OT: Building in isolated location

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seal killer
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by seal killer » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:04 am

Big Dave--
As for the Pole building, lotsa luck getting the poles in. Your site may be thin soiled with rock just below the surface.
Good point. There are a lot of pole barns in the area. However, I cannot remember if they are situated on top of ridges or down in the "hollers."

--Bill
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dgoddard
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by dgoddard » Sat Aug 08, 2015 11:58 pm

seal killer wrote:All--

I just bought 80 acres deep in the Ozarks. .....

I am looking for ANY advice regarding this entire concept: well, septic, concrete home (NO exposed wood!), pole barn garage/shop/apartment and whatever you can think of. My time frame for completion is based on when my wife retires, which will be sometime within two to five years. I imagine it will be five years, since that will be full retirement for her. It COULD be four years, since Medicare will kick in when she is 65.

--Bill
Hi bill and welcome to the neighborhood. I live about an hour from Dr. Davo and we are well acquainted. He is absolutely right about the rock thing. :D

I have a couple of things that would immediately concern me but they are not deal breakers by any means. The most serious one is fire hazard.

On the top of a ridge like that having an escape route needs to be considered. We had a drought here a few years ago and the fire hazard of the woods was super high. You need to be able to get out and get out fast so be sure to give some thought to that. The other issue that I think you want to address is the fire resistance of the buildings you put upl Even if you have to get out for safety's sake, It would be nice if you had something to come back to. A fire resistant exterior on a home may actually lower your insurance costs as well as make the home safer. A key issue is the soffits and fascia It turns out that cement board siding panels have a fire rating as good as concrete, but if flames run up the side of a building they will enter the attic through the soffit vents and burn the house down. Alternate methods will provide for attic venting that will not induce flames to enter.

Any degree to which you earth berm the house should be of benefit in fire resistance and a fire resistant roof surface is very important due to the rain of hot coals in a forest fire and burning trees falling on the house. You need to have a clear area around the house so that fuel is not close to the house to get the house burning Note that a deck can constitute fuel. The fire issue is a concern but it can be dealt with to a considerable degree.

Since I mentioned earth berming the house. there is a design issue that is often overlooked and is problematic around here. Earth bermed houses tend to stay naturally cool around here and that is a two edged sword. Because of high humidity in the summer months there will often be condensation on the walls and floors especially with masonry construction. Covering all the interior walls and floor with moisture resistant insulation can be effective at keeping the house from becoming musty and moldy. Our house has a "drive out basement" because it is built into a hillside. It get musty in the basement not due to seepage around the walls and floor but from condensation. The easy fix as long as one has electricity is fans. Ceiling fans and 12 inch oscillators do a great job, but require a reliable supply of a small amount of electricity. If the fans are off it takes a matter of a few hours to start to turn musty and just a few hours of running fans to end it. Give suitable consideration to how you will deal with this issue. Done right you should have no problem.

Your next trip in there you should plan on running a percolation test on the soil. It is really easy you dig a regulation size hole fill it with water and after it has gone down refill it and time how fast it goes down. Somebody in the sanitation department should be able to tell you the specs. But I would get them from the state anonymously and do it myself first just in case. If you are lucky there will be no code enforcement where you build and you can be a bit more creative than the standard off the shelf code solutions allow.

If your soil does not percolate, all is not lost. A superior more ecological solution is readily at hand. It is a sewage lagoon. The real estate people seem to be working to get rid of this option, and I suspect that they are motivated by people not wanting to buy a house so equipped, and I think they are behind the move to call these lagoons "cess pits" because it makes it easier to demonize them. A home must also have a septic tank between the house and the lagoon to qualify for a VA loan. However direct dischasrge of raw sewage into a lagoon is acceptable and effective It is just that the idea sounds bad. The beauty of a simple lagoon system is that it is owner maintainable and properly built, IT DOES NOT STINK !!!! IT DOES NOT STINK !!! I have such a system and it works great and it is so ecologically sound that the frogs love it and they are very sensitive to poor ecological conditions. However I think you will not want to have any sewage system that requires a sewage lift pump (bad news, very bad bad news, avoid at all costs)

With an intervening septic tank the tank deals with bacterial issues but from time to time you have to hire someone to come pump out the sludge from the tank. With a direct lagoon all that is needed is high boots and a long handled shovel. If you are gone for a couple weeks in the summer it isn't even sloppy and you can probably walk across it. In a direct lagoon the bacteria take care of themselves. The lagoon must be exposed to the sun and to the wind so the trees have to be cleared away from it and not allowed to grow near it. Eevaporation is what gets rid of the water, so wind and sun are important. You should never detect anything more than a slight swampy smell when standing within 10 feet of it. If it smells like poop, then sombody did something wrong like pouring bad chemicals down the toilet which then kill off the proper bacteria. You need to research this if you need to do a lagoon. There are some really really stupid regulations such as it has to be fenced but 50 yards from my lagoon is a 1.8 acre pond over 8 feet deep and no fence is required. Go Figure.

Ok, so go run that percolation test and see what your situation is.

About that road. You of course seem to be aware of the legal situation and have done your homework, so if you have good if you are unsure of anything check into it carefully. The other issue is can you access it in all weather. Some winters we have enough snow to make getting out difficult for a few days and our house is only about 100 to 150 feet from the county gravel road! So be sure to figure out how you are going to get out in bad weather. If it can wash out you need to be able to fix or get it fixed promptly especially if everybody else has the same problem at the same time. .... tractors and grader blades and or buckets are nice. and save your rocks to fill in wash outs.

You really need to look into what you are going to do about water. On top of a ridge you may have to drill just that much deeper to get a well in and you will almost certainly need electricity to pump it. Most of the water you are going to find around here tastes good but it is as hard as the rocks. I wish I had known that I could have gotten the replacement water heater with a clean out port in it. It would be a lot faster than shop vacing out all that lime scale every two years with the adapter I made that will work through the heating element hole. One new heating element every two years is way cheaper than all the salt fuss and bother of a water softener. I just keep a few extra elements on hand so I can fix it promptly. I do not mind soft water but I cannot stand "softened water"

You need to consider what you want to do about heat. A combustion device in the house runs the insurance cost up but electric heat or combustion heat generated outside the house and brought in are equally cheap on insurance from what I have seen. For a remote location like you have I would probably put in a pellet stove or furnace as a primary or secondary source and make sure it is one that will run on a battery.

It looks like you have a great place but it will take proper planning to deal with its drawbacks or potential drawbacks. Proper early planning would be the best way to make you save big buck$

Maybe Dr Davo and I could come down and visit your site some time and cook up some more ideas for you.
I never met anybody that I couldn't learn something from.

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steamin10
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by steamin10 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 2:46 am

Ya, I dont mean to sound negative. But I have been to remote sites, and each has its own set of problems and bennies. I think if you approach it from a wilderness attitude, you cant go wrong. Each work around for that fatal flaw, will put you on a more off grid attitude. Like maybe a compact tractor, that can be coupled to a generator, during a power outage. This eliminates a stand alone, that must be maintained, and can conserve cash for other needs, the tractor becoming a workhorse around the kingdom. There is nothing wrong with being independent, just dont build a mousetrap, that eats your labor.

I assume you will be having heat by LPG. So a backyard aqua heater, may be in your future, to burn scrub and waste from your woods, and pump the heat to your house. Or maybe a simple 'Iron coffin' airtight stove. Insurances go nuts, when you have a wood heater indoors, particularly homebuilt, so the use and return must be good, or deep six that idea. Not so much in a large shop.

Anyway, I just share my thoughts, you are totally the master of your works.
Big Dave, former Millwright, Electrician, Environmental conditioning, and back yard Fixxit guy. Now retired, persuing boats, trains, and broken relics.
We have enough youth, how about a fountain of Smart. My computer beat me at chess, but not kickboxing
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seal killer
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by seal killer » Sun Aug 09, 2015 9:26 am

dgoddard--

Thank you for the long and thoughtful post. I will keep all of it in mind as we go through this process.

I am thoroughly familiar with the area, as I went to junior high and high school in the area. Dad's place was less than 10 miles from the property we just bought. My little brother lives on Dad's place, now. When I was a kid, Dad's place was isolated. We used to sit out in the front yard to see if a car would come by. Sometimes we would see a lot of them . . . maybe eight or nine.

Dad's place is also on a ridge. Like others in the area, he had no trouble finding water. (I know my mileage may vary.) There was a kid that lived in back of us. Access was via a deeded access road through our property. The road was as rough as the one we have now. They never did come up with a solution, but built a house way back there, anyway. (His mother still lives there!) Anyway, this "kid" is now the biggest well driller in the area. I will use his services.

I REALLY know about those fires on a ridge! Dad's old house fell victim to one and burned completely to the ground. At the time, we were living in Texas. There were no trees around his place, because he knew about the fire hazard, as well. But, since no one lived there, it was the sparks that ignited the old frame house with no one to put them out.

There is only one way in and one way out of our new property. But, on the east end of the property there is a highline right of way from Bryant Creek up and over straight the ridge and then down to Spring Creek. It is maintained to a greater or lesser extent. It is the escape route in case of fire blocking the road. Down the Bryant Creek side it is walkable to a creek. After fording the creek there is a large and well maintained field; I believe it is in corn now.

I had heard of the self-perc test, but did not know any details. How large a hole and how deep does one dig it for the test? There may be county codes in the area, but there are certainly no city codes. (Ava is the closest about 30 miles away.)

I want to build a walkout. The deeper I can sink it into the slope, the better. If the top of the walls were only a couple of feet above grade, I would be happy. The rock may prevent that without blasting. Ideally, it will have a concrete roof with a 6* slope, if feasible. If not, I will put a metal roof on it with metal joists. Another of my home construction parameters is NO EXPOSED WOOD. This will provide some fire protection while eliminating wood rot forever. I want to build an ICF home. (Integrated Concrete Form.) Finding a builder may be an issue. I'll start looking next year. I may have to import one into the area . . . never a great idea.

When I can start visiting the site on a more regular basis, I will shoot you and DrDavo a PM!

EDIT: I do not want to leave the impression that I know everything about either the area or anything else. If you remember a bit of my history--no one does--after a few years of working on the railroad, I went into higher education for the next 30 years. There is no surer way to insulate a person from reality than living inside the higher-ed bubble. Even though I had a very blue collar upbringing and stayed true to my conservative roots, it is what it is. The only work I plan to do myself is clearing and cleaning up the acreage with a skid steer. Maybe a bit more that requires little practical experience. (I am pretty good at building stuff out of rocks.) All advice is MORE than welcome.

--Bill
You are what you write.

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dgoddard
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by dgoddard » Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:50 am

Bill,
I had an additional thought about your first building to work from and to later be your shop or garage etc. The house we bought, the previous owner had put a typical steel car port in front of the garage. My wife hated it ! :x . It was functional but just spoiled the look of the house. I match marked the all the pieces, and disassembled it. We had a 5 inch concrete pad poured out behind the house and and reassembled it there. (hints, anchor well to the concrete and buy a big box of the next size larger screws, and align carefully so that you can use all the old screw holes. Now I have a very nice tractor shed. Such a metal building might be just the thing for you and the slab makes an excellent floor. You might even be able to get a used such car port to take down and move or if you just get the frame the metal sheets are available from Lowes or Menards. You could also consider one of those galvanized quanset type buildings, a friend has had one for many years and they last well. For going cheap a crushed rock bed will to for a base if you use 'auger anchors" but the slab is really great and a lot more permanent and a good work surface. I had mine sloped 1/4" per foot as code now requires for garages. I had the surface troweled smooth and sealed it. It cleans easily though a fine brush job might be considered because smooth can get slippery. Interior space is 18 feet wide by 20 feet long, for what you described at least longer would be desirable.

Back on the fire issue. The fire departments now use back pack leaf blowrs to clear ground trash to make fire breaks in the woods. If you cut trails through the woods for walking, or exercise or just enjoying the woods. then those make the fire department's efforts more effective and easier. And of course clearing out the understory around the house adds fire safety and enhances the esthetics of being able to see into the woods from the house.

It sounds like you and the wife are really going to make a fine home for yourselves.

I sort of went the other way on the standby generator idea. I went small and I store stabilized fuel for it in sealed jerry cans and rotate stock every 2 years. It does not take much of a generator at all to get by for a few weeks (3800 watts) The small size loaded to most of its capacity can prove more fuel efficient than a large one loafing along lightly loaded. Of course you cannot run the kitchen range or AC and everything off of a small one but you can run the essentials. Having a second generator when you want to run a bunch of big stuff could be a reasonable option. If you go with LP gas for heat and cooking, then a LP fueled generator or LP and gasoline fuel one might be a good choice. I have seen some of those, but engines on LP have to be de-rated with respect to the power they would have on gasoline. To the best of my knowledge LP has a better storage life than gasoline or diesel. If we are without power, I have already gathered information on what parts of our kitchen range can be run at one time without overloading the generator.

If you should do pellet stove that will operate from a battery or use a battery inverter system, be sure not to use a car battery but rather a deep cycle marine as the minimum because they will last much much longer before needing replacement.
I never met anybody that I couldn't learn something from.

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seal killer
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by seal killer » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:10 pm

dgoddard--
If you cut trails through the woods for walking, or exercise or just enjoying the woods. then those make the fire department's efforts more effective and easier.
That is one of the big things we want to do. Of course, I never thought of them as fire breaks, but now the first ones to go in WILL serve as fire breaks. Thanks.

I have thought of gas/LP generators. As I get closer to needing one, I will see what the market has to offer. However, our power will come directly off the utilities' highline, not along a less well maintained feeder. We should be as good as it is going to get on power. The question is, how good is it?

I am going to try to get these guys to build the garage which I will initially also use as a studio apartment. I am not sure if they are still Amish owned, though. They have a new web site which no longer mentions their Amish connections, as far as I can tell.

EDIT: I just did a little research. It looks like the Amish-owned QSI (Quality Structures, Inc) is under new ownership and the Amish now own this one.
--Bill
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BadDog
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by BadDog » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:37 pm

Good luck with your efforts. I used to live somewhat like that, on 26 acres in (very) rural N AL. Beautiful place, old growth hardwood and 2 creeks entered, merged and left as one. Loved that place, but couldn't pursue my career, so sold it to my neighbor and never looked back. But one day I would love to live out like that again. For now, I have to be satisfied with a 1.3 acre "horse property" (zoned Ag fortunately) on the extreme N edge of Phoenix Metro.

In any case, I would personally want (make that require) a 4x4 Tractor (probably a Kubota HST TLB) if I were taking on a project like yours. A skidder is a very handy animal, but not as flexible as a compact TLB. And a loader with the right hydraulics and quick mount can also use skidder tooling. With a serious piece of land like that, I would probably want one of the smaller Kubota L series.
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seal killer
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by seal killer » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:33 pm

Russ--

I am not in love with the idea of a skid loader idea. I have run them before. Easy. I have been looking at Bobcat track loaders. I have no experience with a tractor.

My needs are very simple. I want something that will help me clear the property of scrub, drag fallen stuff off, scrap places level for pads and move dirt and fill around. Oh, and drag vehicles out of the snow, when necessary.

What do I want?

--Bill
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warmstrong1955
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by warmstrong1955 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:04 pm

I'd go for a regular skid steer, rather than a track loader.

Price of the machine is a lot less.
Replacement tires are real cheap compared to replacement tracks. Not to mention rollers & sprockets....
The track loaders will perform some better in the mud, but notso much on snow, especially as they wear, or they get polished up. On ice.....the tracks become skis. Tires....you can put chains on if need be, but wasn't often necesssary.... :D

We sold the Bobcat and Takeuchi lines in Alaska. The skid steers handled really well in the muskeg & mud up there. So did the track loaders....but at a price.
There were several business' in town that did snow removal, and they all used Bobcat tired skid steers.

There are different types of track carriages now as well. Some have fixed rollers, and some have springs.
Another option we sold, was track conversion kits that fit the skid steers right over the tires. Available in rubber or steel too. Best if used with a new set of tires though.

Other Bill
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GlennW
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by GlennW » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:16 pm

4wd Combination.

It can pull itself out of the mud as well as anything else that is stuck.

It can dig holes as well as push dirt around.

Longer and higher reach, plus swing, for unloading, lifting, uprooting small trees.

Put a rake on the front for clearing brush.

Etc.
Glenn

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BadDog
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by BadDog » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:21 pm

In an isolated area like that, my opinion would be you want flexible, and in my book that would mean a 4x4 TLB. Handles typical tractor duties with common implements on the rear 3 point or draw bar. The loader on provides basic loader/bucket work, and a skid steer based quick attach (perhaps with supplemental forward hydraulics) gives most all of the capabilities of the skid steer; with the tradeoff of reduced maneuverability and smaller loaders have less lift capability. With a frame mounted rear backhoe, it handles light backhoe duties for more depth and/or finesse, and can easily mount/unmounts itself when tractor duties are needed. Any number of attachments are readily available from forks to "thumbs" and grapnels to log splitters and so on. I've heard of using a tractor PTO for emergency generation, but my understanding is that this is not at all optimal, and may interfere with using said power source as a tractor in dealing with said emergency situations (often regarding weather). And the loader (bucket and/or dozer blade, or both with dozer blade on the rear) can be used for excavating basements, preparing for a pad, add a few hooks and chains to move logs, put on the forks to move a pallet of blocks, the options are endless.

The main benefit of the skidder is maneuverability, and there will certainly be times you would like to have it. But the tractor is infinitely more flexible. And maneuverability of most modern quality tractors is not too bad, particularly for smaller versions. The down side of smaller versions is shear power, and not talking about HP ratings. Mass is HUGE when getting work done with a tractor. Loaded tires and ballast boxes help more than you would imagine. And smaller tractors generally have less hydraulic capacity, so if you extend the bucket with forks, it may no longer be able to lift the pallet of concrete blocks. But a bigger tractor could (sacrifice $ and maneuverability), or removing the bucket and mounting a skidder fork package might improve the physical characteristics (shorten leverage) enough to lift and place the load. A skid steer would make an excellent addition to the shed, but a tractor is the central piece in my opinion. On your place, it would likely be a small/mid L series Kubota TLB with 4x4 with R1 tires and HST plus supplemental hydraulics. But if you choose that path, do your research because there are some issues with various models that you will want to know about.
Russ
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seal killer
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Re: OT: Building in isolated location

Post by seal killer » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:54 pm

Bill and Glenn and Russ--

Thank you for the advice. There is a lot to consider. I could really use a hoe, so now the TLB is sounding good. (My wife wants a TLB. Maybe I will get one for her and a skid steer for me? :) )

Bill, I am glad to know that skid steers with tires do well in snow. I suppose one would have to think about getting high centered, but the snow in Missouri rarely gets that deep. A foot of snow is a lot, there.

--Bill
You are what you write.

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