Ask ‘The Great Potato’

In the previous articles, we’ve discussed how to finance and how to heat & cool your new home with very little investment. Today I’ll be reviewing a book that’s already on Chris Duane’s recommended reading page. Mike Oehler goes well beyond frugal in “The $50 & Up Underground House Book.” Today, I feel it is essential to pay off your home quickly, the cost of everything you need is going up every single day and your wages probably aren’t going to keep up.

You know, I make less than my father did at my age. He was able to buy a house with a 30 year mortgage and keep all of us fed. If he’d had to do that today he wouldn’t be able to come close. When I was born a gallon of gas cost 86¢/Gal. which means he could go four times further for the same money. Most other costs have doubled since 1980, but energy has exploded! We will get to making your own fuel next week, but for today, let’s concentrate on building that home! The average new home in 1980 cost $58,000; if I were to try to build a conventional house today, it would cost at least $120,000. The house I’m going to build can be built for $35,000, but unlike the conventional house it will also produce its own energy, clean water, and food.

The thing I love most about Mike’s book is that he tells you how to build a custom home step-by-step expending the least possible energy. He gives you a ton of great ideas, the only thing I think he missed was Dr. Hait’s idea of heating and cooling which we discussed last week. I especially like his philosophy, which seems to crop up randomly throughout the book. I tried asking “The Great Potato” many things since and I have to say it focuses your mind onto the things that are most important and when your focused, things seem to come to you. You may not care for a rustic home like his, but you can build one in a hurry- which can be advantageous if you ever have to suddenly move somewhere else.

His method is referred to as P-S-P, or as Post-Shoring-Polyethylene. Essentially, it’s a pole barn surrounded by earth which he shows you how to get natural light, cross ventilation, proper drainage, and views in all directions- even on the north side of a mountain. Most importantly he explains why you need to do things in a specific order to avoid problems later. Another good point to mention is that your local building inspector understands pole barns and shed roofs, there’s nothing foreign to frustrate him so maybe he’ll be more apt to approve your home plans, but don’t expect it to happen if you live near the city. Of course in order to tell you that your house isn’t up to code, he has to find it first! Mike’s book as well as photos and video tours can be found at

Next week, we will talk about fuel. The next book I’m recommending is the size of an encyclopedia volume explaining everything from making fuel to converting your car to run on fuel you’ve made, where to get or grow your fuel feed-stocks, and how to combine it with other products to make a substantial profit! Until next week… Dream BIG!

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