Keep your cabin’s water pumping, sans electricity, with this 1930’s-era, Georgia mountain DIY project! In the waning days of the Great Depression, a simple, cheap and effective water system was installed at my farm. Near the base of the blue barrel that serves as a water reservoir is another threaded fitting, where the black pipe leading down to the house slips over and is secured with another hose clamp.
Black pipe comes in 100-foot lengths, but a number of the connections have a white screw-off cap at the top.
In recent years, I had a cheap cord-wrapped water filter added to the line in the basement to strain out the mud. Maintenance consists of keeping the leaves, sand and gravel from blocking the screened intake. This system was built on a Depression-era budget and can be cheaply duplicated today by anyone who has a suitable water source available. This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN®  Issue #191. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN®  magazine are available here.
I’m excited to show you an updated tour (and new video tour and interview) with Vina and her tiny home on wheels (of Sol Haus Design) thanks to the amazing Joshua and Natsuko of Chibi Moku.
If you enjoyed Vina’s off grid tiny house story you’ll absolutely LOVE our free daily tiny house newsletter with even more! Although the West Coast is a hotbed for THOW builders, there must be someone nearer to you who’s been in the business for a while, and has satisfied customers.
Tracy, I second that comment about what one cannot have for $40k in CA (I live in the Bay Area where median house price is something like half a million, and 15 sq ft apartments in the City go for $300k). The video also goes into special features of the build of the structure itself, like the precise joinery required to avoid having ugly window and door flashing spoil her vision, and the extra height of the side walls, and 40 degree slope on the roof, allowing for more head space in the loft. I saw Vina’s house a couple of months ago and saved it because of how connected with nature everything is. This simple, but modern little cabin was recently featured in Sunset Magzine as a micro-hideaway in the woods. Sitting on pier footings similar to a deck, the inside floor measures a scant 8 by 16 feet, for a total area of just 130 square feet. Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. Leaving the house, 0.75-inch black pipe goes 720 feet up a steep mountain slope beside the house, to a pair of water barrels located in a narrow, densely wooded draw by a stream. One end is wrapped in hardware cloth and stuck in a fast-moving mountain stream; the other end is laid over the top of the black barrel between the boards and under the piece of aluminum roofing covering the tops of the barrels. Regardless of the material used for the barrels they always have a wood board or two in them to prevent them from bursting in freezing weather.


This is so that you can bleed any air pockets out of the pipe that can prevent the water from flowing.
This sort of gravity water supply is very common in my part of the mountains because it works so well.
They’re a husband and wife couple who live and travel in their RV throughout the United States (and beyond?).
And it truly begs the question, would you rather stay put and live simply in a tiny house on wheels or live and travel full time in an RV like Joshua and Natsuko?
He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. Admittedly, I have another small storage space (5×7) for my outdoor gear, art supplies and other books. I’m just finishing my tiny house on Whidbey Island, and am dreaming of hosting a tiny house community for snowbirds. I have living in my trailer for 10 years now and would never go back to living in a house or God forbid an apartment. Designed by an enterprising couple with the desire for a getaway, the pair sought to build a small home with a very limited budget, but not at the price of short-handing the planning stages.
Heat to the interior is provided by a wood stove, and by placing a bunk over the small dining space, the total floor area is kept open. My farmhouse is on a projection at the foot of a mountain and behind it is a spring that was developed for drinking water. Since there was no well point on the end of the iron pipe, it sometimes gets a bit clogged up with sand.
These were always wooden whiskey barrels in the past, but the last time they rotted out and had to be replaced the price of wooden barrels was too high, so I opted for a pair of plastic barrels obtained free from a car wash station.
A leak in a pipe or a period of disuse can easily let air in, as can adding water for the first time. The pipe is laid a couple of inches underground to prevent this, but not so far as to prevent you to hear the hissing that accompanies any leaks. If you let the intake get blocked and the barrels run dry, you will have to bleed the air out of the pipes after you clear the intake and let the barrels refill.
It is not dependent on electricity for well pumps and there is no monthly water bill from anyone. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. My only problem is if I’m not at a park the only other place to park is in a trailer park and their just terrible to live in. I just insert a 1-inch iron pipe into it, and drive it in with a 20-pound sledgehammer (swung like a golf putter).


The tops are cut out and covered with boards and a piece of corrugated aluminum roofing to keep out leaves. This pipe is only supposed to last for a couple of decades, but I still have a stretch of the original 1930s pipe near the top where the land is flatter and the water pressure less.
Just swish them around in the stream to get off the serious mud and throw them in the washing machine with the clothes. Wait until they are both full so you will have all that water pressure working for you before you start bleeding the air off. Enjoy the tour (and video) below and let me know your preferred way of living simply in the comments at the bottom.
It’s about providing lots of natural light (like in the shower and art glass in pocket door) and white walls to make it feel bigger.
Since most State and county laws restrict the use of travel trailers as a permanent residence.
I watched the video on Tiny House Swoon, and no offense to those that made this video, the Swoon video gave Vena more time to talk about all the special components of this house, and to say that she did in fact pay her friends for their work (don’t know about the boyfriend carpentry though), so the $40k DID include labor to some degree. Movable screens cover the windows nicely, and a vertical weathered cedar screen contrasts beautifully with the natural boards lined horizontally on the veranda. This was dug out and a rock wall built up with two forward-facing rock wings to hold back water and dirt. Every couple of years you may have to disconnect the barrels and turn them over to get the accumulated mud out of them. A shovel and a bucket to splash water up in them, along with a big floor scrubbing brush, are the tools you’ll need. But volunteering has it’s good side, I get to live in beautiful surroundings in trade for 25 hours work. Behind the wall, the excavated area was filled with rocks around the iron pipe, giving an area for quantities of water to be retained in a reservoir.
The large shower was hand tiled to allow for use of flexible grout to avoid cracks from being in tow.
The huge skylight window and fire egress in the loft opens bottom out OR swivels at the center and it cost $1000. Total materials required were a few bags of cement and mortar and a length of 2-inch iron pipe.



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