While I would love to buy some land in the middle of nowhere and build a small cabin myself, the fact is that is a lofty goal that may never happen. Instead, we need to look for ways we can afford it, what we can work with, and how we can make it happen.
The easiest way to do all this would be to purchase a house that we can work on with enough land to live off of and convert it to off grid. The second easiest way would be to buy a newer RV, convert it to off grid, and get land where we can live in an RV and have help building a house. The hardest option would be to buy land, find someone to design a house from my rough drawings, have it built by professionals, and then move in when it is all done. It’s possible, but probably the most expensive. A fourth option would be to build, or have help building, a tiny home that is on wheels and move it to our final location.
Buying an established house
If we were to buy land with a house, we’d be stuck with whatever the builders had done and have to work with that. It limits our design choices, limits what we can add, but it has the option of probably being cheaper and definitely faster. It would be best if we could go see the house, find out all that needs to be done, and figure out what we can change and what can be left. We’d be limited by placing on the lot, where outbuildings can be, and availability.
With an established house, everything is done. Electric is there, water and sewer as well. We could just move in and start changing what we need to change. Building codes would likely not be an issue, but things like networking and smart tech I can add myself. It would also probably mean it would be closer to a city as well, but we can choose the exact city we want and find something there that works.
It is also much, much easier to buy land with a house on it already than to buy empty land with the intent to build on it.
Using an RV as an intermediary house
Since we live in an RV now, if we were able to get one with more space and convert it to off grid, we would have the advantage of being able to live in something we like as we are building. We’d have a roof over our heads, have everything we need, have heat and power. But it means buying a newer RV, then land, then building a house. That is probably the most expensive option since in the end, we’d have an RV we weren’t using. We’d also have duplicate systems since we’d have everything in the RV we’d need in the house, but might not be able to use it all and transfer it over easily.
Then of course, we have to build the house we’d live in. That can take time and obviously takes money. I can do some work myself, but depending on the area, would have to hire others to do most of it. There are building codes to meet most places and I am not fluent on the laws of every jurisdiction.
If we could sell the RV at the end, or have something small enough we could use to travel, that would be an option as well. Then we could occasionally go camping or have a place for guests to stay while they come visit.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Buy land and have a house built
If I can do enough work to design a house so only a final architect needs to make the professional drawings, or even buy some premade plans, we can have it built and ready to go and just move in when it is done. We could stay in the RV we currently have while it is being built, then sell it and move all our stuff to the house. That would give us the most options since we can basically order a house and move there when it is done. It would mean the least amount of duplicate work since we would not need solar on our RV, and we could probably design something to our specifications and have it done professionally by someone else.
We have looked at Tiny Houses before, and that still is an option. There is a tiny house manufacturer near us, so if we could afford it, we could have one built and on wheels so we can take it to the final location when it is done. It would require a little work to place it on a foundation, but it would have the benefit of being small for us, maybe affordable, and done by professionals.
Tiny homes can get very expensive though. Many of them have similar benefits of a house, just without a lot of space. If we could design it right, we could get all we want and have the ability to see it as it is being built in case things need to be changed.
Still not decided on which direction to go
At this point, I do not know which option is the best. The tiny house seems like a good idea if we do it under the assumption that once done, it will not be moved again. That way, we can add on to it when we want more space, and it should be small and efficient. It would allow us to have more input on the design as well, but comes with costs and some sacrifices in space.