Think small and efficient. Think self-sufficiency. Think off-grid.
In the aftermath of some potential SHTF events our lives may never resume at the level of technology that we now enjoy. That eventuality, however unlikely, must be prepared for by the prudent prepper. Technology itself is a good thing. Dependence upon technology is a bad thing and in a CME event or EMP attack, dependency may well be fatal.
So my SHTF ‘strategy’ is to construct an off-grid, low electrical usage, self-sufficient abode. Electrical supply should be, IMO self-generated and protected as much as possible from the high energies generated by CME and EMP events. Where protection is not practicable, protected replacement parts are necessary. Availability of financial resources are obviously an important factor. We do what we can do.
Just as important as comprehensive preparations… is an attitude of flexibility. No ‘plan’ survives contact with unforeseen reality. We cannot foresee everything but we can be prepared to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” (unofficial US Marine slogan).
A shelter must protect from the elements. Warm in winter, cool in summer and dry in rainy conditions make up the basics. A shelter must provide space for living, cooking, sleeping and our hygiene needs.
A prepper’s shelter must also be defensible. It must be defensible because, in the aftermath of a grid down event, lawlessness is certain and that means someone(s) will try to take from you your preps, possibly your shelter and even your life.
There are a number of efficient, low cost home building options. Rammed Earth construction, underground earth structures, dry stack concrete block construction, cob construction (earth-straw), Earthbag house construction and adobe are all tried and true methods. Such shelters are fire proof, highly earthquake resistant and possess long lifetimes. All of these construction technologies are fire resistant, time tested, energy efficient and of very low cost compared to other methods of construction.
Rammed earth construction has been around since before the Romans and is suitable in nearly any climate. Its thick walls warm during winter and cool during summer, greatly lessening energy use in warming and cooling the shelter.
Shelters using rammed earth construction are insect proof and time tested over millenia, with potential multi-century lifetimes and are highly energy efficient. Materials are literally ‘dirt cheap’, though without powered machinery, construction is labor intensive. Rammed earth walls are bullet proof to anything short of a 50 caliber round.
Steel doors and window shutters, along with thick earth walls would make a highly defensible shelter. In a SHTF event, lawlessness is once again, a certainty.
Properly constructed earthen or ‘cob’ floors give numerous advantages. Covered in turn with cork flooring and/or ceramic tile in high traffic areas… will yield a highly durable and very comfortable floor. Earthen floors work well with radiant floor systems.
Cost aside, a waterproofed, concrete foundation makes a lot of sense.
Metal carport roofs are one roofing option, they are very inexpensive, possess a long life and can be spec’d to handle 65 psf snow loads. An alternative roofing material is concrete roof tiles. Both are fireproof with 50+ year lifetimes. Metal roofs must be grounded in order to be CME/EMP resistant.
Metal doors and metal window shutters, along with thick earth walls would make a highly defensible shelter. In a SHTF event, lawlessness will be a certainty.
Excavating a basement/root cellar next to the shelter with access from inside the kitchen area (enclosed pantry?) could then be easily extended with a concealed escape tunnel. A gravity fed water supply with plentiful storage of water supplies would make for a nearly siege proof shelter.
A “rocket mass heater” is an inexpensive, exceptionally efficient means of space heating & cooking.
Wood stoves are a tried and true means of heating a home and can easily be used for cooking. Depending upon construction and materials, they can be fairly efficient.
A well insulated room can be kept moderately heated by using just Tea Lights & Flowerpots and for just $0.12 per day…
Refrigeration and freezers are of tremendous utility and very energy efficient ones are available, though they are not inexpensive. However, an inexpensive chest freezer can be easily converted to a refrigerator, and one that uses very little electrical energy.
A hand operated deep well pump installed next to your electric pump is an inexpensive emergency backup. A solar electric, battery back-up, well pump will provide indefinite water pressure for all of a household’s needs. Well water, run through a Berkey Water Filter (models for 1-12 people), will provide for all of your drinking/cooking needs.
An outdoor summer shower is easily obtained. During inclement weather, The Zodi Fire Coil can deliver hot water from just a camp fire, wood stove, etc. While you may not need either of these, should the need arise, these inexpensive back up devices would be invaluable.
Here’s a foot operated non-electric, self contained sink. One of these sinks in the bathroom and, another in the kitchen with a simple dish rack and proper food hygiene is easily accomplished. Here are plans for a DIY Outdoor Foot Pump Portable Sink.
Depending upon your individual circumstances, they may be an option worth consideration.
An oversize septic tank has much to recommend it. As does a good compost toilet.
A FLUSHABLE LOO 400 TOILET is an option that may be worth consideration.
In a long term, grid down situation, toilet paper will disappear. Fortunately, there is a viable, even superior alternative to toilet paper. A modern, inexpensive, bidet toilet attachment, supplemented when needed with a Perineal Irrigation Bottle and finished with reusable cloth wipes is a clean, comfortable substitute for toilet paper. Thousands of Americans are currently using some variation of this system.
A grid down event will bring the washing of laundry to the forefront. An off-grid shelter with limited self-generated electrical supply might consider a “Compact Portable Apartment Small Washing Machine” such as this one or this one or this one. These machines demand much less electrical supply than a traditional washer. Their limited capacity is the unavoidable downside. Combining any of these machines with a good, high speed spin dryer will greatly shorten the time needed to dry clothes.
Though very small, the Wonderwash Non-electric Portable Compact Mini Washing Machine is another option.
All of the options listed above beat washing clothes with a washboard.
A low electrical usage household needs to be aware that, 82% of the energy used in cleaning laundry is used by the dryer, not the washer. In a SHTF shelter with limited electrical power, keeping electrical usage low is a necessary limitation.
In warm weather, an outdoor clothes line still works well and, nothing matches the feel of freshly washed, cotton sheets dried in the sun on a breezy day. During inclement weather, a retractable clothes line can be installed inside the shelter for drying laundry.
A shelter can be furnished very inexpensively, through a variety of means. Here’s one example… an open mind and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking will stretch your resources.
A very comfortable, clean, semi-non-electric, off-grid, low cost shelter is easily possible. Of course, it will require more work to maintain our lives. Electricity is a profound convenience and makes possible labor saving devices. Solar, wind, mini-hydroelectric generators and biomass electrical generation are all viable, if limited means of generating off grid electricity. A minimal in its needs, off grid, energy independent, defensible shelter is the ideal shelter in a SHTF, grid down event.