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Tour of Off Grid Homestead Under Construction, Part One

Greetings, Home Performance Forum

After two years in the planning process, we finally completed the design for an off-grid homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. We are now under construction, and are starting to see some real progress. We will go in to more detail about this later, but we've integrated a permaculture farm in to the project, as well as made all buildings high performance, and "zombie proof". We're sharing progress videos of the construction of the homestead on our youtube channel. We will be testing everything along the way to get the data to confirm what we've done, to share with data lovers, and to use for future projects.

Here's a site plan of the are where most of the construction is happening. It will help when you look at the video (below).

Just a few details...
- Total property size: 103 acres
- Devleoped area: approx. 5 acres
- House: just under 3,000 square feet
- Storage barn: just over 3,000 square feet.
- Solar: 18.9 kW PV system with batteries off-grid system.
- No fossil fuels, ALL electric
- Potable Water: Natural spring, with gravity pump. Water pumped to (2) 3,000 gallon cisterns on mountain at elevation that results in 60 psi of gravity fed to house and barn.
- Back up to potable systems are drilled well and rainwater cisterns.
- Non-Potable water: over 6,000 gallons of rainwater storage (cisterns), from rooftops.
- Wall Assembly: 6" continuous exterior rock wool on gyp sheathing on panelized metal framing
- Roof Assembly: 8" continuous exterior rock wool on gyp sheathing on panelized metal framing
- Zombie-proof-ing: Sliding security panels over glass doors; 10'-0" courtyard wall; 20 Ga corrugated metal cladding; Etc...

Here is the latest video post of a brief tour of the construction site, during the installation of the storm water management systems.


  • Thanks for posting this Chris. I bet that took a whole lot of planning and money.
    I have a prospective client asking for something similar. Even wants to eliminate well and septic, use 100% rainwater collection, and composting toilets. I have a lot to learn.....
  • David ButlerDavid Butler Posts: 3,889
    Jake, I've visited several off-grid homes locally that don't have a well. We get most of our rain in summer, so it takes a lot of storage capacity and deep conservation to make it through the rest of the year. There are tons of resources for rainwater collection strategies in this area, such as roof area calculators, acceptable roofing materials for potable water collection, inexpensive tank alternatives, etc. Google is your friend. If you land the job, let me know if I can help.
  • Sounds great David. I didn't know you were consulting in that department too.....
  • David ButlerDavid Butler Posts: 3,889
    I don't, but I know where to find the resources.

    Last year I had to source a large storage tank for a hydronic air conditioner for an off-grid home. The design called for 5,500+ gallons of thermal storage. I got the idea of using a large diameter corrugated steel culvert from local rainwater collection projects. It's the least expensive option for large water storage. My client paid ~$110/ft for 10' diameter pipe. The pipe is stood upright, set in a concrete base with a fabricated top. The seams must be sealed with liquid rubber, but for potable, you want to coat the entire interior surface, Sourcing pipe flanges (bosses) that work on a corrugated surface turned out to be a challenge. Another option for above-ground storage is agricultural tanks. Here's a great resource: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/rainwater-harvesting-inforesources/suppliers/water-tankscisterns/