Quixote Off-Grid Cabin Under $5000

Introduction: Quixote Off-Grid Cabin Under $5000

About: I am a long time off-grid homesteader and I live year round in a solar cabin I designed and built myself. I use solar and wind power, passive solar heat and water, and a solar composting toilet. I like to he…

I am a long time off-grid homesteader and designer of small (under 400 sqft) cabins and houses for off-grid living and DIY builders. I recently came across a website that showed a fantastic little cottage style cabin that was being built to house homeless people in Olympia, Washington in the Quixote Village project. I tried to research the cottage design but nothing was available and there were no inside pictures or dimensions to be found. So I took it upon myself to design this 10x20 cottage inspired by the work on their website: http://quixotevillage.com/

This Quixote cottage/cabin is designed for off-grid living, recreation-vacation use, or as a guest or mother in law apartment and is simple enough in design that it could be built by anyone with basic construction skills.

As with any construction project please check with your county before building. In many rural areas small non-permanent structures up to 200 sqft and not connected to utilities can be constructed without building permits. These Quixote plans are not designed for grid code and your use of these plans is voluntary and you assume all risk. If you do not agree to that DO NOT use these plans.

For many more cottage and cabin designs, off-grid projects and even a tiny house contest with cash prizes please visit my website: http://www.simplesolarhomesteading.com

Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/solarcabin

If you would like the completed sketchup file with 3D modifiable Quixote model and framed model go here:


Step 1: Foundations

The Quixote cottage is designed to be built as a non-permanent or permanent structure and can be placed on a cement pad, deck block or permanent pier system.

There is adequate information online for pouring cement pads so here I show the layout for a deck block or pier system:

Picture 1 is a non-permanent deck block (Dekblock) system using cement deck blocks placed on a 3 inch bed or trench of gravel. The deck blocks should not be more than 7 feet apart. Soil under the blocks must be packed and solid. The floor joists and floor frame will fit directly inside the grooves on the deck block. The floor frame must also be anchored to the ground with sufficient hurricane tie down straps.

Picture 2 is the pier system. Using Sonotubes pour the piers to below the frost line. Piers should be no more than 7 feet apart in solid virgin soil. The foundation beam support should be a 10" X 20' and you can use two 2"x10"x20' to construct the beam support. The floor joist frame will sit on top of the beam support and must be attached with hurricane tie down straps.

Deck block or pier anchor supports shown in pics 3 and 4 are available at any building supply store.

Step 2: Floor Framing

The floor frame is constructed of 2"x 8" lumber using nails and steel joist hangers and braces. Floor joists are placed on 16 inch centers.

You will need sixteen 2"x8"x10' for the floor joists and two 2"x8"x20' for the frame plate.

Steel joist hangers shown in picture 2 make hanging joists much easier and are recommended.

Step 3: Floor Sheathing

The sub-floor can be of any good quality wood material but 3/4 tongue and groove wafer board 4'x8' sheathing is recommended. Alternate the seams and use good wood cement between the joists and the sub-floor to prevent sagging and squeaking.

Step 4: Side Walls

Side walls are 8 feet high by 16 feet long and constructed from 2"x6" lumber on 16 inch center. Double top plate, single bottom plate and California corners to allow more insulation.

Windows can be any size and framed and placed wherever you want them in the side-wall or end-walls.

Step 5: Rear End Wall

The rear end wall is a gable wall and window placement is optional.

Step 6: Front Entrance Wall

Front entrance gable wall is shown with a standard 3'x6'8" door opening and 2'x3' window opening. Door and window placement is optional.

Step 7: Roof

The roof is constructed from 2"x6" lumber. The roof is a 6/12 pitch gable end roof with 1 foot overhangs. The roof is 22 feet long and 3 foot pitch to the center beam.

Picture 3 shows the birds-mouth rafter cut.

Picture 4 shows the rafter angle cut. The angle is cut 2 and 3/4 inches.

The rafters must be attached using rafter hangers and/or birds-mouth cuts and must be attached to the walls securely with rafter hurricane ties like those shown in pics 5 and 6.

Step 8: Porch

The porch supports the roof overhang and is constructed from 4"x4"x8' corner posts and 2"x4" lumber. If you are using the deck block foundation you will probably need to adjust the height of the steps.

The corner posts are secured to the front corners of the roof using hurricane ties shown in picture 4.

Step 9: Framing Completed Ready for Insulation

These pictures show the completed framing and it is ready for sheathing and insulation.

You can use any approved insulation you want but I recommend R19 batt insulation and I prefer Formaldehyde free insulation. The floor can be insulated with batt or spray in foam insulation or foamcore insulation would work.

A radon barrier placed under the structure is recommended and radon barrier material is available at any building supply store.

Under the sheathing I recommend a vapor wind barrier. Tyvec is a common barrier and if you want to go cheaper heavy duty roofing paper will work as a vapor and wind barrier.

Step 10: Sheathing and Roofing

Wall sheathing can be any good quality material and I recommend T1-11, clapboard siding or board and batten siding that can be painted, stained or left natural.

I recommend metal roofing over 5/8ths wafer board roofing or tar paper and shingle roofing

The skirting material can be any good quality material and roofing tin or vinyl trailer skirting or wood siding will make a nice skirting for the house to seal out cold drafts.

Step 11: Interior Finish Ideas

How you design the interior is up to you but here are a few pictures for ideas. I show the house with drywall interior walls and a partition wall to enclose a 4'x9' bathroom.

Picture 1 shows the entire floor plan

Picture 2 shows the Murphy (fold down) bed and office desk.

Picture 3 shows the large kitchen and food prep area with mini-fridge, propane range, propane furnace, and double basin sink with lots of storage. There is a clothes armoire next to the fridge not shown in the picture.

Picture 4 shows the Murphy bed converted to a dining table with room for 5 people.

Picture 5 shows the bathroom with 3'x3' shower stall

Picture 6 shows the bathroom sink, wall cabinets and toilet. For off-grid use I would recommend a commercial composting toilet, on-demand water heater and a fresh water storage tank under the bathroom sink.

The house can be arranged and decorated any way that pleases you and this is just one of many layouts possible.

Step 12: Take It Off-Grid

The Quixote cottage/cabin is designed for off-grid use and I recommend a small solar power package for electricity.

Picture 1 shows a 400 watt solar panel system on the roof.

Picture 2 is the battery storage area under the front porch for your batteries, power controller and inverter. Locked of course for security.

Picture 3 is the propane tanks stored securely in a bench seat on the front porch.

Picture 4 shows the bench closed and the battery storage area locked.

Step 13: Video Walk-through

This is the walk-through of the Quixote Cottage showing the many features including my ideas for interior design and the framing features.

Step 14: Summary of the Quixote Cottage Project

My vision is to help all people everywhere to have affordable and safe housing that is sustainable and energy efficient. Our future depends on it!

That is my 14x14 off-grid cabin in the picture where I live full time. I have been living off-grid for over 15 years in a small 14x14 cabin I built myself for under $2000. I have no house payments and no monthly utility bills. My solar electric system is 580 watts solar and a 400 watt wind turbine. I have a small propane on-demand water heater and cooking stove and wood stove back up and I use passive solar heating and passive cooling. Downstairs is a living area, bathroom, dining area and kitchen. Upstairs is a large bedroom and office.

I own a small local business and I am a writer and designer of off-grid projects. My cabin designs have been featured in Mother Earth News, Treehugger, Dwell, and have appeared in Lloyd Kahn's book "Tiny houses- simple shelter" and in numerous other publications. I have over 7 million views of my cabin and off-grid designs on youtube.

These small houses like the Quixote cottage/cabin are well designed for off-grid living and suitable for a couple of people. The larger cabins like mine are suitable for a small family and all of the houses I design can be made larger or have additions added later when you have the money or need more room. Smaller houses like these that are well insulated can be heated and cooled very inexpensively.

I have estimated the material costs for the framed and sheathed Quixote cottage to be under $5000. That does not include interior furnishings, appliances or the solar and propane system. Costs will vary by area and materials used.

These small houses are perfect for a permanent off-grid house, vacation cabin, guest house, office, or mother-in-law apartment and many cities and rural area allow ancillary structures like these but always check your codes before building.

If you would like to have the Sketchup file that includes both the framed and 3D modifiable plans for the Quixote cottage it is available here: http://www.simplesolarhomesteading.com/quixotecottage.htm

If you would like to view my cabin and other small house designs please visit my website:


Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/solarcabin

I hope you enjoyed the Quixote house plans and please leave a rating and comment and feel free to ask any questions.


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    Reply 1 year ago

    Very much like the design, LaMar. Thanks for sharing it. Might I ask if the plans for YOUR cottage home are available? I'm intrigued by the description you posted above.

    I am military and unable to homestead at the moment, so I am working on sharpening my skills with hammer and saw and reading up on how-to, but your cottage home sounds almost perfect for what I'd like to put together someday.

    Thank you.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, LaMar. I read through a bunch of stuff on your site last night but didn’t see the cabin you live in specifically mentioned. It’s probably in one of your books. I’ll find it when I order them. Merry Christmas!

    very cool house. looks like you have the life. we took an old barn shaped shed, put in a loft and paneled the inside. sleep in loft and have camp sink and toilet. nothing too fancy like yours but it is good enough til we can build cabin on property.

    LaMar Solarcabin
    LaMar Solarcabin

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks friend- I like barn style houses. More headroom in the loft. My cabin isn't really fancy. Lots of recycled materials. Keep in touch and I would love to see some pics of your cabin!


    Reply 6 years ago

    awesome information! My husband and our son (16) and I are purchasing property in Kenai, Alaska to live off the grid. We are both driving our trucks me pulling our camper (to live in while we build our house,16 by 24 two story) and my husband pulling a trailer with all of the construction materials (lumber,insulation etc) to build our house. We currently live in NC and found that the cost of lumber/building materials are cheeper here than in Alaska, so we are going to take everything with us! Looking at an 1800 watt solar system with a backup generator. Chainsaw with the mill attachment. Also looking for a solar wind turbine system as well. Oh my we are so excited and leaving on June 30th 2016! To start LIVING OUR DREAMS! We will build our greenhouse and smoker and hen house and eventually a Sauna! We plan on turning the camper into a bath house, shower,toilet,washer and dryer, as i dont want these things inside my house. (I grew up with an outhouse) My husband has experience in building houses and our son and I will help him. We look forward to our new way of life, i grew up hunting and fishing with my Daddy and my older brother (trapping too) and look forward to filling our freezer! Now,if i could figure out how to make my Toilet paper HAHAHA, just kidding!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    this is great ! I purchased your e-book several years ago, I am gonna get out of this old trailer and get to it. all your info is very helpful.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Housing rental is becoming very expensive and so the need for tiny and small house for small families in PNG become very important and I can see you have the heart for this type of houses. Thank you so much for having it on the web for people like us far away in the Pacific to see it and learn and understand it better.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Housing rental is becoming very expensive and so the need for tiny and small house for small families in PNG become very important and I can see you have the heart for this type of houses. Thank you so much for having it on the web for people like us far away in the Pacific to see it and learn and understand it better.

    If you like designing small houses under 400 sqft I am running a contest on my website (see links above) with some great prizes.


    I also have a design for a 10x16 Thoreau style cabin that can be built for under $1000 here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Thoreau-Off-Grid-Cabin-Design-Under-900/