It’s (finally) a done deal.

After over 6 months of wailing and gnashing of teeth and trying to get title issues resolved, we finally closed today on the purchase of our secret remote hideaway at an undisclosed location.

It’s going to take a lot of cleaning up and effort but I think this is a good move in the long run. The site already has electric, a well and a septic system. They haven’t been used in a while and need to be inspected and possibly repaired, but that’s a lot cheaper than installing them new.

There’s a natural spring on the property so we have access to fresh water even if the power is out. Plenty of trees for firewood, plenty of wildlife, some good spots for a garden and a lot for chickens, sheep, maybe a cow. I’ve even already got a spot picked out to clear so I can plant some fruit trees.

The idea is for it to be our emergency escape/camping/hunting/recreational area for now, but to ultimately build our retirement home (preferably a log cabin on a basement, but in a pinch we could even tote a house trailer up there).

I don’t want to put up too many pictures lest I give away the secret location, but here’s the view from the spot where the house will likely go. (click to make bigger)

Here’s from the woods about half-way up to the ridgeline. There’s a nice spot up here for a getaway campsite.

Finally, down in the holler, there’s a little tiny pond (maybe 8 or 10 feet across) fed by the spring.

We’re very excited.

There’s a bunch of trash and stuff that needs to be picked up, it doesn’t look recent, but it looks like someone has been using it as a party spot in the past. So, the first order of business will be to put up a fence with no trespassing signs all along the road frontage and then get the trash cleaned up. I’ll probably put up some trail cameras to “keep an eye” on the place when we’re not there. Hopefully that’ll help. For now there’s nothing really up there to steal, I just don’t want people in there throwing around more trash and having to waste more time cleaning up over and over again.

I get 15 vacation days a year so I’m planning on taking one three day weekend a month to head over there to camp, recreate and get some work done. That leaves me a few extra days per year for contingencies.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share the big news. Yea for us.

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4 thoughts on “It’s (finally) a done deal.

  1. Congrats, welcome to rural property ownership and start buying Tylenol and Advil in the big bottles.

    Start looking for a deal on a tractor, you’re going to need it, and someplace local where you can secure it. Be careful of used tractors – farmers are notoriously rough on equipment and “maintenance” is best often described as “run it until something breaks and fix that.” Next would be some sort of shelter where “stuff” can be piled to keep it (mostly) out of the weather temporarily and which, hopefully, can be turned into a real storage building with the addition of sides and doors. It’ll also give you a place to camp when you visit to work on the property. FYI, you’ll almost certainly need multiple large storage buildings so don’t scrimp on the size of your first shelter.

    No idea where it is, but safe bet “some people” around will help themselves to whatever of value may be available for the taking.

    RE: fencing – after you verify the survey to make sure you know EXACTLY where the corners and boundaries are talk to some pressure treating outfits about wholesale purchases and buy in bulk (it’s handy to have an actual LLC for stuff like this). Strategic placement of 9-10 ft utility pole sections as posts (4-5 ft in, 54″ out) on 4-5 ft centers stops vehicle traffic (look for tracks to see where they may be needed). Some of the locals will resent losing their “private area.” Since you need only <10 ft with ~8-10" diameter you can take the culls the plant has little use for otherwise (make sure you have a tractor with a 3-point hitch and PTO to power a post hole auger and a bushhog/ A front bucket is a big plus, you'll be moving lots of dirt, gravel, etc and if it accepts forks to move pallets and heavy stuff that's even better). Don't shy away from a few extra horsepower, you can do a LOT more with 50 HP than 36 and the 25-30 HP "estate" tractors (even the diesels) will choke on doing real work.

    You've got electric, so finding a way to access it for your use will be valuable; a 50 amp "construction-type" termination box on a post will work for a while, make sure it includes 240 volts as well as 120 (if the well has a deep pump, it'll take 240 to run it and having water on site is a very useful thing, even if it's just a single spigot for hosing off after a workday and washing dishes and stuff).

    How's cell coverage? Where is the local FD and LE ? Good to start making friends early and getting known.

    Good luck, amigo. Welcome aboard.

  2. Thanks for the advice. A lot of that we’d already been thinking about but not to that detail. I’m honestly not too worried about the people in the area stealing things or doing damage, the main point in putting up a fence is to let the locals know that someone owns this and is paying attention.

    My suspicion is that the people who’d been partying up there were related to the people who owned it. A lot of the title issues came as a result of a previous owner with several relatives dying without a will. There were quite a few downstream relatives with a potential ownership interest that the seller (the past owner’s executor) had to get quitclaim deeds from…apparently it took them some time to track them all down (and yes, we got title insurance in case they missed one somewhere and it becomes an issue in the future).

    There are already two “garden shed” style buildings up there…one is very small and will probably just be taken down, but the other is pretty good size…I didn’t measure, but if I were to guess I’d say 8′ x 12′. Good enough to store small stuff in.

    First build is going to be a pole barn. I do want it to be enclosed and lockable to keep honest people honest. I absolutely agree about the tractor and having someplace to keep it secure and out of the weather will be important as well as having a place to store other supplies and equipment. And, as you said, if the weather is crappy while we’re there, we can pitch a tent inside it and stay sheltered.

    The biggest consideration for this is expense. As I mentioned, this is intended to be our retirement home, so the goal is to be debt free at the other end. We can’t get over-extended in trying to do anything too extravagant, so if I end up with a tractor that isn’t all it should be or wishing I’d built another barn…so be it. Better that than having to work as a Walmart greeter in my dotage to pay on the loans.

    Thanks for mentioning the FD and PD. The Sheriff’s office is in the county seat and I know where that is, but I hadn’t really even thought about the fire department. I’m pretty sure it will be Volunteer so I won’t exactly be able to count on timely response, but it would still be a good idea to know where they’ll be coming from.

    Cell coverage is spotty, but there are some spots that you can get a passable signal. There’s a telephone hookup box at the road so once I get a permanent structure built, I’ll see about getting a landline put in.

    Of course, I also need to decide where the shooting range is going to be…

  3. RE: the FD – If there is already a pond on the property, great, one of the bigger issues with fire in rural locations is water. Most trucks carry 500 gallons but that goes real quick; a lot of rural FD companies have a tanker, usually 5K – 8K gallons, but that won’t usually arrive on scene until long after the first 500 gallons is long gone, so having a water source that an FD can draft from is a plus; being able to pump from a pond is very different from drafting from a pond with an 18,000 – 28,000 lb fire truck, solid ground is a must, as is having a “drafting reservoir” built into the pond during digging to prevent the drafting hose from resting on the bottom and sucking mud. So is having your own pump(s) to allow putting water on it before the first big red truck arrives. If I were building a house in a rural area I’d design in a sprinkler system from the start, even if it required a fair sized (250-500 gallons) pressurized tank (or just a tank with a pump with a backup power supply). If it’s caught very early, and sprinklers will do that, 100-150 gallons can make the difference between some smoke and water damage and losing the house. Building codes have relaxed in recent years – used to require black steel pipe for the entire system, now many locations will allow PEX if it’s behind 1-hour fire rated wallboard, which is 2 layers of standard 1/2 drywall (pro tip – have your architect specify Firecode-rated drywall for the entire house (comes in 5/8″ and 3/4″ thicknesses) , the cost will be about 15% higher then standard 1/2″ for the 5/8″ but the labor will be about the same, so for an average house it’s only 2-4 hundred dollars more, which is cheap for the protection it provides, and the extra mass (5/8″ FC is almost 2X heavier than a standard 1/2″ sheet) will help cut sound transmission between rooms. So will mineral wool batts in those walls, which you can install yourself during construction.).

    RE: pole barn. Wood posts are cheap and easy, but look at steel skeleton with anchor bolts into concrete footers that are part of a concrete slab. Depending on your seismic zone or local fire conditions, steel frame with metal cladding may be worh the added expense. And put PLENTY of electric into it – 120V utility outlets, 240V outlets (compressors, welders, etc.) inside and outside, plenty of lighting circuits (there’s nothing like working on a tractor by flashlight in a dark barn….), plumbing (cheap toilet, big laundry sink and a cheap fiberglass shower stall, extra points for putting in a septic system for the barn so whatever crap goes down the big sink doesn’t cause problems with the house system).

    You’re lucky, you’re at the start of a pretty much “virgin project” so you can do a lot of learning, thinking and planning up front rather than having to modify or correct what someone else did and take it in steps; even designing in stuff costs build money, but it’s still hugely cheaper than digging through already built layers to change stuff. Talk to any builder – change orders can become very expensive. There will be locals – somewhere – who have the heavy equipment that will make the bigger jobs easy, and you can save $$$ by tackling those jobs on their schedule – if Joe with a bulldozer or excavator is between jobs with nothing on his work calendar for a month he’ll be more negotiable on price.

    I know someone who, with a wife, 4 kids and 2 dogs lived in a single-wide mobile home for 18 months while he built his own house and nobody killed anyone during the process Not that it wasn’t suggested once or twice….). The big advantage was the house build was 150 ft from the mobile home and the systems (septic, electric, well, etc.) for the house were one-time buys that got used by the mobile home until the house was finsihed, plus there was ample room outdoors for the kids to tire themselves out (and learn to perform chores). When the house was done he sold the mobile home for 90% of what he paid for it, so, it can be done.

    It will be an adventure, and even though you’ll think it’ll never come, there will come a time when you’re both sitting on the porch sipping whiskey watching the sunset and reveling in what you’ve accomplished. (Which, BTW, will never end, there will always be stuff to do….)

    And, hurry up with whatever you build for a barn; if you’re rural enough, and in the right place, I may still want to submit an application to occasionally rent space in it for a cot if SHTF.

  4. Thanks again for all the excellent advice.

    You’re welcome to the spot in the barn. When the SHTF, the more rifles shooting back, the better.

    My only fear is that we waited too long and it will kick off before we’ve got the redoubt properly prepared. Oh well…you can only do what you can do.

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