Self-sufficiency is all about controlling the variables, and unfortunately, modern-day housing has become one variable that’s very hard to control. In fact, from an expense standpoint, you could easily make the case that housing actually controls us.
In fact, if you look at the origin of the word “mortgage”, you will quickly find that it is French for “dead pledge“, or “death grip.” A fitting description of the burden many homeowners feel in trying to meet their monthly housing expenses.
Unfortunately however, expense isn’t the only issue. On top of the financial burden, the contemporary home is also predicated on a complex and fragile transportation system, with materials being sourced from all over the globe. After a home is completed, homeowners are saddled with the ongoing costs of maintenance, taxes and insurance. Last but not least, the home is completely reliant on municipal water, sewer, and our sophisticated electrical grid.
But what if you could build a truly grid-independent home, for $25,000? And what if it could be done in 5 days?
Well, that’s exactly what Marcin Jakubowski and the folks at Open Building Institute are doing.
Marcin, who is also the founder of Open Source Ecology, first surprised the world in 2011 with his Global Village Construction Set. That project recreates the 50 machines that modern civilization is built on, using all open-sourced and interchangeable parts. The project was successfully funded on Kickstarter, raising 150% of the needed funds, and has grown in popularity ever since.
Now Marcin, his wife Catarina, and their team have shifted their focus to an even bigger project, in a more immediately important area–sustainable housing. Specifically, they are bringing the world a library of open-source, freely-distributed plans for a off-grid tiny home, that can be built in 5 days, at a cost of roughly $25,000 in materials.
But what makes this house truly impressive is that it is LOADED with self-sufficient features. Features that minimize the resources you need to keep it running, and help you be even less-dependent on the grid.
I’m talking about:
- 3,000 watts of solar panels
- LED light fixtures
- Rainwater catchments
- Pellet burner
- High-efficiency water fixtures
- Composting toilet
- Hydronic stove
- Much more!
Oh, and one other thing, because this “seed home” is modular, it can actually be expanded at any time.
While it may start out at somewhere between 300-750 square feet, it can grow with your needs. Another child? A family member coming to live with you? Need an office? Just add more space.
Other Offerings From Open Building Institute
In addition to their library of plans for the open source “Seed Home”, Open Building Institute offers:
- Educational Webinars: Want to learn more about off-grid building? The team at OBI offers training and Q&A sessions via webinar that you can join from anywhere you have an internet connection.
- In-person workshops: How about getting some hands-on training at the OBI site, “Factor E Farms”, in Missouri? If interested, they will be constructing an aquaponic system in November.
- Official training program for builders: One of the biggest variables in the adoption rate of sustainable housing is training for the builders. Through this comprehensive training, builders can become OBI certified in building the self-sufficient, grid independent Seed Homes.
- Raw materials production (coming soon): The next phase of OBI will include materials production plants, where limestone, solar panels, compressed earth bricks and a host of other building supplies will be made.
Incorporating their years of knowledge with the GVCS, and drawing on the collective expertise of hundreds of specialists, Open Building Institute has definitely tackled some impressive housing projects.
It’s important to remember, that at the end of the day, everything is just a tool. A water filter, food storage, medical training, a backup alternative energy system, firearms, or a well-stocked bug out bag–they’re all just tools. In and of themselves, none of these things (or even all of them together) will make you a self-sufficient person. Your self-sufficient master plan has to be in you. And it’s up to you to know how to use all the tools to achieve the end result. But once you do have that vision, tools like the Seed Home make it a lot easier to achieve.
Hat tips to Marcin and his team for all their hard work!
Interested In More?
Interview with Marcin about the “Seed Home” and its energy systems here.
See the OBI video overview here.