BY: ROB HOFFMAN
When misfortune strikes it comes in threes. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and other times it’s an excuse to innovate. Fifteen years ago, Lamar Alexander lost everything—his wife, health and home, forcing him into a truck-camper living situation that would set a foundation for one of the most affordable and functional mini-home designs on the market.
Residing on a small patch of family-owned land, Alexander drew the blueprints for a functional home with a construction cost of $2,000. He recently made the plans for the home available for public use.
According to Alexander, “The cabin can be built from all new materials for under $2,000 (not including windows and doors) and is designed for additions on three sides.”
The tiny home is also outfitted for all seasons, with insulation to provide warmth in the winter months. “This cabin design has been tested in Canada, Mexico and Alaska with great results,” says Alexander on his website.
The home is about 400 square feet with two floors, including a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, space to hang out on the bottom, and a bedroom and office up top. The washroom contains a solar composting toilet and propane shower to keep the water hot. According to Alexander, the home sleeps six people with enough room to stretch out and breathe.
For anyone unfamiliar with composting toilets, although they are slightly less luxurious than a flushable toilet, let it be noted that they are also significantly less disgusting than an outhouse and drastically more sustainable. Composting toilets use a specific airflow mechanism that works like a chimney for odour. Rather than flushing, you simply toss sawdust into the toilet after use, and 90 per cent of the waste is converted into compost. Though you are required to empty the toilet’s lower tray every once in a while, it’s only disgusting in concept, as the material has all been converted into harmless soil.
The most exciting aspect of Alexander’s design though, is that it has the capability of functioning entirely off-grid.
A 580-watt solar panel lines the roof, with a small turbine to provide 400 additional watts of wind energy to power everything from your fridge to your water source, and even your laptop or flat screen.
Alexander posted the following free video with instructions and pictures of the building process to help tiny-home enthusiasts construct their own cabin.
If you’re interested in downloading a more in-depth step-by-step manual to building this tiny-home, authored by Alexander himself, you can buy it for $7 online here.