New and updating, welcome to 2012

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We’ve been out of town for a while, visiting Erin’s family over on the east coast. How awesome was your Christmas and New Year? Mine was just perfect!

Econlockhatchee River, Orlando Florida
Econlockhatchee River, Orlando Florida

We’ve been looking into the logistics of buying land and building codes etc. It’s not an easily traveled road. Land buying is not generally given any love by the banks, so you are left with owner financing. Building codes are not meant to help the owner builder, but instead make it so the “industry” gets as many of their materials inside our homes. This creates on average a %40 or more waste of materials per home built. This only applies if you plan on doing this up to code and legally of course, which we are. Since we plan on building an Eco educational B&B out of sustainable materials and practices (best case scenario).

Currently we are in the process of eliminating what we call an over abundance of possessions. It’s crazy how much “cool” stuff you can accumulate if you don’t watch your self (and are a recovering pack rat). The consumer lifestyle is catching up to us all one way or another, I think it’s time to clean house. Both literally and figuratively.

Next on the agenda is lessening our cost of living; I was just struck about the meaning of that phrase a while back while talking with a friend. At any rate, we want to reduce our foot print while at the same time lessen our dependence on mindless work to pay bills we don’t even need in the first place. Radical, it may seem but I bet it’s a more rewarding lifestyle than paycheck to paycheck only to be able to afford that new plasma TV or Ipad.

So here we are, new year. Renewed vigor! Wishing you the best on this year of great changes.



  1. Sergio,

    I think I’m on the same track with you. I too am struggling to get rid of my jail of possessions. Convenience is a powerful force.

    I am rejecting the entire paradigm in which we live. Consumerism is a lie promoted to us by the corporate owned media and endorsed and enforced by our corporate and lobby run government.

    “Success” as I know it is a lie. I was encouraged to be a good citizen and buy a house. Fail. I was encouraged to ‘keep shopping’ after 911. Fail. I am encouraged to eat food that is manufactured with ingredients that are poisonous. Fail. I should just keep working and continue to buy polluting products made from copious amount of petroleum in China by slaves. Everything I hear from my civilization is false.

    I want the freedom to build what I want, grow my own food, start a business without some agency’s approval and if I’m going to pay taxes I want affordable healthcare and education not ongoing wars that continue to empower our current oligarchy. I realize that ending our current (non-sustainable consumer system) will come at a cost to my mobility and comfort. Bring it on. I’m AM grateful for the life of abundance I have been born into. Though, now that I see the consequences of this free market existence on the health of our planet and it’s creatures….I don’t want it anymore. I want to enjoy time with friends, make some vegetarian food, read a book and perform skills that I enjoy that help the people in my community. How can I get this?

    Because my life choices right now are controlled by a wealthy elite I will be tempted to also reject our electoral college system(where we elect the people who elect our masters). I’m going to play this game but also put some skin in the game. I’m going to continue to support the Occupy movement. The civil rights movement was a legal win that brought constitutional rights to monorities. That movement did NOT bring cultural economic equality to these disenfranchised people. Occupy addresses economic inequality in a way that no other movement in the US ever has. This is why I will continue to take Occupy style actions against the energy companies and fight against the Alberta Tar Sands XL pipeline. I will fight the banks who foreclose illegally on homes. I will occupy the front lawns of Congress people who refuse to reverse Citezens United that allows for unlimited corporate campaign contributions. I consider it our only hope for an equitable future in America and on this planet.

  2. A person I consider to be very wise said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. You are right, talk is cheap, and complaining is even worse. Let’s make a better world happen.

  3. One trick to building a community is to acquire land in CA that is zoned agricultural (A1) and then to go ahead and farm it. There is a state law that clearly mandates that a farm can house as many agricultural workers as necessary. This can be any form of housing: tents, trailers, a 35-person boarding house, and up to 12 single family dwellings.

    This is probably the best loophole to legally having a community. Everyone needs to be a farm worker. This law is very strong: it specifically says that it overrides any local zoning laws.

    Otherwise, there’s no other legal zoning designation for having a whole community living on a single property.

    Buildings that could be interpreted as for farm usage (like barns) still need to be permitted but that should be a fairly easy and inexpensive. Housing for ag workers needs to be legal for living, so building codes are stricter.

    Another approach would be to apply to be a bed and breakfast, retreat or some other commercial facility, but this could take years and be very expensive, including getting “conditional use permits” which could theoretically be revoked at any time.

    As far as building materials, probably the best approach is to use recycled materials, since these are by definition the most eco-friendly, requiring zero resources.

    But unless you’re really in the boonies, you may find that attempting to follow every zoning law and government regulation to the T will be extremely difficult, time-consuming and even prevent you from ever getting your project off the ground (unless you have tons of $$ and are willing to wait years).

    In Topanga, many people with existing properties who want to put up a structure, simply do it very quickly without permits. Then if it’s discovered, they pay the fine and get it permitted. It’s pretty rare that you have to tear down something already built. And if the walls are closed up they may not be able to tell that you’ve used an eco-friendly but unapproved form of insulation.

    A good approach to moving forward with actualizing a vision, is to just to jump in and do it and not to attempt to get permission from the government first. If any authority has a problem with what you’re doing, they will usually work with you to find a reasonable solution, especially if the work is already done. If you are respectful and friendly, you should be able to negotiate a good solution. But if you wait for the government to approve your radical visions, you may never get your project off the ground.

    Another big consideration is your neighbors. A piece of land with no close neighbors and lots of privacy is infinitely more valuable. Neighbors can cause huge problems by calling the authorities if they don’t like what you’re doing. If you have lots of privacy, you’ll be more free to do whatever you like– Outta sight, outta mind.

    Privacy is invaluable, so it’s worth buying a very large piece of land with has lots of natural privacy.

    Most importantly, if you want to push the envelope, be bold, believe in yourself and don’t let the system stand in your way!

    This is actually a great time to acquire property. If you are willing to live in a rural area, you can buy land without using a bank, simply by having the owner carry the mortgage. This only works if the owner owns the land free and clear. But there is a great deal of land in this condition, and it is very hard to sell rural property, because it is so difficult for people to get bank loans. You can set the interest rate to be whatever you like, say 3.5% fixed. Prices are way down and interest rates have never been this low, and you don’t even need a bank to do it!

    Always buy land that has at least one house on it, otherwise you’ll need to go through a million hoops before you can build the first structure. Multiple structures are even better, since you can usually repair them without obtaining permits.

    I’m happy to brainstorm with anyone about this subject, I have lots of experience wrestling with these issues…
    Dlight [email protected]

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