Episode-657- Creating the Low Cost BOL — 35 Comments

  1. Creative signs DO work! A couple weeks ago, we had some awful storms and flooding. My husband had worked ’til 3:30am, he came home, got the sump pump plugged into the generator, and didn’t get to bed ’til 5:00am. Then he was up again at 8:30am to go back to work. Needless to say, I knew he’d need his coffee, but he managed to leave without it.

    Once I noticed the coffee on the counter, I called him. He was grateful that I’d noticed, and since he was about a half a mile from home, he opted to come back and get it.

    It took him more than 10 minutes to get back home, and when I met him in the driveway with his cup, I found out why. Apparently, I had called him right after he’d turned on the “back road” that he takes to his job. There are few roads and no driveways to use as turn-arounds. Not having found a suitable spot to turn around, he turned right onto another country road thinking he might find a driveway THERE. He found ONE driveway. Across the driveway was a chain with a sign hanging from it that read “No tresspassing! Violators will be prosecuted.” Thing was, the word “prosecuted” was crossed out and the word “shot” was written over it. Needless to say, he didn’t turn around there, and he ended up taking a 3-mile trip around the block instead of back-tracking that half mile.

  2. I recently bought some walkway or driveway accent lighting and found they are very handy lighting when the electricity goes out it is just enough light to read by and is enough lite to find your way around and they have a very long life spand

    Love Your Shows Keep up The Good Work
    Ronald Kleinow
    Mc Gregor Iowa

  3. You are wrong about the sawdust toilette. I am using one now inside and there is zero odor.

  4. Excellent show, Jack! I ran across The Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat book over the weekend and bought it on a whim. A fancy cottage on the water doesn’t look like it will be in the cards, but a budget get-away would be most appreciated!

  5. One way to save energy in cold weather is to turn down the heat and use a heating pad to stay warm. I sit at my desk with a down comforter and sit on a heating pad. The pad uses about 10 watts on the low setting which is more than enough to keep me warm.

  6. 2 more great resources for finding good cheap land are eaglestar and landwatch. 1000’s upon 1000’s of listings

  7. Great show and good timing…I just put my soon to be BOL under contract. This book seems like it would be a good knowledge base to work from while developing the property.

    Regarding “shacks”, I would love to hear a show specifically on BOL structures. I’ve spent some time looking at wofati structures and eco buildings, and they’re cool but I’m talking about low cost cabins, cabin kits, and all the considerations that should be taken into account when purchasing or building one. For example, if you want to do a small (300 sq-ft) hybrid eco building/cabin where one end of the property is built into a berm, what kind of structural strength do you need on the side that’s built into the berm and what type of considerations need to be made for mold, pests (i.e. termites), regular maintenance, etc. One problem I’ve had on the website is that I couldn’t find many specifics on reinforcing the parts of the structure which are adjacent to an earthen wall or earth covered roof. Could be fatal when tons of earth come pouring down on you while you’re sleeping.

  8. Great episode Jack! Anyway you can interview MD Creekmore on your show? Hearing both of you discuss this topic would be pretty badass!!!

  9. Tip to the listeners: I use a free program called “MP3 Knife” (google it) to cut off the first 5 minutes of the show before listening to it. That takes 20 seconds to do and saves me listening to 5 minutes of commercials from Jack.

  10. The guy above me should be nominated for asshat of the year. Jack works his ass off to provide us with a free show worth its weight in gold. Those “commercials” your complaining about make it all possible. If you appriciate the show then you should appriciate the sponsors that make it possible and face it, the sponsors are generally badass and have good products. I suggest you deal with the commercials or stop listening. No matter which you choose i suggest you voice your personal issues with the podcast to jack privately instead of looking like a prick in public. Godspeed friend.

  11. Agreed. Even regardless of the fact that special items, promotions and mention generally get put into the housekeeping portion of the show…
    If you choose to not listen to that portion, just tune it out.

  12. RE: Burying a shipping container.

    It’s my understanding that burying a structure which is meant to be accessed via any kind of tunnels or secret doors could pose a fire hazard in the eyes of the local fire marshal. (Something about air currents traveling through the tunnels and spreading the flames, and then trapping people below ground in a fire.) My guess about such a fire policy comes from this not-so-kind 6-minute Penn & Teller video.

    So do your best to keep the danged thing (and your digging/burying efforts) an absolute secret. Otherwise official-types in suits and/or badges might come knocking on your door with a court order to either dig it up or seal it shut for “safety” purposes.

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  14. I think sexy liveconnections is yet another spammer! (And he/she posts in fluent “Engrish” as well.)

  15. probably a bit off topic, and no I am not a spammer, but I am interested in how people think about buying land/BOL versus buying a rental house or some other kind of income producing asset. Sure a BOL is great for recreation and apocalpyse-prevention, but a rental property is better from a sustainability point of view and to help in being less dependent on the cubical-life many of us are enslaved by. I am considering both right now. My heart wants some land and BOL, but I would rather start building independence and independent income. Our Fearless Leader was able to combine the two!

  16. Gilimoed,
    Buy farmland and rent it out while using a corner for your BOL. Use the rent to pay off the loan, then live off the income.

  17. Re power, also be careful about the legislative side of it, as where I am ( New Zealand ), it is possible for a grid connection to actually Preclude ( to a large extent) the installation of other means of electricity generation.
    This is because there is a several thousand dollar fee for the paper work for starting the process of connecting distrubted generation systems at a given site, another similer fee for any change to that proposal, and many layers of checks and inspections.
    Add to that, that you will not be able to make that money back easily. you will buy power at a much higher rate than you can sell it.
    And don’t bother trying to sneak a connection, that is a fine in the realms of millions, if you are lucky. if you are unlucky it’s jail time for neglagent homoside, when some unfortunate utility worker gets fried.

    That said, In my opinion, the more sources you have for power generation, the better. that way, you are more likely to have a voltage source that is not adversly affected by whatever condition applies at the time

  18. as far as hooking the murs up the internet its entirely possible google arduino and arduino ethernet shield(if your into coding). I have done some decent custom remote notification setups with these this pair but if you are going to have cameras most ip cameras will support email notifications of motion check out this one or if you are going with the analog camera/dvr setup just get a dvr that supports motion triggered email alerts. If your looking to record video and your linux savy check out zoneminder it will let you adjust the frame rate when there is motion that way your not recording high quality video 24/7

  19. Any tips on fining land in california? Everything around me Atwater CA is damn expensive.

  20. Charles, land here is just expensive and thats all there is to it. But id go check with your county and try to get a public lands map that shows private property as well. There are still a handfull of “junk” properties that boarder public ground. Also check out eagle star and landwatch. Ive found a few that way.. But as far as finding a cheap plot of dirt to buy, they are few and far between but the do exist.. There are several 5 acre plots around squaw valley that are reasonal like 30grand+, but nothing dirt cheap. we are just in a state where realestate of any kind is just more expensive than most other states. Not much we can do about it. There is also alot of cheap land out in the desert in california city, mojave area. But its pretty poor property for more than recreational purposes.

  21. thanks for the tips jared. I hope to just walk into a good deal someday.

  22. Great show, motivates me to at least get my house cleaned up and fixed up in case prices rise and I want to sell and use cash to buy a small piece of land. I’m already living part time in a small camper, and it is not that bad (for a single guy).

    Did I miss it or did Jack leave out wood stoves for heat? A friend of mine has one, and during the winter, his BOL “lodge” is always 80 or 90 degrees! (At least if feels like that.)

    Also he has water from a spring but doesn’t drink it due to possible contamination. I’m thinking of recommending a Berkey system to him.

  23. “No commercials” is a sharthead. I bought the small house book from They may not be wofati or underground, but they are permanent and small enough to where it just ain’t gonna be that much to heat and cool, provided you place the thing in a decent location. I think building one yourself, at least partially, is feasible for most people. Another site, has got some absolutely gorgeous little cabins, but not dirt cheap. Still they are much less than your typical suburban home.

  24. One more good resource for “junk” properties is landcentral. Ive been shopping around for about a year now and still havent found my ideal piece of ground for my bol which will double as a rec/hunting base and possible back up home if need be yet. Ive found several that are close to what im after but nothing yet that has screamed buy me now. Sooner or later one will turn up and im only 28 so ive got time on my side.

  25. I found a site that might be helpful for some of the TSP folks. Check out

    I have been looking at property in Oklahoma and found that many of the counties even have a listing of properties that are delinquent on their taxes and upcoming tax sales. Very cool! I had really not thought of searching online for something like this until I heard Jack mention buying property from folks who are behind on their taxes. Thanks for another informative show!

  26. Great show. I’m looking to do something along the lines of setting up cheap BOL. I’m going to start with a big shed and a crushed stone “campsite” area for my pop-up. I’m going to run electric out to the shed. This BOL will be my stepping stone to eventually build a house on the property.

  27. What was the website for property searches that Jack mentioned either on this show or recently? I recall him saying that you shouldn’t look at work because once you start, you will spend a lot of time browsing.

  28. I was listning to the episode few hours ago…great ideas/ponts made.

    could I add 3 more suggestions on alternate BOL housing?

    ISOBOXes…premade with plumping etc…. they are the construction site favorites. Maybe a used oen can be found.

    Old railroad carts….(the wooden old style oens)…They are surplussed regularly and are used as farm-sheds etc when one does not want to spend on building and on the state fees/tax….

    Used fridge trucks, (around 5-tons)….tehy can be found dirt cheap and the box is insulated too…

    My 3 cents worm of, Kostas , Greece

  29. GREAT SHOW… Was trolling through back episodes and ran across this as right now I am in the beginning stages of doing the same thing.

    I haven’t finished listening but here are some tips…

    As a stupid, reckless, and should I say “typical” teenage boy, we used to go hiking, mountain biking, etc through ALL of the woods in the rural area where I grew up.

    I am by no means proud of this but I can attest to the fact that if you park a travel trailer somewhere secluded someone IS going to find it and IS going to mess with it. My stepbrother and I found a travel trailer parked WAY back in the woods, in a place where nobody really went. I would assume that in a typical month two people may have set foot on the property during any given time. Anyway, being the stupid, destructive, idiotic teenagers we were — we destroyed the thing in no time at all. We broke into the thing in less than a minute and in less than 10 minutes all the windows, doors were gone. The roof had so many holes in it and was half torn off by the time we were done and I am sure that any rain post-mortem did nothing to help the situation.

    That was the end of it. We were in and out so fast that there was zero chance of anyone knowing we had been there and it was quite a good distance from my house. Well, sure enough the land owner was going around town investigating trying to find out “who dunnit.” My family had suspicions that I was involved but I denied it and they could never prove a thing. This was a very close knit community where everyone knew everyone else and my uncle was dead set knowing for sure I had been involved and threatened to severely beat my ass if he could ever prove it.

    That is just one example. Eventually people are going to find their way onto your property especially if it is isolated. I cannot count the number of times I have gone on VERY long hikes in national forest lands or the like and just stumbled upon someone’s private property without knowing we had ventured off public land. While not destructive and stupid anymore, I can tell you that if there is a trail on your land someone is going to hike it eventually.

    Signage can definitely help.

    Another note — my family had cabins and camps scattered all across New York State while I was growing up. These stretched all the way from the Southern Tier to the Adirondak mountains. EVERY SINGLE TIME we would go to one of the camps for a weekend we were left cleaning up messes people who trespassed on our land left behind. We would take glass with us to repair broken windows on the cabins, and we NEVER left anything valuable on the properties aside from the cabins themselves.

    After awhile my grandfather got rid of all of these pieces of land for the sole reason he was getting older and was sick and tired of constantly having to check up on the properties knowing full well that someone had showed up to damage them in the several months we were not using them.

    We know full well that people would just flat out USE the cabins like they were their own while we were not there. People left CLOTHES in the drawers, garbage everywhere, and of course the broken locks on the doors and/or broken windows. This happened even in the cabin on a lake int he Adirondaks where we had neighbors all around the entire lake.

    Take heed about that. I am very interested in setting up a travel trailer permanently on a cheap piece of land as soon as I can do so, but at the same time have no idea how I would go about protecting it should this dream come true.

  30. Another note: You never know WHAT you are going to come up on when on a hike in a large state forest or other public land. Last year a friend and I ran into a hobo encampment — an entire “home” made from tarps — over a dozen large tarps using dead branches for support. There was tons of cookware laying around, and evidence that this had been someone’s camp but signs that it has been abandoned for at least a year. We went to pick up a tarp to see if we could salvage them and they were very rotted and half buried under forest debris, not worth the effort to pull them out, roll em up and carry back with us.

    In a bug out scenario while illegal I can assure you that setting up a camp in a state / national forest you are almost never going to be seen or messed with, especially if you can be mobile and follow leave no trace principles. This is a good option for a temporary short term bug out scenario and I know every little deer trail, nook and cranny between myself and a 200 mile radius (and then some) from my house.

    My new abode would be much harder to do this but I used to have an all-wooded and secluded route to literally get 50 miles from downtown Pittsburgh, PA without having to take a single road.

    Even though the green areas on Google Maps are going to be a major place people will flee to in the event of the need to actually flee (which in my opinion is not very likely) — I can assure you that most people who live in the cities have absolutely no clue how to get to these places and when they arrive have no idea how to spot trails and actually navigate wilderness and know how to move around in that environment.