In part one, I explained a bit about how credit scores and savings accounts left us with very few options for buying our homestead. While we were searching for a banker that would work with our situation, we were constantly doing research on less expensive options, hoping a banker would approve us for a lower mortgage. In our research, we started noticing a new niche in housing, the portable cabin. These cabins varied in size, were completely finshed on the outside and had nothing but studs showing on the inside. I was joking around with Jesse the first time I introduced the portable cabin idea, calling it our “off-the-grid” option…If nothing else was going to work, this would be our final solution to getting our homestead started. I still had a lot of research into these portable cabins, but we put this idea on the back-burner while we searched for a big bank mortgage.
The day finally came, when we realized that we were not going to be able to work with a big bank if we wanted to get out of my mother’s basement any time soon. We had an open invitation to stay in the basement as long as we needed, but when we started approaching the one year mark, we started to get a little anxious and would do anything to get our dream started as soon as possible. We got to the point, after talking to three different bankers, all wanting something different done with my credit situation, that we had two options left; we could try and run credit through a mobile home salesman and cross our fingers, or look more into the off-the-grid option. So I started doing some research.
There are plenty of companies out there that have started these portable cabin sales. I searched through the companies and all of them offered something a little different. One would do the cabin with nothing down but the first month’s payment. Others wanted at least half of the cabin’s price down and monthly payments after that. We didn’t have enough money saved to do half down on anything, even with the cabins starting under $10,000. In my research, I found a company that delivered the portable cabin with nothing down but the first month’s payment. The company was actually started to help people that couldn’t afford a full mortgage, like veterean’s and disabled people, and they had great reviews all over the internet. I found, also, they built actual tiny homes, complete with a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area…But these tiny homes started at $45,000 and required an application, presumably sent to a banker, which I did not care to deal with.
I looked into what it would cost if we were to have a cabin like this wired for electric once we had it delivered. I knew we could do the insulation and finishing the walls on the inside. I called a few different electricians with a hypothetical scenario to get a starting point. The answers were a little shocking, at least $3,000 to wire a 12’x30′ cabin. This was disheartening, figuring that we would also have to do all of our water needs, septic needs and this electrical on top of it all, and I didn’t know if we would be able to afford all of this up front. So, on a whim, I emailed the company I had been looking into, and asked if there was any option in between the basic cabin and their tiny homes. That very same day I got a response saying, basically, yes and got a contact number for the director of marketing. I gave him a call the same day to discuss the options.
When I called, I was happy to learn they had exactly what I was looking for. They did the same cabin, finished the same way on the outside, and with their “Premium Package” added all of the insulation, wired with a 100 amp breaker box, 10-14 plugs and LED lights (depending on cabin size), finished the inside walls, did the full HVAC system and then upgraded the windows and support beams. I was elated. All said and done, we could get this cabin for less than $15,000 but we still had to do the water and septic ourselves. We did have to put ten percent down and pay a little extra for delivery because we were further than the 180 miles they will deliver for free, but everything else within the deal seemed to be a great fit for our situation.
Next we looked for property that could be financed without any banks. It took a little while to find, but we eventually found a gentleman in Missouri (our target state for various reasons; more on that later) that bought multiple properties within the Midwest, and financed them to buyers like us with a low down payment and monthly payment. I did some research on his company and found awesome reviews from folks that had purchased some of his properties. I found stories of couples that purchased property through the company and for some reason couldn’t get to the building stage, and the company worked with them to either find a solution, or refund the down payment. The company had a great reputation with helping their buyers and getting the job done with no credit check. I felt like I had found the company I would work with.
Our next step was to see one of the cabins in person, and see some of the properties available. We traveled to a sales lot for the cabins and walked through a few options. They did not have any of the completed premium package cabins, but we were mostly interested in seeing the size in person. We walked through a 12’x20′ unfinished cabin, and to be honest, were surprised with how big it felt. I thought for sure it was going to feel cramped in the little space, but was really happy, even though our cabin would be longer, it felt bigger than expected and got us excited on the prospect. After leaving the lot we were sure we were going to order one of these cabins, we decided on a 12’x28′ double lofted cabin. Now we just had to decide on some land to deliver it to.
We met with a sales woman that worked with the property investor and had her show us a couple plots they had. We had our eyes on a couple properties that shared a property line. Both of them were over seven acres with electric close and a creek that ran through both properties. Seeing the land in person was more than enough to sell us. We fell in love. We chose the property to the south, the other one is still up for sale as far as I know. The property we chose was leveled at the front, ready for a house, had an electric pole on the property already, and had the creek running through, just less than an acre away from the road. We got to do some exploring on the property and realized there was quite a steep hill just past the creek. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the hill itself, but knew we could make it work, no matter what. But when we got to the top of the hill, we were pleasantly surprised. The land flattened out perfectly. The trees were all spaced with about ten feet in between, leaving the perfect balance of shade and sunlight. We purchased the property that day and put our down payment on the cabin as soon as we got back to our basement.
The cabin started building at the end of June, with four to six weeks expected for delivery. Currently, we are about a week away from the actually delivery and getting very anxious. We have already made the first two payments on the property and spent some time camping on our lot and clearing some of the long grasses, but we still have some work to do. We are expecting our cabin on Thursday, August 11th and are collecting all the pieces we will need to make the cabin comfortable and functioning. All said and done, we put $3000 down between the cabin and the land, our “mortgage” is less than $45,000 and our property taxes in this certain county in Missouri are expected to be $15.00 a year. We did have to put some purchases on credit cards and doing what we can in cash, but still expect to pay less than a thousand dollars a month on everything. If we were to only pay the minimum on our cabin and land, we can expect to have both paid off in less than ten years. The cabin itself will be paid off in no more than five years if we don’t make any extra payments. Once the cabin is paid off (right around the same time our car will be paid off) we will put any extra cash flow into the property price. Realistically we expect to have our cabin, the land, and our car paid off in less than seven years, at which point I will stop working off-the-farm and both of us can become full-time homesteaders.
We are very excited to get started on our homestead. The price range, and not having to go through the big banks have made this process so much easier. Plus, not having a 30 year mortgage over our heads makes us feel more comfortable getting to the full-time homesteading dreams we’ve had for so long. There are many paths and options for getting started on the dream of homesteading. Don’t get discouraged when the banks tell you, “No.” There is always a way and I feel like we didn’t have to sacrifice much to get the chance to build the homestead of our dreams.
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