai before I commit to another job here. Things have changed a lot in the past couple of years, and at this rate Dubai may not be such a good place to try to make a living in the near future. For example, the already ridiculous rents (can't own here, unles you want to shell out a million bucks for an apartment that will fall down in 10 years) have doubled. We are lucky to pay "only" $1000/mo for our apartment: the going rate is now twice that. The price of everything else is going the same way. The official inflation rate last year was 38%, and they lie: it's higher.

    Bottom line: I'm ready to leave, Mrs Dubai isn't. This is a good compromise. It gives us a year to see where we are and decide. Maybe a summer of putting up with the US will have me ready to come back. Meanwhile I'll be accomplishing something worthwhile.

    As for building codes: as far as I can tell there aren't any. But I have a college buddy whose father is a contractor just up the road, and I have already talked to him about hiring him as a consultant. Whatever I build will meet any code a bank might want it to meet in case I ever sell. The construction will be done for cash....

    Thanks all for your input! This forum has already been a huge help. Now if you'll excuse me it's dawn and the temp is down into the 90s, so I'm off to wash the car....
     
  18. bugstabber

    bugstabber Chief cook & weed puller Supporter

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    I like the butterfly too. Next, Iron Maiden?
     
  19. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ugh. That would mean a sculpture of Eddie, wouldn't it?

    Pony!
     
  20. Dubai Vol

    Dubai Vol Well-Known Member

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    OK, two things. I was not ignoring the questions and comments about the relationship aspect of my little plan. But of course being a man, I was more comfortable dealing with the technical questions, and needed some time to process the bits about feelings. We men do have feelings, but we like to go deep into our caves and grunt about them for a while. Ook. :D

    Oh, and thanks to all who complimented the Iron Butterfly! You have to know that pounding out a ten cent hunk of iron into an anniversary gift is probably the hardest thing I've ever done. Buying a diamond tennis bracelet is easy: "Here honey, I spent a lot of money on you." Spending nothing but time and thought on a gift, well, it just doesn't fit into the modern consumer ethic. That Mrs Dubai was thrilled says all I need to say about our relationship. In case you're wondering, she spent a fortune on a cast iron skillet for me.

    Which brings me to my second point: here's my kitchen for our house. I love it, she hates it. But I'm the cook!

    It's an open plan with a wrap-around counter to serve guests:

    [​IMG]

    Here it is in plan, with the mud room on the right. From bottom to top in the mud room: washer, big sink, shower.

    [​IMG]