E-Mail 'How NOT to Build a Retreat, by The Jewish Prepper, Pt. 2' To A Friend

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  1. If anyone listening out there is thinking about doing something like this, the key thing to avoid is “not knowing anything about construction”, but this can be cured easily. If building a retreat or home on or off grid is your goal, anytime soon, the first thing you have to do is get a job in construction, maybe for a year or two. Find a small contractor with a good reputation that builds one or two houses at a time. If you have no skills, you will start out laboring, but be willing to do whatever. Forget about big companies, or big money- the object here is to LEARN. Many small contractors do all the work from footings to shingles, and you will learn how to do this. When outside contractors are operating, use your EYES and EARS as much as possible, maybe even help out. Listen to everything they complain about. After 2 or 3 houses, you should know enough about what to do and not do. BEEN THERE DONE THAT. I did this 40 years ago, and I can still build, repair, or remodel almost anything.

    1. Simple and doable advice, Sam. Another advantage of having the job is being able to put away some wages to pay for the big project. Oh, and the friendships with knowledgeable fellow builders.

      Carry on

  2. Glad to see you put on a metal roof. I’d like to invite all Survivalblog readers to consider that a home that is easily set afire externally is a BAD place to live in difficult or turbulent times. The simply solution is steel roofing and stucco siding. Nothing is completely fireproof, of course, but the relative level of fire resistance between vinyl siding plus asphalt shingles vs cement siding and steel roofing is IMMENSE.

    1. Also pay attention to the soffits, with forest fires embers get rammed in at high rates of speed. Screens and other measures will go a long way to see that the attic doesn’t catch fire.

  3. Thanks for the recognition of Allen Damron. We were “huntin’ buddies” and close friends for forty years.

    Pro-Texican and pro-gun, all the way. You can find his “Gringo Pistolero” on the Inet, as well as “Come To The Bower”.

  4. Wow these must be California prices . I live in Ohio and built a 28 x 40 -10 foot tall pole barn garage , insulated and dry walled in side with a foam insulated concrete slab floor.
    No water or septic . My material cost ? $13500. In the 1950’s before code enforcement .
    Ir was common to build a basement place beams and floor joist and subfloor .Tarp paper over it and live in it till money became available to finish. I lived in such a house for the first 3 years of my life. It is a fire trap so I don’t recommend it. Another popular option back then was to build a 2 car garage and move in . Instead of concrete piers 6 x 6 treated post would work just fine if you want to have a wood floor above the ground , which on a hill side would be cheaper than leveling an area the building a garage on in.

  5. Check out Taunton Press’ Fine Home Building and Fine Woodworking magazines. They also publish many focused “how to” books on everything from tile setting to stair building to roof framing to starting a construction company. Taunton was huge for me early in my carpentry career. I’ve found that a bit of research can help overcome many of the unknowns.

  6. While I find that so much of ‘SurvivalBlog’ while generally good is quite repetitive … this is a unique and helpful series with lots of good tips.

    I’m looking at Lord willing building a maple syrup shack / hunt camp out back in a couple months and you’ve given me a few really good ideas already.


  7. Jewish Prepper, you have delivered several gems. This one, I especially appreciate: What you think is “good enough” probably isn’t!

    You serve us all by sharing your struggles.

    Carry on

  8. Thank you for the kudos and encouragement! It’s gratifying to read comments from readers who have found useful information, and humbling to hear from others who know more about this topic than I ever will.

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