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Green Homes: A tour of how we live & work off grid in our straw bale home - Riverstone Studios

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A tour of how we live & work off grid in our straw bale home - Riverstone Studios showing the interior of our home/studio, wind turbine, solar panels, and the finishing work in our home. This is our version of Green Living. What's yours? A lot of comments are asking about building codes. We live in Rural Saskatchewan Canada. Our particular Municipal Government required building plans and a business plan for sustaining our livelihood on a section of land they deemed as the "Eco-village" which allowed us to be pretty flexible with our building style...the catch - In order to build a building not recognized by building code means: no banks & no insurance! Lending institutions want proof of insurability so they rely on insurance companies...Insurance companies want low risk so they rely on building codes and passed inspections. Permits were taken on our gas connection but the rest of the build we did ourselves. Because it is non commercial and rural, we are allowed to wire and plumb ourselves. We are not connected to municipal water or to provincial electricity, so again, there are no governing bodies with direct interests in our build. If you are interested in seeing the Before and After of our house go here: http://riverstonestudios.blogspot.ca/2010/08/two-steps-forwardno-looking-back.html
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Text Comments (203)
walterrean salley (10 months ago)
Thank you Salley :)
Trumpenstein (1 year ago)
next time add 20 extra sf to the plan for your battery stack.
Bee Free (1 year ago)
Preparing food and cooking under stairs is not too bright! Dirt and crap on shoes falling into my food is not acceptable....unless you live alone forever you can't control somepne going up or down while preparing food! At least close in the stair treads!
Thank's for the comment Bee Free...I'm not sure what your housekeeping abilities are, but as your comment suggests, they must be pretty low if you think wearing outdoor shoes in a house is appropriate. We've never had any issues - probably because, oh right, we keep a clean house.
Vlad Koshel (1 year ago)
Just use InpliX instructions. you will make it. its so easy
Shanta Hsieh (1 year ago)
My works too. I used Inplix handbooks and build it without any problems.
Bless K (2 years ago)
Quite magnificent ingenuity, beauty and simplicity. I am looking forward to purchasing land in ON, NB, SK or BC for an eco building homestead project. I am planning on utilizing the post and beam timber framing method for load bearing with straw bale as a wall infill. Any suggestion on how to properly insulate with the straw bale for our long inclement weather season here in Canada. Thank you
+Bless K thank you and wishing you all the best in your building endeavors. Check out the rest of our videos on our channel...we've built both strawbale and Straw Light Clay. Best advice I can give is to be sure to spend a lot of time detailing and stuffing corners, edges and holes. The devil is in these details between a well insulated straw construction and a drafty building. I DON'T recommend having a work bee simply because you get a lot of well intentioned helpers who don't necessarily understand how important the finicky work is to the finished product you have to live in everyday after they are gone. All the best!
+Bless K thank you and wishing you all the best in your building endeavors. Check out the rest of our videos on our channel...we've built both strawbale and Straw Light Clay. Best advice I can give is to be sure to spend a lot of time detailing and stuffing corners, edges and holes. The devil is in these details between a well insulated straw construction and a drafty building. I DON'T recommend having a work bee simply because you get a lot of well intentioned helpers who don't necessarily understand how important the finicky work is to the finished product you have to live in everyday after they are gone. All the best!
Cliff Butten (2 years ago)
Thank you. Thank you 😯😃😃😀👍
Samfia Drangus (2 years ago)
This is very motivational! Great work! I am wondering tho, how did you learn how to do all of the power work in the house? Every time I see these videos, I see the houses and walls and sun lights and think "cool!" But then I see the power work and all the verbage that you guys use that I don't understand and I think "damn!" hahaha so do you have a background in that stuff? Is there one resource in particular that you used that helped you? Was there a LOT of trial and error like I would imagine there would be?
+mainHERO88 In regards to was there a lot of trial and error...no, we spent 2 years calling companies and comparing their products. We asked A LOT of dumb questions and NEVER got a dumb answer. Some people explained well while others couldn't articulate or talk in terms we could understand...so talking with a large number of companies is what made it easier to see the pros and cons of each component and how they tie together.
+mainHERO88 Thanks for the comment. Even though my parents think we are nuts for building off grid in the middle of a bare field with no services ready to go - they did the same thing! They built a house (on grid) on a new farmstead. My dad was a farmer and it was too expensive to get someone to dig the basement - so he bought a backhoe and learned to do it (he then built a business doing that for the next 45 years) He became a licensed electrician and plumber to do his own wiring and plumbing and carried that forward into his business of trenching...so I come by it pretty naturally growing up as a kid. I was always helping or fixing something electrical - but I'm not licensed. I just discovered though that SaskPower has changed the rules so we will have to apply for permitting on our new house we are building. I may be able to still do some of the work, but it will have to be under the license of an electrician and will have to be inspected and certified by the province. Now even if you are "Off Grid" and not connected to public electricity, we will still need to be inspected and certified as if we were.
Andrew Jack (2 years ago)
love the truth window story lmao
nevaslippn (2 years ago)
Fuckin white people bro.
Bartek Zdanowicz (3 years ago)
This must be one of the most beautiful straw bale houses I've seen.  Too bad we can't see it what it looks like from outside.  Thanks for sharing.
+Bartek Zdanowicz Thank you. I'll shoot a video of the outside of our house and post it this next week. You're not the first to ask. When I did the video it was cold with snow on the ground. Not the most pleasant times of the year so I didn't bother putting the outside on. Now that it's summer, it'll be much nicer. :)
Kyle Lindgren (3 years ago)
I live in MN and am thinking of building with cob.  Would you happen to have any references to look into for researching for building with cob in cold weather.  I was also wonder how well your walls inside your house and outside your house hold up. Love your home.  Ty for making this video.
+Kyle Lindgren Thanks Kyle. Try doing a search on YouTube for "grand designs cob" Lots going on in the UK with it. Cob has huge thermal mass much like stone or concrete which makes it extremely stable temperature wise. What we've learned is to actually use more insulation and less mass, There is no free ride when it comes to heat so you only get out what you put in. When we were building on the weekends and living in the city during the week, we would spend 2 days burning massive amounts of wood just trying to get the chill off in the house (4" stucco walls with cement floors) I'm sure 3 days later it was still warm after we left but we realized the denser the wall, the more like a battery it becomes, It holds heat in the winter and cool in the summer, It sounds better than it is.Batteries don't charge themselves, you have to put the energy into the wall in order for it to slowly give it back. Re: walls, We are finding after 4 years we are very impressed with the stucco finish. Because it is not acrylic based, it does have a few minor surface cracks on the outside but they appear to be only as deep as the finishing coat. Because we get so much wind here, we painted our house to actually try to seal it more and any cracks are small enough to flow in with the paint. The bales are breathing well and any test spots I've been checking (like right at the ground level to the foundation) looks beautiful and dry so I'm extremely happy with a first time build. Thank you again for the comment and we wish you all the best.
urgentcareguy3 (3 years ago)
Going off-grid and self-sustaining is a tremendous journey. Particularly if you work in a world with the typical corporate business job expectations. Even if you don't work in a towering skyscraper, the corporate impersonal ideology is nearly everywhere. "Get it  to me faster and cheaper, didn't I say yesterday??!!" One feels more like a cog in a machine than a human. A pawn in someone else's profit game. The journey to self-sustaining will help you see how the industrial age of the 1920's brought us from the farm fields to the city. We were told it would be an exciting new life, full of vibrant colors. Production mentality. Synthesized happiness. The media projects what our wants and needs should be. In case no one noticed, Rome is burning.  I heard it said recently that the capitalism of today is not the capitalism that originated in North America. In the past there was some degree of balance between profits and people. This is now all but gone. Corporate profits rule. In the US, corporations have more legal rights the human beings. This is no accident.  In my opinion, those with the information will rule the future. The common man doesn't stand a chance unless they retake the basic necessities of life. Take the brave step to the self-sustaining. Take back the Land. Once you get that "self-sustaining bug", you will change the landscape, and you will change as a person. A worthy journey indeed~! As of this writing there are 473 thumbs up on this video, 22 thumbs down. May I suggest that we relabel the thumbs down to "I'm jealous" ? : )
urgentcareguy3 (3 years ago)
I am in the process of going off-grid. For most people it is just that, a process. I'm not sure what the proper term for going-off-grid is, but it does not matter. This video speaks volumes to anyone who is attempting to be self-sustaining. At times, going against the current is very challenging.  These guys have simple elegance and function in their design. A+  Nice job guys! 
Thank you for your kind words. We wish you all the best in going off-grid. You have a beautiful way of explaining off-grid means. We had to come to terms with what was truly valuable to us years ago and implemented into our life. I think everyone's life is different and you need to be true to what moves your passion.
cougar351 (3 years ago)
........why do you have a picture of straw?
+cougar351 Nice one! :)
Michelle Lyman (3 years ago)
I am impressed. 
+Michelle Lyman Thank you
Bash Zam (3 years ago)
Hi, you have a beautiful home. Just wondering, how do you get an internet connection where you are? Looks quite remote.
+Bash Zam We live about 3 Km from the Town of Craik, SK. We get high speed internet via CanWan.com. It is wireless service via an antenna unit on our roof with speeds between 1.5 Mbps and 5 Mbps.
K00L VIDEOS (3 years ago)
It must be great living off the grid
K00L VIDEOS (3 years ago)
+riverstonestudios I understand that. best thing is that you live green which is very good for earth
+LearningDaily Living off grid comes with some challenges - but we feel Blessed and Rich to be able to live this way. I don't think it's for everyone, but it works extremely well for us.
K00L VIDEOS (3 years ago)
It must be great living off the grid
SickKnowledge82 (3 years ago)
+SickKnowledge82 Thanks for the comment. You are correct, The risk is pretty low and the chance of something going wrong is about the same as the risk my cell phone will catch fire while charging. This is a temporary setup until we have our new house completed and the install can be moved and properly done in the new building. While in a charge state, 99% of the gasses are rehydrated into the batteries, and the largest problem people have is too small of battery banks for what they are producing. Overcharging and uncontrolled charging results in swollen batteries and/or burst vent caps. We have taken a lot of care to ensure our system is matched and monitored well. I have greater concerns charging laptop / cordless drill lithium batteries on quick chargers than on our AGM setup. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and they will be vented once we do a permanent installation.  
Momma Hen (3 years ago)
wonderful home! We are builders and have been interested in straw bale homes. The craftsmanship you have shared is breath taking. Thanks for sharing!
Cardboard Box Church (3 years ago)
SimtheSim (3 years ago)
You are an inspiration, thanks for sharing.
campervandavid (3 years ago)
That's a great looking home. How much did it cost to build?
campervandavid (3 years ago)
+riverstonestudios  That's a great deal for a house that beautiful.
We lost track along the way because we were in the middle of building two places and a lot of the supplies were mixed between the two but best guess between $12,000 and $15,000 finished including hardwood floors and pine. Reclaiming old doors and windows and putting effort into using standard 2x_ wood to create finishing elements really keeps the costs down.
Bob Runde (3 years ago)
I like it good job.
EmptyNesterAmy (3 years ago)
With your high ceilings have you considered a "dryer" system like Pulleymaid? I like air drying clothes and you have the potential for a great set up.
+amyburns1999 Yep. The first year we lived here we didn't have a propane/electric dryer yet so we line hung our clothes and discovered there is a balance. We need to keep between 15 and 30% humidity in our house to be comfortable and healthy for the woodwork. When we were hang drying our clothes our relative humidity started to creep upwards of 45% and we found the house always feeling cold & damp plus ice began building up on our window sills. Currently having steamy showers and hang drying our kids ski pants/mitts/coats/boots after they play in the snow is about as much humidity as our house requires. Great idea though. In the summer we have a clothes line outdoors that works great. We love the smell of the fresh air. Thank you!
LeonardoGulli (3 years ago)
Ylva Bjarnson (3 years ago)
You are not off grid if you are tapped into the City's sewer with your toilet, etc.
Sigh! Thank you Leslie for your insight...but as others have discussed in our comments if people really want to be legalistic about the actual definition of "off the grid"...We operate our phones by Cel phone (which is connected to "A grid") we also are connected to the internet (which is part of the grid) we also burn propane and gas in our generator (which is run by big mega companies)...and the sewer is simply gravity feed to a municipal lagoon located 400' down hill at the base of our property...but yes, being legalistic you are correct. We encourage people to follow their passions and their beliefs. You gotta do what is important for the right reasons in your life and not just trying to meet rules.  On the flip side...if we were really truly off the grid, we'd be hidden in the bush and no one would ever see this vid :) Thank you for commenting. Cheers!
William Kiene (3 years ago)
Thanks......we all get some new ideas from every video we watch. This one is very special and very well done. I am recovering from some shoulder surgery so I am really enjoying watching all these YouTube videos.
+William Kiene Thank you William...We home school our kids and I just had a discussion with them yesterday about their 43 year old dad going to YouTube school this past week learning about burnt diodes on generators, and air suspension relays on Ford Expeditions...and I too am grateful for other people's well made videos. I wish you all the best with your shoulder recovery :)
Larry Flynn (3 years ago)
beautiful home nice energy setup, your ahead of your time still
Jan Levine (3 years ago)
I don't know if you are still living in this place or not, but a lovely relaxing video of your life choices really a pleasure to watch, You have really made a lovely space to work/live in that is not a crazy financial burden, thank you.
+Jan Levine Thank you Jan, we do still live here. After we finish our dream home (100' away from this house) we are planning on using our small home as our full time studio for work.
Tommy O Donovan (3 years ago)
U had me at 300$ per year (heat, hot water electric) I pay 5000$ (4 bd house Albert Canada).
Porfirio Pires (3 years ago)
Solar panels would cure your problemo ...
Tommy O Donovan (3 years ago)
+David Ripley I've suffered the black dog 20 yrs. I'm taking VEMMA its an antioxidant and vitamin/minerial supplement. My mom, grand mom (99 yrs), brother are on it and they love it. Its changed my life (6 months) iv never felt better. Iv got a link on older posts. Stay thirsty my friend!
David Ripley (3 years ago)
+tom donovan You know, Tom, I don't know what we said either, I have a temper, and my wife say's it gets me in trouble. I'm 45, and I hate to say it, have given up on politics, I owned a small trucking company until I got injured on the job 10 years ago. I'm from Ontario, Workers Compensation sent me for 2 operations in Toronto that didn't work, I need four more, at least. I was raised by an older brother, and it was stand up for yourself or get hurt, I have no problems with people who own guns, if I could get an FAC, I would too, but I've carried a switchblade for 30 years, I would kill anybody who hurt my family with no remorse. I take a lot of strong meds for chronic pain, depression, etc, and i'll be taking them the rest of my life. I believe very much in family and protecting them, and I believe like you to strike first, that's what got me in trouble. Enough about me, We should start over, I never hold grudges, like I said, I probably said something that we disagreed on, but not really, Let's put this nonsense behind us, and thanks for your thoughts about our daughter. Take Care, Dave. 
Tommy O Donovan (1 year ago)
+David Ripley​​ I thought (assumed) you were a youngin. I forget why we were fighting to begin with. You called me something I called u a turkey fucker. Let's say I'm sorry and start again, I am a largely self educated man (9th gr) with a passion for history. I am truly sorry for your little girl. I always wanted a daughter. I am a nonaggression principal, anarchist/minimist/volunteerist, free market capitalist proponent/adherent. (see YouTube, Steve Molyneux WW1). I'm 49yrs old, small business owner. Canadian Alberta, we bring power to the people. I have guns for #1 hunting #2 protection. When I am or feel threatened I always attack first. Its the way I was raised. To stand up to a bully/criminals is the most terrifying thing a person can do. If you do choose to stand and fight your friends and enemies will love and respect you respectively.
David Ripley (3 years ago)
+tom donovan Not that it would really matter to you, but i'm white, born in Ireland, I've said it before, my, our only child, Linda, died of cancer, when she was 14, 5 years ago. There's nothing you could say or do that could even bother me for a second, but I find you're taunts very juvenile, what a teenager would say to another. I'm not going to block you, I don't block anybody, but try to come up with some new material, won't you.? 
In Response to Mark Hills Comment "No such thing as off grid!", Come on Mark, yes there is - Become self reliant, leave civilization, move to the bush, forget your wife and kids, cover yourself with a loin cloth, forget this YouTube technology and live looking at the stars" :) You're right, the term "Off Grid" is used to describe someone's desire to live a simpler or more self reliant life...that is, less reliant on commercial utility companies and not so much as a ideology. The choices our family makes means we have to manage a lot of systems other people take for granted. Frozen water lines, frozen sewage lines, and dealing with generators in -30 when there is little sun or wind is less than romantic - having said that, we enjoy not receiving as many utility bills in our mail. :) Thanks for the comment 'cause you are right on track!
Robert Higgins (3 years ago)
+KISS This... well said......
KISS This... (3 years ago)
Off grid .. means off the public utility grid.   Yes you still pay for sewage. whoopdidodang.... People just want to pick because they cannot do. You are an inspiration for all of us. thank you for sharing 
Weggman Hillard (3 years ago)
No such thing as off grid!
wardia2121 (3 years ago)
Awesome home. I have just one question. How do you get Internet?
Thankyou. We get our high speed wireless via a company called CanWan.com
Bruce Collis (4 years ago)
I am concerned about the ladder to the loft. The handrail is open at the top and could snag on clothing. Maybe close it in. Cool otherwise!
gone fishin (4 years ago)
I think your greatest achievement is your guitar storage.....nice!
chris temp (4 years ago)
Mate great place but my comment comes as a warning, get the batteries outside vented, it doesn't matter what there composition is, if one battery drops just one cell, it will suck all power generated and stored and within 5 minutes , be going into melt down and will gas your whole house, having any gell cell or wet acid batteries inside is an industry and or domestic  no no ,the gas is not only highly explosive, it will burn the inside of lungs, very quickly, and with a 3k wind gen it could occur overnight while all are sleeping     
K Simpson (4 years ago)
What books or sites would you recommend for the framing part of your home?  I have just recently purchased some land and think your home would suit my wife and I perfectly.  It's beautiful!  I'm also curious about the roof and its construction?  Any advice you have for us we would really appreciate it. Thanks for sharing.
I can't offer any books on framing. I grew up in a family where my dad built our house and both my brothers are general contractors. I also worked 22 years in sign construction so framing and engineering comes a little bit easier to me than most other people. Regarding the roof, for us, we harvest the rainwater and purify it for drinking and bathing so asphalt and cedar are not options which leaves tin as the choice. We also like the fact that mill finish (unpainted) tin has a lifespan of +50 years...in all our design choices my wife and I always start with this question, "Do we want to be replacing/painting/refinishing 'this' when we are 70 years old?" Using that question usually helps us determine how we want to build.
Halliday7895 (4 years ago)
are you eating like 15 min while doing this? that noises.... is off putting haha .cool looking off grid set up though.  its like an eco friendly free standing apartment with lofts... i wonder if little kids dream about different things when living in a small neat eco house. Many kids make little forts or have play houses, they dream of small cozy places to play build and identify with as a youth...so if you live in a really cool hip play house on steroids already... do you desire a even smaller rustic kids play house in the woods hah or the extreme opposite ... do you desire an unrealistically huge open area fort to play in haha my mind tends to wonder.... sometimes its helpful .. I guess you'll have to ask some kids who grow up in that alternative way... 
I have an answer for that...We helped our kids build a fort with scrap lumber...they played in it for a couple of weeks before they tore it apart and rebuilt it themselves. Regardless of how cool it is, there's something about doing it for themselves that brings more pride. In our new Studio/house we're building we have the kids helping design it...as a result, the 22' tall  support post running through the centre of the house is going to be used as a rock climbing post and they have also requested our spiral staircase be equipped with a slide...and we're going to take them up on both! :)
shroomhilda (4 years ago)
Is anyone else thinking about the Three Little Pigs? "I'll huff & I'll puff..."
sublBS (4 years ago)
dtfcd (4 years ago)
Curious... on your concrete countertops.... what did you seal with? I built my kitchen from scratch and poured concrete countertops... which I love. But I have had a bit of trouble keeping them fully sealed.
We use a Carnauba paste wax made by Tremax. Like the stuff they used to use on tile floors before linoleum was invented. We reapply about every 6 months just to buff it up. It's natural and looks good...only down side is if the kids stick scotch tape on the counter, it will peel off the wax (easy to re-apply more wax in that area again though to fix)
Irika Lyuche (4 years ago)
good set up, what is your fire place brand? i was looking online they have a many similar ones but what is the good one?
+Irika Lyuche Our fireplace is made by Warnock Hersey...I'm not sure about other brands, but it kicks out really good heat and I like the damper on it compared to some of the other brands we looked at. We also bought the electric fan that mounts on the back plate but rarely use it because it's quite loud.
RIL Prepper (4 years ago)
awesome tour, beautiful home! thank you!
jred1838 (4 years ago)
Thank you for allowing our intrusion. You were a fabulous host. Do you have drywall inside? If so, do you have firring strips to which you attach it?
+jred1838 The inside outer walls are parged with stucco. In the kitchen we framed in front of the stucco with 2x4 stud wall and drywalled. Any inner partitions like the bedrooms or bathroom was partitioned off using 2x4s and drywall. As a side note...we chose to do this so we could run our electrical wiring with ease. I know people do it, but I won't run electricals through straw bale walls. If we do need electricals on any of the straw walls, I always use surface mounted conduit. Just personal preference.
Edward Sarah Matthews (4 years ago)
Where did you purchase your solar panels?
We purchased 2 from a company close to Saskatoon and 4 from a company in Southern Saskatchewan. All of our panels are made by Sharp. The price of panels are dropping considerably as the years progress and more of the systems are plug and play. I don't think it matters where you buy them from as long as you've done your homework and understand what components are required and why.  That makes it harder for inexperienced companies or installers to cause you grief with under sized equipment. We chose Sharp because they have a good track record and were one of the original producers of Solar panels.
Ó Slattarra (4 years ago)
I don't know why you would want to move out into another place. Honestly.
Ó Slattarra (4 years ago)
+riverstonestudios Accommodating extra family is a good reason.
+Michael Lawson Yep. Exactly. Parents would live in the house in this video. We would live in the house we are currently building. They have their own space and Independence, but we are close to lend a hand when they need.
Michael Lawson (4 years ago)
+riverstonestudios I would consider an add-on to house the parents. Maybe even a separate structure. You could connect to the current house with an enclosed breezeway. 
Thank you. As both my wife's parents and my own get older, they are having a lot of health issues. It's our hope that at least one set of parents may want to live with us. We are looking larger to accommodate for them...to be able to give them the space to have independence but be close enough to help them when they need.
Ó Slattarra (4 years ago)
You call it a small house, but I call it a little mansion.
iFone Fan (4 years ago)
Ok confused and not judging but is he wearing a skirt at the beginning? Or some new form of dress snuggy?
No confusion. It's a skirt. War, slavery, and assembly line work changed men's wardrobe...so it's my little dig back. I also like knowing what people are made of. Some people don't notice or don't care while others don't want to associate with you...It's amazing how quick you find out what people are really made of.
naturallogicskincare (4 years ago)
Your home is SO beautiful! Super sharp. Love the design, the colors, everything. I'm so excited for all of you! What an inspiration. I'm saving this video to help with plans for my own. Love.
temhotabot (4 years ago)
I hate when people give a tour of their home and fail to show every room. It would have been nice to see the lofts. I would definitely cover/hide that eye sore of power banks by the fridge. 
Thx for the reply. You're right...should have shown the lofts.I'll have to revamp this vid sometime to include those. Maybe this winter when I have a bit more time. The power banks were set there "temporarily"...umm 3 years ago, so yeah, I'm working on covering them up (more so for safety) since they don't seem to be moving quite as quick as I'd like them too :) Thanks again for the reply!
Elrod Bogbat (4 years ago)
I just came across this.  Very nice.  Looks like a very comfy place in a beautiful location.  Enjoy
Vitality Massage (4 years ago)
Everything looks awesome but... looking at the outside of the house/property it looks as though I'd go "stir crazy" there ... especially in the WINTER!
Not pure raw. We grow sprouts and are just finishing our green house to extend the growing season but we're a mixed bunch :) - lots of raw in our diet but I'd call us closer to a Paleo. Our youngest does best as a vegetarian, wife raw, my other son and I raw or lightly steamed with meat once or twice a week - It's taken about 3 years for us to find what works best for each of our bodies.
Vitality Massage (4 years ago)
And didn't you say yall are raw foodists?  Holly shit!  Most raw foodies flock to Costa Rica or someplace WARM.  You really have to be grooven with your root veggies and have a killer root cellar.  The large varieties of squash and deep winter collards won't eat raw.  Parsnips and rutabagas won't eat raw either!  Are you all losing it or was I imagining things when I heard you was you were raw foodists?
Spring, summer, & fall are awesome. We don't get many tornados, Zero earthquakes, no tsunamis or huricanes but yeah...winters (especially this last one) suck! Love the rolling hills, plains, wide open spaces - Saskatchewan is pretty diverse in terain - but the frost went as deep as 12' this winter. tons of people (including cities) with frozen water and sewage lines. Normally the snow hits late Nov and gone by early April. This year I think it came before Halloween and forgot to leave! Many a day this winter I thought, "I could get used to a white sand beach somewhere else :)"
ApartmentTrustees.com (4 years ago)
Very nicely done ... good job.
Gardening With Puppies (4 years ago)
Very impressive. You've done a great job with it.
MelZak2day F. (4 years ago)
I am not sure if this was mentioned before.. Or in the video sorry just running by quick.. Have you looked into hemp products? I believe it is VERY similar to the hay you have used?? I am in the US but, In CA I heard its easy to come by.. You can make hempcret - Like there is a house built with it on Youtube.. Its also great for counter tops, flooring, insulation, doors,windows (except glass I think) It can be used for almost everything in building a house.. Please let me know if you have looked into it :-) Very cool idea I would loveee to live like this.. As long as I had electricity(my boyfriend is an electric guitar player too, he needs electricity lol), internet and running water I would be happy! I am glad it can be done thanks for your video and good luck on your off-grid life :)
We wish you all the best and hope you can build your dreamhouse some day. We live 100% off grid and don't have any issues with power. Ample enough for the guitars - All our son needs now is a bit more practice :)
Thanks for the reply Melissa. We don't have anyone local growing hemp. It is a very versitile material, but what is more important for us is to build with local materials and reclaimed materials. My rule of thumb is to always build with materials that are close to home - as long as you understand their limits and understand your local climate. Bale construction works great in the prairies - not so good someplace that gets 300 days of rain a year. Adobe is great for hot and dry climates - not so good here in Saskatchewan where we get - 30 temperatures mid winter. Build with what ya got for where yer at :)
SickKnowledge82 (4 years ago)
Lol best line in this video at 13:25 "They look out for our sewage for us" HAHAHA, I say let the city officials keep track of my dung for me.
Danna Gesellchen (4 years ago)
You mean…you store your guitars next to the wood heater…unhumidified?  Mine dried and cracked two rooms away!
Hey Danna, yeah, we fight to keep enough humidity in our house during the winter. I think something that helps is we have A LOT of woodwork in our house so it all helps to maintain moisture. Plus we go out of our way to boil a pot of water or two every week on the stove. We have a humidistat and try to keep the humidity between 20 and 30% - Not so easy in the dry cold winter :) but no cracks in 3 years (knock on wood)
Denise Headd (4 years ago)
Congrats on a job well done!  You guys are truly living the dream.  My husband and I are determined to live self sufficient and own/operate our own business from home! God bless you guys!! 
Nunya bidniss (4 years ago)
After watching many of these videos today. It seems that people that do this kind of things talk very intelligently and articulate. They are smart enough to know we are getting ripped off in America.Bled dry.And do something about it.   I make all my own cleaning products and many other things, buy bulk cut my own meat i do what i can.
Nunya bidniss (4 years ago)
i'm so jealous, i have the knowledge n know how, don't have property or financing
Thank you Nunya, we looked for about 5 years before finding land and a municipal governing body that would allow this type of construction. In Rural Sasktchewan, as long as you don't require a mortgage and live on enough land to be classified as rural, you can build out of code. Liability in most jurisdictions becomes the hindering point of allowing construction.
Emma S (4 years ago)
Love it! So tasteful..
Thank you Emma!
ClickToPreview (4 years ago)
This is the most THOUGHTFUL integrated design I have ever seen.  Super-KUDOS to you guys.  Your R factor inside the house must be amazing.  A woodshed air-lock?  Brilliant!  It's amazing to me that the highest cost stuff are the electronics integration and not the building itself.  What's your estimated investment payback in years for the solar/wind installation costs?  It's gotta be pushing 50 years right?
It took us 3 years buying part-by-part to set up our power system the way we needed it. This past year (year 6) we are clear sailing. It has paidback in 5 years. Our local power company wanted $15,500 for the priviledge of having a power line and transformer plowed into our yard. Rural cost of having a meter is about $50/month before you turn on any lights. We spent about $24,000 total on our system. It paid for itself within 5 years so until we have to start repairing or replacing, we really do have "free" energy since last year. :)
Sonny Dee (4 years ago)
I really love this house and set up with such great materials. Just wonderful.
Thank you Sonny!
101Fabianne (4 years ago)
Absolutely beautiful home! Did you think about using a composting toilet?
Yes. We will be continuing to post more as we have time to build. We advantages/disadvantages are tough to explain...it all depends on your location. Cob doesn't work for us because our temp swings from -40C to +35C. Strawbale is fadter to build but more manual labour required and square bales are tough to find. SLC was a good alternative with the same insulating value, breathable walls, earthy organic feel and easy to do with construction equipment. We are building round because it is better suited for decreasing wind loads in our windy area. We always live by the rule-build with local materials...A straw bale house will rot on a tropical beach and a grass hut won't keep you warm in northern climates. You have to match your materials to your climates. Everything has pros and cons...you need to know what is available to you in your area, and then build based on that.
101Fabianne (4 years ago)
+Kelly n Audrey Taylor-Faye Hi! Thank you for answering! I'm thinkig about building an eco home in a near future so I was wondering what are the advantagens and disadvantages of each option. Are you going to keep making videos on eco construction? 
We did. Most if our neighbours use composting toilets, but because we were originally looking at having a retreat centre we opted for tying on to the town sewage line which runs directly through our drive way and empties into a lagoon further down the land.
gasman4433 (4 years ago)
I would like to know how to do those counter tops.
gasman4433 (4 years ago)
will do thanks
Hey Gasman4433 - I love playing with concrete and doing the counter wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. I really like watching vids from ConcreteNetwork. Search for Fu Tung Cheng - He is a master artist when it comes to this kind of work and makes it look easy.
Richard Tijerina (4 years ago)
woodsranger2007 (4 years ago)
Very cool!
Dan LaChappelle (4 years ago)
nice blend of back to basics , and modern conviense ! Bravo! 
Missna Missna (4 years ago)
I LOVE THIS VIDEO!! Good for you and your family. One day, I plan to follow and be that way also :))
Thank you Norma. all the best!
Songwriter Chic (4 years ago)
Are you keeping a good balance of humidity in your house for your acoustic wall hangers? Keep an eye out for early warning signs of cracking or neck problems. Watch for neck trouble on the electric ones too, especially with them being so close to the wood burner. Guitars heat don't get along very well. Thanks for posting the vids about the SLC! I've been seriously considering going off grid so this was extremely helpful. Would love to see how the curved wall is coming along. Cheers!
Thank you for the comment!
Yeah, humidity is a problem. We have a humistat right by the electric guitar in the pic. Winter gets to be a problem here in Saskatchewan with or without wood heat. Guitars aren't the only issue...we have wood doors, wood roof, wood floors so we actually humidify our house regularily. Simple as leaving a pot of water on the stove every few days. We try to maintain between 20 - 30% RH. Compared my earlier days of gigs, I find travelling with guitars harder to deal with humidity issues than now. Cold vehicles, dry bars, coffee shops, etc. played way worse havic back then.
IronClad292 (4 years ago)
Fantastic use of space and a very thoughtful design!  I really appreciate the younger generations of people, such as yourself, going this direction.  Being slightly older myself, ha ha, I hope to become more informed and use this technology to become more self sufficient, especially during retirement!!  For one, it's cheaper living :)  Also, less wasteful and friendlier to our planet.....Good job!!  
CatDreaming InTheSun (4 years ago)
I love this SO MUCH!! I have been looking at smaller houses different methods of of construction etc. This is brilliant. It really is a dream home.
leopold klop (4 years ago)
Who is we ? Your boyfriend ? Homo's ?
Brad Leatherman (4 years ago)
Why does it matter?
frankie2234 (4 years ago)
What a beautiful home you have built----fantastic!!!  Thanks for sharing with us.
John Misener (4 years ago)
Small? no thats not small
David Taylor (4 years ago)
What a comfy/cozy/practical little home!  Thanks for the tour!
Thanks David.
If you are interested in seeing the before and after shots of our Straw bale house, please check out our old blog photos here: http://riverstonestudios.blogspot.ca/2010/08/two-steps-forwardno-looking-back.html Cheers! - Kelly
Lisa Carden (4 years ago)
Thank you :0)
HopeForBetterDays1 (4 years ago)
I like this.
Norris Brock (4 years ago)
Hello, I have a question.  Whats the difference between straw bale and hemp and lime that I see now? Are the walls the same thickness, thermomass, etc??
Sorry Norris, I'm not familar with hemp/lime. All I can tell you is there is a huge variance with R ratings on Straw construction. It depends on how tight your straw is, what type of straw, how well it is parged and what it is parged with. I've heard everything from R1 to R3 for thermal stop. Thermal mass is typically talked about when dealing with stone/concrete, etc. I relate thermalmass to a battery. Hard heavy objects are extremely hard and expensive to heat...but its like money in the bank. If you put 30,000 btu into a stone wall it will release 30,000 btu of heat over a extended period, so the energy has to go into the stone before it will release it and if you can capture that from sun rather than heating it yourself, all the better.
You did a great job . I have XW4024 also with 4 charge controllers ,2 Xantrex ,2 Midnite Classic's that control 2 13ft wind turbines designed for low wind so it they keep my generator from running some times for 3 or 4 months. Topped off solar 4.6 kW solar panels. Two 48'x4' thermal panels for my in floor  radiant heating.I will build a straw bale house soon . I love it. 12 years off grid.
that's awesome! Our Eco-Body Care company keeps us busy throughout the spring/summer/fall here so as we wrap up into the new year I'm itching to start sheeting the roof on our new Straw Light Clay build. Not looking forward to sheeting in the winter, but we are too busy during the warm months. I'm dreaming of the day the new build is closed in and I can start working on heating panels. 
My thermal panels were my design and just a gamble. When I looked outside and it was -20 F below in the day time and I nearly burned my hand on the pipe that was coming in from the panels I had an epiphany ,or a mind blast of realization that this was free heat and now the question was "HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT?" So I got busy on my second panel. You're dealing with collecting a given small amount, say 300watts / sq.meter. It doesn't matter how much technology you throw into it there's still only 300watts /sq.Meter With my low technology I achieved in collecting most of that 300Watts for low cost .
That's awesome. Great to hear and congrats. We're the first to say going off grid isn't easy and it sure isn't cheap, but it is the most rewarding when you things like our local power supplier increasing rates yet again another 7%.  As we continue to build our plans are for some solar heating as well. I've heard mixed reviews of evacuated solar tubes for radiant heating. How do you like yours?
DocGolres (4 years ago)
Thanks so much for the tour of you home...very nicely done indeed . I can tell you put a lot of thought into every aspect of the building process and i,m sure you learned a lot too. Are there things that you would have changed looking back ?  Thanks, take care .
CedarValleyMusic (4 years ago)
Awesome house, great studio!  
DJMagafire (5 years ago)
Beautiful home! Could you possibly explain a bit more about you water system and mostly how it is insulated? It seems that it must get cold up there, and I am curious about how you keep it from freezing.  Thanks in advance!
I'm still working on building a 1st flush system for the water we capture off the roof. On my list of good things to get done :) Once the water is in the house, we pressurize it with a traditional farm water system (jet pump, pressure tank) We filter it through a inexpensive styrofoam filter system for the house supply, and through a silver impregnated ceramic filter for our drinking supply. Other than that, all of our taps are low flow, low flush toilet, and our hot water supply is a Bosh on-demand (propane)
Thanks DJMagafire, We reclaimed a polyurethane tank and buried it 5 ft into the ground. Poly tanks don't do so well being completely buried (they collapse) so we left 1 ft above grade and built the insulated deck over top of it. Frost line here in Saskatchewan typically is 3-4'...but some winters can get as deep as 6 or 7'. So far we haven't had it freeze. During the winter we have to haul in water about once a month (1200 US gal) and there is enough stored heat in the water along with the ground insulating the tank that it does fine. The water lines from the tank to the house are also insulated and buried 5' deep. We also ran heat tape around the water lines as a precautionary measure to ensure they don't freeze up as well. We usually only plug the heat tape in when the weather hits below -20 C and there isn't much snow cover for insulation. 
Bronson Clarke (5 years ago)
FANtastic!  I'm lovin' that space and you've given me some wonderful ideas. If you don't mind me asking, how much did the straw bail house set you back?  It's very interesting indeed. With the prices out there today, it's tough to beat the system. But you've done a fab job there, from colors, to wood and slate choices. BRAVO!
Power system was about a 3 year investment (we added a bit more each year) for a total of around $23,000 CAD. After 5 years it has paid for itself as the local power provider would have charged $15000 just to run power to the house...plus monthly usage fees.
All said, the structure alone I think we roughly calculated out to cost us around $12000 CAD.  You lose track a bit building as some of the reciepts always get missed. Using reclaimed as much as possible really helps to keep the cost down...but requires time and patience.
bdosborn (5 years ago)
AGM batteries do need to be vented, do a google search on" VRLA thermal runaway" to see why.
bdosborn (5 years ago)
+bdosborn Thank you for the insight. We're in the process of building our new studio. The power system in this video will be moving into that new location and I'll definitely be building the AGM's into a vented enclosure.  Many thanks for the heads up! 
bdosborn (5 years ago)
+riverstonestudios Most of what you say is true, however, AGM batteries can and do vent if they are over charged. An AGM is a Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) battery, the valve is in case the battery is overcharged, allowing the battery gases to vent as opposed to rupturing the case. That's why there aren't ANY battery manufacturers that recommend placing AGM batteries in an un-vented area. From the Deka AGM battery literature: Can VRLA batteries be installed in sealed battery boxes? NO! Never install any type of battery in a completely sealed container. Although most of the normal gasses (oxygen and hydro gen) produced in a VRLA battery will be recombined and not escape, oxygen and hydrogen will escape from the battery in an overcharge condition (as is typical of any type battery). These potentially explosive gasses must be allowed to vent to the atmosphere and must never be trapped in a sealed battery box or tightly enclosed space!
Thanks for the comment bdosborn...AGMs can't be vented...they are completely sealed which is why they can be operated upside down and are used in underground mining operations. They are non spillable. AGMs never require topping up because the gases produced during charging recombine to become liquid again. Thermal runaway occurs when you cook your AGM battery with too much charge. The gases expand inside the sealed battery faster than they can recombine back into liquid resulting in swollen battery cases and if not caught leaking or explosive battery cases...This occurs only after several events of overcharging - which is why ya need ta match your battery bank size for the charge your putting into it. :)  Cheers, Kelly
btblou (5 years ago)
Very inspiring, well done! Thanks for sharing : )
Tim Harvey (5 years ago)
I saw your video via Owen Geiger's Natural Building Blog. Thanks for taking the time to share! I appreciate it! I saw the cedar platform in your shower and I love the idea! How do you control the funk underneath the platform?
Hey Tim, Thanks for the comment. We recycled a plastic shower pan. It was pretty beat up when we received it, so we custom built the cedar off the idea of being in a sauna. We framed and covered the outer edges with cedar trim that is silicone sealed in place. The cedar tray is built with feet underneath so the water and gunk head toward the drain. The tray lifts out when we clean the bathroom.
Thanks for the Comment Excelephant. We have A LOT of wood in our house, so humidity levels in the winter (Especially with guitars) are always a issue. We keep a humidistat actually resting on guitar rack and always try to maintain 20-30% humidity in the winter. Emphasis on the word "TRY" :) We don't always succeed so well. A pot of water on the wood stove works amazing for adding humidity. 
excelephant (5 years ago)
Man, that is cool :) Love the style and warmth throughout the home. The only problem I have with the whole setup is the uke and guitars hanging so close to your wood heater, that cannot be good for them! Thanks for a great video, we hope to build a very similar home here in Australia.
Hi Liss 54, we live in Craik, SK, Canada. We live in a rural area. We don't have a mortgage, so we don't have to prove insurability which means we also don't have to be inspected for building code. Any connection we do that is grid tied (ie: propane - was installed and inspected), but we take on our own liability for our building for everything else. You simply can't do this if you have a mortgage, insurance, or live in a populated area.
valeriayork76 (5 years ago)
My email address is [email protected]
valeriayork76 (5 years ago)
I absoluely love your warm home. Could u send me any info on what i can do to get started on one for my family please. I would be greatly appreciate it. Ty
Jason Mjolnir (5 years ago)
just fantastic, i love all the different wall pigments throughout the home.
liss54 (5 years ago)
Sorry if you already mentioned this, but what part of the country are you in? Building codes?
urgentcareguy3 (5 years ago)
Wow! This is great!
Terry Freddy (5 years ago)
Thx. Hope do something like that some day. Want to be more self sufficient and have less of a footprint and your vid shows you can do that and do it in a stylish fashion
About $12000 CAD including all finishing. There is no savings on electrical,plumbing,fixtures, etc. That is where the cost comes from. The outer shell made from straw is cheap to build...it's the finishing and services that still cost the same as any other home.
Terry Freddy (5 years ago)
Really nice! What's it cost to build something like that?

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