My latest project: organizing my research and sharing my building and off-grid experiences

In spring 2006 I realized that stress from suing the credit bureaus and sitting at the computer literally 12 – 14 hours EVERY day was making me sick.  I got strep throat around Xmas 05, didn’t know what it was and in March finally figured it out when I got rheumatic fever and felt like I was going to die.  Fortunately, I had I still had those antibiotics I got in Mexico in 1999 and they still worked just fine.

I hadn’t even had a cold in many years and as I got a few settlements for a total of about $25k, I bought a lot in 6/06, further down the road, away from people and with a real nice view.  I started with the garage, several neighbors built the garage. It all cost a lot more than expected and soon my credit cards were maxed out.

The 1,400 sq ft garage has about a third of the space allocated for two 2500 g water tanks and the batteries (am off the grid), basically my utility room.  When I realized that I couldn’t get a mortgage until I had a house and lived in it and that I wouldn’t be able to finance building the house, I had a major plan change.

I always had a bathroom in my garage plans and a “clean” room to refinish furniture, etc.  So I got a permit to convert 400 sq ft of the garage to living area and then build a 600 sq ft addition and this is eventually going to be the guest house.  I also got the permit to build the main house and the reason for this madness is to have a totally enclosed courtyard, covered with mosquito screen for a garden, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, hot tub, etc.

And no, I’m not counting on winning the lottery (never buy tickets), but I was hoping to walk away with about $50k from the sale of my old place, finish the addition, then get a mortgage to refi the credit card debt and just do a lot of work myself over the next few years.

So when I wasn’t writing court filings or doing client work, I’ve been working at my old place.  Cleaning up the yard, replanting with yuccas, painting just about everything and making sure everything works.  I just listed it a few weeks ago and the market was dead.  Unfortunately, I also have the neighbor from hell (white trash) and I’ve seen quite a few people drive by slowly, look at the neighbor’s place, drive off ….  So I just reduced the price and my agent told me the other day that the market is picking up.  Wish me luck.

I already sleep at the new place in my truck camper and drive every morning to my office in the old place.  Fortunately, it’s less than 2 miles, but I’m tired of commuting.

The addition pad is almost ready, but I still have to finish the footings and some plumbing and the propane, which was left leaking by the last guy who worked for me and who was supposed to pour the slab, but never had time when I had the cash.  3 times I’ve had $10k, and every time he waited until I spent the $$$ on the $2k in monthly credit card payments, stucco, whatever …

A couple weeks ago I showed my project to another concrete guy for an estimate and he ended up with heart problems in the hospital the next day.  Is it THAT bad?

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I sure learned a lot this last year, it’s too cool to see how a house is built and being able to do almost everything myself now.  I can do all my plumbing and the electrical to the panel.  But I have no clue how to wire the generator, transfer switch, …

I’m thrilled to have a couple 6v batteries in the garage charged by my lone solar panel that I took off the camper when it was still at the old place.  So now I have 150 ft of extension cords running from the inverter in the garage to the camper to charge the batteries there.  About as inefficient as it gets, but if works for now.

A few days ago I finally got to fire up my new 1000 watt gen, it nicely charges both sets of batteries.  It’s a LOT quieter than my 8000 watt generator and should use a lot less fuel.

Next week my 23 year old nephew will arrive for a 2 months stay and one of our first projects will be to install my wind gen, it’s almost always windy here.  Unfortunately, I dropped it and broke the blades the first and last time I tried to use it, back in 2000 in the camper in Alaska.  So I’m not even going to TRY to do that by myself again.

Once my old place sold, I’ll get myself a big enough battery bank so that I don’t have to worry about running the generator, I hate the noise.

Since last summer I’ve read a few books and did a lot of research on the web about alternative building and I even subscribed to a few newsgroups.  There’s so much good info available, but I’m too old to put up with disruptive trolls.  And it’s just so hard to find AGAIN what interests me.  I started a blog last year, but didn’t even have time to update it anymore.  And, to really organize, I need a forum.

In January bought the forum software and I FINALLY got it installed.  Don’t have time to make it look pretty right now, but I think it’s functional.  I’ll be posting about gadgets like my new 12v swap cooler, what works, what doesn’t, my Home Depot experiences, my problems and hopefully eventually solutions, as well as links to sites that interest me.

Ultimately, I’d like to move to Central or South America, to a country that’s not aligned with the US.  The trouble with that is that it’ll make me a target and building a bomb shelter isn’t really on my list of things to do.  I still struggle with the fact that you just can’t win.  Too many people are forced to work two or more crappy jobs to pay the bills and the mortgage and I’d like nothing more than to find alternatives.

I’m very tired of having to make a living helping people survive in this capitalistic corrupt system, trying to teach them how to increase their credit scores, how to move from being exploited to being the exploiter.  For every 0% balance transfer there’s at least one person who pays 30% interest or more.  That’s just how it is.

I’d rather do something more useful and since I can’t change the system, maybe I can encourage others to get out, to live without credit, without a “job”, without paying taxes …  Of course I still have to figure out how exactly that can be accomplished.

I myself am as much in the system as anyone.  But it doesn’t have to be that way forever.  I’m definitely looking for alternatives.  I’ll be 50 next year and it’s time for a change.

I’m not the only one interested in quitting the rat race —this forum has been closed for years, but it’s still read a lot.

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