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Young Couple Build Mortgage-free, Off-Grid Micro Cabin

I just had to show you Tim and Hannah’s off-the-grid 196 sq. ft. micro cabin.

They built it themselves completely in Tahoe, California and have been living in it for almost two years.

The couple started off with 20 acres and absolutely no blueprints.

But I’m sure they had tons of ideas that they had gathered online while dreaming about the project years before.

So here’s what they came up with… And it was all completely DIY with the intention of creating a space for living simply.

Couple Builds Debt-free and Off-the-Grid Micro Cabin

June Bhongjan/Apartment Therapy

June Bhongjan/Apartment Therapy





Bedroom Sleeping Loft




View from Deck

Images: June Bhongjan for Apartment Therapy

More Photos and Info on this Cabin (and Couple)

Tour the rest of their off grid tiny house (LOTS more photos) and learn more about how they did it here.


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 31 comments… add one }
  • LaMar Alexander LaMar February 19, 2014, 1:32 pm

    Great use of recycled materials!
    That saves you a bunch and makes building the place very unique and creative. Looks like they use timber supports for the foundation. Just hope those are buried in cement and treated for termites. Beautiful scenic view and all I would add is some solar panels and maybe a wind turbine.


  • David Ridge February 19, 2014, 1:52 pm

    Of these TH’s that have been built in the woods I would be afraid of forest fires. And as with another TH the deck needs railing.

    • Varenikje May 25, 2015, 3:45 pm

      Hmm…my deck doesn’t have railing. But it is low enough that if one of my grandchildren were to fall off, they’d just get a bonk on the head, not a concussion.

  • [email protected] Healthy Simple February 19, 2014, 2:26 pm

    I adore the kitchen setup

    • Cosy February 19, 2014, 5:50 pm

      I love the creative use of repurposed materials on the exterior. More interesting than many of the tiny homes I’ve seen. Very nice.

  • JW February 19, 2014, 5:23 pm

    Awesome…if only I had 20 acres of land in Tahoe! Must be old land in the family, geez must be worth millions πŸ™‚

  • Randy February 19, 2014, 5:51 pm

    What a cool place and what a great job! Kudos to both of you! Really like the Yeti idea. Don’t even need electricity.

  • Glema February 19, 2014, 8:44 pm

    TH on wheels could help those fears David. πŸ™‚ Great job young people! Ty for sharing as always Alex your work is appreciated. Take care and Happy trails! God bless you.

  • Rich February 19, 2014, 10:31 pm

    Kudos Hannah and Tim πŸ˜‰ Wish my generation had retained its ’70’s values. We wouldn’t have to depend on you young folks to unravel the mess we’ve created….. very happy that you are setting an example. Echoing Glema’s comments. Looking forward to your 400sf (right sized) house and I’ll share mine one day I hope.

  • Tonita April 16, 2014, 1:27 pm

    Nice tiny house.

    This below response is to Joshua Smith, who responded on FB-(above). I don’t use that site so I replied to your comment below.

    Simple. You have to look in different states and find a county where you can purchase UNRESTRICTED land. Tell your relator that is what you are searching for. You can even look at online sites that will state if the land is restricted or not. Verify that with the county officials. If it is UNRESTRICTED land, that means you can live off grid on your own land, you can raise purple chickens, green cows or live in a school bus without being bothered. Way to many tiny home owners are living under the radar or off the backs of other land owners where tiny homes are not legal. I own a tiny home here in crappy King county, one hr from Seattle in a very rural area. I pay close to 5 THOUSAND dollars a year in property tax and the county will not allow me to spend ONE night legally in my tiny house. Unfortunately bigger government affects tiny home ownership. The big city (Seattle) folk majority vote contributes to more and more regulations and that ruins it for country folks who unfortunately are in the same county as Seattle. County authorities keep coming around to follow up on any complaint be it a tiny home, 5th wheel or guests who want to spend a week in their RV on you land. Yeah, you might be debt free but you better have wheels and be able to uproot and tow your tiny house to new grounds should you need to. This is a constant problem in the tiny house world for those of us who want to park and stay put without worry. So, the answer I see is to look in states where you can actually buy land and use it without huge property taxes and the government down your neck. I am relocating from this over regulated nanny state. I am moving to NC onto unrestricted land.

    I would love to know if this couple are living under or above the radar. Notice how you don’t get responses to those questions often when you ask the people who post their tiny houses on these blogs.

    I would rather have a mortgage than wonder when big brother will come knocking on my tiny door.

    • Jessikah May 24, 2014, 2:33 am

      Holy cannoli, boy does Washington ever suck!!! I have had it up to my ears with that ridiculous state. Sure its pretty but you can’t wipe your butt without them telling you how or they’ll arrest or fine you for doing it different. Thank god I (happily!) never have to go back.

    • stacey labeau June 17, 2014, 12:32 pm

      Unbelievable! In rural Michigan I have had property in the sticks and parked a RV, tents, paid my taxes and have been off grid, off the radar, so to speak. The property without conventional hook ups is not considered residential, but it is easy to do, b/c of the hunting/fishing/sporting, they consider it recreational property. I see a lot of tiny homes some of which are lived in 100% of the time, although I don’t know if they are calling it a shed, outbuilding, garage instead of a primary dwelling. Good luck on your relocation to freedom!

      • Varenikje May 28, 2015, 3:38 pm

        I have a son who lives near Portland (Beaverton) and I have observed that a number of Tiny home builders are in Portland. Is the problem Seattle?

  • keziamara June 16, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Cooking indoors on a coleman stove looks like carbon monoxide issues to me!

    • stacey labeau June 17, 2014, 12:20 pm

      I use a camp cook stove as my primary “stove” in my small house, it uses propane, in 1 # or greater cannisters. The only way there would be a problem is if the equipment is faulty. There is an odor added (?) to propane so it is easily detectable. You must not use propane when you camp?

  • Suzie Q June 18, 2014, 11:56 pm

    I must commend this young couple for all their hard work and ingenuity!! It’s a little ‘rougher’ than I would care to live in, but it obviously works well for them. I didn’t see a bathroom??…….so I’m guessing they have outdoor facilities? This must be quite the adventure for them and one they will remember for the rest of their lives.

    • Varenikje May 25, 2015, 4:01 pm

      Good observation, Susie Q. It is good to be on the wild side from time to time! Makes family stories with Grandparents more interesting!

      • Varenikje May 25, 2015, 10:23 pm

        Like when Tim and Hannah become grandparents and tell their story to their young ones.

  • MisterMike May 25, 2015, 12:35 pm


  • Susanne May 25, 2015, 9:25 pm

    I thought Washington, as Oregon, was an easy place to have a TH?! Apparently not ..:(

    • Criss May 28, 2015, 2:31 am

      Easier on the east side of the state. We are almost like 2 different states πŸ˜‰

  • Shane January 13, 2016, 8:58 am

    Me and my wife are both 21. We both work and currently live in Dallas Texas. We both dream of building our own tiny house, moving off grid, and living simply. But we don’t know where to begin, How much money to save, what states to look into, really anything. We are definetly at square one…… But we’re determined! Any advice or help getting started would be great oh appreciated!

  • James April 5, 2017, 3:27 pm

    Bravo ,,,! Well done

  • Sally April 5, 2017, 3:57 pm

    Gorgeous ,, fabulous ,, awesome ,, them & their cabin ! Well done !

  • iris April 6, 2017, 12:51 pm

    The design is practical cause, in the future, one could add a mirror twin to the other side and have a full house. Thanks for sharing,

  • ZACHARY E MOHRMANN April 6, 2017, 1:48 pm

    For starting out with 20 acres, and no blueprints they did a remarkable job..!

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