Designing an off-grid house

Part 1 – Design principles

So we decided to take on the challenge of designing an off-grid house and build it ourselves. If you too would one day like to design and build an 0ff-grid house, then follow along on this journey. Here I will describe in detail what we are planning and why we made certain decisions. I am sure the design and decisions will evolve over time. So come on this journey with us and help design our dream off-grid house with your comments and inputs.

So the design principles we followed while designing this house is as follows. I must be small but big enough, we do not want to feel cramped in. This is not a “tiny house”, but an appropriately sized house. So we would like to keep it smaller than 120 square meters.

I have been thinking about designing and building an off-grid house for the last 6 years now. I thought quite a lot about what would it take to make a house completely off-gird. So no connection to the grid power supply or water supply. So ideally there should be enough electricity produced from solar power and enough electricity stored in batteries to meet all the electricity needs of the household.

The house will be for a two-person household. Ideally, it will be connected with other off-grid houses on the property, later on, to form what is called a mini-grid, where houses can exchange electricity with each other as needed.

The roof space (inclination and orientation) needs to be designed for solar power. So three different roofs, East, North and West facing, each roof maximising power production of a different part of the day. East facing roof for morning energy production. North facing roof for afternoon energy production, and the excess to be stored in batteries of evening consumption. The West facing roof will be for afternoon energy production.

All windows will be double-paned for good insulation. There will also be good roof insulation. This will reduce the energy required for heating and cooling.

Water will be collected from the roof space and collected in water tanks.

There will be different bins for separating waste and for recycling.

Even though the space is relatively small there will be a lot of windows and a lot of patio space around the building. This will enable one to live also on the outside spaces and make the space feel bigger.

Here is the first draft of the plan, any comments and feedback are welcome.