everyone wants a resilient home, so why not two?

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jeantheau's picture
jeantheau
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everyone wants a resilient home, so why not two?

I've been following CM's work since the original Crash Course but have mostly just been lurking on the PP boards over the years. Now, though, I have an issue that intersects resilience, finance, and time/stress management that I think is relevant here. I've been wrestling with it for most of the last decade, and at this point, I could really use some objective input.

This is a long post, so here's the bottom line up front:  Through a twisty series of circumstances, I ended up building two resilient properties. I still own them both, but I am having a difficult time seeing how I can keep both going long-term. I'm not even sure that should be a goal. And now, the rest of the story....

In 2005, after voraciously consuming information from the likes of Michael Ruppert and Richard Heinberg, I vamoosed from the D.C. area and landed in Berea, KY. I chose here because of Berea College's sustainable ag program and because there is a contingent of hands-on, back-to-the-land types living in the surrounding counties. In 2006, I built a fairly traditional 3BR/2BA house on 4.3 acres. I used top-quality construction techniques and materials to ensure low future maintenance costs. I added 5.4kW of grid-tied, tracking PV with battery backup; solar hot water; passive solar; ground-connected heat pump; security features; 12K gallons of water catchment with distributed pumping systems; a small greenhouse; and garden beds out the wazoo, all organically managed. Great, right? Yes and no.

In 2010, my relationship blew up. My ex eventually agreed to a cash buyout, leaving me with the house/property but also with a fair amount of new debt. Then a year later, it looked like I would lose most of my contract work, and it seemed clear that I would not be able to keep the house long-term. At that time (2011), I had already started adding a 2BR apartment/bunkhouse to the barn/workshop building I had constructed in 2007. The original idea of the bunkhouse was to create a space for farm help, but I shifted gears and finished the apartment in a way that suited my own living needs, with the idea that I would live on that half of the (now subdivided) property and sell the house. I made the apartment/workshop essentially a half-sized version of the house and its features, so I would be fine with just that piece, and I could sell the house to make my finances balance. Well, the house did not sell at the (high) price I was asking. Then the contract work revived and the cash-flow crisis was averted, so I took the house off the market.

I'm still working plenty now, but even assuming the job is safe, I'm 60. I figure I'll work another five, maybe even ten years. But at some point, I will retire, and my annual income will drop by 75% (because most of my retirement money went into building all this). The math says that maintaining both properties will likely cause a post-retirement cash-flow issue. All systems have life spans, and entropy does not stop, no matter how well something is built. Inevitably, some systems on both properties will need repair/replacement.

The two properties are contiguous and were originally designed as an integrated operation, though they are now separate and independently salable.  I have a fair amount of "drama and trauma" psychology associated with the house, so I've been living in the apartment, and some friends are staying in the house and pitching in on chores. That's helpful for getting the gardens tended, but it covers none of my out-of-pocket costs (taxes, insurance, repairs, etc.), and management of the process adds stress to my already busy life. I previously also tried renting out the apartment while living in the house, but that math wasn't much different than what I'm doing now.

So, you see, I have grandly overachieved and now have more awesome infrastructure than I personally need or can comfortably maintain. Worse, over the 13 years it took to create all this great collapse-resistant infrastructure, I have exhausted myself and degraded my health.

While there are problems with keeping the house, there are problems with selling it, too: (a) The housing market is tanking. Getting it on the market this spring would already be late to the game, but clearly better than waiting. However, the thought of all the things that must be done in such a short period of time sends me into a state of high anxiety (and not the funny Mel Brooks kind).  (b) I could just not worry about the market timing and plan to sell in spring 2020. That would allow me to work towards the sale at a more comfortable pace, but by then the housing market may have totally crashed. (c) Even using the best timing, I will not get anything like the amount of money I've put into the house and its systems. The average home buyer does not place much value on resilient/sustainable features (and, even more troublesome, neither do appraisers).

By selling, I would generate some cash, reduce my exposure to future life-cycle costs, and make my task load more manageable, finally allowing me to decompress a bit. It's also arguable that having a neighbor who is energetically engaged in resilient practices -- and invested as the property owner -- would strengthen my own resilience position, not weaken it.

On the other hand, it's hard to invest a "big new pile of cash" wisely and quickly, and I might see a lot of that pile go up in a puff of inflationary smoke. Who knows what collapse scenario(s) TPTB are really cooking up -- they turn out to be a lot more clever than I gave them credit for a decade ago, so I hesitate to predict. In a bad enough collapse, one would clearly want a resilient property -- even an extra one -- instead of a pile of ever-devaluing cash. Of course, back in 2008, I thought "surely this is the end!" ... but it wasn't. Here we are a decade later, still proclaiming that the end must certainly be near. Maybe. Probably.

So, a show of hands, please -- who thinks I should sell the house to avoid future life cycle costs and allow me to refocus on my core needs?

And who who thinks I should keep the house (in addition to the workshop/apartment property where I'm living), thinking that the extra capability is worth the future financial stress and the extra day-to-day hassles?

And who is now ready for a cold one??!!

Mark

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Sell

Phew! I got tired just trying to imagine being in your situation.  I'm not you, but if it were me I think I'd sell mainly in order to reduce the complexity and unknowns in your life, reduce your stress, and increase your focus (on what's left).

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

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sand_puppy
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Two houses in Berea, KY

That one is tough!  Divorce is really hard on net worth and future plans as many of us have demonstrated.

Is there much of a rental market in your area?  Would renting out your main house meet a high percentage of your cash flow needs?

You need a PP member to buy that house from you and become a neighbor.  :-) 

Google maps says Berea, KY is on the border of a large public forest, The Daniel Boone National Forest.  What a great location to ride out a collapse.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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On keeping/selling resilient housing

So, a show of hands, please -- who thinks I should sell the house to avoid future life cycle costs and allow me to refocus on my core needs?

With the information given I would raise my hand and tell you to sell.  We're missing some information, but here's what we know:

  • You are stressed by the management and upkeep of the property
  • You are stressed by the thought of managing and maintaining the property in the future
  • The amount of property is more than you need, and therefore more than you want
  • You have a second property next to the larger one and that's sufficient for you

Given all that, and it's perfectly understandable, I would personally be seekign the very best neighbor I could find to come and buy that main property from me.  With the right person or family, you could turn a cash and energy drain into a big positive.

The missing information is that your post is devoid of any sense of community.  Is Berea still the right place for you?  Are you building a network of people around you that you enjoy?  

Do you have other family to consider that might move in with you in a pinch if they needed to?  Do you imagine being single forever?

What proportion of your overall assets are locked up in this real estate holding?  Can you rent it out for a positive cash flow while you resolve some of these questions?

But mostly, it sounds like you need a break and are seeking to minimize the energy drains in your life, and so there's an even larger question of whether either place remains the right option for you.  As we age, it just makes sense to want to spend less time building and maintaining things/stuff and focus on enjoying life, being of service, and becoming a proper elder.

Finally, I wouldn't worry too much about a sudden loss of purchasing power for dollars.  Not yet.  That's a very big ship that takes a long time to turn, and right now it's not even wobbling slightly in either direction (deflation vs inflation) so we'll all have plenty of time to adjust if/when it makes up its mind.

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jeantheau
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second resilient home - money vs. stress vs. intangibles

Hey, thanks for the responses. I'll try to clarify a few questions that were asked...

<< ... sense of community.  Is Berea still the right place for you?  Are you building a network of people around you that you enjoy?  >>

Yes, absolutely. I have multiple clusters of friends and an extended network of acquaintances. In both categories, these folks are good-hearted, honest, hard-working, creative, and committed to engaging in what we might call post-peak living and community building, even without the necessity of having to do so. Berea is still the right place to be. And, as sand_puppy points out, it's at the foothills of the Daniel Boone National Forest -- awesome hiking, which my girlfriend I and do quite a bit. Finally, and most importantly, I know a good local moonshiner! %-P

<< What proportion of your overall assets are locked up in this real estate holding? >>

Across both properties, most of it. I do have some cash and PMs, with the total value being about 65% of my remaining debt. (That's sort of a hedge.) The debt is "family debt," with little pay-back pressure. I DO need to pay it back fully at some point before I retire, but there is no risk of a catastrophic "margin call." While I am still working, I am easily cash-flow positive, even with the cost of maintaining the second property. So, in the "now" scenario, the only problem is the hassle factor.

All of my retirement savings from the 2000's era went into the initial construction. I'm slowly rebuilding a 401K, but my retirement income will mostly just be SS payments. My running of the numbers suggests that I eventually won't be able to keep up with both properties, at least not in a way that keeps them "tight," with all systems fully operational.

There is also the possibility that my current contract work will fall off a cliff. That seems unlikely for now, but it's certainly possible. Since I'm close to Social Security age anyway, that would be the same scenario as me being retired -- just a little sooner, with less built-up cash.

<< Can you rent it out for a positive cash flow while you resolve some of these questions? >>

I have friends staying in the place now, contributing 16 hours per week of their time (total) to help with the upkeep on the gardens -- and with as much garden infrastructure as I have, that's about what it takes. Their contribution doesn't cover any part of taxes, insurance, repairs, and system life-cycle costs.

If you multiply their 16 hours per week times a nominal $15/hr hourly wage, you get an equivalent rental rate of about $1,000/month, which for this area would be quite high. Adding in depreciation would help cover the difference, but "tax math" is a bit tricky, and my experience is that rentals are a lousy business, unless you never spend money to keep the place up (which is why so many rental properties are dumps!). But even if doing it as a formal rental would get me close enough from a financial standpoint, the aggravation/hassle factor would remain.

<< there's an even larger question of whether either place remains the right option for you.  As we age, it just makes sense to want to spend less time building and maintaining things/stuff and focus on enjoying life, being of service, and becoming a proper elder. >>

I have thought about ditching both properties and starting again, but the smaller property is already fairly resilient and suits my future needs fine. So, starting all over would probably not improve my situation much and would certainly light the fuse to the next stress bomb.

The "being of service" question is actually an important but unquantifiable aspect to all this. Is the house a space I need to keep available for good folks who are in transition, building their own places in Berea using low-energy-footprint approaches (as is happening now)? Or do I need to hold the space as a refuge for family members or others close to me in the event of calamity? Probably "no" on the family question -- everyone is reasonably well set. But "maybe" on the friends question. Knowing the real answer is probably "above my pay grade," but the question does weigh on me.

<< mostly, it sounds like you need a break and are seeking to minimize the energy drains in your life  ..... I would personally be seeking the very best neighbor I could find to come and buy that main property from me.  With the right person or family, you could turn a cash and energy drain into a big positive. >>

Yep. That definitely resonates with me. I did put on my own oxygen mask first, but in the whirlwind of the last 10 years, I didn't keep it on, and that has caused problems. Selling, especially quickly, will be fairly un-fun, but if I get a great neighbor out of it, it will be worth the short-term headaches.

Thanks again!

Mark
 

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
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wait

You are conficted, so wait.  If you put it n the openmarket, who knows who will move in ? Later a best outcome may turn up.

 

SO, maybe a family member or friend may see they want to relocate before 2020.

What you want in household size could change and you could want the space,as hard as it is to believe now. 

Anyways, I think right now you have control over neighbor there and given my experience iwht random neighbors that is worth a whole lot ! More than money.  My regret is that I DIDNT sretch myself with too much debt to buy the property next door when it was on the market a few years ago.

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NickAdams10
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If you do decide to sell
jeantheau wrote:

(c) Even using the best timing, I will not get anything like the amount of money I've put into the house and its systems. The average home buyer does not place much value on resilient/sustainable features (and, even more troublesome, neither do appraisers).

If you do decide to sell, you might not be able to do much about appraisers, but you might be able to find a better buyer for your home by targeting speciality publications instead of just listing on Zillow or something. I think Mother Earth News had real estate listings a while ago. You might have some luck on sites like that one.

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SlideDown
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Why not 2 resailient homes?

edited

SlideDown's picture
SlideDown
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Why not 2 resailient homes?

Great discussion that prompts, this, my first post even though I have also been following Peak Prosperity for more than 7 years. I'm just not a big "joiner," & don't offer my opinion very often. But this has touched a nerve & maybe I can help with my opinions because I'm in a somewhat similiar (but different) situation.

I too have an off grid (resilient)  two small 1 bd/1 bth each houses on 32 acres in Western Colorado. I bought it right in 2012, spent 12 months over 3 yrs restoring an old log cabin & lived in the other house while I lived & worked on the cabin. I got alot of satisfaction working with my hands and learned that the sub concious mind is a powerful gift. Because I didn't want to (& couldn't afford) to rely on other people, I discovered that there is a solution to every problem and  that solution was almost always available when I woke up the next morning to start a new day! This initself, was worth the price of admission even though I should have known this earlier in life. I did hire some work out when it was above my pay grade and I also helped my professional floor guy to reduce the labor cost to install a 100yr+ maple floor. At the end of the process I told my wife (who has not bought into the idea of a bolt hole & resiliciency) 'If I knew when I was younger, how much I enjoy working with my hands, i would have become a carpenter, electrican or plumber!" (rather than a "Jack of All Trades," (Master of none.) Enought.

It's a tough RE market now.  I've had my 2 houses/land with a year round stream running thorugh the property on the market for about 3 years. I find that because it's "off-grid," & I have to haul 600 gallons of water once every 3 weeks for both houses;  banks do not want to lend for "off-grid properties," Baby Boomers are not good prospects but the 30 year olds love it! Problem is that the millenials don't have the $.  I am however, not stressed out about the situation because  I rent out the smaller house for $700/mth & I don't exchange the renter's labor for rent. This is the first year I've had a year round tenant and even a 4-6 month May-Nov tenant, the rental income pays for the low taxes ($430) & maintenance and my cost of living for 4-5 months.

So why do I want to sell? I don't, but my wife who is not American and older than I will probably return to her country (Japan) in 3-5 yrs and I will return with her. So....

Back to the point, based on what you wrote in great detail, I would advise you to deal with the stress,(isn't it all in your head anyway?) forget about the maintenance and collect dollars for rent, put your larger home on the market at a fair price, (trying to be selective in who buys it) & continue to keep your smaller newer addition for your friends/family (& don't forget yourself) as a bolt hole for you to have if and when the SHTF.  Also, because relationships take time/energy and are so important, it's another reason why you shoujld IMHO keep the smaller of the two houses.

That's it. Just for a point of comparison and context, here is a link to my off grid hideaway! Everybody's situatrion is different!   https://needlerockrealty.com/mls-search/residential/753034/

SlideDown's picture
SlideDown
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Posts: 5
Why not 2 resailient homes?

Great discussion that prompts, this, my first post even though I have also been following Peak Prosperity for more than 7 years. I'm just not a big "joiner," & don't offer my opinion very often. But this has toched a nerve & maybe I can help with my opionions because I'm in a somewhat similiar (but different) situation.

I too have an off grid (resilient) with two small 1 bd/1 bth each houses on 32 acres in Western Colorado. I bought it right in 2012, spent 12 months over 3 yrs restoring an old log cabin & lived in the other house while I lioved & worked on the cabin. I got alot of satisfaction working with my hands and learned that the sub concious mind is a powerful gift. Because I didn't want to (& couldn't afford) to rely on other people, I discovered that there is a solution to every problem and  that solution was almost always available when I woke up the next morning to start a new day! This iniself, was worth the price of admission wvwn though I should have known this earlioer in life. I did hire some work out when it was above my pay grade and I also helped my professional floor guy to reduce the labor cost to install a 100yr+ maple floor. At the end of the process I told my wife (who has not bought into the idea of a bolt hole & resiliciency) 'If I knew when I was younger, how much I emjoy working with my hands, i would have become a carpenter, electrican or plumber!" (rather than a "Jack of All Trades, (Master of none.) Enought.

It's a tough RE market now, is my experience, I've had my 2 houses/land with a year round stream running thorugh the property on the market for about 3 years. I find thqt becuse it's "off-grid," & I have to haul 600 gallons of water once every 3 weeks for both houses, & banks do not want to lend for "off-grid properties," Baby Boomers are not good prospects but the 30 year olds love it! Problem is that the millenials don't have the $.  I am however, not stressed out about the situation because  I rent out the smaller house for $700/mth & I don't exchange the renter's labor for rent. This is the first year I've had a year round tenant and even a 4-6 month May-Nov tenant, the rental income pays for the low taxes ($430) & maintenance and my cost of living for 4-5 months.

So why do I want to sell? I don't, but my wife who is not American and older will probably return to her country (Japan) in 3-5 yrs and I will return with her. So....plan ahead.

Back to the point, based on what you wrote in great detail, I would advise you to deal with the stress,(isn't it all in your hjead anyway?) forget about the maintenance and collect dollars for rent, put your larger home on the market at a fair price, (trying to be selective in who buys it) & continue to keep your smaller newer addition for your friends/family (& don't forget yourself) as a bolt hole for your to have if and when the SHTF.  Also, because relationships take time/energy and are so important, it's another reason why you shoujld IMHO keep the smaller of the two houses.

That's it. Just for a point of comparison and context, here is a link to my off grid hideaway! Everybody's situatrion is different!   https://needlerockrealty.com/mls-search/residential/753034/

derelict's picture
derelict
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Very interesting to see what

Very interesting to see what you folks have accomplished over the past 10 years, and also some of the downsides and concerns associated. Slide, enjoyed looking through the pictures. Is it not possible to have a pump in that year round stream? Hauling water does sound like a lot of work. Also what is that white piece of pipe with the loop in the stem coming out of the floor - hard to tell in the picture? The bathroom pic made me realize how many pics I've seen of bathrooms and how I think never a one has had the toilet positioned at an angle to the wall. Always square ninety degree angles. Your design makes sense in many ways - for one if the toilet paper roll is on the wall, it's easier to get to. It gives a bit of privacy if someone were in the bathtub and someone else needed the toilet. It also just makes more room instead of being right next to the tub. Still, it's jarring at first sight. Really nice job with all that wood.

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SlideDown
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Off grid cabins

Glad you enjoyed the pixs...I enjoyed restoring the log cabin!  The "strange white pipe with the curve in it," is the drain pipe for the kitchen sink before the marble countertops & sink were installed. So the 100 yr old Maple floor covers the entire floor surface (unlike modern homes these days)

It's not too practical to pump water from the stream to the houses as it's a 500-600 elevation change! But, contrary to what many think it's not a big deal to haul 600 gallons every 3 weeks for 2 houses. A portable plastic 200 gallon tank fits into the back of a pickup truck. It's a 10 minute drive to town where Spring Water is available to the public for $2.00/200 gallons. 15 minutes back to the 1,200 gal underground cistern, gravity feed into the cistern about 15 minutes = 40 minutes/200 gallons. The water is gravity fed into the houses, no pumps needed. 

There are 6 types of wood inside the house. Douglas fir walls, Aspen ceiling & interior walls, Windows framed with Oregon Red Cedar & Port Oroford White Cedar, some Japanese cedar posts (by the bathroom) & the 100 yr old Maple flooring. I winter on the Oregon coast & like a lot of folks here, into wood.

re the bathroom...I didn't change the placement of the toilet, it's angled that way because of the large South facing window & the views. Why change what works?

Anyway glad you liked it. Did.you look at the "virtual tour" & the winter drone shots? That will give you a better feel for the lay of the land.

mntnhousepermi's picture
mntnhousepermi
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like a deep well

Quite a few of my neighbors are pumping water up from 500ft wells.  I have also known other properties with 500 ravine to stream using a ( ram pump maybe ? I forget)  It doesnt have to be alot of gallons per minute as it should pump to a tank.  Personally I think having water is a big deal, especially if things went downhill, cannot live without water, I would not want to rely on being able to get it to haul it in

SlideDown's picture
SlideDown
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Option for water on property...a road to year round creek

I've checked out ram pumps, but there is a road  to the stream where a 12volt car battery hooked up to a small solar panel can be used to pump to the tank in the pickup. But yes, you do need to have gasoline for a short drive to creek. 

Any other suggestions, I'd like to have your input! 

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jeantheau
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Hey, SlideDown, thanks for

Hey, SlideDown, thanks for sharing the pics. Nice.

As long as we're sharing, here's the photo tour of my house from 2012 when I was trying to sell it (which is why the captions sound so realtor-y). A few things have changed since then -- there's a dog-proof fence around the garden area now; the strawberries and grapes are no more; I added cold room inside the garage. But overall, this is the hacienda.
http://www.grinningplanet.com/resilient-home/tour/index.htm

As for pumping water from the creek to your house, I'd only do that if you've had the water tested. Lots of ways for creek water to be wrong, especially if someone has property in the watershed above you. It looks like you're in Colorado, so you get deep freezes in the winter, so any piping will either have to be seasonally installed or buried good and deep.

NickAdams10 -- thanks; definitely the right idea on advertising in places where "the right people" have their eyes and ears. I did that in 2012, but without a good result. I'll still try that again, though, if I do finally manage to let go and decide to sell.

Mark

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Did you consider Renting the apartment or the main house

I would talk to a realtor or a property manager in your area and see if makes more sense to rent out one or more of the properties. If you can get a reliable renter, it might take care of your cashflow issues if the rent pays for your taxes, maintenance costs & some of the mortgage payments. Seems likely owning a rental property would be a source of most retirement income that is likely to somewhat inflationary protected (ie you would increase rent to match inflation)

If you decide to sell, Try listing on landandFarm.com and other non tradiational RE sites. When I was looking for property I used landandfarm.com and realtor.com (But I not sure if you can list on realtor.com without a Realtor license). If you don't want to take a bath on local RE prices you need to focus on buyers that are looking to downsize for retirement to someplace cheap and quiet. A local Real Estate Agent is only going to market your property to local buyers, who likely cannot afford your asking price, But some one from a major urban area looking to get out can.

Ideally take a lot of photos of the property and include a property map & link on Google\Bing Maps so people can find it online. When I was looking for rural property I search landandfarm & realtor.com, I would look at the posted pictures & look at the satellite images via google maps to get a better idea about where the property was located (ie was it on a hillside or flat land, how accessible is the property and how close to main roads, was it in a potential flood plain, etc). Then I would build up a portfolo of a much different properties in the area since it was a 10+ hour car drive. If you can take some drone pictures and post them with your listing. Good Drones photos really help so the properties potential, but saidly very few listings post airal drone pictures. If you want go an extra mile for distant potential buyers, post a few youtube videos of the property (property walk through, Main home & apartment walk through, workshop, garden(s). The more content you provide the more people will be interested and you get better offers.

jeantheau Wrote:

"All of my retirement savings from the 2000's era went into the initial construction. I'm slowly rebuilding a 401K, but my retirement income will mostly just be SS payments."

Not sure how well 401Ks will work out since they are tax differed and when you reach 70 there is a manditory withdrawal. Perhaps this is not an issue since your 60, but if you have an emergency and you need to take money out of your 401K, there is a 10% penalty. Even if there is not a penatly & your still working the withdrawal might be counted as taxable income. if your paying interest on those loans it probably makes more sense to pay it off first before saving retirment unless somehow you have a very low risk investment in your 401k that is higher than your debt interest. That said First would be to have an decent sized emergency fund to avoid getting deeper in to more debt.

jeantheau Wrote:

"Contributing 16 hours per week of their time (total) to help with the upkeep on the gardens"

As far as Gardens, Just re-seed with a good cover crop and not worry about maintaining it. That would save you labor, while you focus on your savings. Instead of letting friends stay rent free, you need to get a paying tenant.

jeantheau Wrote:

"So why do I want to sell? I don't, but my wife who is not American and older than I will probably return to her country (Japan) in 3-5 yrs and I will return with her."

Why? Japan is a terrible place & you be isolated as an english speaker. Japan has to be one of the most expensive places to live. I am not sure why she would want to return. Japan is both dependant on fossil fuel imports & nuclear energy. It already had a major nuclear disaster and its unlikely that its the last. Japan's demographics means its tax rate is going to increase even more, and who knows how many aging Japanese will develop health issues related to Fukashima.

If she has family it would probably make more sense for them to come to the USA, especially if they can speak even some English. In which case you have an apartment all ready for them to move in. If the reason the move to Japan, due to family, perhaps invite them to stay with you & your wife for a month to test the water of them relocating to your area. You already have the apartment available so they would have some independance during their stay.

FWIW: I am not trying to pressure you to make any decision. I am just passing on some ideas that you may not have considered. It sounds like you really don't want to sell, but you at a cross-roads point in your life. If you do want to consider keeping the property than consider all possible angles, Especially since you put so much of your blood & sweat making it a great home. 

FYI: I am simular situation but about 10 years younger & I don't plan to sell: I bought a 100+ acre property in a semi-rural area. its a couple of towns away from a big university. My property had a cabin on it when I bought it, & I am in the process of building new home. I am investing the bulk of my savings into the property since I don't believe any currency is safe. I think taxation or confiscation of PMs is likely. I don't think I could live with myself if my savings vanished via inflation, confiscation, etc. The property has over 80 acres in woods that could be sold off for lumber or wood pulp for paper mills if need to raise some cash. The property taxes are next to nothing compared to where I was previously living. Fortunately I never married and I was able to buy the property and build the home without any debt. I am keeping about 20% of my savings which is about 6% or 7% is in retirement funds before I stopped funding my retirement plans back in 2000. I stopped funding in 2000 when I had doubts that they would be worth anything by the time I am eligable to withdrawal  in the 2030's. Income-wise I am not worried about work, as long as there is a civilization I can find employment.

My biggest concern is long term healthcare as my healthcare insurance rates are doubling about every 4 years. I am also worried that there may be few qualified doctors when i need them as most physcians are boomers either past retirement age (late 60's) or approaching retirement age. Physicians also now have the highest suicide rate of any major profession & a lot of the younger doctors are quitting do to the mountains of paperwork that must be filed for everry patient that see. Most hospitals are now replacing doctors with nurse practitioners. I have no health issues at the moment but I am sure that will change with age.

 

jeantheau's picture
jeantheau
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 1 2009
Posts: 35
post-SHTF finances and strategies

TechGuy brings up an interesting point:

<< I am investing the bulk of my savings into the property since I don't believe any currency is safe. I think taxation or confiscation of PMs is likely. >>

In 2006, I had a similar view, which is why I built so hard and fast in 2006/2007, turning a firehose of money and effort on getting it done. When the 2008 crash looked like it could take things seriously sideways, I looked like a genius. Over the next few years, I continued entrenching in the homesteading systems, thinking that was the necessary model for my future. But the financial crisis passed, at least for a while, and I found that making money in the homesteading model was damned difficult. I am a pretty decent gardener, but that is different than making anything more than a pittance growing food you can sell. I know people who do it, but I'm not them.

I don't pass judgment on my past selves for doing what I did (overbuilding). At every decision point, I did what was best based on my analysis at the time, knowing only what I knew, taking my best shot at estimating the future. I'm still in that mode, but now I see that the TPTB's game is much more complicated and long-in-unfolding than I previously thought possible.

For me, it's just a matter of cash flow after retirement. If I was sure the money would be no issue, I would put up with the hassle and keep both properties -- it's a beautiful setup, with great resilience. And depending on what monetary/financial craziness happens over the next decade, keeping the extra property could definitely be the smart move.

Renting either place out for cash instead of labor does not change the math, since the cash ends up mostly being used to pay people to help me maintain things. Even with cover-cropping and heavy mulching of most of the garden beds, there is still plenty else to do. And moneywise, under any rental scenario, I'm still on the hook for the life cycle maintenance of both properties.

Thanks for the ideas on selling strategies. I did do a lot of that in 2012 when I tried to sell, including making lots of pics available. The video tour is a great idea, and if I decide to sell again, I will definitely do that. And yes, I agree that average Kentuckians not my target market.

Mark

P.S. As for Japan, that was another poster, and I will leave it to him to comment. For my 2 cents, I agree that heading anywhere near Fukushima is not a good idea.

 

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 345
Pictorial home tour
Quote:

 making lots of pics available 

Your pictorial tour is of particular interest to me because we're in the early stages of planning a house.

We're much further north so some of our design constraints are different but you have provided ideas and inspiration for both the house and the grounds.

Thanks for sharing!

 

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 1022
ironically, living near Fukushima might not be too bad.

Getting a short term dose of radiation may be incredibly bad, but lifespan seems to go up, not down, with chronic exposure. Go figure.

What you don't want is just the short term bad exposure.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347275/

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Posts: 468
Home design

I recommend you watch Matt Risinger Youtube channel videos to get up to date on construction tech. Also PureLivingforLife as a vblog of there entire home contruction project in Idaho.

https://www.youtube.com/user/MattRisinger

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChhBsM9K_Bc9a_YTK7UUlnQ (Pure Living for Life)

Here are some posts from me:

https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/216944#comment-216944

Considerations:

1. Tight Home with ERV for ventaliation

2. SIP roof, but not SIP walls

3. 2x6 with 24" centers (Advanced framing to reduce thermal bridge) & 2" continuous Rigid foam insullation. Passive Houses have moisture causing Mold & rot. See Joe lstiburek Passive Home Youtube & Building science articles

3. Recommend basement for emergency shelter area (severe weather: Tornados, Macrocells) & Global war

4. Hydronic Radiant heating (if you can afford it). More efficient than forced air or baseboard heating. Gyptcrete pour or Warm-board Eco-board.

5. Outdoor wood or coal boiler. This will avoid dealing with debris, ash and smoke in your home (important in a tight home build). and reduce chances of fire. Coal is considerable less labor intensive. You can fill up a large coal bin that will provide enough fuel to last weeks or months (depending on size) a wood boiler needs to be tended to at least twice a day. Plus the cutitng & stacking seasoned wood.

6. Standing Seem metal roof (if you can afford it). Asphalt shingles need to be replaced every 15 to 20 year. a Metal rood will last a lifetime. Best option for SIP roof in tight homes since you use batten to create ventialation between the roof and your SIP to reduce heat in the summer and remove moisture & condensation.

 

 

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Posts: 468
jeantheau wrote: "does not

jeantheau wrote:

"does not change the math, since the cash ends up mostly being used to pay people to help me maintain things. Even with cover-cropping and heavy mulching of most of the garden beds, there is still plenty else to do. And moneywise, under any rental scenario, I'm still on the hook for the life cycle maintenance of both properties."

What other labor or maintenance do you need to do? I own a lot more property and I have very little maintenance to do. If your homes are not connected to the grid or have highe maintaince systems (wood only heating) it unlikely to sell for the same reason you want to sell. Another words if it costing your a bundle or needs a lot of labor, your not going to find many buyers.

Looking at the pictures I don't see anything that needs high maintance, except perhaps the Solar systems. Looks like you pretty much did everything right as far as construction, and all the exterior materials (brick & metal roof) are pretty much maintenance free. Personally, I cannot fathom why you would consider selling. Thats a pretty nice property you made! What are you considering for your asking price? (Just curious since I am already working on my own homestead).

 

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 345
Walls

Hi Techguy, thank you for those thoughts.

I agree with most things on this list, but we'll be wanting more insulation in than 2 x 6 walls would allow for. We'll be specifiying double wall construction, with studs staggered to reduce thermal bridging.

Insulating to that extent would be overkill in some areas, but our coldest temperature within the last week was -37 degrees Celsius, with wind chill into the minus forties. The entire winter isn't like that, but it's what we have to be ready for.

You're right that moisture management is a challenge. At those temperatures even triple pane windows "sweat". 

The property is very rural, so fire resistance is a big consideration. Metal roofing is definitely on the wish list. I'm partial to the sort that looks like wood shakes rather than standing seam. Other than cost, any opinions about that?

Western Manitoba has lots of fieldstone left by the glaciers, so we'd have some interesting possibiities for thermal mass if we could persuade some local farmers to let us pick through their stone piles.

Reason for relocating? Grandchildren.

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3240
Sounds like

We are in similar circumstances. We spent a decade prepping.  We were pretty well set up, but one aspect of that process then occurred to us.  That place is high maintenance.  I'm 72 and I'm frankly sick of the work, much of which was hard physical work.  So we downsized to a place that is still fairly resilient, but is closer to necessary services.  Our old place is on the market so we'll see if our preps are marketable.  In the meantime we are paying taxes on two places, one of which is no longer eligible for the STAR program.

We've done the rental thing before.  The hassle isn't worth it.

In addition to all that, it is less clear to me that we will experience a massive collapse before I depart this mortal coil.  Why not enjoy my remaining time as much as possible.  The kids will inherit the surplus we have created, which may help them through the long predicted collapse.

Matt Holbert's picture
Matt Holbert
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 3 2008
Posts: 161
Too interesting -- and too much work -- not to share widely...

Mark-

You have created something that needs to be shared with more than an individual or family who can afford the price to have sole access to this property. Why not make this into a retreat for those who desire to disconnect from the insanity of contemporary life? Find the investors (PP's affiliated investment advisory group?) and build more quarters on the property -- preferably contiguous, but private -- that are targeted to the top ten percent with the goal of helping them realize how shallow their consumptive lives are....

Residents -- who produce the labor of a first class thriving community -- would comprise 50% of the population or so while guests would comprise the other 50% or so. As much as possible, all food would be grown on site and processed on site. No electronic communication devices allowed. This would probably require short stays initially. Most are addicted to their devices and many can't conceive of being "disconnected" for even more than a few minutes.

Don't let your work go to waste... I'll be more than happy to be involved...

Although I'm not religious, I've found inspiration in this guy and his colleague.

 

jeantheau's picture
jeantheau
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 1 2009
Posts: 35
Resilience Inn by Marriott? ha!

Matt Holbert wrote:
You have created something that needs to be shared with more than an individual or family who can afford the price to have sole access to this property. Why not make this into a retreat for those who desire to disconnect from the insanity of contemporary life?

In the first 5 years after the property was built, I gave many tours to various groups -- I estimate several hundred people, overall. Some were via the Solar Tour, others were students who were visiting other places in Berea and got steered here, others were just curious types who drove down the driveway and started asking questions. I haven't done much tour giving in the last 5 years, mostly because no one has asked.

In that same vein, I thought about turning the house into a B&B with a "resilience education" twist. My girlfriend works at a B&B now, and I know others who are suitably skilled. But my GF doesn't think we'll generate enough customer volume to make the books balance. I'm outside of the town (less appealing to visitors that staying in town), and once we get through the first wave of the curious types, volume would fall off. There would also be some new items in the "costs" column to go along with the new gross revenue. But even if the $$ could work out -- OMG, in terms of hassle factor, a B&B is off-the-charts!

Matt, your idea is a good one, but I feel quite sure it's an idea that I do not have the mojo to pull off. I need to de-complicate, not further complicate. A new owner who dedicates him/herself to engaging with the property as it was design would feel like a win to me, not a waste.

TechGuy asked about the price. My answer is, I don't know. If I remember correctly, I asked $425K in 2012. That was based on me having tracked actual costs to about $400K, and then I added a little something for all the time I put in (way more than $25K worth). But the house did not sell at that price. I've put even more money in since then -- some for re-do's to correct construction errors, and plenty for the normal costs of running a house. So, overall, the house represents a big ol' pile of money, but it doesn't really seem to suit my needs anymore. Maybe that will change and I'll move back in, but for now, I'm happy enough in the smaller place.

If I do sell, I am resigned to the idea that this region/area will not support anything like a $425K price. Probably closer to half that. That would be a big bite in the rear, and it's one of my hesitations on selling. But it's all sunk costs at this point, so my financial math is really about future cash flows once I'm retired. The delta is somewhere between $5K and $10K per year, depending on assumptions. Not huge, but in my likely retirement circumstance, adding that on top of my own living costs probably won't work. I still need to finishing doing the spreadsheet!

Mark

P.S. I AM dedicated to helping educate others on resilience and other issues. If any PP'ers feel like visiting the little cultural gem known as Berea and want a tour of my house so they can refine plans for their own project, I'd be happy to comply. Just PM me.
 

jeantheau's picture
jeantheau
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 1 2009
Posts: 35
resilient construction details / choices

<< Tight Home with ERV for ventaliation >>
Yes, positive ventilation for indoor air quality is a must. I considered a heat-exchanging active ventilator, but I didn't want to add another energy load. So, I just open the windows for 15 minutes every morning and turn on the whole-house fan, then I close everything back up so the passive solar can get to work re-warming the house. But *I" don't have sub-0 nights!

Definitely agree with the double-stud walls. I built two actively-cooled cold rooms with that approach and they perform very well. That said, TechGuy's idea of the 2x6 walls with the foam board is also good, especially if you're going to use brick or some other porous siding. Taped foam board will halt the vapor drive (though you'd need to calculate whether the dew point is trapped inside the width of the foam board, as it is in my climate (Kentucky)).

<< Hydronic Radiant heating (if you can afford it). More efficient than forced air or baseboard heating. Gyptcrete pour or Warm-board Eco-board. >>

Not sure how my geothermal compares to that, efficiency-wise. I think geothermal is something like 400% efficient. But expensive. If your climate is extreme enough, it would be worth the extra cost.

Indoor stove vs. outdoor wood burner is debatable, I think. I have two high quality indoor standalone wood stoves (Vermont Castings Defiant in the house, Intrepid II in the apartment). They both perform well, but I am VERY sensitive to wood smoke, so I use them sparingly. I'm not sure that a nearby wood/coal burner would be much better -- depends on which way the wind is blowing, I suppose. The fact that the wood stove is radiating heat directly into the house would seem to be more efficient than transferring heat from outdoors, but I admit I don't know anything about exterior wood burners.

As for thermal mass, putting mass around an interior stove is very good -- it tempers the heat build-up and radiates heat later when the fire is fading. Thermal mass that can get direct sunlight is also very helpful. My livingroom wall (dark tile over solid cement block) serves both purposes. The one design mistake I made was not having the wood stove more centrally located in the house. To get enough heat to the back bedrooms, I always had to overheat the livingroom. But that was really only on the coldest nights.

<< Standing Seem metal roof (if you can afford it).>>
Yup. Standing seam is awesome. Choose a color appropriate for your climate. (Light colors reflect summer heat away; dark colors heat up.) People usually choose dark colors for the look, but light colors usually make more energy sense. Make sure the paint warranty is top tier.

 

Matt Holbert's picture
Matt Holbert
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 3 2008
Posts: 161
Resilence Inn

Mark- Thanks for the reply. (As a sidenote, I contracted with Residence Inn in the mid-80s to find them sites in Southern California. It was a short gig as my colleague who had the contacts with RI physically abused his girlfiend twice in a three week period. Once I made sure she got on a plane back to Texas, I left myself within a few days.)

I agree that running a B&B would not pencil out. My wife and I had an opportunity to run a B&B in northern Indiana in 2008 without any financial -- or otherwise -- commitment. It was not for us. I have also tried to get traction for this idea of a "Resilience Inn" for years without any success. In some respects it is monastic (something Morris Berman has discussed in one or more of his books) for the full-time residents. I, however, have never found the right property nor had the resources to buy one as I left the system 20 years ago.

It is remarkable how staying in the paradigm and being in the right location can make all the difference. One of my colleagues of 20 years ago who has stuck with pension investment management just sold his home in the Bay Area (sausilito). He paid 1.3 million for it in 2009 and it sold for 2.3 million a year or two ago. He actually listed the home at 2 million. In other words he sold it for 300k over the asking price.

All the best in whatever you do, Matt

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 1022
How about farmshare?

My memory is that there is a service helping connct people who want to farm with people who have a farm; then they can work out the details.

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Posts: 468
GeoThermal and Radiant Floor heating.

jeantheau Wrote:
"Not sure how my geothermal compares to that, efficiency-wise. I think geothermal is something like 400% efficient. But expensive. If your climate is extreme enough, it would be worth the extra cost."

A Hydronic radiant system can work with a geothermal system. A Geothermal is a heat sync or source not the system that distributes the heat inside the house. Hydrodonic radiant operates with a very low temperature compared to forced air, or convection (baseboard heating). For a tight home, with good insulation, the water temperature only needs to be about 80F for hydronic radiant floors. Convection needs to be about 160F which makes it about 50% less efficient.

 

brushhog's picture
brushhog
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2015
Posts: 60
You are not alone

Im in a similar situation. I own 2 farms. One I built over the course of ten years and another I bought with the idea that my 'down-on-his-luck' friend would rent it, work it, and share the lifestyle. I learned pretty quick that city people do not simply leave the city and become self reliant farmers. Its just too much of a change, and most people cannot adapt. Its like expecting a zoo kept lion to move to the jungle and survive.

Anyway, fast forward years later and I own two farms, roughly 1/2 an hour away from each other and I spend my entire summer driving back and forth cutting hay and maintaining that property. I have it rented currently but Im starting to realize its just not worth the monthly income especially, as you said, when you consider the upkeep and cost of maintainence....not to mention the mental and physical energy.

Ive already informed my tenant that he's got to go and Im planning to put one more chunk of money in preparing it for sale and Im putting it on the market. Like you I cannot imagine having it ready before 2020. Im not putting myself through a time crunch, when who even knows whether the market will be better, worse, or the same? I doubt Ill get what I put into it either way.

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 345
Quote:  Ive already informed
Quote:

 Ive already informed my tenant that he's got to go

I hope you offered your tenant the first chance to purchase the place, first right of refusal. Is there any scope here for a rent-to-purchase deal?

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