Watch a Slideshow of progress at the bottom of this page.
It is absolutely amazing what you can find out there for free if you do a little research, pay attention and put the word out that you will take anything that is free. Craigslist.org has a free section and my hubby checks it everyday. It is amazing what people give away, the trick is to pay attention and be the first one to snag it. Watch on the side of the road for furniture and stuff. One man’s trash really can be another man’s treasure. With a little lipstick and rouge, you can usually get something really nice for little to no investment. Bartering is also a great way to get stuff for free. My husband is a jack of all trades and often he will work on someone’s car or boat, help with a a project or trade parts for something we need.
Our current project is building what we call our Redneck Ghetto. This will be a temporary camp while we are building our house. It will also be the testing ground for our power needs, consumption and production.
John found a 36′ travel trailer free on craigslist.org and towed it to the property. It was one that had a flip out side. The people who owned it had literally cut the roof and floor hinges off. John and some friends put it back together and framed in the outside wall. We got 2 x 4’s free from a friend. We bought a sliding glass door and two windows from another friend for $85.00. (I didn’t have pictures of the trailer in pieces so this is after the first day of work.) Once the frame was up for the wall, we put tyvek (also free from a friend who had it leftover after home construction) on the outside and then put plywood over that. We then put in the sliding door, and one of the windows.
The next day we installed the 2nd window, sealed the seam in the roof with Butyl, framed in the door and the windows, added frame boards on the seams, caulked it all and sealed/primed the exterior wood. We even added a little decorative touch under the windows with extra framing boards.
We also got free insulation from a friend of a friend. We had enough to insulate all the new walls.
Using the free 2 x 4’s and a few posts that were donated by another friend, we built a deck. Here is another tip. Stair stringers are VERY Expensive. John and a friend literally went to Home Depot, took a 2 x 10, laid a pre-cut stringer on it and traced the stringer outline on a 2 x 10 with a pencil. Then they used a skill saw to cut along the lines and they had a stringer. Then they used that stringer as a template, traced out two more and we had three stair stringers for our deck. About 15 minutes of work for a savings of $6 each for a total of $18.00 in savings. (Stringers are $12.97 each, 2 x 10 x 8 are $6.97 each.)
We purchased some floor leveler and filled the holes and leveled up the floor and added plywood (also free in a barter deal) for a smooth surface.
We got a bunch of kitchen cabinets a while back from a friend of a friend that were takeouts from a kitchen remodel. They are not perfect, but a fresh coat of paint will make them look like new again. We are in the process of revamping the kitchen now. The trailer didn’t come with a stove or refrigerator. John found an RV refrigerator and gas stove on craigslist.org for less than $100. The refrigerator runs on 12 volt, propane and 110. The stove is a full size Magic Chef gas stove. The trailer originally had a gas stove, but it was a small apartment sized so the space for it was only 24 inches. We needed 30 inches for the full size stove, so we removed what was a cookie sheet cabinet and now have exactly the right width to put the stove in the same spot. We tore down what was an overhead cabinet in the kitchen and are putting 3 base cabinets place of that and where a desk apparently had been used as a counter. The refrigerator will be mounted up above the counter so there will be a small storage cabinet under the refrigerator. We are keeping the existing bar that separates the kitchen from the living area but otherwise leaving the space open to make it feel larger. What used to be a door going into the bedroom we are utilizing as a pantry door and building a small pantry. We reversed the door swing so it swings out into the kitchen instead of into the bedroom. The pantry will be about 3 1/2 feet deep and about 3 feet wide and is in what would have been a wasted corner in the bedroom. We are adding louver doors from the living area into the bedroom so the entry to the bedroom has changed, but doing so allowed us to get extra storage space. There will be room beside the louver door to place a high boy dresser for clothes.
We have tile that I got in a barter deal and there is more than enough to tile the entire ghetto.
From February to now we had some down time due to rainy season and the heat. Now that the season is winding down, we are back to work going as fast as possible to finish the project and make it livable. This will allow us to stay at the property while we are working on the house and the land.
As of today, we still need to:
- Lay rubber on roof seam to eliminate leaks
- Install the refrigerator
- Install the stove
- Install the cabinets
- Install counter tops on cabinets
- Spray the inside of the walls with Diatomaceous earth to keep bugs and scorpions under control
- Panel the interior walls
- Add shelves in pantry
- Install Louver doors in bedroom
- Install a/c units
- Add small deck to other entry side slider and door
- Tile Floor
- Add septic system
- Add gray water system
- Bush hog the property around the living area and garden area
- Sprinkle around the living and garden area with Diatomaceous earth
- Install LED lighting to 12 volt system
- Install Solar Panels
Here is a tally of what we have spent to date.
- Trailer $Free
- Tyvek $Free
- Tile $Free
- Insulation $Free
- Plywood $Free
- Fence Posts $Free
- Cabinets $Free
- Tile $Free
- Plywood $150.00
- Butyl/Caulk $20.00
- 2 Windows $40.00
- Sliding door $45.00
- Leveling $20.00
- Refrigerator $40.00
- Stove $45.00
- Primer/Sealer $79.00
- Stringers $20.91
- Framing $30.00
- Solar Panels $795.00
Total to date $1284.91