Remotely located in the hills of California's Gold Country is this charming, little, off-grid vacation home. powered by the sun and a backup propane system. With a small footprint, the 1,750 sq foot home, designed by CCS Architecture, was designed and built to take advantage of the site and the sun. Passive solar design, large overhangs and renewable energy coalesce in a lovely country home that will keep anyone from heading back into the city.
The home, located near Murphys, CA, is split into two 875 sq ft buildings – one for living and the other for sleeping. The buildings are sited for views as well as the prevailing breezes which come up from the canyon below and ventilate through the gap. Large overhangs protect the buildings from the sun during the summer, and north facing, operable, low-e windows and skylights maximize daylight. The overhangs and arbors feature foil backing to reflect the hot summer sun and a solar-powered roof expels the hot air captured inside.
Structural slabs provide radiant heat and the home is largely built from SIPs, which provide both insulation and structure. Water is pumped from an onsite well up to a storage tank and gravity fed down into the house. The siding and soffits are natural cedar and have been treated with a penetrating oil. All paint is low-VOC and the floors are polished concrete.
A courtyard out in front of the two buildings provides a protected space to rest and play. The residents of the home come out to the country to vacation and relax in their retreat, and when they need to work or choose to stay longer, they rely on satellite internet to get things done.
While not completely net-zero or carbon-zero, as propane is used for heating and backup, the home does largely rely on a rooftop solar system comprised of 24 photovoltaic panels with a battery backup system. Propane is used to heat water and the home through a radiant floor system during the winter when the weather is cooler. A high-efficiency wood burning stove can also be used to provide additional heat.
Images ©Brendan P Macrae