The Home Front

I was thinking that I’ve probably written so many “The Home Front” posts that I should number them and I believe I’d be up to about number 7,036 by now!  )

We were very hopeful yesterday when we went out to meet with the guy with the land.  Our hopes were soon dashed!  I understand his point completely and if I were in his shoes, I’d be offering the exact same option he is.  The land we want is the bottom left of his entire piece.  The road going to the property is on the right side so we were asking for about 40 feet of the bottom right tract.  That would give us about 30 acres.   The original 72 acres we wanted gave us that bottom left tract, along with about a 6 acre piece all the way from the right side to the left side, along with more land above the tract we want but that kind of isolated the two bottom right tracts.  I know . . it’s confusing to describe.

The problem for him is that everyone wants that bottom left piece.  It has lots of trees, the old home place and the Asian Pear tree!  🙂  The two bottom right tracts are pure pasture — no trees, no pond, nothing very exciting at all and he knows he may well get stuck with those so he wants to tie at least one of them with the tract everyone wants.  That would have given us about 90 acres and not only is that too much $$, but it’s too much land and since we’re not going to raise cattle, we just don’t need it.

He was trying to be very helpful and offered to finance it for us but I’m not sure we ever made him understand that we CAN pay for . . we just don’t want to put that much money into land.  It would be real expensive to get electricity run back there because it’s well over a mile they’d have to run lines and poles, then we would have to build the road, the well, the sewer, the shops, the house . . buy an RV to live in til the house was built but we’d keep that as a “guest room”.  All in all, we figured we’d have at least twice as much $$ tied up in that place as we had planned to spend for our maximum.

Really, he didn’t offer us anything that he hadn’t offered before.

We still haven’t heard from the divorce house and I won’t be surprised if we never get an answer.

Another option — remember the mobile home?  One of the first places Vince looked at?  It’s a smaller single wide mobile home but they’ve had a huge metal (nice with lots of welded beams and metal posts) built over the mobile home.  The cover extends out to cover a porch that’s about 10′ wide and the length of the mobile home.  It also extends out in the back to provide a completely enclosed 30′ x 30′ garage and on the other end is about a 20′ x 20′ air conditioned storage building.  It has windows and is finished and wouldn’t be a bad place for the sewing room.

There’s a 30′ x 40′ completely insulated shop for Vince.  It has one roll up door and one walk in door with lots of electricity.  There’s a probably 40′ x 60′ foot covered, kind of open area type . . I don’t know . . carport maybe.  It has I think 4 full RV hookups and an underground tornado shelter.  They had a 5th wheel camper at one time and had a place where their friends could come and visit.

It has 4-1/2 acres of land and at one time their friends had a mobile home there too so there’s another septic tank and water hookup.

The mobile home is about 7 years old and clean as can be.   Since it’s completely covered and . . well, it never rains here but the sun is brutal, but the roof of the mobile home is not even exposed to the elements and the awning covers all the siding far enough out that I don’t think it’s exposed much either.

I’m not being prejudiced and I’m not turning my nose up at folks who live in mobile homes so please don’t get that idea . . but I just have a hard time thinking about living in one.  This one is not a manufactured home or a modular — it’s just a plain Jane mobile home!

The kitchen is adequate but small compared to the amount of cooking we do.  The dining area is just a corner of the kitchen.

Here’s what we’re thinking . . and I know this isn’t “normal” and we’d probably never sell the place but what if  . . we built another insulated metal building.  We put in windows and finish the inside just like a little cabin.  We put in a bath – nothing fancy – a toilet, a nice enough vanity and a shower.  We put in a kitchen — gas stove, plenty of counter space — nothing fancy, just average laminate.  We put in a decent size place to eat, a little sitting area where, if Vince wanted to hang out with me (he usually does NOT!), he could sit out there and watch TV and play on his laptop.  And, we put in a HUGE sewing room — closets for the fabric so no sun could get to it, a cedar closet for quilt storage, washer and dryer hookups in case anyone ever wanted to use the place as a rental, or maybe put a stack washer/dryer out there and I could wash the kitchen towels and maybe if I showered out there, I could wash my clothes out there.

If we spent $80,000 on the building, and I don’t think we’d have to spend nearly that much, we’d be spending a total — mobile home, shops, garages, everything — of about half of our maximum that we’ve hoped to spend on a house.

Something else to think about.  With the lady’s covering over the mobile home, her utility bills average less than $100/month.  I figure it would probably double with my added quilting room but even if we’re spending $200/month, that’s less than half what most houses we’ve looked at would be.

The bottom line is . . Vince would have his shop.  I would have my quilting/sewing room with my gas stove.  I’d do my cooking/baking out there, my sewing out there and would only go back to the mobile home most of the time to sleep.  Vince would work at his job, visit with me, work in his shop or around the yard and go into the mobile home to sleep.

Taxes on the mobile home and the current out buildings are about $500/year.  Houses we’ve looked at, taxes are anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000/year.  Mobile homes and metal buildings are taxed differently from stick built houses.

One drawback is that it’s only 4-1/2 acres and there are some pretty cruddy places out there.  There are some very nice places too but with no zoning, that’s what you get.  I guess the good thing is that it’s pretty built up already and there shouldn’t be too many surprises.  I think if the mobile home had the same setup, with 20 to 40 acres, we’d jump on it.  There’s no land around it that can be bought . . the lady and her husband tried.  Behind it and on one side is a real nice house with quite a bit of land and they’ll never sell.  To the right is another mobile home but there’s a thick row of trees so you don’t see much of it.  In front — the worst place you’ve ever seen.  We’re not even sure anyone lives there.  We’re going to get our realtor to get in touch with the owners and see if they will sell it also.  That would help . .

Anyway, that’s what we’re thinking this morning.  This afternoon . . who knows what we’ll be thinking!


  1. 1

    Lori Dunn says

    Ya know, I kinda liked the set up of the mobile home when I saw it in your first post… I liked the out buildings and the roofing on the mobile home. It’s a shame the neighborhood isn’t what you would envision but your ideas are good on the additions…
    TEXAS- she ain’t easy but she’s well worth it!

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    And I you do decide to move away eventually and can’t sell it easily, this could be an affordable vacation home.

    With all he money you’d save by living here you would have a sizable amount to pay for your forever home.

    Who knows? You may gro to love TX!

  3. 4

    PB from MN says

    I have to admit I am the same way about living in a mobile home, it just is not for me. Some people love them.

    I do sometimes think a bit differently so…how about building your building and using that as your home (I have seen some metal building homes and they can be quite attractive) and the mobile home for your sewing/quilting or guest house? The taxes, utility costs, shop, garages and land do make it an attractive option.

    Good luck!

  4. 5

    Sally H says

    I would love to live in a home that was not built as a house — a converted barn or church or store or some such. (I know, my husband thinks I’m crazy too. ) When browsing online once, I came across a couple who lived in a metal building. Theirs was one of those farm buildings that are an arch (you know, like the ones they built in WWII on army bases, only much bigger.) Because it was so huge, and they didn’t want or need that much space, they essentially built a house inside the barn. The front of the house was the front of the barn, and it looked just like any other house from the inside, but the three other walls and roof were just plywood on the outside. They insulated the house part, to separate it from the wildly fluctuating temperatures in the barn. The same would work for whatever part of the metal buildings you want to use for living/sewing.

  5. 6


    I have felt that way about a mobile home…but I think I get the vision of a trailer park. I remember the pictures from before. That was FAR from anything like a trailer park. That was VERY nice looking. With the money you’d be saving, that’s a lot of money that could be set aside for you dream home once Vince retires. Being this move sounds like it might only be temporary, it sound WAY better than living apart. Perfect really only happens in a perfect world…I guess we’re stuck with whatever works being the world definitely isn’t perfect.

  6. 7

    pdudgeon says

    sounds like it’s time to keep on looking.
    i don’t think you’d be happy putting money into something that’s just ‘make do’–especially if you later found your dream house.

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    Mona R says

    It’s a good idea, worth pursuing. Two thoughts: Our current home had a mobile home under a roof when we bought this place. Neither were worth saving, and we salvaged the cover and sent the mobile home on to other owners. Perhaps you could consider at some point in time getting the mobile home out and re-purposing the nice cover for another shop/sewing room, ??
    We had a metal building erected for a vacation home near the coast. We are diy-ers so we framed out and finished the inside ourselves and while it isn’t the most attractive exterior (we have the lots next to the local “junkyard”), the neighborhood is safe and The metal building had insulation and with the stick framed insulated walls, our electric bills are very, very reasonable for our comfort level. We used laminated countertop from Lowe’s and economical appliances, sinks, etc. IMHO it looks great inside–lots of color and quilts–what’s not to like. We love our metal buildings. Put porches or nice deep overhangs over the windows and doors–it’s just better.
    As we head toward retirement, I am doubly tightfisted about taxes, insurance, maintenance. Workshops, gardens and patios, sewing spaces, privacy are so important to us. Am always surprised at the turns and twists of life and I’d hate to sink everything into one big money pit of a place. If you aren’t thinking of ranching, the number of acres isn’t as important (or necessary) as the location and privacy/beauty issues. Having an agriculture exemption can surely cut taxes if you can do it without too much work and worry.
    So, the timer is running and I can only imagine how stressful it is to feel you don’t have a home, but you’ll think of something (probably about 2 a.m. when you are awake fretting). Hope the new swift arrives soon and that your sweet Speck has a new “leash on life” :)) after his treatments.

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    If we could afford to pay cold hard cash for a mobile home with land, we would. But, we’re needing to raise at least another $60,000 because banks will not mortgage mobile, manufactured or otherwise. Only land and solid houses. *sigh* So, our choices, for the moment, is limited. We are still adding to our house fund; so, it’s slowly increasing. However, I’m impatient and I want a home of our own NOW. LOL. 🙂

  9. 10


    My objection to mobile homes is related to stormy weather. When a tornado or huge wind storm comes along, there are always shattered mobile homes in the newscasts abut the storm. I know they are “tied down” and all but it still worries me. But then, I worry about any kind of windy storm!

    • 10.1


      They don’t fare very well in a tornado but after seeing churches and malls and Home Depot in Joplin . . nothing is going to survive a Cat 5 (or even 3 or 4) tornado. The place does have an underground tornado shelter.

      Any storm that will destroy a mobile home that’s tied down and with that steel cover and poles around it is going to do significant damage to most houses too.

      Insure it and hope for the best! 🙂

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    My parents have built a home inside of a metal barn and it is pretty nice. They have a basic setup with one bathroom/laundry room, a decent kitchen, eating/living area and a big bedroom. They also have a craft room and office. About half of the building is house and the other half their garage. Above the bathroom, laundry and bedroom they have a loft for the grandkids. The rest of the ceilings are vaulted and they have the exposed beams. They covered the ceiling with corrugated tin. It is not that big (less than 1000 square feet not including the craft room), but it is just the two of them. My mom loves it. She can have it completely clean in less than 30 min. It was significantly cheaper to build than a traditional house and is just as sturdy. When they entertain, they just move the cars out and put up tables and there is a huge open space!

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    Linda B in MI says

    oh you could have quilt retreats, we bring our RV or trailer and sew, laugh, and have fun..