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Old 01-03-2005, 03:48 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Creating a permanent Airstream Site

With luck, and some great input from the folks on this forum, we hope this will be "the year".

Several years ago we found a beautiful spot in the heart of the White Mountains that was up for sale. While we had no specific ideas in mind at the time we jumped on the opportunity, as we love spending time in the north country.

Since that time we'd circled around the next step. Last year we settled on part of the next step. That's when we became members of this forum, and the Airstream community.

What Erin & I haven't done yet is come up with a plan to set up the ultimate site for our Airstream. Our land has a nice mild grade, and we've already perc tested the southern corner. We'd like to create at least 2 "pads" on the property, and at least set up a legal septic.

If anyone has actually built their own Airstream "full-timing" or "part-timing" site we'd love to hear what you did. We're not planning for power at our site at the moment, as we have both a gas & solar generator available. Additionally we're still scratching our heads about water at the site (nice brook on the property, but no well at the moment). I'm not sure how we'd go about power / water if we don't set up any form of out building on the land.

Bottom line, I'd love to get input on:

- What type of "pad material" should we use? Gravel, concrete, paved?

- Septic for a 2 site "personal campground".

- Water ideas. Should we pop in an outbuilding or would quasi-boondocking do well??


Thanks in advance for any and all thoughts! Oh, and the second pad will of course be for courtesy parking!

Rich & Erin Charpentier
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Old 01-03-2005, 03:50 PM   #2
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Site Photos

I forgot to attach 2 photos of the location....
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Old 01-03-2005, 05:01 PM   #3
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Thumbs up Check your local codes...

they will have a bearing on what you can and cannot do as far as septic and the like. FWIW I have seen a solar powered well pump, it is actually a battery powered unit and is recharged by solar power; another possiblity is a "sling pump" it floats in the creek and uses the flow of the water to pump water. It is also possible to add a small eletric, gas or wind motor to an old fashioned hand pump. As far as pads I use gravel at a friends house and grass at my own . You can make it as fancy or simple as you want. I would consider a hard shelter with a permanent screen room if bugs are an issue. I have see small one room cabins with a basic bath/shower with a large carport to park the AS under. The cabin gives you laundry facilities and a place to store off season items, and that would be my preference. The possibilities are endless...use our imagination

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Old 01-03-2005, 08:22 PM   #4
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Water Supply

Just a thought, A wind mill would pump water up to a holding tank and provide fresh water and water pressure.

I live around many Amish families.

Have fun.
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Old 01-03-2005, 10:05 PM   #5
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While not exactly in your situation, I have been dealing with some of the same issues this past 6 months or so while building on some rough land here in SW Mo. I spent part or all of several months on site, from the time when there was just a dirt track up the hill, through the installation of utilities, septic tank, and even a roof over my head.

For eight or ten weeks I toted water up in six gallon containers and poured it in by hand. This really got old. When the black tank got full (about every other week) I hitched up and went to town where I emptied at a convenient clean-out. Electric power was provided by a generator running about two hours a day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gadgetat
- What type of "pad material" should we use? Gravel, concrete, paved?
Gravel works really well, without it becoming a permanent statement. It is likely that gravel can be spread with no permits of any kind.

Concrete is sure nice if you expect to do any work on, under, or around the trailer, but will be many times more than gravel in cost and a nuisance to remove if you change your mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gadgetat
- Septic for a 2 site "personal campground".
This will require some kind of permit, county if not state, and they will ask questions about the use contemplated. You may find yourself falling under Mobile/modular home construction building restrictions. If you should not be zoned for mobiles you have just raised a red flag.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gadgetat
- Water ideas. Should we pop in an outbuilding or would quasi-boondocking do well??
Is this two questions or one? In many places it is no longer possible to drill a well for domestic use unless you also install a sewage system. Water wells also will require a permit, or at least registration, usually from the state. As noted above, this raises pumping issues. For low energy pumps (solar, wind) you will need storage beyond the tank on board the coach as the output is too irregular.

You can run into real domino effects. You want a pressurized water system? That means a well, which means a septic system, and a pump, which means electricty, which means a building to keep the pressure tank in, which means a gravel road for all the truucks [sic to prevent the !#*#**!! hyperlink!] to use to get up to the site, which means $$$$$.

It should be possible to legally dispose of the grey water on the surface. You may be required to do this from some kind of settling tank and there may be other rules as well, but it should be possible. That leaves the much smaller quantity of black water.

Here in this part of the world it is fairly common for lake properties to have a fresh water tank and a waste holding tank on site. Service companies fill one and empty the other on a scheduled basis. You may be able to do something similar.

Good luck,

Mark
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Old 01-03-2005, 10:54 PM   #6
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Nice post, Mark! Learned a lot as I am looking to have my own piece of land some day to camp on. Thanks.
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Old 01-04-2005, 02:55 PM   #7
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Talking Interesting Ideas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by j54mark
Here in this part of the world it is fairly common for lake properties to have a fresh water tank and a waste holding tank on site. Service companies fill one and empty the other on a scheduled basis. You may be able to do something similar.

Good luck,

Mark
Thanks for some really great thoughts. I'm especially interested in the above quote. The fresh storage and waste holding tanks sound really interesting.

I'm planning on speaking with the town of Jefferson regarding our site. At present we have the land in "Current Use", which keeps taxes down while allowing access to our open lands to the public. We want to leave the majority open in Current Use, but we'll probably have to take an acre or two out if we start doing improvements on the land. So a "flag" will go up anyways when we check into taking acres out of current use.

Our "neighbor" who owns the next field over has a truck cap camper permanently on his site. I'd spoken with him about his setup. Two "stealth" 50 gallon drums burried for his black & grey water. I really would like to create a more permanent setup, and legal from the town's perspective. Fortunatley we have friends in the area who are in the construction business, specifically creating foundations and doing septics. I'd asked them their opinion and they were uncertain, as they've never done a setup for a trailer site before. Hopefully we can minimize the $$$$ going out, but $$$$ always seem to go out!

I've got some good questions for the town already. Thanks for the responses so far. I like the idea of a small holding tank with a solar pump. I'll have to go looking into a setup like that. We're used to using hand pump filters from our big hiking days and always carry them with us, but I'd like to be sure I can refil my fresh water tank for cleaning, etc. Bet Lehman's catologue might have what I'm looking for.

Off to look at Lehmans!!


Rich
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Old 01-04-2005, 03:41 PM   #8
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Funny you should mention...

55 gallon drums and pickup campers....I did that about 25 years ago As far as I know it is still there and operational I was going to mention it, but in this day and age of big brother...I wouldn't want to be responsible for getting someone locked up for a great idea

The solar well pump I mentioned was at least partially a Kyrocera unit with a battery backup that would give you constant water pressure. Also how far are you going to have to drill/dig to get potable water? That is another issue to consider. I have use the pumpable tank idea before on a construction site. The porta potti truck would pump our ground tank once a week. We had running water on site.

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Old 01-05-2005, 12:31 AM   #9
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My thoughts on the subject is to build a 30x30 pole barn structure to park the camper under and screen it in. Gravel or concrete pad. That will give you a place for a picnic table and keep the bugs at bay.

The main bennifit of this would be in the summer the shade provided by the barn would keep the camper cool since there is a lack of power. Leave all the windows and vents open without worry of rain. In the winter it would give you an area where you not going to have to dig out i it snows. You could make removable pannels to turn one side into a wind brake and prevent snow drifts under the roof area.

Septic tank and a well for water needs and disposal. Solar powered or generator powered. Hang a storage tank in the joists of the pole barn to gravity feed the water to the camper at night. Then let the 12v pump make pressure on demand. Solar charger to keep the camper battery topped off.

Pole parn would also let you build a storage area and make a laundry room so you could run a washer off generator when you need it. Air dry the clothes.
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Old 01-05-2005, 08:37 PM   #10
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Since you asked, I would recommend a gravel pad, as NH winters tend to freeze and thaw, and will heave concrete and asphalt into unrecognizable pieces in a couple of years, it can also be graded with a rake every spring. How far away is the brook, how fast does it run, is it above or below where you are going to be parked, and is it year-round, or just spring and early summer?

You could run some PVC pipe underground from the brook to the trailer, and use a 12v water pump, similar to what you have in the coach now, to fill your fresh water tank with. I would strongly suggest some kind of treatment or filter system for it, you never know when Bambi might decide to use the brook as his personal latrine.
As far as a septic system, I have in the past also used the twin 55 gallon drum septic system, with good results. I put a couple of thousand pounds of gravel at the exit of the second drum, as a drain field. There is a product called Rid-X that you pour down the drain once a month. It contains bacteria that process the solid waste that you would wind up with in the drums over time. I think in 15 years we never had to have the drums pumped out, as we used this stuff religously.
I wonder if the property is zoned agricultural, if that area has zoning laws? If so, you may be able to get a well drilled for, ahem, "irrigation". If you do that, and are close to power lines, you may also be able to get power installed to, ahem, power the well pump.
You might need to actually plant something in a small garden in the summer to keep this legal, if you did that you would also need some kind of temporary facility, like, oh, say, a travel trailer, so someone could keep an eye on the crops...
Terry
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Old 01-06-2005, 09:50 AM   #11
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Thumbs up Where the brook flows

Quote:
Originally Posted by argosy20
Since you asked, I would recommend a gravel pad, as NH winters tend to freeze and thaw, and will heave concrete and asphalt into unrecognizable pieces in a couple of years, it can also be graded with a rake every spring. How far away is the brook, how fast does it run, is it above or below where you are going to be parked, and is it year-round, or just spring and early summer?
Terry
After the responses so far I'm sure we'll be going with a gravel pad. Also it makes sense, as there is a sand and gravel company right up the road!

The property is almost a square. It is split right in the middle by the Black Brook that runs off of Owls Head & Cherry Mountain in Jefferson (going from the southern edge of the land to the northern). Our best location is at the southwestern corner of the property as that is where the gravel driveway comes into the field. The western side of the property is the field area from the photos I posted. The eastern side is thickly wooded, and the brook rambles through the woods.

I've been looking through Lehmans at several items that could pump water from the brook up to a holding tank. I think we've got several good possibilites now. There will still be a good bit of distance we'll need to cover from where the brook is to where I think I'd like the pad.

Power to the site is a bit of an issue. We'd need to put a few poles in. That's why I was thinking our gas generator and solar generator for the Airstream's power. I believe we can get by without pressurized water, but I do want a way to bring water up to the trailer other than lugging it!

Lehmans also had several in-line pcv adapters for filters, so that will resolve Bambi. Actually, in our field we've watched Bullwinkle often, sometimes "the Bear", several fox, and too many turkeys to count. Not too many Bambis.

Thanks for all the great ideas.

Rich
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Old 04-29-2005, 07:49 AM   #12
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Thanks again

Well, once again thanks for all the great suggestions. I'll have to take them, and apply them somewhere else.

Due to area restrictions we can't put a pad for the Airstream on our Jefferson property. These things happen. So, we've decided to sell the 12.5 acre spot in the White Mountains, and look further north. The town would be happy if we built a cabin, and the tax rolls there would be happy too.

The past few years we've been spending a good amount of time around the CT Lakes, so we're starting to look around that area.

Going forward I will always make certain of what town restrictions exist. But when we bought the property we hadn't even gotten the Airstream bug yet! Looking around in the Pittsburg NH area I think we'll be able to find a spot for our Safari.
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Old 05-25-2005, 08:13 PM   #13
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Don't Give Up

Don't give up. I don't know if cost is an issue but how about an RV Chalet? You can build one relatively inexpensively. From the outside, it looks like a cabin and inside, you park your RV and can run it either self contained or plumbed.

Your location is beautiful with a creek. Perhaps you can live anywhere but do think twice even if it means a delay. We've owned several houses in our lives and I know that location is more important than amenities to me.

Many places will let you camp - even without a pad. Do you really need one? A friend of ours at the lake can't decide where to put a pad so they park their RV and use 12x12 concrete blocks for leveling. It allows them to experience their small property from all sides to decide which is best for them.

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