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

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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.

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


Interior View



Bedroom Sleeping Loft

Bedroom In The Loft


Exterior View of The Cabin

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!
{ 49 comments… add one }
  • 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.

  • Marcia@Frugal 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.

      • Alex
        February 19, 2014, 6:35 pm

        Glad you liked it Cosy thanks!

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 24, 2017, 3:48 pm

      Propane needs air to combust, so one keeps a window cracked when cooking so there is enough oxygen for both cooking and breathing. Propane is heavier than air, so propane residue will sink towards the floor where good air flow and ventilation from windows will disapate it, separating the propane molecules until it can be “lifted” by air out of the window. In other words, its not a problem if a window is open.

  • 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 !

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 6, 2017, 7:55 am

      Precisely! They rocked it.

  • 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,

    April 6, 2017, 1:48 pm

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

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 7, 2017, 4:45 am

      That’s for certain!

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 24, 2017, 3:55 pm

      Oops! I meant “comfortable”. I still use my 9 year old iPad 2 with its shattered glass screen being held on with a plastic screen cover taped all around its perimeter. I have a tendency to never throw things away, just let them slowly dissolve over time into nothing. One day, I suppose, I will get a new one on which it will be much easier to type.

        September 24, 2017, 4:11 pm


        • Eric
          January 8, 2018, 4:02 pm

          disapate instead of dissipate

  • Marsha Cowan
    September 24, 2017, 3:50 pm

    Absolutely amazing build and set up. It is a beautiful home, and looks very omfortable and liveable inside. Its good to take advantage of this time in your lives to learn to enjoy simplicity at its finest, and life at its simplest. Enjoy!

  • Kim W
    September 24, 2017, 3:57 pm

    I love this house. It is well done and in a beautiful setting. They have built it for themselves, so the minor issues like a ladder to the loft, the bedroom having no guard rail, ditto the decking! Young people can cope with this! It clearly suits them. I am sure they would adapt it should they have children. I spent a day in Lake Takoe area one summer when we did a house exchange to USA from our home in England and lived that area.
    I wish them many happy years in this home and any other home they may build there!

  • Fabio
    September 24, 2017, 7:07 pm

    Wow, Tim and Hannah!! How small is the world, I love the tinyhouse and the lifestyle away from everything disconnected from everything, but to see this photo left me with my mouth open:


    Hahaha, I’m from Uruguay, and see a “mate” with his bulb, infusion typical of my area, I exclaimed: Wow, a “mate” in the small house has brought me a smile of amazement, I hope they can get good “yerba” to drink a good “mate” , Greetings from Uruguay.


  • Betty
    September 24, 2017, 7:34 pm

    Good for these two. As long as they are happy!😊

  • Dave Gragg
    September 25, 2017, 12:03 pm

    Wish we’d had tiny houses in the 60s

    • Eric
      January 8, 2018, 4:09 pm

      instead you had communes eh? free love and all that. whatever happened to the people of that generation? oh that’s right, whole bunch of them became capitalist p*gs and screwed up the environment and peoples lives. rant mode off from moi who grew up in the 60’s

      • Denise
        January 10, 2018, 6:12 am

        Here is a short link on just how bad capitalism is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A

        I am wondering if they mounted the house using hurricane ties. That is pretty standard for buildings in the northwest and west coast.

      • Denise
        January 10, 2018, 6:30 am

        Here is a short clip explaining how bad capitalism is.

        I imagine they used earthquake ties to mount the house to the piers. They are pretty standard on the west coast.

        • Denise
          January 10, 2018, 6:36 am

          Hi Alex, I ‘reported’ this comment because I didn’t know how to delete it. It is a repeat without the link – it can be deleted. Sorry!

  • Richard Bryant
    October 24, 2017, 12:46 am

    Fear of forest fires is a reasonable concern. But they don’t just happen in forest locations. Just look at the evidence from Napa and Sonoma, California and all of the other communities in Northern California. The death toll and total cost to fight the fires and and re-build has not yet been calculated. But the amount will be staggering.
    The lack of deck handrails is a major code violation. And if the TH is built in earthquake country, then the odds are good that the “house” will bounce off the chopped-off tree trunk columns and turn into a pile of firewood when it hits the ground.

    • Christopher Swartz
      January 5, 2018, 5:34 pm

      Here we go with someone who has lived in fear of codes and pleasing someone else instead of making their dreams a reality. Its people like this that try to stifle and harass anyone in the alternative living community. These two made a beautiful house for themselves and have adapted their lives to the changing times. Why don’t you focus on your life instead of being negative with your opinions that nobody asked for? Tim and Hannah are kicking butt with their lives. Try it yourself and stop living in fear of government and be the best you that you can be.

      • Glanda Widger
        January 9, 2018, 12:05 am

        It’s no big deal, some people are just so paranoid they worry their lives away. Just like another commenter who said nasty things about how the 60’s people ruined his world. They are always around. Just ignore them. I am 70- and a widow, just bought a 1000 sq ft home 3 yrs ago but plan to sell in a couple of years and buy land here in Tn( plenty of unrestricted areas ) and get my grandson’s to build me a tiny home on it. Land is cheap as well and taxes are nothing. I want to go back to the peace and quiet although I am rural now on 2 acres.

  • Kurt
    October 24, 2017, 2:31 am

    I love the wood paneled interior. The deck floor looks pretty nice as well. I wonder if they were subject to building codes. As high off the ground as that cabin is, in my area they would need a railing around the house and a handrail for the stairway going up to the cabin.

    @Rich Bryant: I haven’t read much about the fires myself, but I’ve heard that those fires may have been intentionally set by the so-called “antifa” nuts because the people living there are wealthy.

  • michael carman
    January 8, 2018, 10:32 pm

    i love it.

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