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12 Years Living Off-Grid in a Self-Built Cob Home


Bryce and Misty paid off their debts, left the city, and have spent the last 12 years building a cob home, homesteading, living off the grid, and homeschooling their two daughters.

They live without a car, so for transportation, they use taxis and bicycles, and they eventually hope to have a cart that their two horses can pull.

Living Off-Grid in a Self-Built Cob Home

Ultima Thule Family – Exploring Alternatives

Image © Exploring Alternatives

The house is built with clay that they collected from the wetland area of their property, their well was dug by hand, and everything from the fences to the staircase was made with wood harvested within a 20km radius of their home. The cost to build the house was approximately $1,000 CAD, and any materials they couldn’t harvest from the wild (things like roofing and windows) they sourced from secondhand and reclaimed sources.

Ultima Thule Outdoor - Exploring Alternatives

Image © Exploring Alternatives

The home was initially a 2-story timber frame bunkie with cob infill walls.  Eventually, they expanded the home to include a mudroom, a living room, a dining room, and additional bedrooms; and they experimented with wattle and daub, straw bale walls, and earthen floors while building these additions.

Ultima Thule Cob Homestead - Kitchen - Exploring Alternatives

Image © Exploring Alternatives

The kitchen is in the original 10’x10′ space and they cobbled together (with cob!) a wood stove that had broken legs and an oven beside it.  This is where they do most of their cooking, except during the hottest weeks of the year when they cook outdoors.  They heat all of their dishwashing water in kettles on the woodstove.

Ultima Thule Cob Homestead - Living Room - Exploring Alternatives

Image © Exploring Alternatives

The living room has a wood stove, bookshelves, several seating areas, loads of windows, and a beautiful mosaic!

Ultima Thule Cob Homestead - Aerial View - Exploring Alternatives

Image © Exploring Alternatives

For food production, they have a permaculture food forest for fruits and vegetables, chinampa-inspired wetland gardens, a cow for milk, ducks and chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and they also forage and cultivate feral crops.

For electricity, they have solar panels on the roof and a wind turbine (currently non-operational), for water they have a hand-dug well and rainwater collection barrels, for heat they have a wood-burning device in each room, they have two composting toilets, and a rocket stove to heat water for their bathtub.

To meet the family and tour their home, check out the Exploring Alternatives video below!

VIDEO: 12 YEARS Living Off-Grid on a Sustainable Homestead in a Self-Built Cob Home

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Danielle Chabassol
Danielle is a digital nomad who is passionate about tiny spaces, living with less, reducing waste and eating plant-based food. Danielle is half of the Exploring Alternatives blog & video project. You can find more of her at www.ExploringAlternatives.ca and her Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel.
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Alison
    January 1, 2021, 5:42 pm

    The video was *very* interesting! Loved seeing how they’ve crafted their home and whole life on this property. Love the mosaic tree wall in the living room. I wonder how warm the house stays in the winter—they have wood burning stoves in every room, but how do they have time to gather enough wood to keep the space warm? Looks like beautiful land, and they’ve made the most of it.

    • Avatar James D.
      January 2, 2021, 1:09 am

      Just like gardening, Off-grid life typically requires long term preparations, spending a portion of the year, up to several months, preparing for the winter months and stockpiling wood cords, preferably done regularly enough to start the piles for the next or even later years to give plenty of time for the wood to dry out and give a good time buffer if some years are hard to keep up or some winters are worse than others. Ultimately having years of reserves that then makes it much easier to keep up and do the work when convenient…

      Other factors include efficient homes or warmer climate areas don’t need to be heated all the time, which can greatly reduce the amount of wood needed.

      Homes with a lot of thermal mass can also allow heat release to be spread out over a longer period, and earthen homes can take advantage of nature to help regulate the temperature of the home.

      While going back to nature also can bring back older traditions like trading and helping neighbors, which is something you’ll see more in more rural areas. Like people helping their elderly neighbors to chop wood and with upkeep of their property. People with different strengths like growing food then trading that food for what others may have more of like wood or other services, etc.

      Wood for burning can also just be purchased, and there’s machines that can process a lot of wood quickly if you already have the supply ready for processing. You can even rent the machines and set aside some time to do it and have wood for the rest of the year…

  • Avatar michael Edward hale
    January 2, 2021, 11:43 am

    I want to thank those responsible for offering this video. It is the first time I have seen anything on a Canada family living off grid. I live in Minneapolis, MN. It is winter now, here. We recycle many things from our surrounding neighbors and the neighborhood. We built an addition when we had a family. Now, the last neighborhood home addition project is being completed. The styles have come full circle and with fresh
    paint, our twenty-year-old addition will look new. (cost us $70,000.00 in 2001, can’t be had for thrice the cost today) The video is exciting to see. Thanks again!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      January 5, 2021, 8:33 am

      Wow! Incredible.

  • Avatar Claude
    January 2, 2021, 12:34 pm

    Adorable, love what you did, great life, have a very happy new year hopefully with the end of the pandemic.

  • Avatar Karen
    January 2, 2021, 7:44 pm

    This is one of the coolest things I have ever seen!! What an inspiration!!!

  • Avatar John Cook
    January 4, 2021, 9:40 pm

    Also, one of the most inspiring and enjoyable videos I’ve seen…though I may be biased living in Ontario. Some municipalities do listen to reason and make appropriate adjustments. I truly hope yours does as your delightful place leads the way to an intelligent, humane and sustainable future!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      January 5, 2021, 8:13 am

      Yes. We need more municipalities to support alternative living!

  • Avatar Theresa Perdue
    January 9, 2021, 12:44 pm

    So to put it simply they have a beautiful 3 bedroom 2 bathroom home for under $1,000. 😉 pretty darn amazing. I love everything about this and hopefully these are the kinds of people and lifestyles that will someday save our poor abused planet. The best thing about humans is we feel hope.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      January 11, 2021, 4:59 pm

      So true, Theresa!

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