The Busby Hive Off Grid Tiny House Tour
After everything we went through building a yurt — especially the discovery that it strengthened our marriage, I thought we would breeze through building a tiny house. The financial stars aligned, we were motivated to tackle the new project during our short summer, and our outlook was rosy. (As Sean will tell you, things through my eyes always seem to have a tint of sunshine and rainbows.)
But along the way, the Tiny House project became more than a project… it morphed into an all-consuming force to be reckoned with, replete with deadlines, setbacks, and surprises.
Like when our free ranging mountain chickens would swarm our snack table when we weren’t looking… or when our neighbors generously donated tongue and groove for the bedroom ceiling, and we got to learn that 20+ year old materials are SUPER fun and EASY to install (read: sarcasm). Or perhaps the time we had over 10,000 pounds of repurposed building material delivered and the weight of it almost pulled the trailer and truck off our rough, steep mountain road. Or (one more, just for fun)… when I spent hours putting up a repurposed corrugated metal ceiling on the main floor, only to return from a business meeting the following day to see Sean and the crew had taken it all down, and told me they thought it looked horrible and would save me the shame! Turns out that figuring out how to build a structure with next-to-no carpentry experience was the easy part, thanks to YouTube and a handful of friends who showed us the ropes.
Lets just say that the three month build time was a strugglefest.
Every morning we would wake up with swollen hands and fingers, make coffee, fire up the generator and continue the same routine, screw by screw… nail by nail. Our build site didn’t have a dumpster due to the steep, narrow road access, so scrap lumber accumulated haphazardly. For those three months, we worked through a construction war zone and somehow managed to survive. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve asked eachother, “Have you seen my pencil?” or “Where is the measuring tape?” After many bumps in the road, we learned to surrender to the process and commit. Especially toward the end, we devoted every spare moment of our lives to birth this incredible structure. And today?
We’re proud to say we survived, together… and we’ve got the sweetest tiny house to show for it — the majority of which was crafted using reclaimed materials!
And the answer to the question everyone seems to be inquiring about: Where will we live?
For now: This tiny house! We winterized the yurt this past weekend — a circular, spiritual place that we love dearly… and are excited to share with a number of visitors and friends this winter as they experience our mountain valley, off grid yurt style! Come summer, we expect to move from the Tiny House back to the yurt, allowing our visitors in the summertime to experience the Tiny House. And who knows what next year will bring… more expansion of our off-grid empire… more chickens… a new stab at gardening… and perhaps, little Busbys running amok!
It goes without saying, but we could not have done this without our core group of friends, contractors, and industry partners. Our community (and marriage!) is stronger than ever, you guys… and we’re excited to offer off-grid consulting and homestead tours in the near future. Interested? Shoot us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before we get to the tour, super huge thanks to our buddies:
- Russ Hopkins of Container Collective Bikes
- Fellow off-gridder & Kadiwhompass Cabin builder, Danny McIntosh
- Bob Donk, Joel Griffith and Andy Schepp
- Ted Krueger and J Designs
Behold… The Busby Hive!
Four Goal Zero 90 watt panels serve all of our electricity needs. These panels then feed into Goal Zero Yeti 1250 solar generators and the power is then distributed throughout the tiny house. You will also note in this photo our solar hot water shower that is mounted on the patio roof. The shower head is a garden watering can. A wine barrel below collects additional rain water for gardening and filling Sean’s favorite feature of the house: a cedar wood-fired hot tub (Snorkel). We fill the hot tub from rainwater, collected off the main roof into the big green collection tank (shown in the photo above). The rainwater is processed through a first-flush diverter, and then a filter before its pumped into the hot tub or house for non-potable use.
Cedar shakes were reclaimed from a house torn down a few hours south thanks to Waste Less Works. Corrugated metal skirting was reclaimed from a roof in a town near by. Not seen are 6 logs used as structural supports inside the house. All logs came from our property for the house and outside patio. We used #2 and #3 cuts of misc. scrap wood for our soffit and patio cover from a local mill. Our decking is reclaimed lumber from a house torn down in Missoula. Our deck railing was saved from heading to the landfill from one of our friends’ projects and re-gifted to us. Our patio furniture (Polywood) is made of 90% plastic from post-consumer bottle waste, such as milk and detergent bottles. Milk cartons for furniture, you guys!
Our Aqua2use® greywater system captures pre-filters, diverts and recycles our rainwater shower water to be used for watering non-edible, subsurface plants and trees in the garden. The multi-colored Matala® filters in various densities work together to use the technologies of cross-flow depth filtration and multichamber plug flow.
Our weather stick! This guy straightens out when bad weather is coming and bends upward when favorable weather is on the horizon.
Our root cellar made of galvanized trashcans for winter storage of root veggies from our garden.
Ski and snowboard rack chainsawed into two log supports.
A quick look into our tiny off grid kitchen. A shallow well hand pump draws water from a holding tank to either the kitchen sink or to our homemade thermosiphon hot water heater that is wrapped around our wood stove. A car siphon foot pump pumps water via foot power to the sink for pressurized dish washing without wasting any water. We pump as we need water from the holding tank. Solar power operates our Sundanzer D.C. powered chest fridge where we used velcro to attach a chop block to the top for more counter space. One of our solar powered lights sits in an old chicken egg wire basket as a light holder. Propane gas lights for those many days of winter darkness when solar can be unreliable and a propane range/oven. Our off grid propane utilities are hooked up to little BBQ propane tanks for easy snowmobiling and handling in winter. A pantry is built into the back of the log that holds our cast iron cooking pans. That pretty much sums up this mini cooking space.
Stairs were cut using our Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill:
Our solar battery bank tucks up underneath our stairs:
This couch folds out into a twin sized bed. The sliding glass doors and the interior shiplap walls were reclaimed. Bookshelf made with gas pipe and a cut off end of a log for a drink holder, etc.
Gas lights via little portable propane bbq tanks that can be snowmobiled up during our long, dark winters should our solar stash be depleted.
Mr. Heater’s Basecamp line: an on-demand pressurized propane hot water heater for showers, fed from rainwater storage:
Half of a reclaimed whisky barrel for shower basin, and an NSF approved Sunmar composting toilet.
Going up the stairs, the view down to the living room; floors were made from plywood — cut, sanded, beveled, stained, and sealed.
Upstairs: Closet on left made from gas pipe parts. Sitting area on right.
Queen bed with a Tuft and Needle mattress. The mattress arrived in a box making it super easy to move into a tiny house. Open up the box and unfolds the most comfortable mattress. Bed frame is like a reverse Murphy Bed. It opens up lifting the mattress up for more storage of seasonal items below.
Misc. gas pipes for jewelry stand, made by Mollie:
Next to the upstairs sitting area is this window which you have to crawl through in order to access the upper patio… the best way to close out a day!