And That’s That!

Called my apartment manager earlier today and gave her the bad news, that I was officially announcing my termination of agreement. I have until the end of March to pack up the rest of my “junk.” Not that there’s much there.

One thing I do have over there is my little helicopter fleet. I’ve nowhere to put them at the moment, but I’m sure I can find a safe place for them in here.

My birthday was the magic moment. The hot water lines were hooked up, and I took my first hot shower in the new cottage. And let me tell you, it was amazing.

While my brain was doing resource calculations and my muscles were basking in the 115 degree water blasting from above my head, something changed. The house is different now than it was, even when I was leak testing the gas line. That moment marked a paradigm shift between “building a house” and “living in a house.” There’s a new level of comfort and a new sense of security and safety that comes with a hot shower. It’s hard to explain, but I think it’s been the missing piece out here.

After all, I have electricity, even if I do need to run a generator every third or forth day to top off the battery bank for the moment. I have an internet connection through my cellphone, though it’s a bit slow. I have drinking water in little buckets, 5-20 gallons depending on how long it’s been since I topped them up. Technically, the sink water is just as good, but it tastes a bit different as the system breaks in. Maybe the iron content, who knows? Everything I NEED was already in place, but the shower was something I wanted.

RESOURCES

Speaking of. My shower lasted about twelve minutes, consumed fifteen gallons of water and half a pound of propane. At this rate, a 20 pound bottle will last more than a month, so getting a big tank is kind of pointless. The smallest serviceable unit I can source so far out of city limits is around 150 gallons (a bit over 600 pounds), and since that would be about two years until a fill-up, it’s kind of pointless. I’ll likely be getting a 100 lb bottle and toting it back to town when it empties out, which is expected to be around twice per year. More on that later. My two little bottles will provide the hot water service for the moment. Propane is about 1.70 USD at the time of this writing, cheaper than gasoline, and my generator will run on it as well, just have to throw one switch and connect a line.

Water is the bigger concern. My current system size is just over 1000 gallons. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it, but factor in 20 gallons per day (most of it for a shower), and that gives me about 50 days worth of water. If I don’t catch four inches of rain in those two months (it got really dry last summer) then I’m up that unpleasant creek with a busted paddle and a leaky canoe. Luckily tanks are cheap, so pretty soon I’ll start getting a pair of them monthly until summer starts. It takes a lot of water to clean one, so I need a good chance of more rain behind that. I plan on expanding the system to 2000 gallons or more for this year, and then when I get some money saved up, perhaps putting a big 5k cistern in the ground.

Summer brings with it another problem. I’m using around 1kWh per day at the moment. A tiny window air conditioner will bring this number well above 5kWh during the summer easily, possibly 8 or more on especially hot days, and that’s assuming that all these btu figures I’ve been calculating (some through experimenting with the stove, some through using formulas) are close to accurate. In any case, solar panels will be a must for an electric cooling system, and they will free up a ton of energy for me the rest of the year, so I shouldn’t have to bother with the generator much except on cloudy weeks or as a supplement in hot weather.

Right now I’m looking at around $1000 for the panels, and at least $500 for the mounting kit. That’s not counting wire and fuses. I already have the charger, so no big deal there. I’ll probably be doing another blog post on sizing solar and battery systems in the future (maybe tonight if you’re really lucky). It’s not exactly a simple plug-and-play setup, and does require a lot of thought, but mostly budgeting and down-sizing personal electricity consumption rather than up-sizing a system to handle modern wasteful habits.

As for wood, I have at least a cord cut and stacked in the hardwood forest part of my property, and hopefully enough stored up to get me through the rest of this year. I will need to do a lot more cutting to prep for next year so that I’m not scrounging again for something to burn.

A DAY OFF

While I did get quite a bit done today, I did very little on the construction front. The water heater had a leak at the hot water connection after my shower, so I broke and remade that connection this morning. Then the cold line started, same issue, same solution. All I can say is, for brass fittings, I’m just going to use teflon tape from now on. The goop seems to do nothing to help at all, and the teflon connections are both dry as a bone. That’s me, your mileage may vary. I’ll still use pipe dope on plastic connections, but always one or the other, not both. Wait, I think I steered off on a tangent.

So I fixed that today. I picked up a load of saw dust from the sawmill for my composting toilet (totally free if I fill my own bags and there are literally mountains of the stuff). I collected a bunch of aluminum cans that have been scattered about the property over time for various reasons, stood in awe at how many of them were Monster energy drinks. I washed some clothes using my bucket system, though they aren’t yet fully dry and I brought them in because I don’t trust “night weather” on hanging clothes. Those old sayings about the devil in morning dew? Yeah, there’s a reason people thought that, and brought their laundry in at night. Everything together, I did a lot today, but it was mostly chores and cleanup. I even mowed down some of this golden grass so the ticks won’t start moving into it. Also reworked my little garden area and covered it with tarps. Here’s a pic:

Look at that, my stupid fingers photo-bombed it! Oh well.

The difference with my working today was that it mostly consisted of “chores” rather than “building.” I’m cleaning up around the house a bit at a time, moving tools back into the shabbin, and squaring away some trash and such outside. I’m also getting ready for my full recycling setup, sorting cans, wood products, and plastic into different bins, as well as trying to figure out what to do with food canisters, which will make excellent little pots for a future greenhouse.

Areas are the house are being assigned different storage goals. Some probably sound normal, like a pantry area on shelves in the kitchen space. Others might twist some eyebrows, like why all of the laundry stuff will be stowed in the bathroom. (I think off-gridders and permies will get that, but not many other people).

For the moment, I’ve migrated to “life in the woods” rather than having that be some far-off goal. I still need some time for a couple of adjustments. Not having a washing machine was a rather late addition to my plan. There’s still construction work to do, but siding and the porch can be done as I have time, I’m not in the biggest of hurries, though the porch especially does need to be built and boxed in pretty soon. Most of it though, is making my new conditions normal. Washing clothes by hand (still working on a method to ring them out easily without spending a ton of money at the antique store), more cooking my own meals (berries and edible flowers will be here soon), and keeping my system running. Batteries need maintenance and I do check the charge status daily. Generators need oil changes, too. There’s no shortage of things to do, but it isn’t too bad, really, just a different list of shit to worry about.

As far as what I don’t need to worry about? Bills. As of today, I have a phone bill, a storage bill (~30 bucks), food, gas, and taxes. That’s about it. Time to start saving up money at my minimum wage day-job, hehe.

Anyway, this is getting too long. I’ll bid you a good night and best wishes. I do have some gripes and complaints about different issues, but they don’t have anything to do with the house, just circumstances and life issues. Wanted to focus on the positives today. I even took a walk around and found buds on a couple of my fruit trees 🙂


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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.

25 thoughts

    1. Thanks, always glad to hear from you. Might surprise you that I did a “lighter test” on the gas line after checking for bubbles with soapy water. Just had to be certain. One does not play around when wood stove is present. At 11in w.c. I think the test is more than safe enough. Safer than finding out too late that there’s a leak.

        1. Basically using the leak as a regulator. Heard about it from some HVAC guys. Consequently, I would not recommend anyone to do it. Certified pressure test from the gas company is the safest way to go, and will ensure a good relationship if you are using them for a gas service. In my case, one line, everything else shut off, and I’ve been around enough explosive and flammable materials to take my own precautions.

      1. I remember when you started. Really, I don’t know anybody living in a wood. You are a brave person. At least in the summer you won’t need heating. And for air conditioner, why you just open all the windows?!

        1. Thank you for the sentiment. To answer your question: 95 degrees and humid. Summertime up here can be really uncomfortable. When I was living in the shabbin, there were days that I couldn’t even sleep till after midnight because it was too hot. One night I slept on my trailer under the stars. With any luck, venting the house from the floor will keep it cool, but I don’t want to assume that will work and be wrong when it’s too late. I can sweat it out, but it would be hell on my day-job to wake up sweaty in the morning with lack of sleep.

          1. I guess, at least, it s a necessity. I checked and it is about 35 in Celsius. Last summer we had about 40 (media) 120 in F, and, yes, I m considering air conditioning. I ll follow your posts for updates (being a citadin person, I m pretty curious) and good luck again!

          2. You’re in France? I don’t know much about the weather systems there, but yes, hot is hot, and uncomfortable. Much depends on the size of the space you want to cool and the insulation value of it. The ground temperature here is 55-60F or about 13C. I was hoping that the temp under the house, since it’s enclosed, would keep something close to that, and I could vent that air up into my home, drying out the area under the floor at the same time. Not sure exactly what your situation is, house or apartment, or what, but there are definitely alternatives. If it’s really dry where you live, look into “swamp coolers,” they’ve come a long way and for dry climates they are much more efficient than a normal A/C unit. Course, a nice window fan definitely makes a difference too, hehe. Cheers and good luck to you.

          3. Ah, okay. Yep, if it’s dry…I can’t recall the official name of the units, but they’re basically a fan and a tub of water (little more complicated than that) and use the heat loss due to evaporation for cooling and adding a touch of humidity to the air. Wonderful when it’s dry and hot. Not so wonderful if humidity is a concern.

  1. Awesome, great to see your dreams coming together.

    Maybe a 65lb propane tank, the proportions are far more manageable for loading and transporting without a pickup and a dolly. Still large enough to consistently push pressures better than your standard grill bottle.

    1. True. Funny enough, I was worried about the tank handling sub-freezing temps and outputting, but if the main pipe into the house is frozen or winterized, then it’s a mute point. Small bottles make things easy. I’ll probably stick with my 20lb rigs for the moment, as they will top them off at the propane place, and it’s way cheaper than a normal exchange. They have a 100 lb tank at the moment refurbished, which is why I was considering it. When summer time rolls around, they’ll have more to pick from though. 😉 And hopefully I’ll have some money, hehe.

    1. Yep. Not so primitive, as it turns out. The new ones are affordable and highly effective in dry climates. There’s been a lot of innovation in that space, and they’re becoming more common in places like Arizona that have a lot of hot, dry air.

  2. Happy Birthday & Welcome Home!!! What an achievement! And I hear you about a regular hot shower. Few things in life feel more comforting.
    I spent a year and a half once years ago in Fresno (long story) with a swamp cooler. It’s an odd machine. Better than nothing in the heat, but not by much. Humid & noisy. They’ve likely improved since then.
    In such a small, well insulated space, though, I think you’ll be glad to have a little air conditioner – my 2 cents.
    I salute you. You did it! Kiss that monthly apt. rent goodbye…
    Jeanne

    1. Thanks. Feels good to make the jump finally. Without any shelving, I have a bunch of books on the kitchen counter tonight. Time to start finding places to put stuff. I have some plastic shelves in the shabbin. Might need to appropriate one for the house, just for temporary use until I get the walls done. Then I can start making big boxes. A little clear weather on my side and I may start on some kitchen boxes. I think I’m scrapping the cabinets idea, I can get doors for my cubbies later if needed. 😛 Being the only “finished” wall, it may be time to start adding some bits and pieces though, just to hold my stuff.

  3. Do you know about Lehman’s catalogue? They have all kinds of “old fashioned” household goodies for off-grid living. Might find something to help with the laundry without spending a fortune on an antique.

    1. Just took a look. Still $200 plus for a wringer, and with a tub attached they are asking $800. I’ll probably go out and find a big mop bucket or something. I’m actually thinking about making a simple press that I can place in the tub, which would cost me no more than some hinges and a bit of iron pipe for a handle.

  4. Wow, what a milestone to get your shower up and running. Congratulations for that and for putting in your notice in for the apartment.

    1. Thanks. At this time I’m officially moved in and putting final touches on the house. Next step is building shelving to store my little amount of stuff and keep things neat, but the walls need to be finished to protect them after everything is up.

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