Many people dream of going off grid, living close to nature, building a sustainable home, growing their own food, and taking charge of their time and money. So what stops the majority of them from pursuing this dream?
Whether it’s a lack of skills or resources, or just plain overwhelm, many end up mired down in the details of planning their off grid homestead and never take action to make it a reality. But many of the stories we feature involve people who decided to just do it! And they often make the decision with very small budgets and little or no off grid living or building experience.
Taylor and Steph Bode, an ambitious couple in California, did just that. With nothing more than a vision in mind, they set out to learn the skills they would need to build their own off grid home. The result? This stunning 560-square-foot Earthship home in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. And they built it for less than $10,000.
We’ve talked about Earthship homes quite a bit because they really are the ideal structure for living off the grid. Earthships are usually built out of recycled and natural materials and utilize thermal mass and cross ventilation to regulate indoor temperatures. They are designed to use the sun and rainwater to provide all the comforts of a traditional home free of fossil fuels and dependence on public utilities.
Taylor and Steph spent a year studying the design principles of Mike Reynolds, the founder of Earthship Global. Reynolds is credited with creating the Earthship concept in the 1970s and now offers yearly workshops teaching Earthship design, construction methods, and philosophy.
Taylor and Steph’s primary objective when building their home was to create a structure that would maintain comfortable temperatures year-round without an external heat source or air conditioning. They also wanted to use as many reclaimed and repurposed materials as possible in their build.
The Bode’s home consists of discarded tires, glass bottles, and aluminum cans. The windows and doors were all found for free on Craigslist. Even the furniture in the home was handmade or free.
We aimed the car West with a simple goal: find land, build a house. Our main objective with this house was to build a structure that would maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round without air conditioning or an external heat source, and to do so using reclaimed and re-purposed materials. We used free, discarded materials such as old automobile tires, glass bottles and aluminum cans, and built into a south-sloping hillside to maximize thermal mass performance.
The home is built into a south-sloping hillside to maximize thermal mass, so the east, west, and north walls are buried. The earthen floor is comprised of clay, straw, and sand and is sealed with hemp oil. The walls are covered in beautiful reclaimed redwood from a barn. The posts and beams used throughout the house came from two redwood trees on the property.
The majority of the work on the Earthship was completed within a year by Steph and Taylor. They lived in a yurt on the property while they gathered the materials and began construction on their home.
You can follow Taylor and Steph at Nomadic Roots on Instagram – @nomadic.roots. They also published a book detailing their Earthship journey. Their website appears to be down at the moment, but you can see details about the book through its Kickstarter campaign.
Monday 15th of June 2020
I've always been interested in these types of earth dwelling, especially since they by my understanding very energy efficient. Nice article.