Off-Grid Hobbit-like Cave Home Built into a Hillside
For anyone who dreams of living an off-grid lifestyle, researching other people’s methods of going off grid can be a fascinating pastime. There’s no end to the creativity that goes into living off grid. Take this off-grid hobbit-like cave home built into a hillside, for example. “Underhill” is an eco-friendly, off-grid cave house in Waikato, New Zealand that has been built along with nature rather than in spite of it. Everyone who’s been there says when you step inside Underhill, you feel like you’re stepping into ancient history, to a time when life was much simpler. Visiting a fully-realized off grid dream home like this one is truly inspiring.
Forty years ago, Graham Hannah had the vision of building this off-grid cave home for his children. He’d travelled extensively in his younger years and had stayed in cave homes in Iran and Afghanistan, and had really enjoyed the way they felt. He was confident he could build something similar in New Zealand. At first, his family thought he was crazy. Little by little, however, he proved them wrong. With the help of his wife, he was able to make his dream come true and now his daughter runs the cave as an off grid bed and breakfast. The Hannahs started the cave construction by digging a hole in the side of the hill, from the top down. Then they filled the hole with sand, leaving room at the top for the roof. Next, they added a layer of river stones and rocks in a unique formation, and then they poured concrete on top of that. Once the concrete had set, they dug the sand out of the hole again and presto – they had their tiny house cave, complete with a sturdy, decorative ceiling. They planted sod on the roof so they would have an insulating grass cover that the sheep could come in and trim once in a while. They were very careful to add windows and skylights in strategic areas of their tiny home, to make use of natural lighting. With no electricity, everything inside is lit with daylight and candles, giving it a warm, romantic, rustic feel.
Whenever Graham and his wife had extra money, they were able to invest a little bit more into their off grid home. Whenever they could, they used natural materials like wood and stone, and recycled high-quality antique items – for example, their water pipes, taps, faucets, and sinks. Every detail of the off grid cave house has been carefully thought out and adds to the unique charm of the place. The fact that it’s dug into a mountainside means it is well insulated, staying cool in the summer and warm in the winter, maintaining the optimum temperature of 17 degrees Celsius at all times. The Hannahs knew they didn’t want electricity because this was going to be a place to completely unplug and relax, but they did want to have running hot and cold water. The antique coal range is as beautiful as it is fully functional – not only does it heat the entire cave house, but it also serves as an oven and it heats their water so they can have hot running water at any time they wish, day or night. For anyone wanting to live off grid, an antique coal range is something you might want to look into.
This inspiring off grid cave home YouTube story comes from the “Living Big in a Tiny House” website. For those who are interested in off grid tiny home living, this website is an excellent resource. Here you can find many more tiny house and off grid success stories as well as tiny house forums, tiny house building plans, and tiny house support.*
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