Tour of Our Tiny, Off Grid $300 Cabin

We moved to our 5 acre property in September of 2015 and while we have grand plans of building a timber frame home (check out our timber frame house plans!), we won’t have them done before winter which led us to build a simple cabin to get us through the winter!

As we will be getting low temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, it is critical that we take the proper precautions and “winterize” our RV. As we don’t have electricity, it seemed that the only solution was building an off the grid cabin that would attach to our portable RV garage, giving us a fully enclosed, heated space.

In a way, we started this project with low spirits because as always, we aim high with our goals and we were hoping to have had a simple barn with a loft (as shown in some of these plans) built by now.

The original plan with the barn was to have it framed and enclosed by winter so that we could put our RV in it and heat the area with a wood stove. This would have been the most-ideal solution when living off the grid to keeping our pipes, tanks and pumps from freezing while keeping the inside of the trailer warm as well.

However, because we were so incredibly busy during month one and month two of our homesteading journey, we didn’t have time to build the barn.

Well, I suppose we could have gotten it done if we would have put our minds to it, but we decided that other things were more important, that we needed to slow down a bit, that we needed to practice our skills before tackling a large project, and that we could survive the winter in our RV.

So just days before our first snow, we were still living in a travel trailer that was protected only by a garage-in-a-box, mounted on a frame + deck, with no insulation or protection from the cold whatsoever!

Here is our RV and Garage-in-a-Box just before we built the frame of the cabin.
Here is our RV and Garage-in-a-Box just before we built the frame of the cabin.

Even though we know how to dress for winter and we knew we needed to be able to heat an enclosed structure for our RV and just enclosing our garage-in-a-box wasn’t going to cut it; we needed to be able to heat the enclosure as well, and we didn’t want to stick a wood stove directory in the garage-in-a-box.

The only solution seemed to be to get to work building a cabin add-on to put the wood stove in (plus it would give us other benefits as well), and it would be built using reclaimed building materials that we gathered just days prior!

In More Detail: How This Helps to Winterize Our RV

Winterizing an RV is much more difficult when living off grid because we don’t have electricity!

While we do have a portable generator, we don’t wish to run it 24/7 to take advantage of electricity, and even if we were able to use electric heaters, we would still need an enclosed place to capture the heat.

As stated prior, this cabin helps to winterize our RV because it gives us a place for the wood stove. It wouldn’t be very safe to simply put the wood stove in the garage-in-a-box.

The entire cabin is insulated (floor, walls and roof) which helps for heat retention. We’ve been working on fully insulating our carport as well with full skirting and insulation from the floor to the peak of the roof.

It’s not sexy but it does the trick and allows us to focus on other things.

We then use a couple of these air movers to blow the hot air from the wood stove to the back of the carport where our water tank and water pump reside.

So far, we’ve managed to get the inside of the cabin to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the back of the carport 55 degrees – both are well above freezing in freezing temperatures which is exactly what we wanted!

Oh yea… just days after building this cabin, we had a giant windstorm carnage that mangled our carport completely but our cabin stood tall and didn’t budge an inch to our surprise… not bad, not bad at all!

Interior Photos of the Off Grid Cabin

Building an Off Grid Cabin for $300

I think our biggest pride when it comes to building this cabin is that we were able to build it with little cash.

We’ve been working diligently to find second-hand and reclaimed building materials for pennies so that we don’t have to run down to Home Depot every time we have a need for supplies.

If we have quality homestead tools, then we can build just about anything if we can get the materials!

Most of the materials used to build this cabin came from our recent demolition project which resulted in us salvaging $7,000 or so in building materials.

Just days after we finished salvaging materials from that demolition, we were putting screws through them to build this cabin.

From that one demolition alone we were able to build the entire frame of this cabin, the roof (both the rafters and the metal roofing) and the siding.

cedar roof sheathing
The cedar boards went straight off a roof that was about to be demolished to the walls of our cabin!
build an off grid cabin
The roofing and siding for this cabin came from a single demolition that we found on Craigslist just days before.

We did the math and this tiny little cabin would have cost us around $3,000 if we were to buy the materials from Home Depot.

If you’re willing to use time instead of money, you can often find great deals on materials like we were able to which can result in saving large amounts of money on your projects in the long run.

What We Had to Buy Retail

Even though we have been doing our best to find reclaimed materials for pennies, we still had to resort to the local building store for some supplies.

We’ll let you know what those things were just because we can, and these are just more things to keep an eye out for so that you don’t have to buy them new:

  • Endless screws and roof screws: We used so many of these on this project. If you ever find a great deal on screws or someone wants to give you a bunch… take them and run!
  • Chimney: While we were able to find our wood stove for $200 on Craigslist during our first month on the homestead, we weren’t able to find any chimney parts, nor did we think about looking. We spent around $150 on our chimney, and that’s cheap! We are trying out the single wall stove pipe for now but may have to upgrade to double wall which will be even more expensive. That’s okay… at least we can use all of this on our future barn or home.
  • Plastic roofing: While we were able to pick up a handful of windows for pennies, they didn’t seem like they were going to fit well with our design, nor were we interested in doing additional work! We had the bright idea to use clear roofing as our windows. We were okay spending money on this because it allows a lot of natural light to come on, we were exhausted and wanted to end the project, and we really do like the look of it. We spent $80 on these panels.
  • Weather stripping: Because we built our cabin with reclaimed materials, many of them weren’t exactly to dimension which resulted in a lot of air gaps. That’s okay… but that did mean we had to buy some weather stripping. It’s cheap, but we had to buy it nonetheless.

The Importance of Starting with Small Projects

As we talk about frequently on this homesteading blog, when taking on such a large project (starting a homestead from scratch!), we can’t stress the importance enough of starting with small projects.

While Jesse and I have been working together for quite a while now (we started on this 9 month house rehabbing project), are are still learning to work as a team.

Whether we’re building a cabin such as this, sawhorses with leftover lumber, learning to cut down trees to mill for lumber, or building a deck for our RV, they are all of great importance and great learning opportunities.

Every project that we do together goes more and more smoothly. We built this entire cabin in 3-5 days (with help from Jesse’s sister of course!) and we were all really able to work as a team.

While part of us regrets not having the basic frame of our barn up by now, another part of us knows that things happen (or don’t happen) for a reason and if we would have gone straight for the big project, it could have resulted in failure or great frustration, and we still may not have gotten it done in time.


We couldn’t be happier with how our first little cabin turned out!

Even though we’ve lived in nicer homes before, we are extremely happy to see the cabin we built when we come up the driveway.

We are really stoked that we are learning to build with the materials we have, and we own our cabin outright… no mortgage payment to deal with.

In lowering our standards of living now, we are able to keep our eyes on the prize which is the building of our barn and eventually, our home.

At the end of the day, all we really need is food, shelter, warmth, and love is nice too which our home has an abundance of.

Get involved!

How this young couple managed to build an #offthegrid #cabin for their first winter on their #homestead with $300 and a little ingenuity! #offgrid #homesteadingLiving in a travel trailer is something Jesse and I  NEVER thought we’d be willing to do, ever, but it turns out we are doing it and are really happy with the choice for all of the right reasons.

Is living in a creative dwelling such as this something you’d be willing to tolerate if it meant you’d be able to get on the fast path to achieving your goals, and the life you want to live?

What material sacrifices have you made to achieve your goals, and how did it make you feel?

Love to hear it!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.


  1. Sinéad says

    Really impressed with your winter shelter and stove. Best of luck to you both in surviving the winter. We are doing something similar in county Donegal, Ireland and I can relate to so many of your stories. Our property is a derelict farm house that we are bringing back to life. Not living there full time yet but reading about your experiences encourages me to see how it could be done one day. Keep safe and warm! Sinéad

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by the blog Sinéad! Glad to hear you are on a similar journey in Ireland! I bet restoring a farm house is quite the rewarding challenge… would be a fun project to take on one day. Keep in touch and best of luck to you on your journey!

    • saronne says

      Hi, Sinead- can many speak Irish in County Donegal?

      Any way to keep the interior of such a cabin dry in Ireland? I was there around 25 years ago to march on Easter Monday- very different weather from Southern California! LOL

  2. Beth says

    A question that is in no way a criticism…..Was there a reason you both waited until fall to start this homestead rather than wait until spring when you’d have longer to get yourselves ready for winter? I’ve tried to look in past posts and haven’t been able to find the answer. 🙂

    • says

      Great question Beth! Had our circumstances been different we may have done just that. Prior to buying our land, we took on a year-long house rehabbing project in exchange for rent (blog post on that here: ) and our job was coming to an end. We needed to be out of the house just days after we closed on our land. We had family we could stay with in Southern California but that’s a LONG ways away from Idaho, and if we were staying with family near Los Angeles, we wouldn’t really be able to save materials, get to know our land, keep an eye out for good deals, and it just felt really distant from our goals even though it would have allowed us to save up money quickly. We didn’t want to rent a place in Oregon, where we were living just before our move, because we didn’t want to spend $700/month in rent, get into a lease, be living back in the city, and we’d still be really far from our land, and we still wouldn’t be able to collect materials because we didn’t want to have to rent a Uhaul and make multiple trips to Idaho just to make our move… likely, that would cancel out the cost savings of salvaging materials and tools where we could! We did entertain renting an apartment near our land until spring time, but that would still be $500-800/month in rent which we wanted to avoid at all costs as we could be spending that money on our property. Also, any money spent on rent would NEVER be seen again, where if we spent money on a travel trailer and other temporary living on our land, we would be able to recover if we were to sell the materials, sell the travel trailer, etc. Trust me… we thought LONG and HARD about this decision and while part of us wishes we had the comforts of living with family or renting an apartment that had all the modern amenities we are used to, we still feel confident in our decision to live on our land throughout winter and do what it takes to survive. Almost every penny we’ve spent we can turn right back around and get the money back (by selling things we’ve bought, as we’ve bought strategically), and living on our land 24/7 has given us many opportunities that we wouldn’t otherwise have. We’ve also had a lot of time to get to know folks in the area which has been a big help on our journey, we have a place to store materials, we are on the property so we can “babysit” stuff somewhat, and the list goes on and on. Maybe I should write a blog post on that?! I don’t think this decision would be right for all people, however. It does have its disadvantages and hardships but ask us again after winter if it was the right decision or not, and we’ll see if our answer changes! Thanks for asking the question, hope others can benefit from the question and this answer! It’s a very serious thing to consider… WHEN to start your journey as it pertains to weather!

      • Sandee Hiatt says

        I enjoy all your posts so much! We have a very similar mindset on what you both are undertaking. We have lived in a fifth wheel as a vacation home in the mountains for 9 years. We have a well and electricity so it is very comfortable. We are going to cover the trailer this summer and many of your ideas seem so feasible (and affordable)!

        Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas and we think what you are doing is absolutely awesome 🙂

        Please email with your location as I have not come across your location in Idaho. We may be neighbors. 🙂

      • andrew says

        Hi! I’ve been keeping up with your blog recently as my partner and I have the same goal of buying some rural property and starting our own homestead. I have a question for you. If your land is pretty far off the beaten path how were you able to get an Internet provider to install service at your place? We intend on having a blog space as well but do NOT intend on having a postal address. So what’s your secret?

        • says

          Our land isn’t too far off the beaten path… we are off grid, but many of our neighbors are on the grid. We don’t have DSL or cable internet, but we do have line-of-sight wireless internet. This is certainly something to check before you buy property if internet is a priority. There is always satellite, but from my understanding it’s painfully slow AND your’e charged by the data you use which for us, would be out of the question as we work online. Your other question regarding having a blog space but no postal address is confusing… maybe you can elaborate on that?

  3. Brian says

    Have been watching you people from the start, good for you only one question two parts and that is your propane tank how big is it and how do you vent your propane gas from your fridge and stove and furnace that gives off exhaust gas and keep the moisture down in the trailer.

  4. JIM says

    Sometimes it is just best to jump in and learn as you go. I applaud you for taking the leap!
    I did something very similar but fortunately our property had a nice little timber frame cabin already on it. My wife isn’t quite that adventurous in the roughing it department, though we did have plans to do the travel trailer route if need be. A few years latter and we have a nice little homestead setup and land that is starting to produce. Its a very rewarding journey and I am so much happier now then back when I was considered successful. Just wanted to write a little vote of confidence and say you guys are doing a great job!

  5. Plinker says

    Here in Ontario, Canada the hydro rate is +8 cents off peek, +12 cents mid-peek and +17 cents peek and this does not include all the delivery charges, retirement crap and other stuff. Therefore most people here are turning down there heating be it electric “shudder”, oil or gas and living with 65f temperature in there homes.

    Personally my home is generally 55~60f and I am just using an airtight in the basement, as well I turn my water heater off during the peek and most times during the week days to conserve power. My intention is to install a timer to turn the water heater on for a few hours at night.

    I notice your concern for water freezing but this should not happen unless it gets really cold. Not sure if you have seen the plans but some people have turned there own copper coils and installed them around the chimney pipe above the woodstove, this utilizes the heat that would otherwise be lost. This heated water could be stored in an old insulated water heater!!

    The car port you have is like some we have here and needs a solid footing like concrete that the frame is bolted to give it strength, my cousin actually put plywood on the top of his to further strengthen it then a plastic tarpalin. He also built an a-frame that has inherent strength from its triangular shape and you can use old wood as long as its still fundamentally in good condition.

    If you stack your wood at the corners three one way and three the other way it makes an end that will not fall over.

    Best to both of you at this special time of year.


  6. Cindy Barstow says

    I live off grid in a yurt in NH. Two things that help tremendously are one; old fashion hot water bottles ($5 at Walmart). Just reheat water (in a pan set aside only for that). Great to heat up the bed, put on lap when on the computer, etc. Even to go out to look at the stars. I made a fleece cover that I take off if I wake up cold at night. Stays warm a long time! Just be sure it’s screwed on tight! The second thing is that blue camping mat foam. Cut a “ring” for the toilet seat (awesome!) and also use the foam anytime I need a buffer between me and something cold. Sometimes it’s even the couch if the wood stove has been off and everything is really chilled. Standing on a piece will keep your feet much warmer – increases the warmth for even good winter boots (if you are doing something in one spot). Have a little square to sit my mug on while my tea steeps. Another thing – take the 2 minutes to heat a little water when washing your hands/face. Can still rinse with cold. Small ways to pamper yourself go a long way towards happiness. Been meaning to write this – not sure if I have – sorry if I’m repeating myself. Best of luck this winter!

    • says

      Great tips Cindy! I know when I have a warm cat in my lap that I actually feel warmer, so I imagine a warm water bottle would do the same thing. The foam is also a great idea. I actually have a pair of down booties that I wear in the trailer and having 1″ of foam between me and the floor is the difference between my feet being freezing cold and being toasty. Just foam! We’ve been heating water to do dishes and waht not as how water always seems to clean things better than cold. We also found that if we heat the water up in the morning for dishes and stuff that it stays pretty warm throughout the day if we need a little warm water. I agree… finding small ways to pamper yourself really help in terms of happiness. Thanks again for the tips!

  7. Cathy says

    Alyssa & Jessie – You two are amazing! My husband and I moved into a fifth wheel trailer this summer in Colorado as we had thought we would live in one when we retire at some point in the not to distant future. We have so many people comment that they don’t know how we can do it. I believe that if you just decide you are going to do something, then you can do it! I find it sad that people make any kind of negative comments on your blog. I have totally enjoyed every post and as I said, you two are amazing! We have friends who are building tiny houses and believe that is a better option than the fifth wheel for cold weather because of the slides being cold, but we are really staying plenty warm even when the temps have gotten down into the teens. Plus, the fifth wheels always seem to have roof leaks!
    Keep up the great work and continue to love each other!

    • says

      We completely agree with you Cathy… when you decide to just “do” something, you can do it! The hardest part is contemplating whether or not to do something, and thinking of every conceivable reason to not give something a go… it’s amazing how we really don’t need that much space at the end of the day! We have not yet had the complain come up that our living quarters are too small. The cold is a challenge but it’s workable and there is always a solution, especially if a travel trailer or fifth wheel is a more permanent solution. Thanks for the kind comment and we’re glad you found our blog! Glad you and your husband found a way of living that works for you!

    • savannah says

      Cathy I had to lol about your receiving comments. I lived in CO for years and it seemed because I tend to be an out of the box kind of thinker/doer. I got endless comments from onlookers in my region. I lived in the city and had mt property, leaning towards the negative in whatever I did. I just laughed and retorted. I would rather TRY something and learn a lesson, grow a bit, than never DO anything. Follow your heart and let those that don’t share your entrepreneurial spirit comments fall on deaf ears while you press on!!! I contend they are secretly envious that you did something while they did nothing, ha.

      Alyssa, I applaud your efforts, you GO girl!!! Life is only regrets when you didn’t follow your dreams, ambitions, and goals. You are doing what you want to do, and nothing can replace those lessons, the memories, and the excitements that this kind of journey brings. America USE to be more pioneering in their philosophies, somewhere we LOST that and now we are just sorta reaping the benefits for not DOING. Most of our ancestors didn’t have the money or the home depot, ha. They just had gumption, they believed their hard work would pay off in the long term. And yes, everyone thinks you can do stuff yesterday…good point in the video Jesse, one hr investment does not yield a lifetime result. I don’t know where that mentality CAME from, but it is the mindset of our time. YOU GOTTA DO THE WORK TO REAP THE REWARD.

      I just moved to Idaho at Thanksgiving, a leap of faith, a whole new adventure, and man, a whole new brand of cold. Not what I imagined, ha. The altitude I lived in, being from CO, the sun does a way better job of warming things up faster. Here where I am, feels colder at the same temp and I am learning a whole new appreciation for layers, ha.

      I applaud your efforts, I think y’all are demonstrating that we need to really evaluate what kind of life we want. What equals quality to us as individuals, and then move towards making that reality, step by step. Our world is offering a lot of emptiness for a lot of people and I just think it is awesome that you stepped up and said, not for us, we will forge a different path. The notion of quantity is so empty, working for people who take advantage is really beginning to BUG the masses, ha. You can have all the ‘stuff” and be miserable because things don’t bring you a life, clutter makes you a slave to the stuff. I am with Thoreau, simplify, because really amassing a bunch of stuff is wasteful, and doesn’t really bring the joy and satisfaction most of us are seeking. I think you did a fabulous job on your cabin, or bonus room, ha. And AMEN to a state that allows you to do what you want without ALL the red tape crap. That is SO refreshing!!!! I wanted to do what you are doing ALL my life but my journey was bogged down with partners that bought into the corporate dream and ended getting burned royally by that lifestyle. Now it is just me, I got through a season of tremendous loss, and though that is a challenge in itself, I am trying to focus on two things. First, it is NOW or never, because I am older. Second, what other choice do I have. Many at my age have lost their jobs, their savings, pensions, or 401k’s, so we either swim, or sink…and I chose swimming in a different pond so to speak, ha. My ancestors lived through stuff much worse and held on because they pressed on, and I don’t dare disappoint, ha!!!

    • pamela says

      I am 59 this week and plan on living in a fifth wheel when this home is paid for in less than two years.I have read that the blue foam makes great wrap for the side walls when extended on a fifth wheel.I own five corner lots and intend to wrap the bottom in Tyvek for warmth.I love reading about everyones journey and hope I can get some advice as well.Great work to all of you.

  8. Gordon says

    I notice the tin behind the wood stove,Well it seem to be tight to the wall.(LOL Chuckle) no offence but just try this on for a chance,remove the tin from the wall find some metal 2 x4 studs that dry wallers use to put drywall on.And then put tin back on but 3 or 4 inches from floor to about 2 feet above the stove then put a piece of tin rounded half moon on the wall to act as a deflector for the warm air to create a movement to direct the air from the wall over top the stove.So the stove warms the air behind the tin next to the wall which rises upward and gets more air from the space on the bottom at the floor.I know this WORKS for I used for in the winter in MY trappers cabin.It don’t require power and it handed down to me by my late father.That’s why the laughter cause he used in his ‘Redneck motor home ‘,years before I was born.I hope I explained it well enough for you folks to understand.So all it really is a a fan that move the air for you with out power.Hey I sure hope this works for you folks.

  9. Robert Interior Alaska says

    Great story. We are living off grid in the interior of Alaska on 5 acres. mo mortgage, no electric bill either. We do have Solar Panels, a Battery Bank and an Inverter Generator. Mostly we have this so when we leave the house we can run the Toyo heater. We still burn wood, but I had built a cabin and I’m here to tell ya, at -40 it’s no fun to come home to a frozen home. It takes a long time for the wood stove to heat a place back up in the Interior of Alaska at those temps. The Toyo’s are super efficient and with the cost of fire wood up here it’s less expensive to burn heating oil for us. We are older now and with a bad back I just can’t harvest wood like I used to.
    One suggestion is to plan for your “Golden Years” as you build your homestead. They come a lot quicker than you think. Simple things like flat bar door knobs, wide hallways, flat ranch style house with only a few stairs, etc. It would be shame to spend most of your life building a homestead only to have to “sell-out” because you couldn’t do the work it takes to stay there when your older.

    Looking forward to watching your journey and your grand adventure.


    • says

      Hey Robert, very cool to hear about your home in Alaska! HA, I can’t even imagine coming home to a frozen home in -40 degree weather! We’re concerned about getting a sub 0 day haha. Good to know about the Toyo heater. Firewood seems readily available so far but it’s always nice to know what our options are. I can understand the importance of building a home that will be suitable for the “Golden Years”. You’re right, we still have a long way to go, and I don’t know that this will be our forever property, but something to think about nonetheless. With that in mind, maybe we shouldn’t build a 5-story tree house that is only accessible by a rope ladder, darn! Thanks for the tips and for stopping by our blog!

    • savannah says

      Can I say that I have watched several of those that built beautiful homes off the grid over the years sell off because they didn’t heed what you said…They built homes with lots of stairs, and over the years negotiating those steps proved too much in their advancing years. Some just had loft areas and climbing up ladders can be done when you’re younger but not so much as you age, you lose your balancing abilities. And it is true if you have to use a wheelchair, it gets near impossible in tiny hallways, so think open concept as much as you can. It will also be a selling factor later. Trust me on this. Everyone wants WIDE openness in design. You don’t have to be older for life to present a mobility challenge. We were the “young” ones when I bought on the mt. But I have watched many of those that retired to the mt have to give up their mt property because in their advancing years keeping up a home that wasn’t age friendly proved too difficult.

  10. Rook says

    I am glad I came across the share on Facebook about your blog. I will be looking forward to following your journey as we all do more to take care of ourselves. Keep up the great work.

  11. Mara says

    I was wondering how old you guys are, ballpark. I know it’s not really relevant but I’m curious. Also, I noticed your Oregon license plate.Was wondering if you lived in Portland before moving to the hills. Why did you decide to go off grid? I recently purchased 5 acres on Camano Island in Wa. and plan to start a cabin this summer, so I am watching you guys for tips and tricks. Very interesting!

    • Jesse says

      We are in our late twenties and early thirties! We were in Southern Oregon before moving to Idaho. You must be excited for summer to arrive – sounds like a great project! We wanted to go off grid because we don’t want to be dependent on anyone for our survival. We don’t like knowing that someone can shut off our power or water by flipping a switch. We’re not 100% self-sufficient today, but that is the goal we will continuously be working for and hope to share our insights on the blog! Hope you’re able to find some great ideas here to implement with your new cabin 🙂

      • Paul says

        I agree totally with being 100% self sufficient and rely on yourselves. You guys are doing a awesome job. I get my inspiration and grab all the knowledge I can from ur post, blog,U-tube, and anywhere I can find you folks. Don’t worry about the people with the negative feedback. This is your journey, they don’t have to like it, only you do. The heck with them, and I’m being nice with my comments on that I love in depth videos, I’m really interested in your saw mill and I can’t wait until you start building ur cabin. Again, great job. You guys take care and b careful…

    • Melody says

      Hello Alyssa, when you said you built your home in the Pacific NW, I assumed it was somewhere along the Left side of Washington, where we live. My husband & I will become empty-nesters this year and dream/wish we could find cheap land (about 20? Acres tho we are not rich or even near the medium income) along the Cascade foothills, divide it for each of our kids, (in hopes they too build a home near us) and we want to build a log home. We need help in knowing and preparing the steps to go about doing this. The first thing my husband wants to build is a large garage. (We never had a garage before)Then figure out where and how to get water and where to put in a septic tank that could be used by the kids homes too, and how to go about figuring out how much it would cost to build our desired floor plan of a log house and how to get power. Etc. Etc.. can you help us with advice? I reread up on the Survivalist emails and they say it’s best to have 3 different power sources. Solar, wind and water power if available. We desire to be mortgage debt free too.

  12. Jan says

    You are living my dream life! I’ve wanted to do exactly what you’re doing for a very long time, and fully intend to still, at some point. However, I don’t have a partner, and I’m almost 59, so it will be a little more of a challenge for me. I can’t do it right away, because I’m a Foster Care Provider and not allowed to homeschool the kids. But there will come a day, when I start living my dream. Until then, I’m very happy to have found your blog, and will be content to follow your journey until it’s my turn. Stay warm and safe!

  13. Joseph says

    You guys are so brave. I wish I would of done this years ago. I am now too old to under take such a big job. I can enjoy your blog however. I live on the other side of the country from you but I wish you both the best of luck and hope you have a really blessed

  14. Joseph says

    You guys are so brave. I wish I would of done this years ago. I am now too old to under take such a big job. I can enjoy your blog however. I live on the other side of the country from you but I wish you both the best of luck and hope you have a really blessed life together. I look forward to seeing your progress. Thanks for sharing.

  15. says

    I am following a few blogs on offgrid living. Everyone seems to prefer cold climates.!! Makes it harder for solar power and heating. Were building a off/grid house( 1 bedroom 1 bath ) in perth western australia. Summer temp are up to 40 degrees C winter sometimes gets to 0degrees C . So not really any problem for heating . Water supply is probably a bigger concern.

    • savannah says

      Land can be cheaper in colder climates, less restrictions on building codes, and sometimes more resources. A lot of areas are almost forbidding a homestead off the grid existence, if the area isn’t already used that way or maintains some sort of grandfather clause. City or county governments want revenue and they want control. Lots of areas are wide open but restrict putting in wells, or having any kind of alternative power source. Or the taxes are so high you can’t afford them. So people chose the colder places out of necessity, availability, and cost. Or at least that has been my experience.

      • says

        @ savannah Thanks for the information. So glad i live here. Zoning is special rural ( orchards etc) with no restrictions on land clearing, livestock holdings and drilling for water. We have lived her for 25 years and am now building a smaller single level house for retirement ( have designed it as open plan with wheel chair access just in case.This will be off grid for power, water and sewerage. Our existing house 5bed 2 bathroom 2 storey will be remted to give us a retirement income )

        Heating is via a wood heater that uses wood pellets made from free sawdust ( i bought a pellet making machine) cooling will mostly be fans .

        Its great reading about other peoples experiences and ideas and i look forward to seeing Alyssa’s progress.

      • Paul says

        I agree totally with being 100% self sufficient and rely on yourselves. You guys are doing a awesome job. I get my inspiration and grab all the knowledge I can from ur post, blog,U-tube, and anywhere I can find you folks. Don’t worry about the people with the negative feedback. This is your journey, they don’t have to like it, only you do. The heck with them, and I’m being nice with my comments on that I love in depth videos, I’m really interested in your saw mill and I can’t wait until you start building ur cabin. Again, great job. You guys take care and b careful…

  16. homestead hubby says

    I’m 33 years and have been studying off -grid living, alternative energy and fuels, organic gardening and farming, animal husbandry, as well as everything in between…. ie. Construction, blueprinting, building,electrical, and plumbing, codification… Wind,solar,plant hardiness, climatology… Geothermal heat pumps… Thermal dynamics and passive solar in relation to heating and cooling of a dwelling… And the list goes on and on…. But I’ve been studying for 15 years and I also grew up on a farm so I’ve learned hands on how to live sustainably and I have never thought of diving in the way you did… Now I have to applaud you on being resourceful and all the things you have accomplished…. Thanks for the blog…. Keep up the good work

  17. Arturo says

    I too am trying to go off grid. I am starting with a used Park Model manufactured home. 1982 and in good condition. Residential appliances and some better insulation than a conventional RV. Cost $7500.00. Move $1500.00. I will have to have it anchored and leveled and that will be another couple hundred dollars. Unable to do it myself. The property I have has part of a root cellar on it as well as a well and electricity and septic. I plan on solar/wind for power and passive geothermal cooling for summer. High desert so growing will be easy. When done it should cost the very minimal to live there as we plan on growing most of our food.
    Happy to see others doing similar things. Costs have gone out of sight and are only going to get worse so living off grid is the only way to exist or be a wage slave the rest of your life.
    Planning ahead and looking for those deals can save a ton of money. I have several sights with used solar and wind equipment for sale on them. Internet is a life saver when it comes to buying used. Keep up the good work. Looking for your next post.

    • Troy says

      Hey Arturo:
      Thanks for the post.
      Would you mind sharing links to the solar and wind sites?
      Thanks again and best of luck…!

  18. says

    great article. we lived under an army surplus truck when we bugged out in 1975. never even had a tent or sleeping bag. all you needed was the garage in a box…. the camper was insulated. we call that a RV CHALET lol. it all worked out great for us. hope the same for you.
    good luck
    ps. if i can be of assistance just holler.

  19. Dieter Dittrich says

    I always enjoy reading people’s adventures about trying to live and build with bad weather approaching in a hurry. Your attempt was a little more unusual as you had the extremely good luck in dismantling a structure that would provide you with all your immediate needs plus the use of screws in order to reuse the material without a lot of damage, so I am not alone by abandoning my hammer. What surprised me was the little barrel stove. I have the same stove in our little 20′ yurt, found it during a trip 120 miles away in Prince George, BC, south from where we live. It was not my 1st choice, I was supposed to pick up my new EPA approved stove that was specially ordered, turned out they ordered the wrong model, a unit that would heat 2,000 square feet, instead of 500.
    Had to scramble now to find a stove I can take home. Looking through Bargain Finder magazine, lots to choose from, nobody home during day. Finally got hold of someone near 6 pm, was asking $200 Can., loaded it up and on way home. Almost all the stoves were $200, the city was giving people who upgraded to an EPA model $200 trade in. This was done to eliminate pollution in the Bowl, a large residential area in a valley of 2 rivers, where lots of people heated with wood.
    We now live on 40 acres, off grid, in a 32′ Yurt, composting toilet, solar and wind. We have been using pigs to ready our wilderness for u-pick berry orchards. Beginning of last November I manage to close our 30′ Star Dome before winter really set in. Finished the rocket stove and now will work on leveling the ground for the 15′ swimming pool, which will be used to contain our grey water from shower to act as thermal mass for 4 season greenhouse. We use a Blaze King Princess for our heat source, the most efficient wood stove in the world, a little pricey, but then I will never say I wish I would have gotten a better one. I also use an Eco fan on the stove top to circulate the warm air, no electricity needed. 2 more weeks and the sun will be high enough even on cloudy days to put away the generator.
    Good luck with your plans, you seem to be well on your way.

  20. Sara says

    Wow! You are troopers and I know you’ll continue to be successful. We’ve researched tons of housing choices as I’m sure you two have. Just curious if you’ve ever considered a dome as a housing option. You might be interested in checking out a concrete dome. American Ingenuity dome kits are ones that you can put up and then finish at will. They are highly efficient requiring only 1/2 the size heat or a/c units. Use one wood heater to heat the entire dome. No roof, gutters, etc to maintain, load bearing is super for snow. We toured their factory in FL and are sold. Not sure when we’ll do it, but it’s our goal. Just wanted to pass this info on to you. It’s a great shelter alternative. Best of luck! You are brave and amazing!

    • says

      Hey Sara! We have watched some videos on domes and while they do seem cool, I don’t know that it’s the most practical option for us. It seems that the kit framework alone can be $30,000 and we’re looking at getting our frame for basically free if we’re able to use the lumber on our own land, so that alone would put us ahead by $30k. But nothing is out of the question, I guess we’ll see what resources we have available to us by the time we’re ready to build our house! I’ve been in a dome home and it was beautiful and had great energy to it. Sounds like a good goal to have for sure. Thanks for the wishes, and best of luck on your journey as well!

  21. Marie says

    I’m definitely impressed by your journey. My husband and I are doing something similar, but not starting with as little. The one thing I can’t seem to find information about is building permits. Most building permits alone are a couple $100. I’m curious how you got around this because my husband and I are going to need to build lots of shelter for livestock and I didn’t know if there were other rules in terms of putting up a structure on homesteads.

    • says

      Hey Marie, I think most building permits are a lot more than a couple hundred dollars! Where we came from, building an actual home could cost $50k just in permits. Not sure on small structures. We purposefully bought land in an area with zero building codes. We don’t need a permit for small things, nor do we need one to build an actual home. I don’t know that there are ways around building permits. Neighbors are known for ratting out people that build without permits (depending on where you live) and I’m not sure what the frequency is of drive-bys by government workers, or even scans of the area on Google Earth. Some say that paying the fine in some areas is cheaper than getting the permit, but this certainly isn’t something we can give advice on as technically, it’s not legal to build in many areas without a permit, even if you’re putting up a small shed. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

  22. Sumer Foster says

    I didn’t read the entire post, but I watched the video. In it, you guys said the entire thing is insulated. How can that be, when I am seeing daylight in between the wood slats that you two are sitting in front of, and around the door, etc.?

    • says

      There isn’t any daylight between the wood slats (I assume you mean the boards on the walls?) so maybe it’s the insulation reflecting. There ARE other spots in the cabin where you can see daylight because it wasn’t our goal to get it completely air tight. The goal is to keep it warm enough in winter to keep things from freezing which the entire setup does an excellent job of.

      • John says

        Hi Alyssa, I’ve been following you & your husband’s adventure living off-grid on a budget.
        I enjoyed the details & how you guys over came your obstacles, some were funny funny.
        I lived in a 5th wheel outside of Aspen through 2 harsh winters, luckily nothing froze, but I made preparations by making skirting, heat tapes and a lamp, back 2 decades ago.
        now I am retired 69 years old, who owns a 29ft 5fth wheel, own a house in SE Idaho & plan to relocate to Oregon to begin my off-grid homestead. It’s a bit scary due to my age. Originally my wife did not want to make the move, opting to travel around America. so I’ve had opposition for 2-3 years. I suggested we separate or divorce so she could remain close to family. Well she wants to give Oregon a shot & it only took a few weeks for her to change her mind, I did not pressure her & Before we hooked up she knew my intentions to homestead. So now I have a partner which is great to have her go. I know this will be fun for her.

  23. Terri says

    Stumbled upon your blog. Great ingenuity!! My story is too long to explain. I jumped off of the management ladder after years of 80 hour work weeks.
    We have a 25 ft camper with a roof over the RV and an add on room. We’ve been here for a few years building our post and beam house out of pocket.
    Salvaged materials, our trees turned into lumber and around $4,000.00 cash has us nearly into the new house. A medical problem has taken precedence and we’ll be in our alternate dwelling through one more Vermont winter. We have the company of a big dog, 3 cats and a son on the weekends.
    One learns to be creative, adaptive and to go with the flow.
    Good Luck to you with your project. Enjoy the journey!!! It’s worth it

    • says

      That’s so awesome to hear Terri! What a change from corporate life eh? Do you regret the new lifestyle? I doubt it!! You’ll be in your new home in no time. Good luck to you and your project as well! We could probably learn a thing or two from you as you’re a few steps ahead of us!

  24. says

    Hi ! I found your site accidentally, I’m so happy I did. I’m really a person who has been trying to cut costs and raise our meat and vegetables. I have rabbits which are very lean and healthy. I raise heritage chickens and turkey’s as well as a pig. The Breeders are named but the ones we raise for meat are not. We just call those baby. I butchered my first rabbits two weeks ago, I was so surprised at myself being able to do it. But I invested time and feed and lots of foraging to get them ready to be butchered. The same with the pig, I know porky is for meat, I treat her very well and feed her lots of leftovers from my sisters home, they actually throw a lot away, so I just asked that they save it for porky. It surprises me how much those two girls waste. But now it goes to the pig. We do not give the pig meat just veggies and pasta and fruits as well as plants that grow wild all around our home. We have almost 5 a, to homestead on. We do have electricity but we do not use the furnace that requires propane, the house we built in 1997 is a modified A-frame, we built it ourselves. We have a Omesh heater that heats the whole house. The electric bill is very low. We conserve with the lights are energy savers bulbs that a friend gave us as a gift. And we only use them in the evening in the room we are in. During the day we consitrate on the work in the garden and the animals. We have raised garden beds because our soil is clay, and with the rabbits and the chicken we have lots of fertilizer for the garden beds. I recently read a article on Swales and how to start permaculture beds, so far I’ve stared two which are growing cucumbers and water melons. Next spring I will have at least four of these beds, it was so easy, we have lots of overgrown trees, so as we trimmed them we cut all the limbs the same size 36″ by 4′ we dug a trench at the end of the Swales and put the cut wood in it, then we added fertilizer(rabbit poo) and covered it over with the dirt we dug. I do not have to water them, when it rains the water runs in the Swales then right into the beds and the wood that is under them hold a lot of water and it leaches up to the plants. And the plants are very healthy. My husband and I are both retired. I worked for 27 years in retail and he used to work at a meat plant. I can almost everything, and have learned how to pressure can as well. My next project will be a small smokehouse so we can cure our meat and smoke Turkeys and fish we catch. Oh don’t get me wrong we have Internet, an a tv. We are not off grid totally, but we are headed in the right direction. It is lots of hard work and we go to bed tired every night. We love the feeling of providing healthy foods without GMO. I love your blog and all of the recipes that you provide, I definitely will be returning to your site to get more ideas and to keep up to date with your project. Love it!

  25. Sharon Benoit says

    Hi, I just wanted to say I’m impressed with your dream and what you’ve done so far. Keep up the good work and I’m cheering you on!

  26. Reyne Nix says

    I just accidentally found your site, liked the facebook page. This is my dream 😉 We have the land, but too much debt that should be paid off in 4 or 5 years. I would walk away today, but my husband is concerned about healthcare among other things. I will def be following you guys and taking all the good info. We are in South Texas so way different climate. Staying cool is the challenge here!! I love the fact of simplifying life. I could go the rest of my of my life without makeup lol But those Hot Baths i might miss…oh yes the Hot Tub. How is that working out for you guys. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences with us. I love love it all !!!!!!!

  27. Mary P. says

    Sounds like you’re on the right path. Also young. My husband and I bought property 20 years ago,built our own farm off grid from scratch. Yup,had a camper until the first winter. Almost froze to death. Pit an addition on pur barn with a wood stove and made it through. Lived in that a few years before adding on. Solar and wind. Illness and our age had us sell this year. Moved to city. Awful. House up for sale. Going back to the country. Having an Amish cabin built a woostove and solar. You need to be able to care for your own needs. Corrupt government is forcing our hand at self reliance. They want everyone Dependant on a handout for control. Take back America!

  28. Samuel Clare says

    I stumbled on your site via u-tube, and now I’m hooked. I’m getting some good ideas from you and your viewers. I too have been on the hamster wheel, and have said enough is enough. I can relate to your story of spending what you make with no end in site Alyssa. That combined with what you and some of your viewers have said ” They have control over utilities” You and Jesse are on the right track. I was fortunate enough to purchase my own land back in 1998 and pay it off. I assume you guys are still paying on your place there in Idaho. Words can’t explain the feeling of writing that last check. WOO!HOO!. Keep fightin the good fight. You guys are in good company, and definitely NOT alone. Continue following your gut instinct, and don’t let the nay sayers bog ya down too much. PS got a hot tub just like yours . That rocks
    Stay warm and healthy Best regards , Sam

  29. Azri'el Collier says

    Left comments on your youtube post that I found interesting. It would make the who future project more interesting if you would strive to use more recycled materials in the larger barn/house.
    Being a recycler myself, I fully appreciated what you have accomplished so far. And here it is coming into winter of 2016 and am wondering what has been done since last winter?

  30. Joy Dillard says

    Hello Alyssa,
    I’m looking to move out to north central Idaho in the next year or so. I’m taking steps to do that now. I’ve really enjoyed your videos on you tube. I’ve gotten a pretty good picture of how difficult this off grid thing can be by watching your videos and another couples, Starry Hilder’s you tube videos. I haven’t seen any newer video’s and was wondering if you guys are okay? Hope so! Hang in there!

  31. Tom osborne says

    Just a thought. Since you will face the hills and the view, have you considered building the house into the hillside? You would get benefits of more insulation for the back of the house and would use less of the flat area.
    Just a thought as I am admiring your goals and aspirations.
    Keep going

  32. Stan says

    Interesting post guys!
    I’m curious, what are the laws concerning cabins in the US?
    Here in Canada (for most provinces at least), one needs to have 25 acres of land before building a small cabin. Otherwise, you must build a “house” – plumbing, sewers and electricity are then mandatory.

    • says

      I’m sure it depends on the county / neighborhood. Even where we are, there are neighborhoods with strict CC&Rs where you need a minimum square footage for your house… but it can probably still be “cabin” style.

  33. Joe Z says

    I am trying to follow in a progression your videos. Really enjoying them. In case I missed something, what is your timeline to build your home? I assume you will be filming that too? Its amazing that there are people that still want to do this. It’s not easy giving up the tech world and it is hard work so really impressed with your drive and dedication. I am 59 and remember that I always had a dream to build a dome. never did it so I live my dreams with shows on TV like the Alaskan shows, and finding your journey really inspires. Have you considered A-frames or geodesic domes?

  34. Julie says

    We are in Southern California with our 16-year-old son, and we are planning a move to Idaho when he graduates from high school in two years. We’ve narrowed it down to a two-county area that meets our logistical needs, but after looking at hundreds of realty listings I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. We will hire a realtor when the time gets closer, but there is a lot I want to research before we get to that point. We want 2-5 acres, some wooded, some pasture type, on a county road. The state and county websites I’ve seen so far haven’t really been particularly helpful. Do you have any advice? I don’t know how to compare and prioritize the attributes of different plots. When anticipating time constraints and potential hidden costs, where do you suggest we start the research? Zoning and permit processes; water rights, drainage, well-drilling prices; construction access; gravel vs. concrete, etc? I can’t even figure out how much of our budget we should allocate for land vs. house (which we will NOT do ourselves), so I can’t really narrow the search. TIA! 🙂

    • says

      Lots of good questions Julie! In all honesty, you do kinda have to look at it all. To put it simply, I’d probably rate your criteria in order of importance, estimate rough budgets for certain things (a well could be up to $30,000+) and water rights could be quite a hefty investment (as you know, just because you have water-front property doesn’t mean you have the rights to it). For us, permits was critical because we don’t want to spend $50,000 just to get permission to build a house. We decided an existing well wasn’t important and we were find hauling water for a while (water costs us $1.00/month hauling it ourselves), were fine not having any water rights (maybe we’ll try to snag them on a property in the future)… what was important to us was state, county, ability to be off grid, south view, not being a mile down a private road, etc. Unfortunately, this stuff does just take time. We try to share our budget of what various things cost (for us) so that may be helpful to look at. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where we are where we feel we can quickly size up a property and compare it to other properties available, and you’ll be happy when you get to this point! We’re learning a lot through this current property but we tried to jump on research early. We were happy to work with a local realtor (local to the area even) as he had some great relationships, but ultimately, we brought a property to him that we found on Craigslist. Doesn’t hurt to do your own research as well as realtors don’t always find everything. We haven’t had much luck on websites outside of Craigslist and the MLS. Hopefully this is helpful!

  35. Aly says

    Have you thought about wrapping copper pipe around the exhaust pipe of your stove to heat your water from your hot water tank? May as well harness as much of the energy as possible and saves on propane and electricity.

    • Don says

      I read about a guy who put 300 ft. Of black plastic water hose into a fifty – five gallon black drum on an 8 ft tower for hot water, he stated he lived in northern Idaho and the sun heated the water to 100 degrees, so he used a 50 w bulb the rest of the year(when no Sun was available) to heat his water!!! Where ever in N Idaho there was Sun between 9 and 11 months per year!!! This was in a farm show magazine which you can buy on DVD now!!! I assume the water house was from farming, he wasn’t getting off the grid either, just saving money!!! I was wondering
      how much of a pump it would take to pump die- electric oil through this same setup
      for heating a house, we use diesel now and it is great when we are awake!!! Anyway
      OIL would hold the heat more than water an if I ran the oil through a car heater in the bedroom and 2 bathrooms which would keep them warm throughout the night
      that would be Awesome!!! I have RA and an infusion every 8 wks @ $18 Gs!!! We live in Nevada!!!

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