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Ok, so right now I'm young and (somewhat) stupid, but eventually I plan on saving up enough to build my own home. Nothing fancy, just a small modest house that could be added onto when kids arrive. My question is this, if one starts from scratch with a home design, what features would you design into a house for when things turn ugly? So far all I have is a concrete room in the basement, if nothing else it's great tornado protection. Any other thoughts?
 

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Look into "earthships"

Exterior walls are packed earth 14' thick covered with concrete, rain water collection, solar powered, waste water treatment, and a built in greenhouse.

Can't ask for much better than that.

Hopefully I'll be building one next summer.
 

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Nice start. Now if you had built the house in the 50's like my grandfather, you would have started with a bombshelter under the basement
 

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I would also say a basement, stocked up!
 

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Pick up the following books and compare the common points mentioned.

The secure home- Joel Skousen. Really a GREAT book on not just building a new home, but retrofitting your existing dwelling. This one should be the go to if you only choose to get one, as it covers a LARGE majority of everything related to what you are looking for.

No such thing as doomsday- Phillip Hoag. This is going to be hard to find and expensive when you find it, but it has ALOT of good info on things not commonly thought of.

Other great reading material, so be not really on the line of what you want, but loosely related would be- One Nation Underground- Kenneth Rose.
 

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I've been thinking about a pair of inter-modal shipping containers over a basement (and possibly a hidden sub-basement/root cellar to kelp out with floor insulation if nothing else) with a gap between them spanned my traditional wood joists sitting on a pair of lengths of angle iron and a roof with a partial loft area covering it all.
I'd have sleeping areas in one shipping container section. everything with plumbing in the other, and a living area between.
the basement would be an open span walkout, with all the plumbing mess to one side.
Those containers take a real beating. even with extra holes cut in the sides for doors and windows, they would still survive a tornado or earthquake that caught you off guard, and steel doesn't burn.

be sure to insulate like crazy. energy just gets more and more expensive, and post SHTF, it might be unobtainable. If a small wood stove can manage all of your heating, you'll be ahead of the game. windows that open and close easy are good for letting in the cool night air, then sealing it back up to keep a place livable during the hot days. would be nice too. some of the Scandinavian countries use a big stone fireplace and chimney as a thermal bank to keep temperatures consistent.

don't forget, when you are building is when you put in safes and hidden caches. Maybe even a dedicated gun room. I was thinking some drain pipe, angled down, but piercing the basement wall, then covered up with drywall or the like would be impossibly to find if you didn't know just were to look. A pair of cosmolined moisins, a tin of ammo, and a few gallons of honey hidden in such a tube would be a lifesaver after the worse came to pass, and cost less than $500 to build and stock.

a manual or solar backup to a well pump might also be a lifesaver.

if you do something like a pellet stove, have a small steel wood burning stove you can replace it with easily after the pellets stove is no longer an option.

if you are putting in a septic system. get a tank bigger than you need, an hopefully it won't eve need to be serviced. Its not like it will cost much more to do it that way first.

I'd also go for a steel roof. Lasts longer and fire proof. speaking of a roof, internal valeys are always weak spots, but on the plus side allow easy rain water collection.

Insulated concrete form pored walls might not be a bad idea either. good insulation, plus fireproof, tornado proof, and bullet proof. not to mention rot and insect proof too.

high windows let in light for when you have no artificial light, but don't easily permit a view of what is inside or an easy access point. Glass block does the same.

and for Pete's Sake, don't skip on the eaves
 

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I would build into a hillside. Sub-basement with 10' ceilings under the normal basement (but also with 10' ceilings). Back of the sub-basement would have a door to the earth for future expansion into the hillside. Use at least 6" of rigid foam board under the poured floor and 8" behind the walls. Use ground loop heating and cooling for the house, basement and the sub-basement. I would suggest wood back up heat and propane for cooking, drier and gen-set. Propane with solar for water heat. If you can, be on well /septic. Buying a used backhoe for 8-10k and digging everything yourself will save money like crazy. Expecially for the septic and ground loops. For them dig double the number of tracks and have valves so you can switch . On the septic, use 2 oversized tanks one feeding to the other. The system will last nearly infinitely with pumping out the primary tank.

Wire the house up so you can incorporate solar power / wind power .


You can adjust the landscape to address entry routes. As others mentioned in other threads, a motorbike, car or truck can make a door in most any home quickly. Adding 8" steel poles 4' high and cemented down 4' then hidden by shrubs can provide a bit of protection.
 

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Colonel Cooper (RIP) had some very specific ideas on defensibility of a home. They can be found in his book, "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth."

I also echo some of the book suggestions above.

One note regarding shipping containers - they require a large amount of shoring to be used as a domicile should you choose to bury them, as their structure does not handle vertical loads as designed. Easily dealt with, but do make sure to plan for it well.
 

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Safe room
Built in gun storage room
root cellar
lots of natural light, but secure windows
several forms of heat
orientate the house to take advantage of sun and natural air flow, and possible set up for solar panels
Look at natural drainage, our house is built high and the garden is low, taking run off.
 

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Nothing that will tie you down and make your survival dependent on staying put if conditions change. "Semper Gumby!" Always be flexible and don't go nuts on something that you might have to abandon if things get really bad or if it is going to become a really neat and expensive coffin.

I like the idea of a normal house with extra, secure storage or a detached, hidden underground facility even if it is only a small room. Not too much cost and if people are just sweeping through looking to loot, they will not find your stash and you can stay a safe distance and return later.

If money is no object then the best SHTF house is a large boat capable of sailing with a minimal crew. After that, I would say a lot of land with minimal buildings but lots of wildlife, is arable, and has clean water is next. Looters and thieves will not want to come in and farm; they want to show up, clean you out of what you have and leave. Buy land and be prepared and learn to live off it. Stockpiling is an important part of prepping but it should be seen for what it is: a good strategy to either get you through a short to medium term emergency or a buffer in the beginning of what might turn out to be a long-term or permanent situation. Stockpiling is not a solution for a permanent situation.

Beyond boats and semi-developed/agriculture land, everything else is like a castle, it is a fixed target that will eventually be breached. Enemies need only wait you out until electronics systems go offline, generators run out of fuel, your food/water supplies run out, your ammo starts drying up, etc. Not to mention, they are trying to probe for weaknesses and you, and your architect, as smart as either or both of you are, can not think of everything. Even the Mongols when faced with an impenetrable castle would simply hurl corpses from plague victims over the walls and wait for everyone inside to die or surrender and face them rather than certain death from the black plague.

Find a happy medium between supplies, fortifications, training and mobility when the need arises. Don't spend all your hard-earned money on just one facet of preparation like buying only guns but no food or build your own personal Ft. Knox and not have money to prepare in other ways.
 

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I like the idea of this. one or two people could live comfortably in one of these. there are smaller ones and could easily be hidden somewhere.


it doesn't offer the space or security of a bunker style house but hooking it up to solar power and having a water source nearby would be pretty easy to do.

plus with it being small as it is, a wood burner could heat it easily. double the wood burner as a stove and you have saved space too.

I would want a loft style to make into the bedroom area.
 

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I like the idea of this. one or two people could live comfortably in one of these. there are smaller ones and could easily be hidden somewhere.


it doesn't offer the space or security of a bunker style house but hooking it up to solar power and having a water source nearby would be pretty easy to do.

plus with it being small as it is, a wood burner could heat it easily. double the wood burner as a stove and you have saved space too.

I would want a loft style to make into the bedroom area.
The problems with a small 12' mobile home is you can't make it mobile very easily, so you might as well have an immobile home. Not to mention, throwing a basement under something makes it a whole lot more secure and efficient, in general. Something 8' wide, but longer, with more overall square footage, you could hook up to and go with very little prep work. That little 12' job, would need a oversized load permit, and in my state, a dually at or over a 1 ton rating (can't remember which) to legally pull it.

Basically, I think the little homes fall between the more useful home in either direction.
 

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The problems with a small 12' mobile home is you can't make it mobile very easily, so you might as well have an immobile home. Not to mention, throwing a basement under something makes it a whole lot more secure and efficient, in general. Something 8' wide, but longer, with more overall square footage, you could hook up to and go with very little prep work. That little 12' job, would need a oversized load permit, and in my state, a dually at or over a 1 ton rating (can't remember which) to legally pull it.

Basically, I think the little homes fall between the more useful home in either direction.

that 12' wide one was just a random video I found. I have been looking at 16x8 trailers and thinking about lumber though. It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to build and could maybe pull it with a standard size van.

I have been looking at these too.


about 3000 each for a 40' 2000 or so for a 20' if someone had land they could dig in pretty easily and have a bunker.

If I had the money I would do 2 40' underground and 2 20' above ground set up like this house.
 

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Ok, so right now I'm young and (somewhat) stupid, but eventually I plan on saving up enough to build my own home. Nothing fancy, just a small modest house that could be added onto when kids arrive. My question is this, if one starts from scratch with a home design, what features would you design into a house for when things turn ugly? So far all I have is a concrete room in the basement, if nothing else it's great tornado protection. Any other thoughts?
Being as you're not asking about a house, but what would be within incorporated into a house design ... I think the basement is a good idea, and would add a safe room at ground level.

Then I'd think hard about the security of all entrance and egress points, a water collection system that can be used as gray water in the house, and filtered if your water source is limited/cut-off.

I'd also look at setting up a room that is dedicated to the containment of a group of batteries, inverters, and chargers, and connect them to a photovoltaic system ... That room would need to be vented to the outside, unless you can swing the price of sealed batteries, and if the power grid is available, install all of this in a grid tied system.
Doing so will drastically reduce the requirements $$$ of such a system, because they will basically be an emergency source of electricity.

You might also look into a thermal massing system as a way to store energy from the sun, and have it radiate back into the home at night.

There are many things that could be done, and this is a very very short list of possibilities ... Seek out information on green technology and sustainable design.
Then incorporate everything you can into your future home.

Also,
Don't forget to include the most energy efficient appliances you can, and look into some LED lighting, if you got the PV and battery route.
 

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I have been looking into those container houses quite a bit. I think that would be ideal for what you are talking about.

40x8 would be real easy to set up into a 1 or 2 Br. house. a 20' would be more of a single room cabin. you could haul it on top of a mobile home frame, or a truck trailer. The structure would be massively stronger than a mobile home and be fireproof. assuming you didn't cut away too much of it, it would be effectively tornado proof, earthquake proof, and very radioactive biker mutant or even zombie resistant.

My plan is to put a pair of 40' containers on top of a basement, span the gap between with standard joists and put a traditional roof over it all. The containers would be all of the exterior walls save for 2 short sections between them; and most of the internal walls too.
 

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what features would you design into a house for when things turn ugly?

Am I correct to think that you are not looking at a house design, but what would go into one ?
 
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