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”…
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Again; thank you for your time.