3 Years Living Fully Off-Grid in a Tiny House

Why This Sold Their House After 3 Years Off .

Pat & Mel built this off-grid tiny house as a way to stop paying rent, and to start living a simple, minimalist lifestyle. They lived in it for 3 years while it was parked on a friend’s land, but they recently decided to sell the tiny home and buy a house because it was cheaper than buying vacant land.

Sound weird? Here’s why: the down payment on a piece of land in Ontario is often 35%, while the cost of a down payment on a home is often as low as 5%. So even though they might be buying a home that’s more expensive than just land, it’s easier to buy the home.

They built their tiny house themselves and designed it to be fully off-grid with a wood stove for heat, panels for electricity, propane for hot water and cooking, and they collected rainwater for all of their water needs. They used a composting toilet (Nature’s Head) since they didn’t have access to a septic system.

This is the first tiny house we’ve seen that used 100% rainwater collection and this is they did it:

They added a gutter to the side of their tiny house and collected rainwater in 4 barrels that had screens to catch any leaves and other gunk that might wash down the spout.

Once the barrels were full, they used a sump pump to transfer the water from the outdoor barrels into a large holding tank inside a trailer beside the house. They had the water tank inside a trailer so that they could heat it in the winter to prevent the water from freezing during the winter.

To transfer the water from the trailer into the house, they used an RV water pump and pumped the water through an insulated and heated pipe.

To ensure the water was extra clean, they’d add a couple of tablespoons (approx.) of bleach to each barrel of rainwater before transferring it into the main tank.

Living in a tiny house allowed Pat & Mel to save money, and to live with the bare essentials, which they found very pleasant. They felt that they didn’t spend as much time and money shopping for things they didn’t need.

They did have some challenges, including a week without water during their first winter when the pipe between the trailer and house froze. And they also sometimes found it difficult to entertain large groups of people, or to host a dinner party in such a small space.

Thanks for watching!

Mat & Danielle

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VIDEO CREDITS
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Editing Credits:
Mat and Danielle of Exploring

Filming Credits:
Mat of Exploring Alternatives

Tiny House Photos by Pat & Mel

28 Comments

    • Actually, all houses depreciate…

      What can appreciate is the land and whatever is tied to it, which is what happens when you place a house on a foundation… Thus the value of the house is no longer just the house but also of the land, the location, the local economy, and the perceived benefits of what the property can be used for…

      All houses eventually get old, worn out, damaged, etc. and that decreases their value… The property as a whole may just still be of higher value than that depreciation but the reason why it is possible to flip houses is because renovating a house restores it to like new and thus allows the property to be sold for full market value rather than market value minus the depreciation of the house…

      This means all that is really required is for a house to be placed on a foundation and meet local building codes to be legal for it then to capable of appreciating…

      But this isn’t always beneficial if you’re establishing a new property because that can mean additional costs for establishing infrastructure for the sewage, water, power, etc. to support the house, development of the land to properly place the foundation and then finally the house itself, which can have prohibitive requirements in both bureaucracy and costs as permits, inspections, etc. can all add up.

      While one has to choose between treating a property as an investment or seeking to have a home… It can’t always be both because what’s required for it to work as an investment often means compromising on making it a home because it means you are intent on eventually selling the property and thus it can’t be designed just for you…

      There are always trade offs, and compromises but it also depends what you really want in the end…

      Oh, btw, not everything depreciates at the same rate because not everything wears out at the same rate… Most RV’s aren’t well built, so they tend to depreciate rapidly… Those that are well build can hold their value much long… And in general, Tiny Houses are going to be much better built than a RV. So it can be years before they depreciate significantly, or longer if well maintained…

    • @ ZeoCyberG Really !?? when I purchased mine its was 152K now its worth 305k, that’s 20 years span…. There are lots of the same size lots for sale in my area for 70K….I paid 50K for mine 20 years ago, all the services are right there so is the street and side walks, just like they were when I build my place , I added a fence and a little landscaping and some paint since I built, that’s it. Do the math, and unless your THOW is to CSA standards with its certification sticker and registration number, it is not a house under current laws and regulations period, only a registered Builder can accreditate your tiny house. Depreciation is depreciation no matter how you look at it.My Dad just asked me what color is the sky in your world 🙂 Justification is not the point here, feasibility is. The people doing well with their THOW are the exception not the norm. Bylaws have to be followed or you won’t last long in a community. I’m a realist and I live within a country/province that has rules you must follow. It is possible, but not easy is my point !! That’s all.

    • That seems like a very low increase considering it’s a 20 year span, but I guess it depends where you are. If you’re happy with that, good on you!

    • @ Frank K, yes, really… Hate to break it to you but there’s not even a guarantee a property will appreciate because that’s tied to factors like the local economy, which can fail… Not all properties appreciate!

      There’s multiple examples of once prosperous neighborhoods that became a blight because the local economy collapsed and houses once worth up into the millions can be bought for a tiny fraction of their original value…

      Again, houses only appreciate in terms to being tied to the land and in turn to the local economy and everything that can grant a perceived value to a property through location and use of the land.

      Along with general market factors like supply and demand…

      Really, houses are manufactured products… There’s nothing about them aside from the land they are on that differentiate them from being treated like any other product that has ever been made.

      If someone was to build the exact same house as yours but place it in a high value area like a popular tourism area, or places like beach front property… That exact same house will have more value because of that!

      Fact is you would not be able to see a benefit by renovating a house if they did not first depreciate!

      So no, depreciation is just a function of a product losing value due to things like wear, tear and obsolescence. But renovating a house allows it to be like new again and thus restores its value, which thanks to the effect of tying it to the land can greatly increase the price it can sell for…

      Really, do you think a broken down house is going to sell as well as a brand new move in ready house in even the same neighborhood?

      I would have to ask you what color is the sky in your world to think the condition of the house doesn’t matter or that value always goes in the same direction no matter what other factors are involved?

      While feasibility has little to do with our present housing system, which is one of the reasons why we had a housing bubble crash and can still have another!

      Fact is there are actually millions of people in the world living in small to tiny structures.

      Just look at places like Hong Kong, population well over 7 million and the average size new house is only 484 sq ft… They got apartments down to 129 Sq Ft and are pushing to get them down to 100 Sq Ft… The small houses in Japan are big in comparison but millions of people there also live in what you would still consider small to tiny spaces… In India there’s provinces where families of 8 can still live in spaces less than 300 Sq Ft…

      Even in the states, cities like New York have apartments smaller than 400 Sq Ft and in some case under 200 Sq Ft…

      While many old homes over 70 years old can still be found that can be under 500 Sq Ft and are grandfathered in as options for people to still live in small to tiny spaces in areas that otherwise won’t allow them. Since big houses weren’t always the norm…

      Many of those old houses prove that being tiny won’t change the fact of whether or not they will appreciate if tied to land…

      Like a 440 Sq Ft Cottage in Seattle, WA was listed last year for $450,000… It was built around 1920 for a tiny fraction of that price!

      So living small to tiny is already a reality for millions of people… It’s just a question of whether we as a society are going to engineer it for maximum benefit or ignore it and let it happen randomly and without any consistency as people are eventually forced into it rather as an optional choice because everything else is simply no longer affordable for future generations.

      As of right now, over 2/3rds of all Tiny House owners owe nothing on them, compared to over 2/3rds of big house owners owing a mortgage and over 7% in constant threat of defaulting and losing everything… With increasing costs that disparity will only get worse over time!

      Tiny houses can be built far more sustainable, which is important in a world that is reaching over population thresholds and has ever diminishing resources.

      Since big houses started becoming the norm, the population has more than doubled and continues to grow!

      However, thing to understand is there isn’t just one type of Tiny House or one way to create a more efficient and more sustainable housing system.

      The real point is about creating appropriate housing that eliminates the waste in the system and allows a housing system that can meet the needs of everyone and not just a small niche.

      One of the problems with the existing system is it forces people to choose between extremes…

      What’s not feasible is to continue indefinitely with a system that can never meet the needs of everyone, continues to waste resources, and has become more about having a status symbol and making profit than what quantifies a home!

      Understand we don’t just need to be concerned about the near future status of housing but the long term as well. It not only effects people’s lives, but the environment as well…

      One of the reasons we are seeing ever increasing requirements for house energy efficiency is because all the houses have a much larger carbon footprint than even our transportation system. But that doesn’t even go into the waste involved in their construction and manufacturing of materials used in construction.

      Never mind the negative impact the existing system has had on personal and property rights and the forcing of more and more people to become homeless.

      Sure, it can be easier to try to conform and figure some way to make the existing system to work for you but that’s at best only a short term solution as the existing system will eventually fail if nothing changes… While it doesn’t address at all those who already have no other options…

  1. Why not remain in your tiny house and rent out your stick built house and have the renters pay YOUR MORTGAGE as well as their own utilities?

  2. great cinematography improvement. You are becoming quite a professional looking channel and I’m impressed. I hope to do the same with my channel some day. I want to have a tiny-home cabin some day as a retreat for the kids and I when they get a little older.

  3. You now can use the same process for your water like berkey …filtering water .,which is perfect..ask around and see for instance Doug and Stacy off grid youtube…they know so many things …specially for rain water and cisterns…..

  4. What an inspiring video! Loved the simplicity in design and an interior. Too sad they decided to buy house, but these are the down payments that made them do it.

  5. Nice job building this and being able to live using only rainwater is amazing. Question regarding the wood heat -4 cords ..is that a 4 X 4 X 8 cord or 16″ X 4 X 8 cord?

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