This is the final part of this article series, As the title indicates, reviewing our family’s move to the American Redoubt and building our log cabin. We have the majority of the work behind us at this point and are now at the final steps and finishes.
(Plumbing required two weeks.) I’ve never done plumbing before, so I became acquainted with Mr. YouTube for over a score of hours. I sat inside a McDonald’s restaurant to utilize their free Wi-Fi, as I don’t have it so remotely out in the boonies, to gain an understanding of the ins and outs of plumbing.
Three Parts to Plumbing
There really are three parts to plumbing. The first is the internal organs of the drainage and venting system from roof to septic tank. Then the second is the PEX water lines feeding every fixture in the home with hot or cold water. Third is the gas lines, which I didn’t attempt and hired a licensed plumber.
Plumbing Venting System
After filling up my hot cup of tea with honey at McDonald’s, I waved goodbye to the cashier and realized I was going to tackle the plumbing venting system for myself. This was because it had to be accomplished prior to the roof being installed. (See roofing step above.) The code called for a four-inch venting PVC pipe to exit the roof and must be higher than the highest peak; then I was to couple it down to a three-inch PVC pipe inside the home. The reason for the large four-inch PVC pipe to penetrate the roof (the portion visible outside of the home) is due to the cold weather and ice building up as cold air and moister entered.
The venting system ran down the entire length of the loft and bottom floor and terminated just below the floor joist in the crawlspace. It was one vertical length with no elbows but just connected with sleeves. I would come back to it later after the roof was on.
After the roof portion was cemented in, I jumped to installing the internal anatomy of the sewer/waste system connected to the septic tank. For those of you that think this is unattainable for you, YouTube and a variety of videos will be your immediate friend. Those videos will cover the bandwidth of code, techniques, and proper installation of your project needs.
So we’re reversing gears and now picking up the trail from the four-inch PVC sewer line as it entered the crawlspace through the concrete wall. Again, you want to start at the furthest point away, with the sewer line tucked right up in the floor joist and eventually work your way to the sewer inlet from the septic tank.
Be sure to make all your cuts, placement of elbows, different sized junctions, and length of drainpipe to your water fixture is dried in without actually gluing them into place. I was fortunate to have the plumber come the very next day after I dried in the plumbing lines as he was installing the gas lines. He gave my work a spot check, make a quick couple of adjustments for me, and verbally signed off on all my plumbing work. I knew I was home free at that point.
The Venting System
So now I have the venting system in place, one air vent to every one fixture, and the sewer line, which essentially is the drain line, all in tacked ready for priming and gluing. Remember that your drain pipes will rage from 1.5 inches in diameter for sinks, two inches for showers, and three inches for toilets. These will all be connected into your 4-inch sewer/drain line.
NOTE: The sewer line must be sloped properly even inside your building structure. At the end where it will connect to the incoming line from the septic tank, it can 90-degree into a straight down connection, into the already slopped properly septic sewer line entering the home. You might want to cap off the already plumbed drain tentacles, such as for the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, toilet, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, or anything else you had configured on your plumbing plan.
Water Lines for Hot and Cold
Next was spending more time at McDonalds soaking up free Wi-Fi and this time gleaning the wisdom from licensed plumbers on YouTube to lay out all the water lines for both hot and cold. I chose PEX plastic lines over copper lines inside the home. This was an easy portion of the plumbing job because of not using copper pipes, as the plastic PEX lines just crimped into place or had valve sleeves, which was a synch to insert and go.
NOTE: Be sure you use as many of the PEX shut off valves as you can. It will aid in winterizing the home quickly and effectively. A crawl space will hold its temperature all year around (above freezing), so be sure to pace your shut off valves in a nonfreezing location. However, in the event that a PEX line freezes, there is more leniency for expansion than if you use the old standard copper pipes.
Purchase of PEX Crimper and Plumbing Items
I added a PEX crimper to my tool arsenal. It cost about $100. With the whips of PEX lines, blue for cold water and red for hot water, sticking out of the walls and floors, and viewing all the drains in place, it was now time to purchase the items that the installed plumbing would eventually service, such as toilets, showers, vanities, sinks, dishwashers, et cetera. This was more spending but also more checked boxes of your overall listing of surmounting tasks. The project is now shaping up.
(The installation of a stove and chimney required two days.) The chimney was purchased from Home Depot, and from the picture you understand it is temporary for now. The stone fireplace will be constructed as a later milestone. I will also undertake that feat with the use of YouTube videos. Ha!
I purchased the stove first, so I knew I needed a 6-inch flue for the size of stove. It was a large wood-burning stove that can handle 21-inch logs to the tune of ten of them in one burn. That way you can load them up at night and in the morning you have hot coals ready to start your next batch. I will admit, if you’re not use to the cold, it can bite you. You might not sleep well if you can’t get over being cold at night. So, use a large fireplace to keep warm all night long. It was the only source of heat for this first winter. We will get better as time goes on.
To save time, I purchased two full cords of wood from a local wood retailer. He also got in trouble by the city for cutting wood on his private property within the city boundaries. Liberals are everywhere…Go figure!
Putting the Stove In
Putting the stove in, first the 6-inch flue hole was cut in the logs exactly in the position above the vent for the stove. Then it was a matter of assembling the components for the chimney outside and connecting the inside chimney to the stove inside. This took a full day to accomplish.
Boy, was it needed, as the cold set in that weekend and the first burn of logs was just icing on the cake. There’s nothing like having your hot fire with your hot tea poured right from the kettle, with your hot honey, and then sitting back and enjoying those flames warming your souls. It was a morale booster and fantastically romantic.
Organize the Wood Into Stacks
I was able to organize the wood outside into nice sync stacks in categories of tinder, kindling, to log fuel for the fire. I placed the three stacks right next to the opposite porch not connected to the driveway. That way no one would be walking in on that side. You might want to have a steel bucket nearby and a brush/poker to maintain the fire and fireplace.
NOTE: The chimney is in need of cleaning every two months and should be cleaned from the top down. Since this means getting onto the roof, even in the winter months, I have planned a long cable to be run along the outside fascia on the highest peak. It will be installed this spring and tested long in advance of the winter snow.
(The tile floor required three weeks, including time set aside for cement board, tile, and grout.) This was the most fun, I must admit. The Home Depot guys were great in illustrating what to use, how to apply each step of the task, and the proper tools to utilize for this entire endeavor.
Fireproof Cement Backing Boards
The first step toward our floor was to cement in place the 3×5-foot sheets of backing boards. This is a fireproof cement board, which the actual tile will be affixed to. To complete this step after cementing to the subfloor, a nail is required about every eight inches of space on the board.
Cementing Tile To Backer Board
Next was actually cementing the tile to the backer board. This required a specialized cement mixed into large pails and then applied it to the back of the tile with a grooved trawl creating sync lines of equal spacing to affix to the backer boards already cemented and nailed to the subfloor.
Plastic Space and Grouting
Once each tile was applied according to the floor layout, and a 3/16ths plastic spacer inserted in between, the floor was readied for grouting. This is the last step and should be done when the tiles are totally dried and affixed to the backer boards. Mix the grout in the color of your palette choosing, with the special mix, into a large bucket. Once the grout is thick and not runny, like the cement was, it’s ready to be placed into the cracks/crevices of the tile floor. Apply this thicker coat of cement (grout) into your tile cracks starting on the back wall first and working your way out the door of the room. You will need a special tool for this grouting, as it’s a different version of the trawl you used for the tile and backer board steps.
Items Designed on Paper But Not Completed
There are a variety of items that are designed on paper but not currently completed. Stay tuned for the following:
- Concrete Driveway Pad with Drain, and Gravel to Road
- Water Cistern/Well
- Solar Panel/Battery Bank/Sub Station
- Amateur Radio Antenna/Rig Station
- Stone Chimney/Fireplace
- Exterior Cattle/Horse Fencing
- Barn/Feed Areas
After reading JWR’s book, Tools For Survival, and having already prepped in the tool area, there are some specialty tools needed for building a log home. Here are some tips and recommended tools for you:
- Use a large plastic bin (sold at tool retailers) to tote your tools around. Until you have locking doors and a secure home, all your tools should be taken into your possession, such as your pickup truck or hotel. Since I stayed overnight at the jobsite each evening, I was able to leave the tools locked in the big totes.
- I also recommend you have a set of cordless tools. DeWalt was my brand. Just pick one brand and stick with it, because the batteries will exchange within toolsets, like saws, drills, grinders, sanders, sawzall, et cetera.) If you choose all different brands, your batteries will not interchange, and you will be stuck if you need to charge many different batteries, soaking up outlets on your generator for many chargers throughout the day. On the same token, I recommend having a corded set of those same tools. For instance I had two of each: drills, sanders, grinders, circular saws, saber saws, drills, and impact wrenches. However, I had just one sawzall. This gives you ample backups, if needed, and also the corded tools can do your heavy lifting for you, while your cordless tools are great for on ladders, roofs, gables, and far away places from the generator.
- I purchased two chainsaws– one for large log cutting, which was needed for the windows and doors, and the other for the intricate cuts, such as for electrical boxes and any fine tuning of the logs as needed. Use chaps for your legs, ear/eye protection, and gloves. It also is recommended to have the correct cutting oi, chain sharpening tools, and even spare chains. It is finicky, when you cut, so you might need to adjust the saw periodically.
Do It Yourself and Save!
Having said all that about tools, there are tools you will own that will most likely never be used again, such as the PEX plumbing crimper. But if you ever have to install a spare line in the future, you save the cost of labor for a plumber. Do it yourself.
NOTE: The American Redoubt is a rip-off by construction companies. Their estimates are way overpriced, compared with those of other states. There was over $100,000 saved in labor costs by doing everything myself. That is not an estimate but a fact. The cheapest estimate in labor I’ve received was north of 100-grand, and the highest estimate was over $300,000 to “put it all together.” What a gouge!
Is a real treat to cook your first batch of canned beans, in your new cast iron pan, on your brand new wood burning stove. I’ve heated up water in minutes for our morning cup of tea and even cooked salmon and bread inside the stove with a burn-proof container. We’ve even made popcorn. You know you’re “working-it” off grid when all of these items are delicious to your taste buds and satisfying to the soul.
Trash was removed when there were a few contractor bags full of items. I took them out in small batches. There were no large ticket items, such as logs and extra wood/material, as purchasing the correct amount of supplies was the catalyst of having no unneeded waste. That happens with a good assessment and correct arithmetic (something homeschoolers know about), not common-core math from the public school arena.
NOTE: I’ve used a few dumpsters in the major cities that I had permission to use. Most places it’s illegal to dump at random. So be sure you have the “okay” first.
Keep your powder dry.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part six of a six part entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).
Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.