The Perfect Prepper House? (Part-2)

planning-a-prepper-house

Guest article, by ‘NRP’…

Ideas, Plans & Builders

Well I’m back :)

First let me thank all of you for the nice reception of the first article. That’s one of the reasons I do like Ken’s Blog and the people that visit/comment. You always seem to have a positive outlook and are well informed.

So; “on with the show”…


 

Security

It was not my intention to include this topic in my article, but a lot of comments on the first segment warranted this. With so much going on, read the news, I wanted to touch on this a little. Please remember these are my thoughts and not the “rule of law” or if you’re building the “survivalist bunker” 300’ underground.

I know a lot of you think of a house/home as an impenetrable structure, NOT so, I will guarantee there is not a building anywhere that someone with extended experience and a little time cannot get into. 99.99% of the homes, even most “survivalist homes”, will not withstand a 50CAL-AP, 400 invading “golden-hoard-Zombies”, a pound of C-4, or a well determined 40MM mortar round. Plus given a little time even an old-fart like me could either burn or wait you out. Point is building a “prepper” home is not about (in my opinion) being bullet proof, bomb proof, or anything proof, secure yes, impenetrable no.

It’s more about functionality and redundancies. Can it operate 100% off grid? Can it survive an Arctic Winter, a summer in the Sahara Desert, a Hurricane, or a collapsed economy and a 2 year long absence of outside “stuff”? What do you need/want your home to be, a concrete hole 300 feet underground or a place to actually live your life and enjoy what little life we have? Personally I want that view of the mountains and that lake knowing I can last that one more week/month/year on what I have. Do I want it to hold out that crack-head or a couple of thieves? Sure I do, but nothing will survive an ICBM at 300 feet overhead……JMHO.

 

Ideas

Like any project there will be hundreds and hundreds of Ideas that have to be thought out, considered, modified, and/or tossed out. My suggestion when first considering a project of this magnitude is buying several 8.5X11 scratch/drafting pads and start writing everything down, and I do mean everything, from what type/color of roof you like to the placement of the kitchen sink. Make sketches and notes, what size you want the bed-rooms, how many bath-rooms, rough layout of the house, if you want a basement, it goes on and on. Reasoning for this exercise? You will be so overwhelmed at some point these “notes” will come in very very handy.

With this is mind, here are a few of my “ideas” for the NRP retirement home. Please remember this is a “Prepper’s” home, not a Survivalist Nuclear Resistant Bunker.

1. No steps -I’m getting old and HATE steps. Getting to the basement might be a challenge :)

2. Metal “Standing Seam Roof”, great for rain water catchment and very wind resistant, 120 MPH minimal. Also most SSR’s are warranted for 30-40 years. Additionally I always take the “Code Roof Load”/Snow recommended load and double it for the support structure. I like a STRONG roof.

3. Framing will be a hybrid of Steel Structure and Metal Stud. I know some like “Concrete Walls” I will address that in a later article.

4. Exterior finishes, Depending on area of the home and esthetics I’m leaning towards a good thick Stucco or Brick/Block; both are somewhat fire resistant and are rather maintenance free. (Think Wild-fires)

5. Interior will probably be good old Drywall. It’s cheap, I would rather put money else places that need it. I will say that within the building/home I will be installing several sheets of “Level 5 Bullet Proofing” or Concrete Walls and very strong steel doors, A “safe room” if you want.

6. I suggest a full Basement, ½ will be “secret” with three hidden entrances, first a “drop hatch” from the safe-room, second a hidden entrance from the “other” basement, third an outside escape (tunnel) to the interior of an “out building” (garage/shed/shop).

7. Electrical and water, each of us has our thoughts, I want a Grid Tied Solar System with Battery Backup, if the land permits it, maybe a wind-generator. Also a water system that can filter out 99.9999% of everything, with a LOT of storage (5000 gallons min.), a well with at least 2 ways of pulling water.

8. Lasts thing I want to mention, Storage, lost and LOTS of storage. Including a “root cellar” accessible from the house and outside. Don’t forget the “security” doors on the outside. Also don’t forget the “hidden” storage for hiding “stuff” if the Feds do come a knocking.

I could go on for 50 pages of my ideas; the point is you have to make your list of what you need/want. Look around at other houses, commercial-buildings, banks, etc. take pictures and take notes. Check out the net; thousands and thousands of house-plans are around to look at. Everything in your home is something you should choose, not someone else.

 

Plans

I draw my own plans, have for a long time, BUT most people can’t or don’t have the expertise. That’s where an Architect/Engineer comes in. The very first thing in finding an Arch is “can he keep his mouth SHUT!!?” You will be building a home that will have some “stuff” in it that’s “unusual”. Like bullet proofing/safe-room, like an escape tunnel, backups to backups, so-on. You will want to sign a contract that if he says a single word you can toss him in jail for 500 years and own everything he owns, period. There is no reason to be nice about that. Make dang sure he also understands that he will not be welcome if TSHTF. Make sure he understands these things before you present your ideas to him. Can you tell I have had a lot of experience with Arch’s? And yes, mostly good, but…….. OPSEC.

Next part of having plans drawn; present the Arch with exactly what you want, hence all the drawings/notes/photos. He works for you, do NOT let him toss in his ideas and disregard your wants, he should be able to make sure the “code issues” are covered, and the basics, again this is YOUR home, not his, do not let him alter what you’re wanting to build. FYI the Arch will NOT need to visit your home when being built, also write into the contract that he will destroy all of his paperwork regarding your house when the plans are finished.

Remember that the Building Dept. only needs a few things to look at, such as footings, framing, structural, plot plan, Life/Safety items, they do NOT need electrical and plumbing or a lot of other stuff, it’s none of their business. Instruct the Arch to only put on the “permit set” exactly what is needed for a permit and nothing more; then a “full set” for actual construction for you and the contractor. The less the .gov knows the better.

 

Builder

Ok, now for the hard part, if you build yourself then no problem. But if hiring a general contractor, well, that’s an animal of a different color. You need to talk to every contractor in the book, literally, do your research, and ask to look at his tools (you can tell a lot about a person by the condition of his work tools). You MUST find someone that you can trust. Talk to him at least ten times (yes ten times), if he seems to get aggravated because of that, then move on.

Here is one for you, when talking to him, does he look you in the eyes, or look to the side? Are his hands sweaty when you shake his hand? Does he seem nervous? Judging human nature is difficult at times, but you have got to trust this person.

Again make sure you sign a “keep your mouth shut” contract. Also the “sub-contractors” he uses, make dang sure they understand the same things you beat up on the Arch/Builder about. Side note, if he/they ask for money “up front” walk away, FAST!!!!! I know a few contractors I would not trust with the time of day, let alone my money, in the same breath I know a lot of “good” contractors.

Next segment I’ll start getting into the “guts” of building my “prepper home”.

The Perfect Prepper House? (Part-1)

Again; thank you for your time.
-NRP

 
Perfect Prepper House Part-1
Perfect Prepper House Part-2
Perfect Prepper House Part-3
Perfect Prepper House Part-4
Perfect Prepper House Part-5

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60 Comments

  1. We have a fresh foot of snow and it is still falling. Guess I am telecommuting this morning! It is abdolutely beautiful, once you look past the cows standing at the door humming for food. LOL

  2. Good article. Thank you.

    I have thought about this (in case I win the lottery) and I would use more than one architect and more than one builder, so that no one knows all of your secrets.

    Perhaps one person installs the bullet-proof windows, another the safe room, another the root cellar, another the secret room in the basement, and so on.

    1. me too, have thought of this if I win the lottery…

      more than one is one way to go, I have also wondered about the “individual” a person you can hire who does most everything himself. That way you’d only have one person to worry about.

  3. This is a good thought provoking article. I would add just one point to be considered regarding security; The possibility of diminishing, disguising or diverting the heat signature away from the main structure. Drones do have thermal recognition cameras and can spot heat from many miles away.

    Perhaps placing the heat exhaust away instead of directly straight up and placing it among some taller trees.

    1. BW,

      NRP, need your input in this. I have found a company in India which makes paint, including a transparent one which eliminates heat signatures. They sell to their country and almost impossible to buy here in the States. I know the gov flirs are much more sensitive then what you can buy retail. I thought of getting the transparent one to paint outside of any glass surface. My other favorite thing about defense is a sea of cacti…painful to say if you try to break in…

      1. @ Texas
        I have not heard or have experience with a totally heat reflective paint, not saying I have not installed paint with 80% reflectivity (usually a ceramic base) but nothing to the extent of 100% or have I seen “clear” paint with reflective values of consequences.

        Living in the high desert I will contest to the thorny foliage. OUCH!!!
        NRP

    2. @ Being Watched
      You bring up an interesting thought, but I’m not so worried about “heat” and the Feds finding the house, here is why. A true story from a friend that works at Los Alamos Labs; He does research using lasers to measure the “wobble” in the moon’s surface (go figure). Long story short, a coworker is in Satellite research was boasting. Well as guys will brag, talk became a bet and the bet was that the Sat guy could find and locate his vehicle with a “coin” placed on the bumper. Again long story short, the Sat guy found the car parked in a Safeway lot, in the north east corner, backed in, with a quarter on the rear bumper, left side…… face up…. And are ya ready for this? It was reported to be a 1972 quarter.
      Conclusion, the .gov really can read a newspaper from space, fact, not myth. I don’t believe the heat from a house diverted into the trees will allude them for long, correct?
      JMHO
      NRP

      1. I don’t see the MotherFed using expensive satellite images for the normal folk, unless they are conducting search and seizure missions. Just my wild Gus’s is all.

        1. @ TPS
          “unless they are conducting search and seizure missions”, my point exactly, like illegal search, or “just checking”. It’s amazing even on Goggle Earth what can be seen. Heck I even use it to find my dog when he runs off…. HAHAHAHA
          JMHO
          NRP

  4. Thought provoking. It brings up some problems in my head, some that won’t go away. Sorry….. ;-)

    Most home remodels to wall off a section for a secret compartment don’t require building permits and blueprints to what is modestly changed to an existing home.

    I have a question for you NRP, how many times when you built new homes, did the zoning board require copies of blueprints for building permits? I thought most places require them as did my log home I designed in Pa. I didn’t put in the hidden caches on paper, I did them myself after the contractor was done.

    When an outsider is shown blueprints on secret passages, caches, or tunnels, it is no longer a secret. I think it is best to leave hidden rooms and cache places not written down in plans and not completed by a builder. Shouldn’t you do them yourself or with family members to keep secret places secret?

    1. @ Stardust
      Well actually if you do any modifications such as adding walls and such, a “permit” is legally required. BUT so is driving 55MPH. Personally I would not pull a permit for that and hope the BI don’t catch you.

      Anytime you pull a “permit” for new construction or remodel the plans are reviewed by P&Z. A lot of times the BI will just do the review, but yes any time a permit is pulled.

      I totally agree with you as far as “stuff” on the plans, especially the permit sets. as far as other plans, if you are able to perform the work, certainly do so. OPSEC is so easily misguided by someone that has no idea of what they are talking about and someone else hears it…. and so on….

      Secret means secret…. it only takes one idiot to mess up and it’s all over but the (fill in the blank)
      NRP

  5. Well this is a hard one, great topic Ken……Agree about the Contractor they all want to be your best friend on the front end, and like some others out there have seen my share of the “Good, Bad, and Ugly”.

    What I would suggest is get feedback from clients, sub, building department and do your research on line also. Have built homes turnkey and cost plus and that is a story in itself. What I would add, is find out what the taxes are going to be, what do you need to consider about the house appraiser and their appraisal…. my own experience was building a home on the front range in Colorado.

    1. I wanted outside city tax authority 2. Design the home so that a minimum of space would be classified as living area (non living areas are no tax or a much lower rate) I designed and built a two story home and initially the plans called for windows in the downstairs area which was garage, laundry room, and a large entertainment room. The appraiser said because of the windows it was living area even the garage…..so I red lined the windows and it reduced my taxable amount in a big way. Another aspect is if you cannot reduce taxable living area that way in some areas, not finishing a set or rooms or a whole level will benefit you, and later you can finish it yourself.

    The whole idea is know what the hidden costs can be, so that you are not put into money crunch afterwards and that will leave a very bad taste about building a home. 3.Look at those states that have a homestead exemption like Texas (this is for personal protection against anyone taking your home and personal possessions in case of bankruptcy or a lawsuit. Not referring to those States that will give you a tax reduction on a homestead). Of course the mortgage company will have you sign a waiver which allows them to take the home in case that happens. Hope this helps.

    1. @ icecathook
      You bring up Appraisers and Mortgage Co, and Insurance people, one main reason to build for “cash” no Mortgage and Insurance required (I would get Insurance though). Also the “Tax People will want to do a “Tax Appraisal” on your home. You are NOT required to allow them inside you home, or give them a detailed layout. They will measure the outside and can do their “thing” from that.
      NRP

  6. I love your ideas NRP. I would also recommend that you don’t tell the architect where you are building as well if you can get away with it. Although they may need to know the building codes for the area. As far as a hidden portion in the basement I would most likely do that part myself so that even the contractors don’t know. I would let a contractor build the safe room as that is not even unusual in todays world. Then the hidden entrances and escape routes I would also do myself.

    As far as making a house impenetrable it is almost impossible, although a basement is your best bet. Many many years ago DH fired off a .22 in the house and it penetrated the outer wall into the hill outside. So if people think they can duck down below a window and be safe, they are in for some serious trouble.

  7. When talking to the architect I’d voice my concerns about the really wild weather we are getting. Tell him you want it to able to withstand category 12 hurricane, Force 12 tornadoes, Noah’s flood, Richter scale 11 earthquakes and a tsunami from a comet hitting the ocean coming in 500 miles. Then till him no building materials that can burn. Your architect will think you’re paranoid but that’s okay. It’s not against the law to be paranoid.

    Weather is changing and where I grew up there were never tornadoes, Now they get them and I wonder how many residents have put in shelters?

    I went to Jamestown as a kid and saw the recreation of the old stockade. 3 sided with fighting positions at each corner Allows for less defenders to cover the approaches.

    1. @ me
      HAHAHAHA, well to tell you the truth, the Arch’s and Engineers I work with already think I’m 4 sheets past crazy. I like it that way…. LOLOL

      Cat 12 Hurricane, I will be using that on :-) :-) :-)

      NRP-da-crazy-old-fart

    2. Ha Ha good one me. Since the weather has gotten wilder they seem to be inventing new words during the weather like Snowicane. So it could work. Just act paranoid like you expect severe weather changes in the future.

  8. Build your home in the conventional manner, save for a “case-hardened” Master suite. This will save costs. The Master suite would include the bedroom, bathroom, walk-in closet, equipment/storage room. While the rest of the home is stick built, the MS is entirely cast concrete, and steel tied to the foundation..this would include it’s flat ceiling..which is then coffered down.

    Basically, the MS is where all your hidden strength is. Should the rest of the home be blown away by tornado, or hurricane,..or burn down..you would still have the MS standing, and functioning.

    I designed an 1800 sq.ft. Spanish style home incorporating such a MS. I am building it in Florida. It’s design looks perfectly normal and attractive, but its features are all covertly executed to conceal secondary functions, and its landscaping sculpted to compliment these functions. When completed I shall only fear a direct hit from a 155.

    The Spanish style allows one to incorporate many desired aspects of a “fortress” home, without expressly looking like one. Easy to maintain, fire-proof,thick walls, baffled courtyards,shuttered windows,ironwork..etc.

  9. Good article and quite thought provoking too. We are probably going to build next year. We’ll pay cash, so no mortgage, the architect is a long time personal friend and we are friends of the assistant county planner. All pluses in our book. The builder has done other projects for us so we are comfortable with him and his work.

    We also fall into the wise ‘old fart’ category, but we will still have a basement so steps are involved. We don’t plan on spending a lot of time in the basement, just a weekly trip for supplies. I’ll construct the deep storage room after the dust settles, as well as the root cellar.

    We plan on a metal roof and cement (hardie) siding as we are in a potential wildfire area. We have a nice river view but plan on keeping our view windows on the small side. We will also use narrow single hung windows, 12″ wide. Quite a bit around the house as a deterrent to burglars, light control and a small view ports. Heating will be wood stove and propane, water heater and cook range will be propane also and perhaps the fridge too.

    Your suggestion to use lots of sketch pads for drawing out ideas on is great, paper is cheap. We still have some time on our schedule to change ideas or direction, so your article is timely and appreciated.
    Thanks,

    1. @ BLUESMAN
      It sounds like our thinking is inline. One thing you may consider is using metal stud framing, I have seen fire jobs where the wood framing actually caught fire behind the fireproof exterior, the intense heat from a firestorm can literally bur a house down from the inside out. My planning is to have nothing on the exterior walls that will burn. Or the roof, including the roof structure.
      NRP

  10. That’s WHY I WOULDN’T build an ABOVE ground place. If anything, I would have it IN a mountain or at least 30 feet under solid rock and WELL hidden with all the same stuff that would be in a QUOTE NORMAL looking place and of course a WELL hidden way out the back way.

  11. @ Bluesman…..We used STEEL. All steel structure, all steel siding. interior steel studs for the wallboard walls, even the interior walls. Strong, won’t burn, harder to penetrate than wood studs. Easy to work with (I was surprised…same as 2 x 4)

  12. I love the idea of secret doors and escape tunnels. I just do. I always wanted to build a kickass underground house and then maybe have some crappy little shack up above. Camouflage.

  13. We have just redone our doorways to steel frames, steel doors locks and armored hinges, etc. Yes they can EVENTUALLY come through the doors, but by then, their reception will be waiting.
    Having a wife that got a double major in Architecture and engineering lends itself to the OPSEC design issues. Also, in our area, one doesn’t need a permit to dig next to your foundation to “check” for leaks, etc. Easy to add an additional basement that doesn’t show up on building permit, and isn’t detectable without ground penetrating radar.
    We also redid all of our windows in “hurricane Windows” with additional 3M security film on them, just in case. Pricey to replace the Windows, but energy costs will defer majority of costs over time, and make it more comfortable inside.
    Dogs will take care of noise detection just fine, and they still have their radar hearing.
    Can’t use barbed wire in our part of the county, so we planted a perimeter of wild roses on two sides, and the back side of the property is ALL a six foot high blackberry vine, now starting to bear fruit, too. Nasty, nasty thorns on both, harder to deal with than barbed wire.
    Thanks for the articles, NRP, am looking forward to some nasty specifics!!! EGBT, out.

    1. @ TPS
      Thank you for helping me make a point, being, you don’t have to build 300 feet underground bunker or a 2′ think concrete box to have a “secure” home, There are many deterrents while building that will make the “criminals” look at the “next house” and walk away from yours. Additionally things like the 3M window covering is tough as nails and adds a LOT of strength to windows. Personally I hope that severe weather is as bad as it gets, but I doubt it. The next 3 segments are going to get to the guts of my next hone and the “stuff”, hopefully I wont fail the expectations…. hehehe…. just remember I’m an old-crunchy-fart so be kind :-) LOL
      NRP

      1. NRP,
        I am an old fart as well. I embrace old farting as a lifestyle choice now! So, no worries.

  14. Wow! Just had a power outage when I was typing my post. Looks like it went here but who knows…LOL
    Great articles NRP! Spot on…

  15. Depends where you live, but MEP permits are required for homes. At least in IN they are.

    Good thought provoking articles, NRP.

    1. @ John
      Actually you are correct, but, here anyways, the Electrical/Plumbing contractors pull the permits without the need of a “plan”.
      Thank you for pointing that out.
      NRP

      1. Same here. The part that makes it tough is more prying eyes and they’ll (inspectors) discuss every “odd” thing they see.

  16. There is a great scene in the movie, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ where the police come to Whoopie’s door and proceed to try to kick it in. She is inside and successfully makes her escape then the scene goes back to the door where the police had to call in a guy with a torch to cut through the door.

    Another example from some TV talk show where a Hollywood star was talking about avoiding fans and perhaps stalkers too. They had their house built with a fake front door. There is no door just a wall with a fake front door on it. They said people walk up and ring the fake doorbell and wait and finally get tired of waiting and leave.

    When I lived along the Gulf of Mexico friends there had plywood pre-cut to fit over their doors and windows. When Hurricanes threatened they screwed them into the walls covering the windows and doors and drove inland. The take away message is have a plywood cover/shutter ready in case you need it.

  17. I like the idea of boobie traps. Can’t do it legally but after WROL sets in it could be a great idea. When I was a kid (about 1950 or so) there was a company with a neon sign in the window that said ‘gun trap set’. I don’t know if they really had a gun trap or not but I don’t think anyone ever broke in to prove it was a lie.
    What I would do is have a very clean landscape with good sight lines but with a few trees, boulders and some planted areas which would be natural choices for cover if someone were attacking your home.

    Then run the 12 volt wiring to these good cover spots and wire in some in ground lights. The type of lights were just the glass cover lens shows and the rest is underground. They are used to up light landscape features. Wire them up to individual switches so you can turn on any light individually. After TSHTF you replace the lights with a 12 volt powered fuse and small explosive like a bullet and place a quart mason jar of gasoline directly on top of it. This would lie perhaps 2″ below the surface. If anyone tries to put a siege on your home just identify which of the preset cover spots they have selected and then throw the switch and light them up.

  18. I think it was on M.D.s site that there was discussion on stopping bullets with pea gravel in the walls. Certainly worth considering and maybe doing some experimenting? Maybe a double wall construction with steel and gravel on the outside and a more conventional insulated wall on the inside. A lot to be said for plant boxes for the landscaping. A gap around the house then masonry boxes with plants. Slope the outside walls to diminish their effectiveness as cover for the zombies. A lot to be said for aquaculture and a moat might not be a bad plan either. Raise fish in it and scatter the bottom with caltrops made from really big fishhooks! I love where I live but it is not a very defendable site. Woods on three sides that would need tripwire alarms. Ability to call on armed neighbors is good too.

  19. I would not have a walk up attic but instead an escape hatch in each room closet in order to hide from unexpected guests. My attic would have 1/2 plywood with carpet on it to limit the noise.

    I’d also tell the Arch, that I wanted to have a wine cellar with only one entrance with the ability to put a solid metal frame door.

    Each room would have a hidden compartment built into the wall in order to hold firearms, including in each bathrooms.

    My garage would be detached from the main house and would have a hidden hall wall in order not be seen, whether it be hidden in the wall or thru the basement.

    Have an outside shed that could be used as a hiding spot.

  20. In one name – Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke – I want what he had. Simplicity. Isolation. Basic. His days full and fulfilling. I’ve watched his video/movie so many times I could weep at his extraordinary life and way of just being. His home, built with his own hands out of what was found where he built it. His food, what he grew or hunted or fished for. His drink, simple – water. Pure clean water. His thoughts….. of God, of nature, of a reality few have ever experienced.

    Yeah, Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke. He is the model, the architect, the builder, the design for living I’d choose.

  21. How do you size a house? We know of several families that finally had enough money to build their dream house about the time their kids hit high school. Just as the paint was drying they graduated and were out of there, leaving dad and mom with a big empty house.

    1. @ Thox
      GREAT!!!!! question, how to determine the “size” of a house.
      A quick story about myself and late wife. We fell into the trap of “ohhhh we have good money flowing in…. ” and we wanted a nice home, after 6 months of looking we found a great spot, 7 acres, river flowing through it, secluded and whole nine yards. Well after 4 years of construction and 5000 SqFt later there we were, fat-dumb-and-happy. 5000 foot house with two people, 3 dogs and 4 cats. what the HELL were we thinking? Hind sight is a great thing, in retrospect I wish we would had stayed in that little 800 SqFt home we first built.

      I guess to answer your question directly, Use those note pads and draw out every room, place the furniture, even go so far as layout the room size in a parking plot somewhere, to “see” how it looks. Once you have that done, divide everything in 1/2 hehehehe as I should have done.

      FYI, I’m in a 1800 footer now and it seems to big at times when cleaning it :-)
      NRP

      1. @NRP: great answer! I would love to do exactly that. We have a house that was built in the late 1800’s and has rooms that nowadays just simply don’t make sense. When you walk in from the front porch you are in the parlor, the only purpose being a formal greeting room, a 12’x12′ room with a door on each wall, it is useless for anything but walking through it. The living room is two rooms of equal size, each also 12;x12′. The back half was used for displaying an open coffin when someone died. That seemed to happen a lot more often back then with large families. Other than that it sat empty except for a few dusty tables, a closet under the stairs. When we bought the house it had the electrical system that was installed probably in the 1950’s. There were a total of 7 outlets in the entire 8 room house. There was one fusebox with two glass Buss fuses. Inside the fusebox there was a note that read: “XXX electrician from XXX says if a fuse blows just put a penny in the socket”. The barn had fuse boxes at both ends of the wiring so that if the fuse in the one box blew and you picked up a bare wire in between you’d get fried as the line was still hot.

        The point being, design your house like you said, to fit your needs, not another era or someone else. It sounds like you’d be against designing and building a house exclusively for the purpose of making it marketable, and if yet if you make it too individualistic, that might make it unmarketable when you want to unload it.

        Good topic, well done.

      2. Agreed – too much house can become a real hassle. Having to clean it – furnish it – $$$ for the tax the home is worth to the government.

        Keep it simple for renovation. Maintain a standard 8′-0″ ceiling so new walls can be installed easier. Design floor plan on the standard 4′-0 grid so less cutting – less wasted materials is needed. Goes up faster too. Solid core doors at secure room (i.e. bedrooms).

        Thanks again for the great ideas.

  22. As a prepper, I can build a house from the ground up… excavation, framing, electrical, plumbing, etc. Am currently gutting the main bathroom. We are gravity flow, so all is good there. I have added several secret compartments and false rooms. Knowing HVAC can be particularly helpful in hiding extra space. Future plans include a master bedroom with a hidden safe room/basement underneath. Current situation has basement/safe room access from two points and multiple weapons hidden in dead space… I am looking to find a way to hide a few outside. Looking for ideas on that…

    1. I want a little place, built into a hill on the back and one side, with an attached greenhouse on one side and an attached barn buried in the hill on the other. Hydroponics and graywater recycling. The hill is manufactured, of course, with a root cellar under it. Nothing to see, move on, move on… :)

  23. Some simple features we have:

    Water storage tanks high enough for gravity flow;

    Bookcases full of books between bedrooms and outside walls (bulletproof);

    Bushes allowed to grow up and obscure house from the road;

    Security screen on front entrance, window film and window stops;

    Motion lights outside;

    Big, scary looking dogs (ours bark first, then lick…)

    Most importantly: Situational awareness.?

    Blessings.

  24. Thank you for the ambitious yet well thought out article (series of articles). Many great points being made here.

  25. well thought out articles by an experienced professional.

    This in depth info would carry an expensive consultation fee. Kudos to him sharing his knowledge freely.

    I’m a third generation building Contractor. NRP is absolutely correct that extensive planning of your project will reduce what will be a stressful time as you build your home. I too have had clients divorce over a building project.(Both were lawyers.)

    People complain about less than ethical Contractors. I also complain about less than ethical Building clients. Changes cost time and money during the Building phase. Those costs are the clients responsibility. That’s why making decisions BEFORE YOU START is so important! The problem arises when a client WANTS SOMETHING SPECIAL BUT CAN’T AFFORD IT! Too many people want the Contractor to lose so they can win. I check out potential clients as much or more than they check on me. It has to be a win/win relationship for the project to be truly successful. Building within your budget and paying in a timely manner.

    Inspections are important. After the slab/basement inspection comes the rough in inspections for mechanical,plumbing,electrical. Then the rough framing inspection. They are to catch any problems before the work is covered by finished products. Nothing worse than a plumbing leak behind new finished walls and over new floors/carpet.

    The Best time to add your upgrades is AFTER your project has passed the rough in inspections. It won’t be inspected again until the final inspection. The problem arises because a Contractor doesn’t want to do them. Reason is a Contractor will be held legally responsible for any non permitted work that goes South (a electric fire being the biggie!)
    Doesn’t mean you can’t do some preliminary planning/work and have some “repairs” done right after the final inspection.
    Now if you are being your own Contractor then it’s not an issue as you absorb the risk.

    Many have asked about hidden rooms/hiding areas. Not sure if NRP/Ken will do a segment on it. I don’t want to interfere with the flow of the series.

    I have experience in this area. There are more DONT’S THAN DO’S IF YOU WANT IT TO STAY HIDDEN. I will share my expertise if people are interested.

    1. @ Bill Jenkins Horse
      One thing you must understand about Ken’s Blog, I and Ken (I’m sure) LOVE it when we have “constructive input” on matters, Please if you have comments/ideas on “Hidden Rooms” or anything else, take a little time and post them. This is a learning series of articles I’m working on, and the more input the better
      Thank You in advance
      NRP

      1. @Bill Jenkins Horse, If you feel compelled to write something up in that regard, please forward it along to me via email and I will post it as an article… I’m sure that others will find it helpful.

        You can contact me via the ‘Contact’ link way down the bottom of the page…

        1. I can write something more in depth Ken.I just posted to NRP.Gave people some ideas and info to work out.

          Most hides will make it thru the general population scrutiny.Not so with a determined Uncle.He doesn’t give up.

          Being the Gray man is so important especially in this climate.

      2. Looking forward to your next article.Giving your time and talent for free is a rare trait nowadays.
        I will forego listing my credentials.Suffice to say I have experience in finding structural anomalies in homes and buildings.
        Poor housekeeping betrays many hidden areas.Dirty hand prints,soiled carpet,scrapes and scratches on walls and floors are a clear give away.
        Workman ship either worse or better than the surrounding area in one particular place.Something new and freshly painted while every thing else is older and worn.
        Book shelves in curious places.missing square footage or no closet in a room.especially in a smaller home.
        These are anomalies that give away hidden areas if you have someone actively looking.Obviously there are more but you get the idea.
        It’s all common sense right?Complacency and inattention to detail will do you in.As they say the Devil is in the details.
        As humans we are curious when confronted by something visual that is out of the ordinary.We are drawn to it.That type of scrutiny you want to avoid.
        Draw on your own life experiences.What would catch your attention? Remember that the bad people watch youtube.They will look in the obvious and familiar places.
        On to some of the Do’s.
        Do have a plan for your hidden area.Will it appear to flow with the house and it’s surroundings? Be critical of your own ideas.The hidden entrance is so important.
        Do watch you tube videos.Then pick areas other than what’s shown in the videos.Do you want to guess how many people are hiding stuff at the bottom of their cabinets and behind a book shelf now?
        Do exercise good housekeeping.Make sure you are not leaving signs to your area.
        Do exercise Operational Security.Keep your mouth shut.No bragging,boasting to your friends or neighbors.Don’t tell your big mouth Brother in law either.YOU MUST CONTROL THE FLOW OF INFO FOR YOUR HIDES OR THEY ARE WORTHLESS.
        SOME OF THE BEST HIDES i HAVE ENCOUNTERED.
        Floor entrances to rooms.A coat closet floor that slid under the floor of the adjoining room .The first landing on a ELL shaped oak stairwell.The landing floor lifted up when a particular oak style was turned.A kitchen Island that slid over to reveal a stairwell.All traffic areas where you would expect some wear and tear. Entrances behind closets.Pantry closets are good because you would expect to have some wear and tear from can goods and supplies.Nothing out of the ordinary there.All have to be solid so they can stand a little scrutiny.
        Hidden exits under a trash can holding box and a lawn mower shed.A very large hidden storage area under a concrete chain link dog pen with dog house.entrance was under the dog house.
        I personally have built some of these and many others.I hope this gives people some ideas.It’s doable.Just have to be smart about it.Man has done it for thousands of years.
        Just stay off the radar.When Uncle takes an “interest” no good comes of it.

  26. Thank you for the ideas in home design.

    You can minimize window access but still let in outside light using glass block units. These units are grouted into place and are much tougher than window pane glass. These can be purchased with glazing that obscures true image behind. Does NOT comply with emergency egress as a fire exit of course. Make great clerestory lighting option. Clerestory is condition where window is placed high on wall so that light spills out on room ceiling, spreading out light further into room. Also less glare than looking outside.

    Metal roofs are tough, but I don’t think the stated warranties cover hail damage. The impact from large hail can leave small dents, where condensation collects and rust forms. I may be mistaken, but I think that is the case. Otherwise, metal roofing panels does have a lot to recommend it.

    Commercial hollow metal doors and frames. Expensive, but very strong, especially when steel frames are grouted (concrete filled) into wall design. Pick heavy duty hardware as well.

    1. @ j.r. guerra in s. tx.
      Good points on all three, I use “glass block” quite a bit for indirect lighting or clearstory as you suggested.

      The Hail damage….. well that’s what Insurance is for :-) But a well installed metal/steel roof will outlast most others by a long shot.

      Steel doors/frames are a MUST for all exterior doors and the “safe-room” door. Additionally a good commercial-grade hardware. Like you said, expensive, but will last a lifetime.
      NRP

    1. @ SB
      Thanks’ for the link, it may be a very good read for anyone looking to build/purchase/upgrade a home.
      I’m going to check the local Lib. to see if they have it, at $44 I doubt if I’ll be purchasing it though.
      NRP

  27. Looking forward to the “Concrete Walls” article, but it sounds like you may have already ruled out ICF construction personally and I’m curious why. We built an insulated concrete form home offgrid in the northern woods almost 10 years ago, so in fair disclosure up front I am biased :)

    1. @ Walt
      I have used “Ice Block” in the past, great for foundations, and built a couple of homes with them. I’m sure not apposed to them at all. They are a little pricy and do involve different electrical/plumbing practices. But all in all they are a good product. And I will admit they do “build” a heck of a nice sound home. Something for anyone to consider.
      NRP

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