Off-grid float cabin: retirement tiny dream home in BC wilderness
Margy and Wayne Lutz were camping in Coastal British Columbia when they discovered their dream home: the float cabins of Powell Lake. They're not houseboats, but "float cabins", that is, they're permanently anchored to shore.
Float cabins were first built on Powell Lake as inexpensive and portable homes for loggers and fishermen. Since then they've become regulated and the 200 float cabin owners here these days lease their water lots from the BC government for $500 per year.
The Lutz's bought their retirement home in 2001 for 35,000 Canadian dollars (about $25,000 USD, at the time), what they considered worth the risk if their experiment in off-grid living didn't workout.
A few years later they retired early from their school district jobs in Los Angeles, anxious to start living their dream, and moved into their small (420 square feet, plus a 200-square-foot sleeping loft) floating home. At the time it didn't have indoor plumbing so they hiked 4 flights of stairs up the granite cliff to an outhouse (they've since installed a composting toilet indoors).
Today, the Lutzs live completely off-the-grid. There's no water heater (they boil it on the wood stove as a luxury) and no plumbing. They hand-pump water from the lake (for washing dishes, they remove most food first and use only biodegradable soap and the water is returned to the lake).
There's no trash pickup. They compost nearly everything. For their energy uses, the Lutzs rely on solar, wind, and thermoelectric power. For heat, they rely on a wood stove (fueled mostly with driftwood) that has been rigged with an experimental thermoelectric system generating a trickle charge to their batteries.
Their buoyant home doesn't make gardening easy, but Margy has found a way to provide much of the summertime produce. In addition to a hillside potato garden, she created a floating vegetable garden.