What would your home look like if you unplugged for good? Tour these one-of-a-kind versions of living that dream as seen in three DIY Network specials of Building Off the Grid: Mountain Man Cave, Tiny House on a Lake and Coastal Maine.
Rugged outdoorsman Joe Donovan decided to build himself a permanent base camp on 10 acres of mountain wilderness. That camp takes the form of a 24-by-28-foot straw-bale cabin, a very old—and, in modern America, very rare—type of dwelling.
The insulating straw bales beneath thick layers of stucco at this southern Montana cabin are held together by chicken wire hand-sewn with rope. The load-bearing frame itself is made of massive logs.
Composting toilets aren’t for everyone, but this one more than compensates for its rustic ways with a spectacular view of the Montana wilderness. (Bonus: No need to abandon said view to fetch water for the cistern, or to scamper to an outhouse in the middle of the night.)
The versatile space behind a Montana cabin’s bathroom features a television and turntable powered by solar panels, as well as a painterly reminder of why its owner chose to build in the wilderness.
Thick straw walls are designed to help this space stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter—but given how quickly the weather in the northern Rockies can change, concentrated heat from a wood-burning stove is a must.
Scenery is the star of Joe Donovan’s off-the-grid plan, as he designed his home around the Missouri River view he envisioned having from his front deck. Bonus: It’ll face the warmth of the sun in the wintertime.
At the northern end of Montana, yurt-dwellers Sean and Mollie Busby take their independent-living plan to the next level by building their dream home overlooking Whitefish Lake. This 12-by-20-foot, two-story home comprises about 480 square feet of interior space.
This diminutive dwelling at the edge of Glacier National Park affords its owners plenty of room. The spacious deck nearly doubles its footprint.
The live-edge siding on this tiny house can last for up to 30 years. It shares space with reclaimed wood, which rings in at a fifth of what local stores charge for new lumber.
The wood from this portion of a tiny home on the shore of Whitefish Lake comes from a timber swap (where the owners exchanged fresh-cut pieces from their property for drier logs that were already seasoned for building).
While this northern Montana cabin’s owners plan to live off the grid, their nameplate reflects their interest in maintaining close connections to their community.
This outdoorsy family of six built their 16-by-20-foot off-the-grid retreat on Maine’s remote Pemaquid Peninsula in less two weeks (with a bit of help from their friends).
This 6-foot-tall black bear welcomes guests to a self-sustaining cabin in Bristol, Maine. In keeping with the homeowners’ lickety-split building plan, their friend carved the sculpture in less than eight hours.
A gutter-and-downspout system collects rainfall in a catchment for drinking, cooking and bathing—a very good thing, since the nearest alternative source of water is a half-mile away.
While the kitchen in this remote cabin has no light switches or running water, a granite slab countertop and vintage canister set deliver ample (and appropriately rustic) style.