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Off-grid living is one of the first ideas that new and exploring homesteaders will research while trying to plan their shift to a simpler life. But there are lots of different options for off-grid – everything from the cabin in the woods to a green-energy fueled mansion. Some home options are more useful than others, however. We’ve broken down the most common off-grid home types so you can more easily choose the best off-grid home for you and your family.
First, however, we need to discuss what a traditional home is. Traditional-style homes are the most popular type of homes in the US. They often combine classical architectural elements with modern amenities and home designs. Some of the common elements found in these style homes are symmetrically placed windows, simple rooflines, and modest details.
Best Off-Grid Homes:
Cabins are the first thing people think of when they picture an off-grid home. But what makes a house a cabin and why are they so perfect for off-grid living?
Cabins sport rustic features like log construction and their exterior often has minimal decoration compared to other types of homes. Porches and decks are common, and many have simple gable or cross-gable roofs. They are also typically not very large. Cabin house plans typically boast a living space, cozy kitchen, and one or two bedrooms. Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are coming for heating. Their small size and simplicity make them ideal for alternative energy sources to keep the home functioning. And you can fit a small cabin just about anywhere.
Tiny homes are less than 400 square feet. This makes them much, much smaller than a normal home but they still have most of the amenities. Everything is tucked away and the fold-up functionality of a tiny home is absolutely stunning. Their small size makes them easy to move too!
Cob houses are made of soil, sand, and straw combined together in big lumps. They do not use bricks like strawbale or adobe construction. The lumps are shaped and sculpted into smooth shapes by hand with tools, not using wooden frames. With these tools, you can shape your walls into arches and carefully carve in niches. These are some of the most durable homes – they can withstand extended rain and even heavy winds.
Earthships – Amazing Off-Grid Homes
Earthships were designed to be off-grid, high-sustainability, homes. Constructed entirely with recycled materials, andpowered by renewable sources, they collect their own drinking water and treat their own sewage. Some Earthships are even built to grow their own food!
Strawbale Off-grid Homes
Bales of wheat, rice, and oat straw are the materials used to build straw-bale homes. These bale walls are a sustainable method of construction and great for off-grid homes. The bales have low environmental impact and help with heating and cooling. However, straw-bale homes can be susceptible to rot and difficult to insure because proper construction is difficult and without it the bales will rot from moister. Additionally, pests may find a way into your walls and nest in the bales. And those with dust allergies or straw and hay allergies should absolutely not build with straw.
Thankfully, some construction companies are working on ways to make prefabricated walls that help to eliminate or reduce many of these issues, making straw-bale homes much more competitive in the off-grid market.
Yurts are an ancient portable shelter, much like a tent. However, yurts use tension and compression to support the roof without any central supports! Originally, the nomadic people of Asia lived in yurts. They are very cost-effective with a very low ‘carbon footprint’. This has made them very popular with everyone from people trying to get ahead to commercial businesses.
However, part of the reason they are so cost-effective is you are likely giving up many of the amenities we consider to be ‘must-have’s’ in our current culture.
Underground and Earth-sheltered Homes –
Also known as Earth-sheltered homes, underground homes are built into the ground. This creates an energy-efficient home that is also safe from harsh weather and very unique looking. Underground homes aren’t a new idea! Many cultures, including American pioneers, created similar homes, often known as dug-outs.
Container homes tend to be popular in waves. Made from steel shipping containers, these homes can often be very cost-effective, however, people also tend to misunderstand how to build them. You cannot just get a shipping container and live in it, especially if you intend to create an underground home with one. Shipping containers, while very strong on the corners, will collapse under any heavy weight across their roof.
Built properly, however, you can create a multi-story home that is a good size!
Whether you choose to take a traditional house plan and work to get it off-grid or build one of the types of houses listed above, you have to keep some things in mind. Most important, you must consider are what sort of house is best suited for your land, how you will handle waste, water, and electricity when you’re off-grid, creating a sustainable food source, and your mindset.