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DIY Off-Grid Floating Home in Canada!

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Meet Jay Blackmore (@floatinthekoots) and his incredible DIY Off-Grid Floating Home that he spent four years building in his “spare” time.

Not only did he build it, but he also designed the entire thing and did all the work except the electrical and gas hookups (probably wise!). The home is about 700 square feet and includes an open concept living room and kitchen, and a second floor with two bedrooms. The home is heated in the freezing Canada winters by his pellet stove (or a back-up propane heater) and even some gas lamps!

Make sure to watch the video from Exploring Alternatives to hear Jay explain his incredible closed-loop system for his gray water!

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Kootenay Lake DIY Off-Grid Floating Home

The houseboat looks so peaceful here at the end of this dock.

Inside the main living area. Love the arched door and porthole window.

The kitchen has everything needed for cooking.

He filters water from the lake for drinking.

Here’s the master bedroom upstairs in the houseboat.

Lots of windows allow for taking in the beautiful views.

And here’s the second bedroom.

The access to the second deck is from the bottom deck.

He has so many incredible planters full of flowers.

What a great shot!

VIDEO: Spectacular FLOATING HOME is Self-Built & Off-Grid

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • jerry dycus
    May 17, 2020, 7:33 am

    Nice. Living on water can be a great way to live cheap and well though this is a bit big.
    And boats are cheap now including sailboats so picking the smallest you can live on so you own it, now it owns you, can be a great move to survive the 2 yr recession. Good ones can be found in the $1k-$3k range and ones needing work, hard cleaning cheap to free. I just got a free standing headroom, shower for free, just needing cleaning, some TLC.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 18, 2020, 2:02 pm

      That’s so cool, Jerry, and a good point!

  • Maggie
    May 17, 2020, 2:41 pm

    It’s all wonderful…except the ladders.

    • Eric
      January 2, 2021, 5:52 pm

      Hah, exactly my thoughts.

  • Alison
    May 17, 2020, 3:01 pm

    It’s beautiful—I love the flowers, and especially the fact that the planter boxes work as water filters. All the special systems needed to be off grid, on the water, are kind of overwhelming to me. Impressive accomplishment.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 18, 2020, 1:58 pm

      I agree. He put so much thought and planning into it!

  • Michael
    May 17, 2020, 3:22 pm

    I know some people in Minnesota who live on Lake Vermilion and they have to pull their boat and even the dock out of the water in the winter time so it does not get crushed by the ice when the lake freezes over. Is this house boat in a place that does not freeze over?

    • George
      May 17, 2020, 6:49 pm

      Looks like BC which is technically rainforest on the ocean side. I’m guessing by the looks of it he’s docked in an oceanwater harbour. No freezing, and few days below zero degrees. Likely somewhere on Vancouver island or nearby.

    • George
      May 17, 2020, 6:52 pm

      I should research before posting. Right on the province, wrong on the location. Still doesn’t freeze though as there’s a year round ferry crossing the lake

    • gus Benoit
      May 17, 2020, 10:58 pm

      I was wondering the same thing as Michael. Does the water freeze over in Winter? Doesn’t it crush the barge? Also, is the floor insulated? If not, isn’t it cold in winter? We are in Nova Scotia. Love the way you recycle and reuse your water. Well thought out design. Beautiful.

      • Barbara Wedlake
        May 24, 2020, 11:39 am

        This lake is in the Kootenay region in SE British Columbia, Canada. It does get cold there in winter, but the main part of the lake itself does not freeze.

    • jerry dycus
      May 24, 2020, 11:23 am

      Most are not at crush risk and can be easily designed for no damage. And there are systems like bubblers that placed under the boat to keep ice at bay.
      Most take them out as not being used as a protection even where there is no ice problem.
      Living aboard on is there using it regularly so any small problem can be caught before it becomes big.
      I design all my boats with multiple compartments so several could leak and still stay afloat by using the built in seating, etc as compartments sealed to the hull.

      • Natalie C. McKee
        May 27, 2020, 6:26 am

        That’s so cool, Jerry!

  • Mary Lynne Smith
    May 17, 2020, 6:09 pm

    I really like what you have done. I have been looking for alternative living for a few years, and have researched several options. One question, how are you anchored. The idea of being self contained is very appealing, although learning to operate all the water, solar and disposal systems could be quite a step learning curve.
    Great build, it is very inspiring.

  • Denise
    May 18, 2020, 12:44 am

    This is a beautiful build, very cozy with the layout plus pops of colour in the rooms as well as the balcony and all those flowers. I have been very curious about houseboats, including this one, where how do they deal with wastewater? Is everything going into a holding tank and gets dumped later? What about blackwater? If this is off grid, where is his freshwater supply coming from?

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 18, 2020, 1:56 pm

      The video is very helpful and he explains his whole system — it’s really cool, and worth a watch!

      • Denise
        May 19, 2020, 9:16 am

        Thank you Natalie.

    • Waye roberts
      September 23, 2020, 11:24 pm

      Interested too in legality because I would go and live on a houseboat in rhe area. Whether self built or assisted. Like composting toilet, etc. Thanks wayne

  • Wendy
    May 18, 2020, 10:12 am

    Brilliant! Love the sustainability and eco friendly systems. Aesthetically sweet too. Is it mobile? Towable?

    • Natalie C. McKee
      May 18, 2020, 1:54 pm

      I think you’d have to tow this one.

    • jerry dycus
      May 24, 2020, 11:55 am

      Yes boats like this can move on their own. Though need to be designed for it if planning any distance. A 10hp sailboat outboard, big prop, would likely move it 4mph and not likely ever get over 5mph. One would have to pick a nice day and take tides, river currents, bridge heights, etc as needed into account. I built several and maintained more in the 80s at Key West’s Houseboat row before they got rid of it. Which was dumb as a big free
      tourist attraction and as they found out that a lot of workers in Key West could only afford to live on anchored off boats and if they made it illegal which they can’t by fed law, their businesses would die.
      Thinking about this living on a boat in the Keys if you have construction skills or even a warm body there is lots of work there at good pay rates rebuilding homes, etc from hurricane Irma and general repairs. And as tourists come back as those industry needs is always in chronic shortage because rents are too dam high!!
      Businesses like building tiny homes would be huge as so much demand. Tiny homes that float during flooding can make thousands of cheap lots viable and good money from renting or selling completely utility independent and registered as a boat, no fees or much of anything as just parking your boat on your property has always been legal there.

  • Ny'Dream Jefferson
    June 11, 2020, 3:58 pm

    I just found my dream house.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 12, 2020, 1:08 pm


  • Jackie Mckenzie
    July 16, 2020, 9:29 pm

    In our town I know where a tiny house is for sale. Asking $22,000 for it. Only around 5 years old but still very nice. House has to be moved from location. I got pictures of it.

  • bxdobs
    August 15, 2020, 11:04 pm

    Interesting location for a floating home considering Kootney Winters … not sure how you can possibly keep your water supply pipes from freezing in the winter … doesn’t appear you have any thru-hull fittings for water intake that might potentially help with that … I guess you could melt snow on your pellet stove in the winter … that is what I had to do at our weekend cabin in Manitoba growing up … in the Winter months our Marina in the North Okanagan is closed for safety reasons … the one photo you have on your Instagram page showing the long narrow snow covered unshoveled dock with no safety line would be of grave concern. Most communities along Okanagan Lake have a no liveaboard rule … someone tried to find permanent moorage for a houseboat in Kelowna a few years back but because this house has disappeared I suspect they lost that battle … being your house appears to be the only one in the Nelson Marina, perhaps you are blazing a trail to allow others to follow in your footsteps. Either that, or your local officials never expected anyone would liveaboard year-round.

  • Sue Shaw
    February 4, 2021, 11:33 am

    So unique and beautifully built!

    We have alot of house boats here in Sausalito, California. I dream.of living on one! So cozy.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 4, 2021, 2:54 pm

      I hope it’s a dream come true some day!

  • Michael
    January 7, 2022, 7:18 pm

    Hello. Is it possible for you to share a webpage with a barge float system build? I live in Ontario and am starting to build one this coming spring. I am a home builder as a trade Any tips would be appreciated.

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