A $6,000 Off-Grid Home: ‘Take Control Of Your Life,’ Builder Says


Halpin filled in and around the tires with a mixture of adobe, sand, straw and water. He explains that each tire is about 90 percent compacted with the adobe mixture and weighs about 300 pounds. He will plaster the exterior of his tire walls.

He discusses his plans to create a 10-inch “cooling tube” to bring in cool air in the summer as well as an operable window to let out heat. “I will let convection and science work as my air conditioning system,” he says.

In the rear of his living space, Halpin will build a loft bed with a closet underneath it. In front will be a small kitchen and dining area. “I will basically be camping with a roof until I upgrade my systems,” he says.

Halpin also plans a 10-foot-by-12-foot aquaponics system where he will utilize grey water to grow his own food. He says his greenhouse will boost both the heating of his living space in the winter and the cooling in the summer.

“The most important system — especially here in the high desert mesa — is the water system,” he stresses. “We get seven inches of precipitation a year here — if we’re lucky … I am designing a system that is high enough to be gravity fed.”

He also is including an outlaw septic system that will overflow outdoors to irrigate a garden of native species and “other plants you wouldn’t expect” in a desert area.

Halpin says it has taken him “baby steps” to get where he is in terms of living off the grid, but he encourages others to follow his example.

“No matter where you are, it is possible to get to this point,” he says, adding that he began his journey to a sustainable lifestyle by making a series of small budget-friendly and earth-friendly changes. For example, he began by reducing his use of plastic, a change that affected his diet and health as well as his wallet.

“Just start locally and work on yourself a little at a time,” he advises. “It will just start snowballing.”

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