Friday, December 18, 2009

Retreat-Ranch in progress, part IIII

Here is part 4 of Retreat Ranch, Today I want to tell you about the housing part of the project and how I would do it differently if I could.

The first thing I built on the property was a storage shed for tools and to house the generator it had a lock its not exactly Fort Knox but it will keep the honest folks honest. Its a post frame, also called a pole shed, 8 X 16 feet, with a flat roof. its basically posts and 2x6's for stringers and OSB for siding. A year or so later I panted it for weather resistance and used tar on the roof, its been a handy little shed for a long time. Its original purpose was to keep order of the tools so I don't have to carry everything back and forth. I was still living in town, and working the property on my off-time.This project only took 3 days and it was money and time well spent.

The three choices for ones abode, are listed in order of my preference a small cabin, an RV, the last and definitely the least is a trailer house.

I opted for a trailer house (because it was free). Free in this case was not the cheapest or best choice. Free sometimes is a lure for disaster, and this case is no exception. Trailer houses don't do well in extreme climates its too hot in the summer (perhaps that's because the wife is not dressed or wearing very little). A larger problem is with the cold, Being long and narrow makes heating very difficult, without a forced air furnace. Forced air simply uses to much power to operate when living off grid. I use wood heat, and a pro-comp radiant heater (propane). Both these work but much more resources are spent with heating the trailer house than wood be needed to heat a small cabin or an RV. Water lines freezing were a constant problem. I built solid skirting all the way around the trailer, Lines freezing were still a problem in the arctic climate of Montana. Also with cold air under the house, its harder to heat the living area. I rented a skid steer and buried the skirting by mounding dirt around the trailer, this works, but its been a huge waste of money and time. Also since I needed water I needed to build a water system this costs money as-well with a diaphragm tank low voltage pump and plumbing. An RV would have been set-up with a water system. The water heater was no good so I replaced that. The trailer had a new furnace but a power sucking pig is no use to me so I was able to sell this on Craigslist, That helped but, long story short my expenses were probably in the 5k range. I had also payed the mobile home toter to haul the trailer. My labor was days just to get the trailer road ready for the move. The whole ordeal was certainly not worth the time energy and money. Even after all this all I have to show for my money and labor is an old trailer.

If I could do-it over I would buy an RV, I see them around for 1k all the time now. Perhaps it would have costs more then, but still a better option. I would live in the RV and put the money into a cabin something like a 15x20. both would be much cheaper to heat.

Another problem was the permit to move the trailer house. The toter would not haul it without. This was cheap like in the 50 bucks range. The other problem with the permit is they notified the county where my property is located, that the trailer was moved out there. The trailer on my land increased the tax rate, the increase was slight but still taxes suck.

So, expensive lesson for me, but a free lesson for you. If this saves another some cash and time perhaps, my experience was not in vane.


  1. thanks for this info. i would have thought that a travel trailer or 2 (for mobility) gutted and made functional would have been a better deal than an RV, but maybe not, especially if your not touring....

    but, i still think ronnie was a piece of shit.

  2. True, My use of the term RV is inclusive of travel trailers.

    I still think Reagan was great.