Category Archives: Planning and such

Getting ready to build

There are many things to think about when building a new home. Money is by far the thing you need to stay in check. Establishing a budget has to be your first step, otherwise you may never be opening the door to your new house. I gave myself a preliminary budget of 50k to get the foundation poured and the shell of the house done. Yes this new house is fairly small (under 1000 ft. living), I still have to price 49 windows and 3 outside doors. The windows need to be of excellent quailty, three pane. I dont want the windows to be the weak link in my energy efficiency factor. Im still shopping but I can tell you just windows are going to take a big chunk of my budget. Plumbing is the first item installed in the ground, fortunately my brother has been doing the art of the plumb for a very long time. I figured that portion will cost a few thousand dollars. I should be under budget although I now have to figure the extra costs involved constructing the walls. The company I used to represent is not with me now, I think I have found a better way that is stronger. Using only foam with a shallow concrete coating for wall construction isn’t enough structure for many engineers. I have devised a plan to use a few metal studs at all corners and at door and window openings. On both sides of the wall are these studs bolted together thru the foam wall. A three foot piece is then sticking out of the foundation for the wall metal studs to screw onto. This way my walls are structurally strong plus I now have a way to connect my roof and cabinets. Below shows a perspective image of a wall section showing the metal studs.


Electrical which includes lights, outlets, wiring, audio, solar, smart technologies. I will eventually be on solar/wind power, I still need to be connected to electric utilities so installing a 100 amp panel should be part of the shell build above. Its damn hard to construct without power!


I changed the design again

I figured I needed to limit the amount of doors and windows and walls etc. I also thought its much better to get into something than nothing at all. This decision will give me a jump start on a new campaign, smart off grid small dwellings. Home automation is becoming a smart thing because you can control things in your house with your cell phone which in turn makes your home safer and more comfortable.

We want to create an off grid community for people to live a simpler life. This is a very small house, perfect for a couple or someone single. Yes you can add onto this home base for a family.

Recent property visit

Last week I visited my show property this last week and have forgotten how much of a mess it is as far as those juniper bushes and all the rock. Friday I went there and measured so I can locate my property lines with stakes and string. Soon I’m going to go up there and start removing the junipers where my house will be, well actually all the juniper bushes, there so damn ugly! A friend suggested something that made sense, he said why don’t I cut them so they look more like pine trees. I also discovered something that made me very happy, our lot has water! I also found out that compost toilet is possible use the one that I designed. It has electricity so I think I will start with that but eventually go full solar and wind power with 12v lighting. Speaking of solar, I am trying out some systems from Northern Arizona Wind and Solar at my PV home. We want to get solar to run our pool pump, power for our home electronics and a few lights. I was thinking of using a grid tied system for the pump but now Im thinking dc for battery power storage.
I went to Navajo County planning and zoning also this last week to show them my plans and ask if you questions. They said that they allow composting toilets but in order to use my design I will need an engineer to stamp. Fortunately an engineer also needs to stamp the building system I want to use.


Just for giggles, I wanted to go see what was also available for properties around the White Mountain Lake area. I was shocked to find out there is quite a few choice sites for sale. The first one being near a river off the lake on a developed cul de sac.


This isn’t quite beach front but the views are pretty spectacular! This peculiar property is going of 25k and has been on the market for over ten years. The funny thing about this is there is a site on the next street that is also river front going for 10k. Im seriously thinking of putting a bid in for one of these beauties.

Design complete, on with pricing and permits

I have forgotten about the travel trailer nightmare, its time to get this plan in progress to get building permits. I believe I have found a structural engineer though David R. Holl. I’ve got my brother Scott Schwinghamer for the plumbing, found out pouring concrete for the slab and foundation costs 5.00 per sq. ft. which is reasonable. The foam wall and roof panels are costing about 11,000 plus, the structural coating will cost 8000. Not bad for a super energy efficient house of the future.

So now we have the shell built with plumbing and in floor heating. Its time now to get prices for the 11 doors and 23 windows, double or triple pane of course. I would also like to have most windows to open in some fashion.

Forward progress not happening

I tried to move that travel trailer to my house for a solid week, ten plus people came over because they thought they could move it, it never happened! Anyway I got my money back so its all good. People told me that paying $300 for it was too much money. I would still like to find a good beater to fix up and use, do you know of one in Az?

Forward progress

Today I acquired an super inexpensive 5th wheel travel trailer. Its eight years younger than when I was born and its also the same year as my Darvan I used to own. Yes 76′ was a good year in my book. Anyway its a fixer upper which is ok in my book because being handy is fun and challenging. It needs a few parts, tires, registration, insurance, wheel bearing grease. Im not sure if the refrigerator works either. The lights and the water pump work which is good. All the glass isn’t broken, needs some batteries and a propane tank. I figure I can get a solar panel to charge the batteries for lighting. A gas powered generator would also be a good idea.

metoo1 metoo2


I figure I can fix it up here in Phoenix then take it up there when I have my plans for building permit ready to submit to Navajo county. This way I think I would be able to camp on my lot, start my solar vermicompost sewer system and dig to put a water tank in the ground. These two projects will cost a few thousand dollars along with getting my lot surveyed and staked for the foundation.