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Family of Four’s Off-Grid Tiny House Life

This is the story of one family of four’s off-the-grid homestead in Pittsboro, North Carolina that includes three twelve by twelve tiny cabins with no electricity and no plumbing.

On the outside, the three cabins share the same rustic feel. One is thin, but has a tall and “long” roof that hangs over a smaller patio area. Inside you’ll find beautiful cabinets and some tricky-looking steps that save space. A rainwater catchment system provides the family with fresh water. The second cabin shares the same roof line, and the third has no patio and a whole bay of windows on three sides.

The family has chickens, fields, a garden and even an old-fashioned water pump. In addition to their tiny life, they build affordable and green caskets. Watch the video below to get a taste of their life, and follow the links in the resources below to learn more about them. Thank you!

Family’s Off-Grid Tiny House Life

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Images © Donald Byrne

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Images © Donald Byrne

Video: Melleray Farmstead


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Natalie McKee is a contributing writer for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She is a coffee-loving wannabe homesteader who dreams of becoming self-sufficient in her own tiny home someday. Natalie currently resides in a tiny apartment with her husband, Casey, in Scotland.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Gabrielle Charest March 4, 2016, 8:34 pm

    While this is an interesting post with lots of photos, I have no understanding of why there are 3 dwellings or what is in each of them. Were any special techniques used in the building? There is so much to explore here. How can we get more information?

  • Marcy March 5, 2016, 10:19 am

    I know there are people that view this site that can answer this for me.

    What is the advantage of ships stairs? Every time I see them, I wonder why you wouldn’t just put regulars stairs in. They look as wide as regular stairs, so space saved there. Is there an actual advantage to them, or do people just have them because they look interesting?

    • Jamie March 6, 2016, 1:29 am

      If you look at the height of very steep stairs you end up taking big steps with all your weight on you metatarsal, the ships stairs allow ordinary step height, but at a steep angle. (this may or not be a coherent answer :( )

      • Marcy March 6, 2016, 1:41 am

        So, by doing it with the ship stairs, the whole staircase can take up less area on the ground floor?? Because these stairs are like a ladder/stair hybrid??

        • Jamie March 6, 2016, 8:25 pm

          In designing very steep stairs you either make a extremely narrow stair with no depth for the foot, or very high spacing in between the stairs. Both are awkward to walk up. Having the ships stair design lets you make a deeper step without the excessive height. So while the space and angle are the same the stair depth becomes more user friendly. (Sorry for being so rubbish at explaining things)

        • Marcy March 7, 2016, 7:22 am

          Jamie, You are not rubbish at explaining. I think that since I’ve never seen these kind of stairs except in pictures, I don’t have a real sense of them. I really appreciate your willingness to take the time to answer my question.

  • Marcy March 5, 2016, 10:20 am

    Sorry, should have said NO space saved.

  • Larry Grout March 6, 2016, 7:23 pm

    They are like a ladder (12″ rise)in steepness but with the rise (6″ to 7″) of stairs. It may be possible to climb without using your hands on one or both railings, but not recommended. Depends on the angle, your age, health, coordination etc. The every other arrangement keeps your knee from hitting the next step. True they do appear to be as wide as regular stairs, but use less material and in my eye more attractive. Am I wrong about any of this and/or did I miss any thing?

    • Eric March 8, 2016, 2:31 pm

      Larry, your opinion is your opinion. Therefore you are not wrong… for you.

      While I understand the rationale of using them, especially due to steepness, to me they are not exactly ugly, but they are (to me) certainly not aesthetically pleasing. I most certainly would find a way around these if I was having a TH built.

    • Marcy March 8, 2016, 8:25 pm

      Larry, I think I’m starting to get these. So they are like a ladder, but there is more room for your foot and there is enough room not to hit your knee on the rung but not have to tip sort of sideways or go one rung at a time?

  • Rich March 6, 2016, 10:43 pm

    this page describes the alternating tread or lapeyre stair pretty well: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,443801,00.html
    the space-savings is in the “run” or length of the stair.

    • Marcy March 8, 2016, 8:21 pm

      Hi, Rich. So it does take up less room/floor space that a traditional stairs case?

      • Marcy March 8, 2016, 8:33 pm

        Just saw the This Old House page with photo and description. Combine that with all everyone else has shared, and now I understand.

  • Marcy March 8, 2016, 8:27 pm

    Thank you, everyone for your help. I knew I could count on my fellow tiny house talk people to come through for me.

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