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Home Forums General Discussion My moving journal Going off grid fast, need ideas and advice.

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    Me and my family have had a long term goal of going off grid for awhile for awhile, but after facing a potential 10K plumbing bill got up the nerve and quick sold the house. Time is money and we need to set a destination fast.

    It feels great not being tied down to this city house anymore.

    Assets: 50K cash, decent research in to off-grid living


    We will be looking for a small secluded rural plot (2-5) acres with relaxed building codes and a water table allowing us to build a earth set dome. Tax system of locale will be of the up most consideration.

    We are leaning towards the South West, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona etc. After living in the North West we want sunshine and mild winters.

    The South West offers abundant solar power, low maintenance and dry sanitation options. Ideally Access to a major city (200 miles) or another job market would be beneficial.

    Climate, warm but garden-able even if we have to get creative with a indoor solution.

    I’ll be going to pick up a copy of “No building codes” but in the meantime any suggestions on locales to consider.


    Okay starting over now that I can see this, the 11 replies are absent to me (the forums were having tech difficulties) and if there’s any good info it I’d be grateful if someone re-pasted it.

    Pending a little more research we are focusing on New Mexico. Despite the statewide building code allegedly Earth bag structures have already been worked in to the state building code and it’s rather easy to get moving. They also grant unlimited building time.

    I am still trying to find independent accounts of this as those making the claims are selling plans & services.

    So the plan so far is a buying a small travel trailer to work from , a parcel and to get moving.


    Read these as primer’s for your project. I have many other articles on my blog as well you may enjoy. Yes New Mexico was the first to accept the Earth Ship in its codes. Colorado after that I think. I believe there are many types of construction that can be worked together in combination with earthen construction. Many of the different types of earthen methods can be worked together in the same structure. For example you could have the earth ship section with an earth bag dome on each end. Cob can be worked in for walls, stairs etc. Adobe can be utilized somehow as well.

    Then you can add some rock, concrete, cinder block and even timber frame here and there if needed. Log and Chord wood might work for one or more walls. I’d mix and match it myself for maximum effect. If you do this too you may be able to make better use of your available resources.

    You are doing the right thing by being in the south west for this style of home. By the way I recommend books that I have read on my blog. Keep us posted, maybe you can sign up for a blog and keep us up to date on your project with blog post. Its free. Get you a good digital camera such as a Kodak and give it a go. Its really easy to just put up some comments and photos and dialog style writing. The most difficult thing would be in choosing your graphical and layout theme.


    Thanks for the reply, I plan on filming the whole trip and build and making a small docu or how to.

    I’m not a big fan of the heat honestly but a earth sheltered structure can cut the heat plus with dry sanitation, solar water heater/energy climate wise it just seems warmer climates often to many advantages to pass up. From what i’ve found out so far New Mexico also isn’t hostile to travel trailers when we build.


    I was going to suggest a $3000 used mobile home or a $3000 Blue Bird used school bus. Both would also require some setup cost. The advantage of the bus is that it can be moved from shade to sun and sun to shade, winter to summer. Though in your area you may not have shade unless its from a mountain or hill.

    Another important purchase would be a tractor with front end loader and back hoe attachment. That would be worth making payments on. And I forgot to mention that adobe block and rammed earth block can be made to work interchangeably. Meaning adobe building designs work with rammed earth block just as well. Rammed Earth block being a bit more stable and stronger and erosion resistant over adobe block.


    Also you might want to consider getting a rammed earth block making machine.. There are some hand operated and some that are motorized. A company in New Mexico makes them, Fernco Metals maybe. I have a link no my earthen construction article.


    That’s the travel plan, our first purchase will be a heavy duty diesel truck for moving. Crazedape is a dirt cheap auction site with a variety of travel trailers on it I been watching. We decided to go with a trailer over a Bus or RV since a Truck will be a necessity for the build anyways.

    We should be off on our road trip to make sure we like NM in about 3 weeks.

    We will also be checking out AZ, Utah and SE Oregon as well now.

    New Mexico lost a lot of points in the last few days. The crime rate is high, the income is low which may or may not be a issue. Our goals include minimizing traditional employment working for ourselves and our homestead as much as possible.

    If it wasn’t for the creepy “stop and ID stuff” going on in AZ it would probably be the leading candidate, The topography on available land also seems a little nicer.

    It’s really hard to get out the mindset of not having your neighbors 30 feet away and trying to remember population isn’t nearly as much of a issue (Mercifully).

    Utah’s a shorter move and close to some relatives in Nevada.

    The taxes are high-ish and the job market is poor but the crime rate is extremely low and I’ve always found Mormons to be very kind neighbors to have.

    Oregon – We’re native to the North West and were eager to get away due to the Gray weather and the codes aren’t friendly, except in the SE tip of Oregon where it starts to heat up.

    The fact it’s such a short move to a warmer climates puts it in contention.


    I have family in Aztec NM, Near Farmington, north west corner, they are doing fin. No crime problems to speak of. Remember a lot of crime is in inner big cities. By truck do you mean tractor trailer semi or straight box truck?


    Probably a Dodge Diesel, They can pull a trailer and if we find a good source of Bio it will cut fuel costs while we build and move supplies & equipment.

    We can detach our shelter and still only have 1 vehicle.


    As of Sunday the leading candidate is Arizona.

    Arizona offers the weather climate I was hoping to find in New Mexico, the tourism & snow birders offer seasonal employment and the crime is lower.

    Permitting looks like it may be a bit more expensive but the “Owner builder code opt out” in most counties is much clearer to work with than in NM.

    New Mexico = Allows earth bag/Adobes with inspection and has a lot of lenient exceptions but you are still at the mercy of the inspector and it sounds like it’s subjective discretion. Basically they are allowed but if you get a prejudice inspector that doesn’t like your hippy party hut he can kibosh the whole affair.

    Arizona – Will charge you most of the traditional permitting fees, but one signature on the Builder owner Opt out and you are inspection free unless you are connecting to Sewer or Grid electricity.

    I may also give Montana a look after passionate endorsements of it on other forums but I find the weather to be a big turn off.


    I really like the desert south west weather wise. Yes in Montana and Wyoming you have 4 seasons, June, July, August and winter.


    Oregon is a beautiful state, especially on the west side. But I think there may be water collection restrictions in Oregon and Washington that is similar to Colorado’s. Be sure to look into that. Of course most of the eastern side of Oregon is like the eastern side of Washington, prairie and large hills with almost no trees.


    After toying with Arizona for a few days then discovering there are some routes to self building in Oregon it’s the primary candidate.

    The Wife was born in Oregon, it’s one state over, gets us out of the city we both have family there we can use as a base of operations while we build.

    It doesn’t have the weather we want and the job market stinks but we aren’t particularly interested in traditional emplavement anyways.

    It’s beautiful country, familiar and practical. The only reason it wasn’t a earlier option was we believed the building codes were a non starter.

    Few keywords that really helped in researching permits for Off-grid friendly.

    These phrases were more valuable than some of the junks books I’ve bought.

    -Alternative Owner builder code (AOB)

    -Owner builder waiver/exemption

    -Owner contractor waiver/exemption

    -Inspection waiver

    Right there is the magic words to finding out where you can build, the most interesting piece of knowledge I picked up was even places that have strict codes don’t always require inspections.

    There are many scenario’s where you will have restrictive state building codes but in the rural areas if you are a owner/builder they issue the permit, have you sign a waiver and make you promise to do things up to code.


    I hope no one would fault me for saying this here but I have no qualms about violating a Rain catching law and am prepared to become a political martyr for the cause in the unlikely event I was caught.

    What kind of abomination says you can’t catch rain water….

    So we signed the papers today and are packed.  I’ve decided I need a real paid consultant, I can build the structure, I’ve intimately researched all the popular viability techniques.

    What I lack now is the ability to get through the permitting process and determining land restrictions on prospective plots,

    The next step  immediate step is determining whether to pursue a contractor, an architect or a surveyor that can advise me on the paperwork.

    My experience is most real estate agents are out right hostile to off-griders since we kill their industry and don’t have any solid knowledge anyways. Getting basic zoning info out of them is like pulling teeth,


    Im new to this and came here from facebook , imaginative but on low income from ssi , thought i seen some places in Washington aso im tryin to find the best all around books on learning off grid electric . To bad to come in at this time where they are making so many regulations cause i realy as well need to find land easy to start off on and get creative over time . I don’t mind camo style collecting rain water either and part of reason i chose those spots to look at and am wondering if some people get by just collecting water or if well is a must and the best way to learn that yourself . As well i want to make my own solar paneling and am learning the windmill way . That brings up needing to learn what converters you need for different appliances and all that . Im an open book ready to learn and get as much money back and ways to get 2 acres fairly as inexpencive as possible . Am in position where i can save more but am not without completely as well . Im realy lookin for the best books to read and get started while im where im at but can get on the move and into application as quickly as possible . Probably goin to buy small station wagon to sleep in back and build my own tow and go multi use chow wagon and shower and on the road home made composter that i dump in woods , inpired by teardropers , LOL , cops gonna love that when i get pulled over .

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