The iconic image of the Tumbleweed Tiny House is a little home on a trailer. While most people go this route to build their tiny house, it is precisely the opposite of what we did. Our tiny house is built in a little clearing about 200 vertical feet up a mountain with no road access. You heard that right – no road access. We had two main motivations for this process. The first was, of course, to have a tiny mountain home nestled in the woods off the beaten path. The second was to prove to ourselves that we could build this thing without instant access to power or water. We are not professional builders in any way so we had to learn how to do everything before we set out to build. The house is done now and we live there completely off the grid.
We started the project about three years ago. Because we lived in Atlanta and were building in North Carolina we could only work on weekends. We drove up to our land about two weekends a month during those years. Some friends occasionally came to help us and it was a lot of fun and a lot of exceptionally difficult and occasionally dirty work.
We primarily used rechargeable battery powered tools that we would then take back to Atlanta with us to charge up before the next trip. We also have a very small and efficient generator we use for larger power tools like the table saw. There is also a semi-reliable ATV that we could occasionally load up with supplies and building materials. When the ATV failed, we carried things up to the build site by hand.
The single most difficult part of this process was pouring the concrete foundation. Because we were building the house into a mountain we decided to go with post and pier but that meant we had to dig holes, pour concrete and set the hardware. We had to transport a small cement mixer, 30 gallons of water, and 2400 pounds of unmixed concrete up to the site. The ATV struggled and could only haul three bags at a time. And without any access to electric power, we mixed and poured concrete until the sun went down. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but I figure if I can do that there really isn’t much else I can’t do.
As I mentioned, we live in the tiny house now and everything is off the grid. I hope to share more about how we live this way in the weeks to come.