Gallery: Off-Grid Vacation Home In California’s Gold Country

Water is pumped from an onsite well up to a storage tank, where it is then gravity fed down into the house.
Water is pumped from an onsite well up to a storage tank, where it is then gravity fed down into the house.

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.

+ CCS Architecture

Images ©Brendan P Macrae


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  1. jeremyhawkins September 13, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Very nice off-grid home! I’d love to have a vacation there. :)

  2. zeph January 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    This home is quite stunning, with amazing views. I like how the design incorporated natural lighting and propane to reduce the carbon footprint. Green building construction is a huge industry, especially in California. I like to stay current on green buildings and sustainable construction which is why I use McGraw Hill’s California Construction site. It has a ton of information on construction news, and projects happening in California. While I do some occasional work for McGraw Hill, their construction website has been a favorite of mine long before we started working together. If you are like me, and enjoy staying up-to-date on construction news, check out their website.

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