The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Mid move interview

Trailer foundation

Jennifer: Sounds like you two are super busy managing the contractors and doing your own work. Plus, even just washing and cooking must be a bit of an endeavor without power and running water. Can you tell us more about a day-in-the-life in another post sometime?

Anna: Well, we're very much camping at the moment since we don't have electricity or internet. So I'm having to run to town three days a week to keep our internet businesses running while Mark's been busy getting our new place ready for the inspection. We've been cooking on a camp stove and keeping food cool in a cooler. Not so long as the weather stays nice!

Sink repair

Jennifer: Can you explain what the "final inspection" is all about?

Anna: Rules are a lot stricter here than they were for folks who live way back in the woods in Virginia. So we'll have to pass an inspection that involves not just electric wiring but also basics like foundation, steps, smoke detectors, and plumbing before we'll be okayed to have our power turned on. After that, there's a final inspection that checks on skirting before we get the state's official seal of approval. It turns out the septic system that I thought was the big important hoop isn't so essential here --- maybe we could have gotten away with a composting toilet after all?


Jennifer: What is similar and what is different from how you lived before? What do you like better already and what do you miss?

Anna: At the moment, I miss having on-demand internet. You don't really realize how much business you slide into random breaks during the day until you have to squeeze it all into a few hours per week at the library. I suspect that, in the long run, what I'll miss most is our beautiful creek and ability to stretch out in all directions without worrying about bothering or being bothered by anyone. Plus, my rich garden soil will take years to replicate.

On the like-better front --- I don't miss our swamp at all. I really enjoy not having to drive for an hour to hit most stores, and the amazing farmer's market and intellectual opportunities in town are invigorating. There's a really nice free newspaper, the potential for door-to-door compost delivery, and much better solar gain for the garden. Overall, I'm pretty sure we made a good choice to pull up stakes and move north.


Jennifer: Is the chaos making you crazy?

Anna: Yes.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Back in SW VA where you used to live, whichever county it was probably allowed you to do whatever the heck you wanted because they probably didn't have any building codes at all. In Washington County, TN, however, there were building codes in place when they installed my double-wide and that had to pass inspection before I could move in. On the other hand, when I went to build my deck on the back section of the house and showed up at the Building Inspectors office, they told me that "because you're in the County and not the Town" he was going to save me the $100 inspection fee that I normally would've been charged and told me to go ahead an build whatever I wanted, that no inspection would be necessary. Since then I've been told by a few professional builders that I "overbuilt" my deck. Well, at least I know that I won't be in the newspapers due to having the deck collapse from too many people on it! :)
Comment by Nayan Thu Oct 26 10:26:11 2017
You’re the best!!! Thanks for participating in the Q&A session! Here’s hoping the weather mostly cooperates with your repairs so you can get that power turned on.
Comment by Jennifer Thu Oct 26 10:28:43 2017

As strict as the codes are in your township, I am sure they are no comparison to some of the more metropolitan areas you could be in.

In some places your "new to you" manufactured home would have to be anchored to a foundation, and not piers. Or some places near our GA coast, 12' in the air on pilings!

I've built a lean to off my garage and one off a shed without permit, but it was more of a "beg for forgiveness before asking for mercy" situation. And this was not something I had a lot of money in so being told to remove it would not have been the end of the world.

I am sure there is a good reason for the inspection- if the utility connects power and the place burns down due to faulty wiring, there is liability.

Comment by Eric Fri Oct 27 19:37:51 2017

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