(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)
Metal siding is common on a lot of the newer barndominiums and shop houses. Essentially, it’s the same as the metal roofing used on the building. These are becoming more and more popular and have their advantages and disadvantages.
Durability – This type of metal is typically durable and has good longevity. To top that off, it’s also easy to maintain.
Easy Installation – The installation of this is also straight forward which reduces the labor costs to have it installed.
Fire Safety – This material is also good to have in areas where fires are common. You may find that if it gets hot it will discolor and may rust but it should still protect your home to some extent.
Cost – This material is typically more expensive than vinyl siding so like many other things mentioned in this article, you may have to pick and choose what’s most important to you. Unfortunately, every bit extra you spend on materials may be addition funding taken away from your beans, band-aids, and bullets.
Rust – Exterior metal still has that capability of rusting, especially if it’s in contact with the ground. You’ll want to keep an eye on this and make sure soil doesn’t pile up next to the home such as ant beds. If this rusts completely through, it will open up the interior walls to the elements and can begin to cause issues.
Stockpiling – Keeping replacement panels around for this is similar to roofs. You may have a hard time finding somewhere to properly store the panels.
Heating and cooking are two very important aspects of prepping. You’ll want to be able to do both and picking the correct setup will be an important decision. For this decision, you will likely consider either a fireplace or a wood burning stove.
Wood Burning Stove
Wood burning stoves are less common than fireplaces in today’s society but have their place in a prepper’s toolbox. These are usually flat topped airtight stoves with a solid metal door that can be closed and latched.
Cost – Wood burning stoves can usually be purchased at a decent price and are a stand alone unit. This means that the stove itself has legs attached and can be set up easily. The chimney is typically made of stove pipe sections which are relatively easy to install.
More Efficient – Wood burning stoves can provide up to three times the heat as an open front fireplace and use less firewood. This alone may be a strong deciding factor for most people.
Cook and Heat – Not only does a wood burning stove have the ability to heat a home, it also has a flat top that can be used for cooking, much like a stove top.
Not usually set up for gas – Most wood burning stoves do not come with the option of connecting gas to them. This may be a bummer for you if you’re running off of propane. Eventually, the propane will run out and if you’re not able to restock, this option would be useless.
Fireplaces are common in new construction and can vary in their functions. These can be set up as gas only, wood only or a combination of both. These differ from wood burning stoves in that they are usually open in the front where you can watch the fire burn.
Relaxing – In the event of the end of the world as we know it, I believe it’s safe to say that the stress levels will be at an all-time high. There isn’t much in this world that is more relaxing than kicking back and watching a fire burn. Years ago, a fire meant safety and of course comfort so maybe some of that is in our DNA. This may sound a little far fetched but having the ability to wind down in bad situations can be beneficial to your mind and body.
Open cook fire – Having an open fire can be nice for cooking on a spit or even camp style with a metal hanger and hot dog.
Gas Capability – Some fireplaces have the ability to connect gas lines to them. If you have a propane tank, this may make your life a little easier for quite some time. Of course, once the propane runs out, you’re back to firewood.
Less efficient – As mentioned before, the energy efficiency of these units are not as good as wood burning stoves.
Less Cooking Options – You may find that boiling water or cooking a stew may be more difficult with the fireplace. For that matter, anything that requires a pan could prove to be a pain.
Plumbing may or may not be important to you once the world ceases to work as we are used to but then again, you may have a backup plan such as a well with a solar pump. In that case, you will want to have the most maintenance free material possible. The three most common types of materials for supply plumbing are PVC, PEX and Copper.
PEX usually comes in rolls and is a plastic, somewhat flexible material. Its usually identified by its colors (usually either red or blue if inside a home) and is a newer component in the plumbing world.
Easy to repair – PEX can be repaired and installed whether it’s wet or dry and does not require any glues or primers. This can usually be done in a matter of seconds depending on where the leak is located.
Crack Resistant – PEX will still freeze just like other materials but will expand which reduces the chance of it bursting. You will still not have any water if it freezes but when it finally thaws, you shouldn’t find any unexpected surprises.
Cost – PEX line is significantly cheaper than PVC or copper and usually comes in 50 or 100 ft rolls making it easy to stockpile.
Special Tool – PEX requires a special tool to attach the crimps onto the fittings. This tool runs around sixty dollars but should last you for quite some time.
Soft Material – PEX material is relatively soft which may make it vulnerable to rodent damage.
Copper used for water lines has been around for quite some time and is commonly used even today. It usually comes in rolls and can be identified by its color.
Hard material – Copper material is relatively tougher than other plumbing materials and should last for quite some time.
Corrosion – Over time, copper can corrode and crack, causing a leak in your water supply system. This of course can be a problem and should be considered when deciding which material to use.
Difficult to repair – With the exception of the shark bite fittings, copper pipe repairs can be difficult. This may require “sweating” the copper and is an art in itself to do so without having a leak once its complete.
Cost – Copper is an expensive material and will be somewhat expensive.
PVC is another commonly found material used in supply plumbing. This material usually comes in sticks and is identified by its rigidity and white color.
Inexpensive Fittings – PVC fittings are usually cheaper than PEX and concrete fittings. The pipe itself is a different story.
Brittle – Over time, PVC can become brittle, especially if not protected from UV damage. Between that and its tendency to crack when it freezes, you should be cautious of using PVC to run your water supply.
Difficult to repair – PVC is usually easier to repair compared to copper but compared to PEX its significantly more difficult and requires special glues and primers. If these glues and primers are not available, all the extra PVC stock you may have will be rendered useless.
AC electrical systems are fairly universal in their installation techniques so as far as making decisions on the installation of the electric, you probably won’t have much of a say. The only decision that may be present to you is the option of generator versus solar power or a combination of the two. My best piece of advice on this is to contact an electrical professional and go from there. Electrical systems are something that you do not want to mess around with unless you’re properly trained.
There are a number of various window styles and types on the market today and most, if not all have some level of energy efficiency. The only point I will make with windows is the size. Keep in mind that the larger the window, the greater the breeze it will let through. This may be an important consideration in the summertime without air conditioning. A nice breeze can make a difference in your level of comfort.
Doors are in the same category as windows in the fact that the options are endless. You’ll want to consider protection. After all, your doors are the gates to your castle and should be considered as such. Reinforced doors can be purchased but keep in mind that the heavier the door, the heavier the hinges. Make sure the hinges can support the weight of the door. Also, when you get a chance, check the hinge screws on your door and make sure they’re not the standard 1-inch long screw. Replacing these with longer and beefier screws is a cheap way to increase your home security.
In a SHTF scenario, your drain plumbing and septic can still function as intended but all of that depends on the type of system. You’ll still need a water source to flush the toilets but if you have that set up, you may be okay.
A conventional (anaerobic) septic system is the older style of system with lateral lines and is gravity driven. They will still need to be cleaned out every few years but should continue to work. The problem with this is that the EPA has stepped in and required most areas to switch to installing aerobic systems. Aerobic systems use pumps, aerators, and irrigation heads to help clean up the nasty stuff and reduce the amount of human waste dropped into the soil. These systems may not continue to perform after the power goes out so don’t rely on it for an extended amount of time.
Deciding where to put your septic is also important. You’ll want to make sure that your leech fields are at least two hundred feet from your well or any other water source. This should protect your water source from contamination.
Modern wells are pretty standard. You’ll want to hire someone to drill your well for you and hopefully install your pump as these can be a bit complicated. If you have a solar setup available, consider asking the technician if he can install it as well. Keeping extra parts for the well pump and solar components would also be wise. Have your well water tested ever so often to make sure it won’t make you sick. After a SHTF scenario, you may want to consider boiling your water just to play it safe.
This article will not give you all the answers but if nothing else, maybe it’ll help you understand some of the options out there. Again, everyone’s situation, whether it be in relation to finances, geographical location, preference or experience is different. Just keep in mind, your home is usually the main thing protecting your family and your preps and should be considered carefully.