Living Off-Grid in Oregon

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A hand-crafted off-grid life on an Oregon farm. Owner, Brian Schulz is a Kayak builder by day, but is also an “obsessive craftsman”. Living off grid in Oregon is a simple way of life.

He believes he can build most anything in his life. On his Oregon farm he has built, or renovated, 5 tiny structures and is living sustainably, totally off the grid.


Living off grid in Oregon


After being told by the county that he couldn’t erect a yurt, he built a code-approved main house “to give us a place to legally stay”.

Once the main house was built, he created several smaller structures of less than 200 square feet on the property. And all built out of 90% local materials.

Completely Off Grid

His farm is completely off the grid and Schulz points out that this doesn’t mean they rely on propane or lots of photovoltaics. Nearly all their tools for living have been adapted to fit the off-grid lifestyle.

Watch this video for a walk around the Shultz property …



Off-Grid Energy

For his prototype solar-powered bathhouse Schulz used recycled solar hot water panels, salvaged hot water tanks (from the dump), a solar thermal window and a recycled soaking tub.

Indoors, Schulz has adapted a chest freezer to create a low-consuming refrigerator (using a tenth of the electricity of a regular fridge) and a 1940s wood-fired cook stove to cook, heat and as a heat-exchanger, harvesting waste heat and thermo-syphoning water to heat up the home’s hot water.

They do have a limited number of photovoltaic panels which produce about 1000 watts of electricity when the sun is shining (for the entire farm), as well as a micro hydro generator in the creek and solar thermal panels.

Schulz models much of what he builds on the Japanese aesthetic and tries to make everything in his life not just functional, but beautiful (e.g. his bathhouse was designed not just as a shower, but as a way to de-stress).

Tiny Home – Japanese Style!

Brian Schulz wanted to see “how small of a house I could make feel big”. Inspired by the traditional Japanese minka homes that rely on local materials and steeply sloped roofs to create affordable, open structures, Schulz created a home using materials salvaged or sourced from within 10 miles of his home.

The result is a 14-by-16-foot home – in tune with its surroundings that cost only 11,000 dollars – mostly for concrete, shakes and insulation-, along with about a year and half of Schulz’s spare time.

Much of the wood Schulz collected from the bay while kayaking (he teaches traditional wood kayak-building for a living) and then he milled it himself on-site. Corner posts were blown down trees from a friend’s forest. Kitchen counters were milled from a fallen tree he’d held onto for 8 years. Stair railing is alder poles cut from beside the house.

The 3 tables in the home were cut from cedar found on the beach and constructed in 2 hours. He laid flooring using low-grade reject fir, created trim using miscellaneous scrapwood and bought all the home’s windows for $40 from the local dump (the french doors came from craigslist).

Don’t You Agree – It’s a Beautiful Tiny House~!



“The Japanese Forest House is a confluence of my love of small spaces, my passion for local materials, and my fascination with traditional Japanese architecture. For those familiar with the intensely refined art of traditional Japanese carpentry, applying the title of ‘Japanese’ onto my house might be laying it on a bit thick.

It’s true I’ve fallen short of the refinement found in the homes of the upper classes, however, the work still embraces the design principles that make the traditional tea houses (which were, ironically, modeled after peasant shacks) so appealing. Over-sized beams, live edge slabs, natural timbers, real plaster walls, and minimal decoration, all encourage a deep sense of calm.

What I love about this structure is that it is architecturally honest, meaning that where a lag bolt or a deck screw or a 16 penny nail was used, no attempt to was made to conceal them. Open joist pockets, a visible birdsmouth from a repurposed rafter template, I made a deliberate choice not to hide these things.

This ethic reflects my general dislike for the veneers of all sorts that seek to mimic things that they are not.

Moving outwards, the structure compliments, rather than dominates the landscape. I made many design errors: the roof pitch is slightly too steep, the body of the house is a bit too tall, and if I’d known that I was going to use a cedar shake roof I absolutely would have dipped the ridge and flown the gables.”  via Brian Shultz website.

Me thinks he has done a fantastic job … what do you think? Please add your comments below.

One Response

  1. Justin Shaffer January 22, 2018

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