If you’ve been thinking about starting your homestead, I’ve created a guide that will teach you everything you need to know to get started.
Homesteads are practically a completely off-grid home typically located on a property out of town. They are usually placed on land with natural resources to provide for homestead residents and livestock.
The simplicity of it is starting to prosper in popularity unlike ever before, and we don’t blame them. It allows for a complete disconnection of reliance on city life’s luxuries.
These are things such as being connected to commercial electricity, cable, water, and the inability to live by using natural resources like creeks, livestock, crops, and much more.
It’s a simple yet complex lifestyle that wildly calls minimalists to take action by leaving town and living off-grid. Many think it’s challenging, but this is not the case.
I’ve built a guide broken down into sections that is simple and straightforward to understand even for the biggest of novices, which will explain the big picture; this way, building a homestead won’t seem impossible or nearly as tricky. Let’s dive into it.
Finding the Perfect Location for your Homestead
Natural Resources Are A Must
A homestead is meant to be off-grid; this means no access to city water, commercial electricity, or cable. It’s essentially a switch to living entirely off the grid, without the help of being hard-wired into the grid.
This implies that unless you plan to live like a cave dweller, you’ll likely want to pick an area that is rich in natural resources.
This includes creeks, rivers, wildlife, good crop growth, and plenty of sun if you want to power your homestead using solar technology.
If you’re going to build your homestead in a desert, you’ll need to have a large water tank to provide for you and the livestock.
You should not count on store-bought food to rely on. This is always an option, but having this in mind may take away motivation from truly going off-grid and maintaining an entirely self-dependent property and lifestyle.
Selecting The Best State
Probably the most essential aspect is to find a state that works best for you. I’ll say that some states have the edge over others, but you should not let others choose the state for you.
This step may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re going to build a homestead, you’re probably going to live there for a long time; so it’s critical to choose a state that you like.
Besides, homesteads can be built anywhere. Nevertheless, a state with relaxed gun laws and homestead friendly regulations would suit you best. Protecting your homestead is key.
High availability of natural resources would suit you much better than building it in a desert in California, although this is entirely possible.
Taking Laws Into Consideration
A huge part of homesteading involves cutting off the government from controlling your life. Laws are a massive reason for many who choose to live a homestead life.
These individuals seek to get away from the endless regulations and other complicated laws commonly enforced in city life. If you’re building a homestead, the first thing to watch out for is gun laws.
While firearms are certainly not needed, they will undoubtedly protect your property, and don’t forget; guns can also be used for hunting. Other essential factors include regulations and taxes.
Many states have statutes that make rain-catching systems illegal or tax you for various reasons on top of an already high state tax.
Before you choose a state, taking a look at these factors is critical to becoming educated; this way, you make the best possible decision of where you’ll build your homestead.
Building The Homestead
Building a solid foundation is where it all begins. This process is pretty straightforward, but there are several options to choose from. The first that I’ll mention are basements.
If you choose to go with this, it will cost you more than most other options, and they’re atypical of homestead foundations and require more work and planning.
You could also consider a concrete slab foundation; these are very strong and long-lasting but costly.
You also have crawl space foundations, which, as the name suggests, allows you to crawl underneath.
Crawl space foundations are very cheap and straightforward to build. They’re typically built on top of stacked bricks or some other type of support.
Framing The Homestead
After you’ve laid the foundation, you’ll need to start framing the homestead. I’d recommend that you now begin drawing out the floor plan.
This way, you can get the walls built before you stand them up, readying them to become one with the foundation.
It’s also a good idea to cut out any windows and doors before you stand the walls up. The types of material that you decide to use is essential, as cheap wood can bend, flex, and crack quickly.
You’ll want to use pressure-treated wood unless you’re using logs. This will prevent any unwanted circumstances from arising like rotting and result in a stronger homestead.
Once you’ve got your walls installed, it’s time for a roof. You should remember that before you add any sheetrock, it’s a good idea to install the plumbing and electrical.
Choosing A Roof
This is where the fun starts, in my opinion. The roof is the final thing to add before you can really start seeing it all come together. There are several types of roofs to choose from.
You have the more typical roofs like those built using asphalt shingles, but if you’re like most people, you enjoy the sound of rain hitting a tin roof.
This is why I’d recommend that you use tin sheets, which are surprisingly cheap and easily replaced if needed.
You also have green roofs, which may seem like a good idea considering it’d be placed on a homestead, but the lifespan is nearly one-third of most other roofs, and they require an immense amount of support and maintenance.
If it were me, I’d choose a tin roof; this way; I save money and can easily replace any sheets if needed for cheap.
Planning The Interior
After you’ve laid the foundation, framed the house together, including any walls, windows, and doors, and you’ve installed the roof, it’s time to start deciding what you’ll do to the interior of the homestead.
This is a personal preference, so it’s going to differ from person to person as to what you do. However, I’d recommend that you consider choosing a floor that is easily cleaned.
Carpets will almost certainly get stained because you’ll likely have livestock and gardens, both of which will likely cause muddy feet.
There isn’t much else to recommend here, because your floor plan is probably very different from mine.
It’s a good idea to be simple, though. Anything you do to the interior should flow smoothly with the rest of the homestead.
Using The Best Building Material
There are several types of homesteads, many of which use very different material types, ranging from rustic, modern, and everything in between.
A prevalent option that is being used currently is aluminum sheds, which are often large and cheap vs. the traditional wooden builds.
These are great options, but they do not offer the classic feel of a rustic building. Luckily there are numerous types of material in terms of building blocks to use to build your homestead.
If you want to stay on a budget, you could use self obtained logs located on the property itself. If you’re going to use the wood found on the property, it will need some preparation beforehand.
If you’re going to build a homestead with a modern build type similar to houses, then the typical framing often used to build a modern family home will work, although this will cost a bit more than using logs.
Growing A Garden
A homestead would not be complete without a thriving garden. Garden’s come in all types, shapes, and sizes, featuring just about any veggies you’d like.
If you plan to make your garden a large part of your food supply, you’ll want to make sure what you grow can sustain you. Cabbage and tomatoes seem great, but you’ll need a bit more than just those to have a decent supply of food.
A few good ideas of what to grow could be zucchini, pepper plants, squash, greens, corn, onions, beets, or peas, to name a few.
Whichever veggies you prefer, make sure they can grow for the majority of the year; this depends on the climate, of course.
You’ll want to make sure it’s large enough as well, a 10×10 is easily maintainable, but it will not be enough to sustain you all year, especially if it’s your primary food supply. Shoot for a size of 25×50 at a minimum.
Homing The Livestock
Livestock is what makes a homestead a homestead. They not only provide milk, cheese, leather, and other useful materials but also provide horsepower (plows, etc.), so to say they are essential is an understatement.
If you plan to have livestock on your homestead, you’ll want to do it properly. Even before you move the animals onto the property, first locate where you want them placed. If it’s chickens, nearby may be ok.
Cows or Horses will be better placed in a larger area, such as a pasture. Once you’ve decided where you’ll put them, build an adequate shelter for them.
A good thing to do before you home the livestock is to create an easily accessible water/feed system preemptively, so it’s uncomplicated to maintain the livestock.
This means automatic feeders, clean water access, and adequate shelter. This step is vital because you want the livestock to flow together as a system with the rest of the homestead.
Being self-sufficient in a homestead is crucial! Keep these options in mind.
Homesteads are meant to be entirely off-grid, which means no power lines.
You could homestead without power, but since most people will not give this luxury up (I don’t blame them), we’ll recommend the best options for electricity.
The first option is by using a gas-powered generator. This would be perfect for individuals who will rarely use electricity, as they are cheap and provide adequate electricity for just about anything.
There are also types of generators charged via solar, which leads to our next method; solar panels. Initially, these are a bit costly.
However, they typically last a long time, and they will pay for themselves quickly. They can be placed on roofs or stands near the homestead. We have reviewed quite a few located here.
This is where the cost can skyrocket because you may need to install a water well if there is no access to water, which is why finding an area rich in natural resources or building in a climate that provides rain is critical.
Hand pumps are also a great option, but keep in mind that it may not provide enough water for the livestock unless you have many hand pumps.
You could also consider storage tanks, which could be filled via haulage to town to refill.
There are rain-catching systems as well, which is something to consider, but again, in dry months, it may not supply an adequate amount of water.
Overall, I’d recommend looking into a well powered by a solar, windmill or refilling water storage via haulage to town. If your homestead property has a creek, this could also be a great option.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Determine What’s Legal?
Most commonly, laws and regulations are a big reason for people to choose the homesteading life, to get away from them. However, this is nearly impossible.
Many things like rain-catching systems, firearms, solar technology, and many other aspects require licenses or are just outright illegal.
To avoid getting in hot water, I’d advise you to contact the city hall in the area you wish to homestead in, as there are too many aspects to list here.
What About TV And Internet Access?
Homesteading doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy a few of the luxuries you’re used to in city life. Many homesteaders continue using these benefits even after they begin homesteading full time.
Even though the primary goal of homesteading is to live entirely off-grid, you can still have internet and TV access. Except for old school DVDs, your only options are cellular service (if you have a signal) or satellite service.
Generally, these are great options, and they can virtually be used anywhere. This way, you’re still able to stay connected to the world, even after you cut the cord.
What If I’m Unsure About Starting A Homestead?
Homesteading isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. It requires an immense amount of commitment and hard work to maintain.
However, homesteading is probably the closest you’ll get to very traditional living. You’ll be able to raise livestock, which can also provide for you, grow crops, have nearly zero bills, and more.
If I were considering building a homestead, I’d first try to stay in one myself first, or at least visit a park that rents out homestead properties like cabins so that you can get a taste of what it’s like.
Homesteads are probably the closest we can get to complete off-grid living. They have been growing in popularity lately, being built by many all over the country.
Homesteading is a way of life that allows for tremendous freedom and allows you to take advantage of natural resources, cut the cord with most regulations in the city, and provides for tons of space.
Things like the garden may be able to support you for up to a year or more, and if you decide to home livestock, that in itself will require many hours of labor. It’s a simple, off-grid lifestyle that allows you to be one with nature, and that’s awesome.