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They Built A Passive Solar Earthship Cabin For $10k

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This is Taylor & Steph’s Incredible 560 Sq. Ft. Earthship Home in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California.

The couple built their home out of recycled materials in a way that’s sustainable and good for the environment. They had no construction skills, lived off-grid for a long time and managed to do it with less than $10,000. They’ve even shared their journey and explained the concept of Earthship Homes via a photo book. So they started a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds for printing. Be sure to head over there, watch their inspirational video, and consider getting your own copy of “Nomadic Roots.” which is now available on Amazon (affiliate link).

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Taylor & Steph’s $10k Earthship Home

Their tiny home, not actually so-tiny, comes in at about 560-sq.-ft.

It’s a good amount of space, but still very cozy!

At 560-sq.-ft., you still get many of the benefits of tiny, but with a little more space.

And this, by the way, is an earthship home!

It’s completely off-grid, is built with sustainable materials, and only cost them about $10,000 to build (plus a lot of blood and sweat… is it always goes when building your own home)

The couple studied under architect Mike Reynolds and joined the Earthship Biotecture crew to learn how to build net-zero homes, like this.

The materials used really help connect you to nature, as an added bonus. When your home is nature, that’s just awesome.

The passive solar design saves so much energy.

How cool is that? A space to hang their surf boards, a beautiful custom window, the fireplace…

It’s a tiny house fairytale, isn’t it?

This is the kind of thing you get to enjoy if you decide to embark on the difficult but rewarding journey of building your own home.

It’s one of the only ways that you can end up with something so cool and unique as this…



Our big thanks to Art for sharing!

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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.
{ 44 comments… add one }
  • Heather MacDonald
    January 14, 2017, 6:28 pm

    Love it! Truly cool place. Well done!

  • Claudia Moore
    January 14, 2017, 6:40 pm

    OMG, Would my granddaughter and I LOVE to live in one like this! This is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:59 am

      That it is!

      • Claudia Moore
        January 23, 2017, 8:41 pm

        how can they help us start a home like this? I am 65 and disabled, my granddaughter is 14 and still in school. I want one so bad, so bad for us to have and live in but I truly do not know where to start. Last month i got a set-back in my health, but i am wanting one in the worst way, and from what I was told it should be as soon as it can possibly be. Thank anyone that takes the time to read this.. God Bless, Claudia Moore

  • Sue Gentry
    January 14, 2017, 6:50 pm

    Where’s the restroom?

    • Pam Kerstein-Maes
      January 14, 2017, 8:27 pm

      Maybe behind the kitchen wall?

  • Dennis
    January 14, 2017, 7:36 pm

    I like your house but I see that you couch in really dry. Looks like it is in the sun. Get some dr Jackson hide rejuvenator and rub several coats in like a pair of boots. It will do wonders for the leather. Do it several times a year and it may out last you.

  • JC Wolfe
    January 14, 2017, 8:58 pm

    This is a wonderful home and it amazes me that they did it for $10,000. Very inspiring for me as I would eventually like to build something like this for myself and use recycled materials. It always amazes me how much some people spend on a tiny home. Part of the fun is doing it as economically as possible.

    • Rick C
      January 15, 2017, 11:44 pm

      By and large earthshippers have been VERY cost-conscious. I used to be on a mostly-owner/builder mailing list a decade ago and these guys prided themselves on scrounging materials: wood and glass from construction and demolition projects, getting used tires for free, and so on. One of the design principles of earthships is using low-cost local materials (get the dirt to fill the tires on-site if possible!), which is one of the reasons these $70,000-and-up THOWs bother me. To be fair, if premium materials all the way is the way you want to go, fine, but I love seeing the ones done one a shoestring budget, too.

      • JoJo
        January 16, 2017, 3:45 am

        Me Too! I like the idea of scrounging if possible to keep cost down…..

      • Natalie
        January 17, 2017, 11:39 am

        It’s always inspirational to see people working with recycled materials!

        • Claudia Moore
          January 26, 2017, 5:39 pm

          Thanks for the information but being disabled there is not a lot I can do. Your father is wonderfully lucky!! Be very proud of him. Here in North Carolina I do not have any contacts at all, most of the people I used to be able to call on have already passed on and that is no lie. I have 1 son in Alabama but he and his wife are too busy to come here and do that for me. I keep praying and something will happen. Again, thank you.

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:58 am

      That’s the truth!

    • Glen
      January 19, 2017, 2:51 am

      I am amazed at the cost. Would love to see details on the build. Also…land cost? Such a nice place.

  • January 15, 2017, 10:27 am

    It is the typical home that strongly represents the personality and the cultural level out media, and/or standards. I like it because you can savor the desire to solve with exclusive taste, every space in different function. Really Good

  • suzanne joffe
    January 15, 2017, 2:26 pm

    Gorgeous home… is there a bathroom? and where do they put all their stuff?? No storage or closets.

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:49 am

      Haha I don’t think they are big on stuff 🙂 And I think they might have an outhouse system. They are off-grid.

  • Susanne
    January 16, 2017, 12:25 am

    So cozy… Love the plants, esp. In the kitchen..:)

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:38 am

      I love house plants!

  • Elle
    January 16, 2017, 10:11 am

    Nice, good job, lovely digs. However, I have to ask–How much was the land? Was it given to you? Did you inherit it? Do you live on family land? What? I ask because $10K is admirably low for such a lovely job but land anywhere is expensive, let alone in mountains of Santa Cruz, CA. So, got to ask.

    • Natalie
      January 17, 2017, 11:31 am

      Fair question!

    January 18, 2017, 5:53 pm

    You built this? I am impressed! Well done, I don’t have enough thumbs for this one! Good job!

    • Natalie
      January 19, 2017, 6:22 am

      Isn’t it awesome?

    January 23, 2017, 6:09 pm

    Awesome…! They just had these on TV the other day, very cool idea….!

    • Natalie
      January 24, 2017, 6:18 am

      Yes! They are on my list with hobbit holes and yurts now 🙂 Oh, and cordwood homes…hmmm..which will I choose!

  • Claude
    January 23, 2017, 6:37 pm

    Well done, very exotic, nice!

  • Michael L
    January 23, 2017, 8:15 pm

    I love this home. Nice design and I live the repurposed item. Great job folks.

    • Natalie
      January 24, 2017, 6:10 am


  • January 24, 2017, 5:53 am

    When feelings run faster than words, maybe the sound of a song that gradually captures the memory as now the delicate and melodic sound of: “Have you ever really loved a woman”, from the film “Don Juan DeMarco”.

  • jm
    January 24, 2017, 10:35 am

    I’m not sure why they call it a “ship”. As we journey through life…?
    Most people will see a UFO spaceship before they live in an earthsip.

    • Natalie
      January 25, 2017, 8:50 am

      It’s the name of the whole movement — Earthship homes 🙂

  • Claude
    January 24, 2017, 11:32 am

    The 10K didn’t include the land, so a large part of the cost is a permanent site, then you can imagine how you will create your habitat. The cheapest way to achieve your dream is to search for the best deals or buy an old flat bed truck and pick up stuff from scrapyards, construction sites (With permission) roam the streets the day before the garbage pick-up and pick the good stuff people throw away. I bet you will be able to build anything at a low cost.

    • Natalie
      January 25, 2017, 8:46 am

      Also scan Craiglist. My dad is a crazy Craiglist enthusiast, and he built a bran new home that’s filled with free or very cheap Craigslist finds, including a whole kitchen of Viking appliances and beautiful hard wood floors.

    • Elaine
      January 25, 2017, 5:38 pm

      and freecycle,com

  • Claude
    January 24, 2017, 11:40 am

    I forgot to mention, it would be nice to get some friend or family members to give you a hand.

  • Chris
    February 7, 2017, 12:56 pm

    I tried to reply to this before as i wondered how the county of santa cruz approved this to be built.

  • Nicole
    March 29, 2017, 3:56 pm

    My fiance and i had been researching full time RVing for a couple years now…These Earthship homes combined everthing ive ever wantes to do…gardening, tiny house, solar and wind energy and self sufficiency💖 IM IN LOVE💖

    • Natalie C. McKee
      March 30, 2017, 9:00 am

      They are high on my list of “awesome” as well!

  • sheila
    May 17, 2019, 10:10 pm

    This is very nice. Everything blends with this home. Comfortable and clean looking. I love it.

  • Paul Larsen
    June 8, 2020, 8:09 pm

    This is so nice and with recycled materials even better! We live in such a wasteful society , and if we salvage and reused stuff , so we cut back on this rediculous waste! ( my rant of the day )

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 9, 2020, 1:59 pm

      Exactly! I love finding stuff to reuse and repurpose.

  • Cindy
    June 13, 2020, 10:09 am

    This is really pretty. That said, I have concerns from a structural design aspect. What is supporting and holding up the walls? Typically walls are created with 2×4’s spaced 16” apart and then are tied in to the roof.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 14, 2020, 12:48 pm

      I’d have to re-watch the video to remember, but I’m pretty certain this is either a cob or strawbale construction. When done properly, they are quite structurally secure, and strawbale homes are usually made with typical 2×4 framing. Also it does have some pretty large exposed beams throughout.

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