web site deals primarily with four
1. What a Survival
Retreat is and how and why to build one - possibly in the
desert, as I have done
2. How to stock
your retreat with all basic necessities and to prepare yourself
so you not only survive but thrive.
3. What gear,
equipment, tools and other stuff you might need (or not) and
why and criteria for their selection (or
4. Educational and
instructional DVDs to show you what I can't show you here, so
you can achieve similar results.
1. A Survival Retreat at this web site means a
shelter prepared in advance where you and those
you care about can survive a natural or man-made disturbance
until it is resolved or has passed. It provides you with all
basic necessities for as long as you need it to.
A Survival Retreat is a major undertaking,
especially starting from scratch with vacant
land. Not only must the shelter provide all basic utilities and
room for all activities, as any sustainable, self-sufficient
house or cottage must, it must also be a fortress, designed and
built (or altered) with security in
mind. No ordinary house is asked to fulfill so many roles.
Therefore, before setting ruler and pencil to paper and
sketching your dream retreat house, make a list of all of the
'features' you expect your house to provide. Don't compromise
on critical features.
Priority must be given to designing features which
require no electricity, gas or any outside energy
source to operate. By making the house independent of
'imported' or even generated power, basic necessities will not
suffer in case of a power failure. Once installed, these
utilities operate without intervention and for free. Examples:
Water Supply - Heating - Cooling - Hot Water
Consider this independence from external power a
design requirement, so that all decisions which follow
support it. For example, if the house and hot water will be heated by sunlight,
these features must be designed in from the beginning (retrofit
is possible but more work). Another example: If water will be supplied by
harvesting rainwater, then the locations of house, tank
and catchment must be decided together, so that gravity is the
only power required for it to function. Lastly, to cool the house in summer, either the
house (or part of it) must be built below ground, or air cooled
below ground must be brought up into the house, ideally without
using fans or other mechanical powered device. Passive cooling
with water is possible, but it uses up water.
Security must also be a
design and location consideration. The house, if
it is to shelter you in safety, must be built solidly and
located in a strategic location, not in one which would
compromise your security. If the shelter can be seen from any
road, you may receive unwanted visitors. Aim for invisibility.
A row of tall shrubs or bushy trees might help.
Location and design desisions are complex and
require careful thought. If you believe it is
possible that your house may one day be under attack by looters
or others intent on harming you and/or taking what you have,
then design accordingly: thick, solid walls, small windows with
steel shutters, solid doors with steel plate outside and heavy
duty hinges and latches and either a safe room (fortified and
stocked like a bomb shelter) or an escape tunnel or both.
Why Build a Survival Retreat?
various practical answers to this question, but let's start
with the philosophical, possibly saving you some time reading
further. If your philosophy includes the belief that whatever
happens to you is your destiny, and that it is futile to
prepare for disasters, because you will only get what you have
earned in this or another life, then save yourself some time
and read no further. This web site is intended for those who,
like you, may accept the law of Karma (cause and effect), but
who also follow the motto of the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared.
Building or modifying a Survival Retreat and stocking it is
simply following the Boy Scout philosophy.
If you agree that having a first aid kit, a spare
tire and a flashlight in your car are good ideas,
then you are in harmony with the philosophy of the Boy Scouts
and of this web site. This web site is dedicated to practical
issues of preparation for disaster; it will be rather lean on
philosophy. In fact, you may have just seen the only philosophy
However, the approach to preparation you choose is
your decision. Some believe that wilderness
skills (fire-making, trapping, shelter-building, foraging) will
be necessary, if disaster strikes. Well, if you agree, then
learn those skills and prepare to live in the forest. If you
think your best plan is to stay in a city, then learn how to
fortify your abode, stock supplies, defend yourself, etc. If,
on the other hand, you believe that a survival retreat far from
any city, specially prepared for survival, is your best option,
then this web site will offer you some ideas.
This web site is not about prediction or preaching
doom. Disasters happen. If you believe that it is
better to prepare for them, and by doing so to increase your
chances (and the chances of those who depend on you) of
survival, you will probably benefit from this web site.
How to build a Survival Retreat
experience is that by far the best medium of instruction
available at present is video, and the best means of
distribution is the DVD. I have spent many years developing
technologies and experimenting to find the best methods and
materials. Offering DVDs for sale allows me to share this
valuable knowledge with others and to recover a small amount of
my investment, in order to finance the development of more
To the question... I have divided this enormous
Survival Retreat topic into smaller projects and
am producing a DVD on each one.
There is simply too much material to fit on one DVD, and one
can buy just the DVD or DVDs of interest. You can also save
money by buying several together. All of my DVDs come with an
unconditional 30-day money back guarantee.
A Survival Retreat in the desert? Why do
I know, it sounds crazy, right? Let's face
it, the desert - blistering hot summers, cold winters, sparse
vegetation, little soil, scarce water, snakes, scorpions, and
so on, plus isolation - does not immediately present itself as
a welcoming or even practical choice, when considering places
to live or even to survive. With apparently so little in its
favor and so many obstacles and challenges, why would anyone
consider building a Survival Retreat in the desert?
Because I can, and so can you. Okay,
that may sound strange, but let me explain... The desert
appears hostile until one becomes aware of its power and
potential. For example, here are some of the features of my
desert Survival Retreat that some people might consider
Peace and quiet - no trafffic or honking ever, no
sirens, dogs barking, neighbors yelling, no chain saws
or lawn mowers. Fresh air - no exhaust or smog, no chimney
smoke, neighbors smoking. Privacy - no uninvited visitors, no
nosy neighbors. Free passive heating and cooling year round.
Free hot and cold water from rain to drain, no pumping nor
power required. No gas, electric or water bills, ever.
Unlimited supply of sand, gravel and stones for concrete and
As you read that last paragraph
again, notice whether your current home can claim
any of these features. You see, with careful planning and
sustainable technologies, you can manage quite comfortably, and
the harsh desert will actually provide many conveniences that
might escape casual observation. All you need is an experienced
guide to show you how to accomplish it. Also, the desert is the
last place refugees fleeing a city will look for food and
Why am I doing this? Well, in addition
to the reasons above, I decided that it would benefit others if
I could first make it easier for people to live comfortably in
the desert and then demonstrate that, not only is it
possible to live well and inexpensively there, but
after weighing the pros and cons, some people might
prefer it to their current location. At least some
would see that a survival retreat in the desert makes sense:
You don't have to live there year-round, but you could if you
If more people live in houses that require no
external power or gas or firewood, our dependence
on fossil fuels will decline, global warming will be reduced,
wars could be eliminated, and people will become more
self-sufficient and secure, in homes unaffected by power
failures, gas line ruptures, etc. So my goal is also to help
people become parts of the solution to the really big
By producing instructional DVDs on all aspects of my
projects, people will be able to repeat my successes
and avoid my mistakes, saving them a lot of money and years of
effort. Also, by achieving success in such a hostile
environment, it demonstrates that it will be possible and
easier to create shelters and life-support systems in other
places which offer fewer challenges and more natural resources.
My desert is not the Sahara, but it is challenging enough to
offer an excellent test bed for what I'm doing.
My real goal? To be always part of the solution and
not part of the problem, and to do what I can to
help others achieve that for themselves. If more of us who now
drain limited fossil fuels to power our homes switched to
sustainable technologies like solar and wind, we could
collectively make a huge difference on this planet.
Add up the gas and electricity a home uses to heat it, cool
it and hot water, pump water, move air... and then remember
that most of those are unnecessary. You cannot avoid concluding
that we can all do much better, if we decide to.
I decided to do that long ago. My house/Survival Retreat and
life-support systems are the result of years of research and
experiments, lots of labor, sweat and a few tears to discover
what works well in various climates.
My DVDs demonstrate how we can do
this, while still living comfortably and safely.
It's not magic or rocket science. If you can use a hammer and
saw and follow instructions, you can take my DVDs and repeat
everything I've done.
Your mileage may vary. Every retreat
site is different, so note what resources and obstacles your
site has before you make a plan. What's there that you can use?
Trees, bamboo, stones, sand, soil, clay...? Is there enough to
build a house? Is that the kind of house you want? Can you work
with those materials? Can you learn to? For a detailed site
evaluation checklist, go here.