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  • johnirvin000

Contractors, Permits, and Moving. Oh My!

I am finally on the land in New Mexico!

I have the contract signed with a local contractor to build my foundation and slab which will be poured as a monolithic slab with insulation surrounding the footers and under then slab its self. He is also putting in the septic system, waste plumbing, and hydronic heating in said slab. Work should start later this month (April 2022) and should be done by mid May construction supplies and weather permitting.

I also got all my ducks in a row for permitting with the county. I passed the building department review of my plans with some minor changes (hardwired smoke and CO detectors) and the zoning clearance allowing me to build. The over all cost so far for permitting, addressing, zoning and plan review came to just over $2000 which is really cheap compared to what I thought it would be. All of this done means that the contractor can start without issues.

I have had a couple of people ask why go through all this red tape to get permitted when I'm so remote? After all the fines for an unpermitted home are fairly minimal if reported or inspected. In a word insurance. I would like to be able to carry full insurance on both the structure and contents of my home once its built and that is not possible if you don't have a certificate of occupancy (CoO). The only way I have found to obtain a CoO is by going down the permit and inspection path. c'est la vie.

Moving happened over the last week in March and the first week in April. It was an adventure all on its own. The move took two half ton trucks (one over twenty years old), my RV, and a twelve foot enclosed cargo trailer (Thanks a ton Chip!!!!).

The getting here went pretty well until the mountain pass and then things went a little sideways. The twenty year old truck decided to over-heat half way up the pass and I really can't blame it. I'd over-heat too hauling a 21 foot trailer up a 5% grade. No damage to the engine just some steam and a low coolant light. We let it cool, added water, and back on the road. The rest of the driving went uneventfully.

Next step in being livable was solar. I purchased a 5.12KW lithium iron phosphate battery, a all-in-one charge controller and inverter that could "speak" with the battery for charge and duty cycles, and 15 used 250 watt solar panels. The used panels have a warranty and are guaranteed to be at least 200 watts. After assessing space requirements when arriving I decided to only setup 12 of the 15 panels. After some some initial struggles with the all-in-one unit (silly factory defaults) everything was up and working. With that being said the current setup generates approximately 2.1KW on a sunny day after losses for wiring and conversion in voltage meaning that my battery can go from dead to full in just under two and 1/2 hours. I hope before summer is over to expand with another battery to have more power than I can possibly use in 24 hours. If you have questions about how, what, or where I purchased my solar gear feel free to ask.

After solar it was time to find water. I plan on adding rain catchment to my roof once the project is done and in the near future I want to drill a well. The first of those requires a roof which comes later and the second I am currently wait listed with a driller so some alternative needed to be found. This is where having great neighbors is so awesome. My nearest neighbors are about a 1/4 mile away but they are super friendly and have a well. I purchased three IBC totes before moving down here. Each one is 275 gallons and I made sure to get ones that were food safe (mine had cooking oil or biodegradable hand-soap in them). All together they make up 825 gallons of water storage. My neighbors ,being the awesome people that they are, allow me to fill my totes whenever I need more water. I offered to pay them for the water and I was told no the well runs on solar which makes it free to use for them and they had more than enough to share (Thank you so much M&L). The best part about the water in the aquifer here is that it is pristine. You can drink it straight out of the ground and it has what seems to be a little CO2 dissolved in it so it is almost effervescent. So water in the near term is sorted until the my well can be drilled.

Internet is required to do my job but was fairly straightforward. I have access to cell signal on my land so I went down the path of getting a modem and data plan for one of the carriers with good access and a decent price. I also made sure to get a decent usage package so I didn't have to worry about overages/throttling. This was my primary plan and it worked fine to get work done but I was in for a surprise. In September of last year I put a deposit in for Starlink and at the time it looked like the waiting period for the hardware would have me receiving it in late Q3 early Q4 of 2022. Well while I was down here for the first week of my move it shipped. I got it about 3 weeks ago and setup was a breeze. I also get crazy fast speeds for being in the middle of nowhere (140 Mbps down and 45+ up) and it's cheaper than what I was paying back home which is a colossal win.

The last thing to setup after getting here was some kind of anchor for the RV. The winds here can get extreme (40 MPH gusting to 60MPH) and I wanted to make sure that my RV wouldn't suddenly fly away a la Dorothy or flip over with me in it. Fortunately there is a easy solution. Several companies make screw in ground anchors that look like what you might put in to attach a dog to in a back yard but much more heavy duty. I put one of these on each corner and two on the axle of my RV buried to the eye on top putting about 4 feet of steel in the ground. Then using 1/4 inch cable and some wire rope clamps I secured the frame and axle to the tie downs. I can say since installing them I am glad I did. I have had about 48 hours of strong winds last week with gusts above 60 MPH and although I had some mild shaking nothing moved.

Until next time stay groovy

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