Off Grid Cabin Design.

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TeeDee

Full Member
Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
Has anyone designed & built their own off grid? Nothing too large but equally not a shed.
I have an area of space that I'd like to build a separate little living accommodation ( sleep/eat/chill ) as an impromptu safe haven for those that may need it.

The area is a good 4 m x 4 m to use and with some clever design features I'm sure it can be homely , comfortable and compact.
Although I'm defining this as off grid it is possible for me to run Electric to it.

Anyone done this?

Photos or links to such projects appreciated.
 
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Davey569

Native
Jun 18, 2008
1,185
82
Off the beaten track
I’ve not done a cabin but my workshop is basically the same thing you’re wanting to build haha!

I can highly recommend a couple of YouTube channels though, one is “a cabin and 50 acres” and the other is “Chris harbour natural building”.
 
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Davey569

Native
Jun 18, 2008
1,185
82
Off the beaten track
It’s a simple concrete pad with four corner posts secured with steel pins and framed walls screwed in.. a single pitch makes it a lot easier to roof too!

the only picture I have is without windows but they’re finished now:thumbsup:

53AFA828-5A33-4207-AF64-D91064EECF3F.jpeg
 
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Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
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Exmoor
Oh you got in before me. I was just about to recommend that one myself. Also his wife... girl in the woods... made a parallel video that shows other details such as how she finished the interior.
Inspired and inspiring couple.
Well worth a watch.
 
Has anyone designed & built their own off grid? Nothing too large but equally not a shed.
I have an area of space that I'd like to build a separate little living accommodation ( sleep/eat/chill ) as an impromptu safe haven for those that may need it.

The area is a good 4 m x 4 m to use and with some clever design features I'm sure it can be homely , comfortable and compact.
Although I'm defining this as off grid it is possible for me to run Electric to it.

Anyone done this?

Photos or links to such projects appreciated.
Yes TeeDee, but the size of the dwelling really has nothing to do with it's suitability for off grid. Off grid means not using coal power electricity supplied by the grid, but you can use an alternate power such as solar power.
LINSTOCK-TRIMMED.jpg

This is Linstock, our main house. Here you can see the ventilation system for our composting toilets, plus the piping which carries the rainwater from the roof to one of our water catchment tanks.
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In the background you can see the cottage that I first built many years ago when we first moved here. Both the main house & Elm Cottage are powered by solar power.
garden-10.jpg

Here you can see the hot water storage tank I installed. I have never liked the idea of having the tank in the roof. My parent's 18th century house in England had a water tank in the roof & it was a constant problem.

Power-Shed-Power-Board-001.jpg

It used to snow here, but climate change has changed that now, but I installed these solar panels here rather than on the house roof so that I could easily clear the snow off the panels.
Power-Shed-Power-Board-002.jpg

Gel-Solar-Batteries-1-REDUCED.jpg

24 volts DC converted to 240 volts AC. The main reason for this was because normal 240 volt house items are less expensive than 12 volt items.
wood-stove-and-heater-005-REDUCED.jpg

Our cooking is done on a wood fired stove, & this also supplies our hot water. With the fire shut down we are able to use the oven to dry the foods that we grow for preserving, but we also use the Vacola to preserve some foods.
wood-heater-Linstock-House-002-REDUCED.jpg

We use a wood fired heater to heat the house. The fans on top are actually powered by the heat from the wood heater & they circulate the hot air.

Water-tanks-REDUCED.jpg

House water is collected in a 5000 gallon cement tank, & then it is pumped up to a higher tank which then gravity feeds the house. We used to use a fire pump to pump the water up to the higher tank, but now we use an electric pump which cost nothing to run.
Laundry-Water-Tank-003-REDUCED.jpg

We have five other rainwater collection tanks, this 5000 gallon tank supplies our outside laundry & the cottage, the other four tanks are for use on the gardens.
021.jpg

This shows Cattail Pond in the bottom of Butterfly Valley, this also supplies water for the gardens & fire fighting via a fire pump.
Collecting-Firewood-009-REDUCED.jpg

We keep a good supply of firewood both inside the woodshed & outside to supply the main house. Elm Cottage has it's own woodshed.

In England I used to hunt wood pigeon one day a week, this supplied us with meat, & what I sold supplied my ammunition. When we first moved here we lived an 18th century lifestyle for over 20 years, no electricity at all. I hunted meat in the forest with my flintlock fusil, & we grew our own food. We still grow our own food, but I no longer have to hunt for meat, though I still treasure my flintlock fusil for its versatility, economy & self-reliance.
Flood-fox-ducks-dam-From-Drought-to-Flood-040.jpg

Ducks & chooks supply us with meat & eggs, & the ducks keep our gardens free from slugs & snails. The ducks were used to clear the garden area before we installed raised garden beds, this means that they can still protect our gardens, but they can not get at our crops.
Raised-Garden-Beds-005-REDUCED.jpg
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Raised-Garden-Beds-002-REDUCED.jpg

Raised garden beds & the sand pit for our grandchildren.
Laundry-Water-Tank-001-REDUCED.jpg

Outside laundry with an outside sink for washing vegies. We also have a small inside laundry.
Tools-of-the-Trade-020.jpg

Tools of the trade. Tools are very important for living off grid & being self-sufficient & self-reliant. I still carry these hunting tools when trekking & camping, or if I have to hunt feral cats & dogs & wild boar, but I no longer have to hunt for food, or at least, not until society collapses in the next few decades! Feral animals do a lot of damage to native wildlife, stock & property.

Best of luck to you TeeDee in going off grid, it will be the best investment you have ever made. If I can ever be of any assistance, just ask.
Regards, Keith.
http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/
http://australiansurvivalandpreppers.blogspot.com/
https://neclhg.freeforums.net/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHEOMSZJETfj3GnoyONuvCQ
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,613
713
Vantaa, Finland
Interesting setup and quite practical too I suppose. Some 30 years ago I built a fairly self sufficient cottage, wood stove and heating, solar electric panels for limited use but also diesel generator as at 62 latitude the sun is slightly limited in winter (we have had Decembers with no sun), storage batteries and DC/AC inverter. I used the waste heat from the generator for heating too that actually raised the nominal efficiency to fairly high.

I only collect rain water for the garden as drinking water comes from a well.

If around 31 latitude (Where I guess Le Loup is) I think I would use solar heat collectors, 2/3 flat panels 1/3 concentrating) for all heating. A wind generator if local conditions would make that possible. If one has a river close enough, electricity might be generated by water turbines or wheels depending.

All the necessary components can be bought, making them yourself would be quite an exercise.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,374
386
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Personally I'd be looking at SIPS panel garden office kits on Ebay.
You still need a pad to build most of them on but sips panels can be very well insulated and efficient builds. Lightweight panels so can be carried into hard to reach areas (well, ish, that depends on how hard to reach it is.) And each panel is pretty much two sheets of OSB and a sheet of rigid insulagion sandwiched between them.

You can then clad the panels with brick/stone/timber to give them a strong but decorative finish.
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,613
713
Vantaa, Finland
I guess in the UK snow loads are not that much and wind loads only in some areas. So the main structural decision is what level of heat insulation to use. SIPS panels are OK in dry areas but have not always worked well in rainier climates, that depends on a lot of details though.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,374
386
-------------
I guess in the UK snow loads are not that much and wind loads only in some areas. So the main structural decision is what level of heat insulation to use. SIPS panels are OK in dry areas but have not always worked well in rainier climates, that depends on a lot of details though.

SIPS panels are rated higher than traditional timber framing for strength. Also recommended for earthquake areas.
 

henchy3rd

Full Member
Apr 16, 2012
390
249
Derby
If it’s a south facing hideaway your after, how’s about a simple three sided shed like structure with a roll down canvas front?
Chiminea with chimney adds a nice ambiance.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,613
713
Vantaa, Finland
SIPS panels are rated higher than traditional timber framing for strength.
Quite, and if strength is of no concern as the loads are minimal. Traditional where, some plywood inner framed walls probably go higher as SIPS panels are designed not to be fully load bearing sandwich panels, the stiffnesses of the core are not high enough for that.

But that does not matter much as the loads are nowhere near capacity.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,374
386
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For me, any habitable building absolutely has to be very well insulated.
Nobody wants to be working their butt off just to warm seagulls and jackdaws feet.

Especially as we get older, lots of people in their 50s move out into country cottages which are often inefficient, damp moneypits. They sometimes end up being an absolute millstone on a retired persons finances or energy.

I have zero time for old farmhouses after living in a couple of them. Its just hard work staying in the same place.
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,613
713
Vantaa, Finland
I once designed small buildings based on steel "thermo studs". 100 mm insulation thickness and mineral wool insulation, 9 mm plywood covered with 6 mm gypsum board on the inside and water vapour permeable film and what ever on the outside the construction was almost rhino proof. Light weight too. Depending on the deal on plywood not very expensive. Some were panel based some were modules, I am not sure how many were actually built but I have later heard the first few owners are still quite happy with them.
 
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