Hi Folks !

This is about “settling” a piece of land.

Well, actually simply getting a foothold on it and a base to operate and expand from.

For a long time I dreamed about retiring to life in an RV.  I have the home here relatively done. It would be cool to buy an RV and maybe an acre of land in my favorite states. Follow the weather, life on the road.

After my fun up north, and lessons learned, the best way I can think of getting in and on a piece of land is this:


Before building

Ideally, if you had some land more than a house lot, I’d recommend getting a small john deer tractor with a front loader and a plow blade accessory, you can do a LOT of landscaping for the $14,000 or so price, you can rent harrows, backhoe, brush hog, cultivator, york rakes attachments, or buy them too. it will save $ on work and plowing in winter, well worth the investment

You can simply cover it with a rubber tarp or build the small shed/garage. Even the “portable” garages they sell now would do, you know, the aluminum pole and weatherproof material quonset hut types.

I guarantee it will make you happy.

you could even dig out your own foundation hole, septic, driveway etc….

You will find a million and one uses for it.

Either your own tractor or hire someone EVERY time you have a task and at their schedule.


Year 1- Save your cash, buy the land lot outright.

Year 2 save for the next phase

Year 3- clear a small spot near the road 🙂 , and pour a monolithic slab for a garage

It doesn’t have to be very big, think in terms of units of a 4×8 sheet of plywood

12×12, 12×16, 12×24, 16×24 etc, -8′ high walls, less cuts and less waste

When you first get there use a camper to live in for weekend warrior building, or get a tractor trailer storage container dropped off, you can get them for cheap.

FORGET about a trailer or used trailer, aka mobile home, they have ZERO value, and if you were to get one via a loan it is a “chattel” loan, and actually degrades in value over the years. I do not care what ANYone tells you, You take a bath on resale value, and in some cases it devalues the property because the next owner thinks in terms of DISPOSAL. Far too many people with limited funds make this mistake. IF you buy one already on a piece of land you will pay too much and can quickly become upside down in terms of what you owe and resale value. You are asking for trouble too if you live in flood or tornado prone areas, they appear to be a great storm magnet. Frankly the SAME for modular homes, although the quality has gone up in recent years, but so has the initial cost. they are a  half-step up from a trailer. You want your work to count for something and GAIN in value, even a garage you live in is THAT.

You have been warned.

You will need a septic system {$2500 in parts} and a well drilled {$6,000 +}

On a budget, you will most likely get the well,septic and slab, in for year 3

Year 4, toss the building up. make it a garage with a loft, 4 foot knee walls “upstairs, and the roof on top of that. You can live in the “garage” it’s small enough to heat with a woodstove, use plywood or osb on the inside as well, drill and blow everything with cellulose insulation and it will be nice and warm. Could almost heat it with body heat if done right. (you can frame for the garage car door but board it over for now. cut it out later when the building becomes a garage)

Now you are not paying rent/mortgage, have a single small foothold on the land, are warm, and a small tax bill.

More importantly everything is paid off.

You may have to move year three above to year 4, and take year3 to gather $ and materials. Store materials where you live, not on the land, nor even in the tractor trailer storage unit, or they will disappear.

A garage like this can cost around 6-$12,000 affordable and a decent living space. Way better than renting, and now you are building equity, and OWN it outright, you can sell out at anytime and make some $ on it as an improved lot at the least..

Expanding on this concept, what I wanted to do was build the above building, with a saltbox roof where one side of the saltbox covered a carport, {or a 2 car garage with only one car and the other half the enclosed building} where I could park my RV. Essentially then, I could keep bare minimum in each “garage” set it up as kitchen/living room storage and sleeping quarters. You can build this fairly cheap, with the interior finished or not, put the door to the building-

RV-port with expanded "upstairs"-near the door to the parked RV and you can build a “bridge” for ease of use.

Build one down south Georgia/Florida, one out southwest where it is warm, Texas, AZ, and one in Colorado or Montana. Basically one in each corner of the country, when it gets too cold or work runs out, pack up and drive.






================== Foothold method #2 ==================

Up here in Maine, if you plan on staying year round, you could build this way:

24 x 30 cape one story, maybe 1.5 stories, so you have 2 bedrooms and a bath upstairs.

You pay for the land year 1

Year 2 you toss in the well, septic system and the foundation.

You build the whole first floor “deck” out of pressure treated, plywood it and cover it all in heavy rubber that overlaps the sides. You install the electric, and the start of a chimney system from the basement. You finish off a room or two in the basement, maybe the whole thing and you live in the basement, you are now in and on, and rent free, low taxes because it’s not done yet.

Work n save, work n save


Year 4, you toss up the shell of the building, and finish the outside and roof to finished outside {most town codes require the outside complete first}.

You can expand your living/storage space, and start finishing rooms upstairs by the paycheck after that.

It is a quite common method here, you see families starting out this way everywhere.


When I first moved up north we lived in a construction tool trailer I had fixed up.

It actually got destroyed in getting it on the lot, but that is another spouting 😉

We lived in that for 2 years, miserable.

In 1984 I finally planned/started a building that we could live in but would eventually be the future greenhouse.

It was 12 x 16 essentially 3 sheets wide, 2 long, 8′ tall first floor with a half “tower” upstairs

Built on blocks that “floated” on the ground

I aimed the 16′ {foot} side of the building, south 15 degrees west, for sun and had huge picture windows on that wall, the tower upstairs had glass on 3 sides with skylights.

The upstairs tower room was cool, could overlook the yard for better “planning’ and had a couch that opened up to a bed, On the other side upstairs had a full mattress and box spring under the sloping roof.

Upstairs was nice and cozy all night ! we were getting civilized.

I built a “lift” chimney and pad for the barrel stove which heated it to overheating-       NICE ‘N TOASTY !

On a sunny day the building would heat itself to 80’F in January, with the outside temp of minus 20 F, so the concept worked, at night the glass was covered with either carpet or blankets. A small kitchen down stairs and a sitting bench/bed that had the bathtub built under it, just remove the bedding and the wood cover and you had the bath.

99% of this building was built from rescued wood, I tore down a house in town for the wood. The owner was happy to have the demo done at no cost, I got a LOT of material.

I would definitely recommend this as a starter building it was cheap and went up fast. Two adults and two kids lived comfortably, we were stylin’

This was the house I came home to in my “Jack London” story, and sadly just as we got it done and gaining a foot hold on the land, was when I got sick. only lived in it for that year.

I haven’t seen it since 1985, probably can’t even tell it was there anymore….

Watchman's "greenhouse" with upstairs "Tower"Here’s a rough drawing of what it looked like, it performed quite well in the limited sun we had:

The double window side is                   SOUTH 15 degrees west-proper solar orientation.

Funny story: I had roof sheathing from that house I was tearing down, and it had all sorts of roofing nails in it.

By this time I had a 3 wheeler and a k-mart trailer that I could both tow with the 3 wheeler, or tow with the car and the wheeler on it. So I had a load of these roof panels, loaded them up on the trailer fastened it, and proceeded to go up the first stage hill

I said before it was steep, so you had to get a running start.

About halfway up, the front wheel hit a rock and bounced the wheeler up and over backwards.

There I was sandwiched between the wheeler and the trailer on my back on a bed of nails, with the heavy wheeler between my legs I was pinned quite good, in more ways than one.

More importantly the wheeler was dumping precious fuel and oil all over me.

Reason 999 not to work alone….

Yep, life certainly can toss you in some sort of sandwich…..


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