Blake and his wife, Alex are 23 year old newlyweds living off the grid, tiny house life in Northern Arizona. Their 400 square foot shed conversion is a testament to their creativity and resourcefulness. In this episode, Blake shares the story behind their unique home from customization details to navigating the fine line between shed and residential structure. Get ready to be inspired by their journey into tiny house living and learn all about what it takes to convert a shed to a tiny house on this episode with Blake Oelfke.
In This Episode:
- Customization Details and Challenges of Converting a Shed to a Tiny House
- Foundations for Tiny Houses: Pouring a Solid Concrete Pad versus Concrete Piers
- Blake Offkey's Off-Grid Life Journey: Moving to Northern Arizona and Planning to Build Something of Their Own
- Living Minimally – From Closing Off Rooms to Living in a Tiny House
- Installing a Septic System due to County Regulations
- Unique Toilet Options and Water Reuse Considerations
- Using Greywater and Reusing Water for Plants Outside
- Renewable Energy Setup and Its Expansion Plans: Solar Panels, Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries, and Inverters
- Off-Grid Water System: Water Storage Tank, Plumbing, and Water Pump
- Convenience of Paying to Have Water Brought in vs. Hauling it Themselves
Links and Resources:
This Week's Sponsor:
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Blake Oelfke [00:00:00]:
The shed itself at a cash price was just over $13, 000. I think it was $13, 300. And I think that's a great value bang for the buck. I know you can build them from the ground up for a lot less, but for someone who doesn't want to get into framing and structural design, for $13, 000, you've got an awesome shell that you can just start customizing right away.
Ethan Waldman [00:00:18]:
Welcome to the tiny house lifestyle podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 2666 with our guest Blake Offkey. Blake and his wife, Alex are 23 year old newlyweds living off the grid, tiny house life in Northern Arizona. Their 400 square foot shed conversion is a testament to their creativity and resourcefulness. In this episode, Blake shares the story behind their unique home from customization details to navigating the fine line between shed and residential structure. Get ready to be inspired by their journey into tiny house living and learn all about what it takes to convert a shed to a tiny house on this episode with Blake Offkey. Are you looking for a fully customizable tiny home that's stylish, comfortable, and extremely well-built? Look no further than the VIA Tiny Homes by Atomic Homes. With over 2 decades of experience constructing sets for live events for top brands like the Super Bowl and WWE, Atomic is bringing their technical expertise to the tiny home market. The homes themselves are designed by Live Connected, a team of architects and designers. And these homes are fully customizable and come in 3 finish levels, standard, modern or farmhouse. Add a bonus loft space, built-in storage, washer dryer units or even a fireplace. The Via Park Model RV is engineered to ANSI 119.5 standards and built with truly innovative techniques for increased stability, quality, and comfort. If lack of financing has kept you out of a tiny home in the past, Atomic Homes has you covered with conventional financing options available. Visit atomic tiny homes.com slash th LP to customize your design today. Again that's atomic tiny homes.com slash th LP. Thank you so much to Atomic Homes for sponsoring our show. That website again is AtomicTinyHomes.com.
Ethan Waldman [00:02:34]:
All right. I am here with Blake Offkey. Blake and his wife, Alex, are 23-year-old newlyweds living the off-grid tiny house life in Northern Arizona, which is a desert, and they are living in their mostly self-built 400 square foot shed to house. Blake off key. Welcome to the tiny house. Thank you, Ethan. It's great to be here. Yeah. I, well, I should have said welcome to the podcast. Oh, I said, welcome to the tiny house. Neither of us are in a tiny house right now.
Blake Oelfke [00:03:04]:
Ethan Waldman [00:03:05]:
yeah. Thank you so much. Great to be here. Yeah. Yeah. You're welcome. So tell me about, tell me about your house. Um, it's, it's 400 square foot, but like, you know, what are some of the features? What's the kind of basic layout? Like paint, paint the picture for us. Yeah, absolutely. So it is like you mentioned a shed to house conversion they go by many names but it's a shed house
Blake Oelfke [00:03:26]:
and it is 14 feet wide 32 feet long And we opted to do a customization build through, you know, there's a lot of companies that are regional and some more local. So we went with a company called Graceland Portable Buildings. They're kind of more on the regional level. They might be nationwide now, but we chose to do a customization build so we got to pick where our windows would go, where our doors would go, and some of the design aspects as far as stud spacing, wall height, how they do the roof, they get pretty detailed So we liked that. The overall size is, is just under 400 square foot, but I like to round up. It makes it nice and easy. Yeah. We do have a higher wall height than like a garden shed, which you might picture. So it does have that average wall height and yeah we've got 2 2 doors a front door back door and I think we have 8 windows.
Ethan Waldman [00:04:25]:
So that's that's all fascinating I've always I've really been fascinated by shed tiny house conversions. So did Graceland kind of understand that you were going to turn it into a house? Or is, or are they just like, Nope, this is a shed.
Blake Oelfke [00:04:42]:
So they walk the fine line. Yeah. And I appreciate them for that. They have their own reasonings and legalities. I'm sure they have to follow, but they make sure you sign something that, Hey, this is a shed, but obviously they're, uh, they're installing residential doors and windows where you ask them to put them and making certain modifications. They, they understand
Ethan Waldman [00:05:04]:
the idea, but I think they have to follow their own little code, if you know what I mean. Interesting. Interesting. And so are, are the studs, you know, is it, is it, are they 2 by 4 studs or they spaced, you know, 16 on center or how'd you navigate that? So they're pretty
Blake Oelfke [00:05:19]:
flexible. You can get 2x6 studs if you want to have a thicker wall, get more insulation, maybe plummet. We went with the 2x4 studs. They are 16 on center and then the floor joists are 12 inch on center and off the top of my head, I don't remember, I think they're 2 by 10s or 2 by 12s. They're only spanning 14 feet, so I think they're 2 by 10s. And they're 12 inch on center, so it's a pretty beefy floor and then all of their buildings sit on what they call runners. Okay. So they're like I think 4 by... 6 by 8 posts, 4 of them, that run the whole building. Okay. And it's kind of like a pallet if you think of it. They can pick it up with forklifts and move it around. Okay. But yeah, the framing itself is definitely up to code for a habitable structure, if not beyond code. Nice. Yeah. I was going to ask, you know, about the delivery.
Ethan Waldman [00:06:11]:
You know, how did that work? Did it just come on the back of a flatbed truck or did they have to do any assembly when it arrived?
Blake Oelfke [00:06:19]:
Yeah so with this company, another reason that we chose to go with them is they didn't have to do any assembly. There are some that come out and they have to build it on site and there's a lot more logistically involved. These are just 1 and done structures. They come out on a flatbed truck and then they have something that they call the mule, which is kind of like a two-wheeled forklift. It's really fun to watch him do it. And he lifts it up and put some roller dolly wheels under it and then kind of. Navigates through whatever yard or whatever situation you have, which for us at the time was interesting to say the least. He did a very good job at getting through the sandy desert and getting it where we want it. So, uh, And it's all pretty smooth. He was in and out of here within 2 hours.
Ethan Waldman [00:07:03]:
Nice. And what did you have to do on the ground kind of in advance to prepare? Did you have to pour concrete pad or like put some footings down or what did you do underneath the house?
Blake Oelfke [00:07:16]:
Yeah, great question. I get that 1 a lot because the best route to go would be to just pour a solid concrete pad. That way you can ensure it's level and it's going to stand over time. Some people do more of like pouring concrete piers and setting it on them. What we opted for was having AB mix is what it's referred to, but it's like gravel and sand and rock mix. We had that trucked in. I don't remember how much but it was a lot. It was a big pile And then we had a tractor come out and spread it. And I know we dumped over 5, 000 gallons of water. And 1 day we had to keep trucking in water and get that mix really wet. And then he rolled it out and packed it down with a tractor. So he created an earthen pad is what they call it. And then on the earthen pad we have large solid concrete blocks, not cinder blocks. A lot of people kind of get that confused. Those aren't as structural. So they're solid concrete blocks and we have them stacked up and then the structure sits on that. It was really important for me that the structure be raised above grade so that I could get under it. I ran all my plumbing underneath it and it was so much nicer than if I had set it straight on a concrete pad. Right. Wouldn't have been able to get under there for anything.
Ethan Waldman [00:08:30]:
Blake Oelfke [00:08:32]:
Ethan Waldman [00:08:34]:
So you basically received, you know, a building that was framed and sheathed and roofed and then you had to do all the finish work yourself, you know, insulation floors, inside walls. Uh, how long, How long did that all take?
Blake Oelfke [00:08:46]:
Yeah. So start to finish and it's interesting looking back, we're like, wow, that was fast. But when you're in the thick of it and sometimes you're dragging your feet and you're just, oh, it's never going to end. But it took us 7 months. Yeah. And like you said, I like to use the word shell. They kind of give you a shell. Yeah. And then you have to put all the guts in it. But yeah, it took us just about 7 months. Okay.
Ethan Waldman [00:09:11]:
Now, if you're willing to share, I'm very curious, you know, what the shed itself cost from Graceland and then, you know, what you, you know, put into it and basically what you spent on the, on the whole project.
Blake Oelfke [00:09:26]:
Absolutely. Yeah. I get excited about all this stuff. I, uh, I like to share it with everyone I meet. So the shed itself at a cash price was just over $13, 000. I think it was $13, 300. And I think that's a great value bang for the buck. I know you can build them from the ground up for a lot less, but for someone who doesn't want to get into framing and structural design for $13, 000 you've got an awesome shell that you can just start customizing right away. And then for the dirt works and earth and stuff to prep the site We were only in at about 300 bucks, so not bad there. And then everything inside without breaking it down too much from plumbing electrical, uh, to the interior walls, you have to frame those all the way down to the drywall and the paint, uh, working around 8, 500 is what we have inside.
Ethan Waldman [00:10:21]:
Wow. So you're, you're in a, in a house that you own outright. Yeah. Yeah. I did, um,
Blake Oelfke [00:10:29]:
have some help as far as financing with family, But I like to, yeah, I mean, it's, it's not a big bank or anything like that. So, yeah. So you're in for like
Ethan Waldman [00:10:38]:
under 25 K for
Blake Oelfke [00:10:41]:
400 square foot small home. That's yeah. Congratulations. That's definitely doable. It's definitely doable. And we, uh, we didn't use recycled materials. We talked about that a lot, kind of went back and forth, but most, if not all the materials, we actually just went through home Depot. Uh, we did try to use coupons and try to find discount things like our doors. We got 75% off cause we just kind of happened upon it. So sometimes it works out like that. Nice. And that cost is just the house and what's inside of it. Yeah. We do live off grid, So solar is an additional cost and we did have to put a septic in so that was an additional cost. Yeah. Yeah. Well,
Ethan Waldman [00:11:23]:
I want to get into... Oh yeah, absolutely. We can get into that. All that stuff. So yeah, so the land you kind of were mentioning, so did you buy a piece of land or are you...
Blake Oelfke [00:11:32]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So we bought, it's a 2 and a half acre parcel here in Northwest Arizona. And it's a remote location for some, too much of a remote location. Sometimes our family, they're like, oh, you want us to come out there, really? But it's about a 35 to 40 minute drive to the nearest town. We do have a small fuel station here where you can get some of the necessities. And that's where we haul our water from is the fuel station. They have a large well that you haul water so kind of leapfrogged to that topic but we do haul water here we don't live on a well. And we're up in the mountains to the point where the climate's a little bit better but we're not so high up that it's not not like a high altitude mountain situation. I don't know if you could see a little bit there for those who are viewing in. We do have mountains all around us which is nice but it does get hot. We do get up into the 115 120 temps for a short bit of time. Oh wow, okay. Yes, yeah it does.
Ethan Waldman [00:12:36]:
And so in your house do you do you have AC of some kind to keep yourselves cool?
Blake Oelfke [00:12:42]:
Yes, yep, and it's it's a big 1 so it is a little bit loud. That's another reason I'm recording in the car today. But yeah, we mentioned it's a 400 square foot home and we're on I think a 10, 000 BTU window unit at the time being. But it's really efficient. It's 1 of the newer ones. So it only pulls 800 watts. Yeah. Which when you live off-grid it's all about the watts. Yeah. Yeah. It's really nice, but we are looking at getting a mini split just because they're a little bit more efficient and, uh, they look better than having a window unit. Yeah. And much quieter too, because the compressor and all that, all that stuff is outside. Yeah. I'm excited about that. That's, that's going to be nice, but it does a great job. It's 69 in there when it's going to be a hundred outside today. So it's, it does good. Wow.
Ethan Waldman [00:13:30]:
Well, so, um, you're, you seem like you're in an ideal location for, for being off grid using solar, you know, Arizona, of course, known for its sunny weather. Tell me about your, your solar system design and how you approach that.
Blake Oelfke [00:13:46]:
Okay. Yeah. So I actually lived off grid 1 other time before this. Solo is before I had met my wife. And so I lived in a beat-up old camper from the 90s, way out, made this place seem like it was in town. I was like an hour and a half from civilization. And that's where I kind of stumbled upon solar and I deep dived into it. And I lived for 8 or 9 months in my dog off of 6 little solar panels. And it was a bit of a nightmare. I would never undo it if I could because it was a great experience but I would never do it again and I'd never let anyone I know do it again but It was a good learning experience and it helped me in many ways to do things over and do them the right way this time. So we do have a decent sized solar system. I am looking to expand it in the future. If you're a solar hobbyist, I feel like you're always looking to add more and grow it. But we currently have 27 solar panels. They're on our roof, and they're all 250 watt solar panels. So it's what you'd call in the industry a 5 kilowatt array. So 5, 000 watts. And then we have lithium iron phosphate or lifebo batteries and we have just under 16 kilowatts or 16, 000 watts of battery and the inverter is an MPP That's a brand you can get out of Utah from Ian with Watts 247. Shout out to them, they're great. But it's a 6.5 kilowatt inverter so we have 6, 500 watts of usable power at any given time. And that's kind of the gist of it.
Ethan Waldman [00:15:36]:
So if you were, if you're looking to expand, um, you know, are you wanting to expand your, your solar panels, your batteries,
Blake Oelfke [00:15:47]:
your inverter, all the above? Like where do you want to expand next? Eventually all of the above. We actually recently just expanded the panels. Okay. We had a pretty rudimentary setup during the construction period because we've lived on the land longer than we've had the shed. So we were in a camper and the panels were laying in the dirt and it was just terrible. So we ended up building a lean-to onto the house itself and put panels up there. Okay. So that's great. Now we have more panels and we love it. But I'm already thinking ahead. I'm like, okay, now we can get even more panels. So yeah, eventually I want to add more panels and I do want to add more battery and a second inverter. Right now we only have 120 volt. So we don't have the option to run any 240 appliances, which we don't own any, we probably never will, but yeah I am eventually wanting to look into getting an electric car because it would be really awesome to have an electric car that you could charge for free at home and commute to work. So if I ever did that I would need to get 240 so I could just get a second inverter parallel them together and then I could have 1 2240 split-phase. So I'm definitely always thinking about what I could add to it. You can kind of just keep going indefinitely you can never have too much power but right now we sit pretty comfortably yeah
Ethan Waldman [00:17:07]:
yeah yeah it would seem that you know I just looking through your pictures it looks like you have a gas range and probably not doing much heating But I would imagine that the AC is your biggest electrical draw.
Blake Oelfke [00:17:21]:
Oh, yes, it is definitely our biggest draw. And before we were living in the shed, when we were just in a little cozy camper, and we didn't have as many panels as we do now. It was rough in the summertime. We were overextending ourselves for sure. So now that we're in a, the key thing is being in an insulated dwelling and having it sufficiently insulated and then having enough panels to, to
Ethan Waldman [00:17:46]:
compensate for it. Yeah. So I was curious about your kit. Um, you know, I, I haven't done solar myself. And you know, I, I frequently see, you know, basically all over the place on Amazon, Alibaba express, like Harbor freight anywhere. Like you can buy like a kit, you know, I, and I just actually Googled it while you were talking like 5 kilowatt solar kit. And there's companies that'll sell you the panels, the inverter, the wiring, everything.
Ethan Waldman [00:18:12]:
Did you go that route or did you piece it together yourself? And I'm curious why either way.
Blake Oelfke [00:18:19]:
Yes, so I did all of it DIY. The kits are convenient but there's a high price tag for that conveniency and 1 thing I found unfortunately just due to the nature of business, is that they kind of over inflate some of the details. They make it seem like it's everything you need, but it's really not. So I've found that people who do go that route, well unfortunately they'll pay a premium price and then still not have as good of what they could have had had they pieced it together themselves. Okay. So it all depends on the level of commitment or knowledge you're willing to learn to do something. I think with all things, the more you can do yourself, the more money you'll save for sure.
Ethan Waldman [00:19:08]:
Especially in solar. Yeah. That seems like that is the case.
Blake Oelfke [00:19:13]:
Yeah. That's why it's best to just get on YouTube and hop on your favorite podcast, listen to Ethan here and just learn as much as you can and you'll save a lot of money. Yeah. Is there a particular
Ethan Waldman [00:19:26]:
like YouTube channel or, or, you know, person that you followed who, who helped you on the solar front?
Blake Oelfke [00:19:33]:
Absolutely. Will Prouse out of Las Vegas. Okay. I think it's if you just search Will Prouse YouTube, he'll pop up. He's a big big guy on there. So he has helped me. I mean he explains it down to the basics of what a volt is, what a watt is, what an amp is all the way up to, this is how you install, you know, a giant system. So he'll, he'll get you covered from step a through Z. That's awesome.
Ethan Waldman [00:19:58]:
Is there anything that you, Um, wish you had done differently in your, in your solar build?
Blake Oelfke [00:20:06]:
I wish I had done it right the first time. Not that I necessarily did it wrong, but like I mentioned in the construction phase, I like, well, let's just take what we got and lay it out and literally on the ground and just get going. But that ended up not working in our favor in the long run. We have wild, well not wild, but we have free range cattle that roam through the area. Okay. So laying the panels out in the ground without having a fence, not, not a great idea. It didn't work out so good, but we look back and laugh and it's all good now, but yeah, definitely plan ahead. And if you're going to sit down and do it, do it right the first time. Okay. Yeah, that's good. And so when you were building,
Ethan Waldman [00:20:53]:
you know, I'm hearing you say that you're like 40 minutes to the nearest, you know, nearest store and, um, you're off grid. Did you have like a gas generator for the build or were you using solar for your build too?
Blake Oelfke [00:21:08]:
Yeah, that kind of plays into why I rushed it a little bit. We did have a generator for a very short amount of time. We didn't use it very much. Okay. Didn't have to. So yeah, a lot of the build was on solar. A lot of the power tools, if not all of it, was on solar. So it was kind of me jumping the gun and not wanting to use the generator because I'm like, well, we have all this solar, let's use it. So we threw it together and, uh, it worked, you know, everything got us through and we didn't have to spend a lot in gasoline. Nice. Yeah, that's awesome. And I suppose you have the generator now
Ethan Waldman [00:21:41]:
in case, uh, in case you ever need it.
Blake Oelfke [00:21:45]:
Yeah. It's always good to have for backup and the way everything is set up I can plug in basically plug in my house and everything will be on the generator. Cool. Well
Ethan Waldman [00:21:55]:
So you mentioned briefly Having to put in septic and then also kind of in my notes. I have that you are doing gray water recycling. So, um, tell me about that. Cause I know that, you know, also Arizona, also not known for a lot of rainfall. So I'm sure, you know, any water that you can hold onto, it's worth it. How are you doing that?
Blake Oelfke [00:22:19]:
Yeah, absolutely. So as far as the septic, we originally, when we started all this planning, which was over 2 years ago now, I want to say. I mean, we started it, we owned a house and we were living in it, and we just started thinking about how we can change what we're doing, how we can be more environmentally conscious and friendly and how we can also benefit us by saving money and all these different factors play into why you're doing what you're doing and how you're gonna do it. So we really wanted to not have a septic system. We wanted to have a composting toilet and we wanted to reuse our gray water that was a big thing for us. Yeah. And unfortunately sad to say it didn't all work out that way. We went back and forth with our county on the composting toilet aspect and although it is perfectly legal and there's plenty of examples, they do have the right to interpret the law. Each county in Arizona can interpret the same Arizona law and it's up to them how it's interpreted. So unfortunately, we didn't want to fight the great fight. We were, we gave in after a few months. And we just said, okay, we'll get the septic. And even at that point I was being stubborn and I said, well, I'll install it myself, which they do allow through some red tape and you save many thousands of dollars. But I also lost that battle when I realized what all it was going to entail. Yeah. It's a big project to take on and hats off to anyone who's done it. So we did hire it out. That's pretty much the only thing we hired out. So we had a contractor come in, start to finish and he installed it. It was $7, 500, Which I'm told is a good deal, but it hurt the wallet for sure.
Ethan Waldman [00:24:19]:
Yeah, definitely. I think there, I mean, I would imagine that it's like where you are, it's a pretty simple dig.
Blake Oelfke [00:24:26]:
Yeah, they, they do run into something called Caliche, which is a really tough, hard sediment, which is 1 of the factors to why I chose not to do it myself. Once you hit that, it's like rock and you have to have equipment to bust it up. But outside of that, it is fairly simple. We did watch him do it. And then you kind of go, Oh, I could have done that. Right. I mean, do you, you basically have to rent an excavator? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And then as far as the gray water that you mentioned, yeah, 1 of the big contributing factors to that, I didn't know a lot about it, but Art Ludwig, he writes a book, Creating an Oasis with Greywater. And I'm not a book person. I've never been when I can't sit down and read. I can listen. But that book, Once I got my hands on it, I couldn't put it down. I actually ended up getting his second revised sixth version and another book that he has. So I'm a big fan of his writing and great water recycling. And we're very fortunate in Arizona. I'm not sure about other states. I know more and more are kind of working on it, but Arizona has always been really an advocate for water recycling. And so they do have a law all across Arizona about what you can do with your water and they're pretty lenient on it. So you can do just about anything with your gray water and with rainwater.
Ethan Waldman [00:25:51]:
And so what are you doing with it?
Blake Oelfke [00:25:54]:
So the, the septic system we had to get because of code and permitting. So the only thing hooked up to it is our toilet. That's it. Just 1 toilet and it's got a vent pipe everything else is recycled or reused and the way that it's being done is a really simple system, it's it's Get what that's called in the book right now, but it's like a branched system. But each outlet, like a sink or a shower only has 1 path. So the shower goes to tree A and then the bathroom sink will go to a tree B and C and so there's many direct paths but they're not all integrated into 1 system so each water outlet is its own system. We are talking about having the kitchen sink because it's a dual sink. It has the left side and right side. We're talking, me and my wife are trying to decide whether to have 1 side be gray water to like a bush and then the second side be hooked into the septic because it is nice. You know, she does a lot of cooking and baking and you know, greases and oils and stuff. It would be nice to dispose of them into the septic because it does get kind of gummy and stuff when you, when you just put it out into a, like a basin for a tree. So that's, that's something we're thinking about doing. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:27:21]:
Now, is there any like option to maybe like flush your toilet with gray water?
Blake Oelfke [00:27:27]:
There is, there is a lot on that. They even, uh, We found a really cool toilet that they make in another country, I think in Germany, and the back of the toilet bowl is a sink. So you wash your hands kind of awkwardly standing over your toilet to wash your hands. And then the water that you washed your hands with filled the back of the toilet, which then you could flush with. So there's a neat option that we thought about. A little bit too niche for us. But it's very cool that the option's out there. And then other people do kind of plumb their sink for their bathroom into their toilet. There's a little bit more logistically involved. You have to kind of pump or pressurize the water upward. And depending on what you use the sink for, little globlets of toothpaste and stuff can kind of cause a problem. So there is a lot out there to research and to learn about but for us we did just choose to have it just go outside and benefit a plant. But when you do all that you have to be sure that you're using certain soaps. So my wife she makes her own soaps which is really cool and that helps a lot because you can choose what you're putting in and what you're not putting in. But if you're gonna buy from the store, there's a lot of pH neutral soaps for the soil level and they don't have harsh detergents. Many of them are fully natural, and they'll even say that they can be biodegradable. But what's even better is to go a step further and find bioactive soils, because rather than be neutral, they're going to benefit your soil. Because ultimately, if you're going to reuse the water, it's not just as simple as, well, get it out of the house, but you want whatever it's going to benefit the plant, which will in turn benefit you and benefit your environment. So there's a lot of deep diving research involved in all that. It's a lot of fun if you enjoy it. Seems like it seems like it and seems like there's a lot of a lot of possibility
Ethan Waldman [00:29:22]:
in that department.
Blake Oelfke [00:29:24]:
And yeah, absolutely.
Ethan Waldman [00:29:26]:
So you mentioned hauling water. I was curious, like, what is that process like Kind of like walk me through what you have to do.
Blake Oelfke [00:29:34]:
Yeah, for sure. So it's, it sounds a lot scarier than it is, but it's really simple. So when we first started, we just had a trailer with a 525 gallon water tank on it, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it is quite a bit of water. And we would just tow it, which I think it's only 5 miles each way. So it's a 10 mile round trip. It's not very far for us. And to fill that was a dollar and 25 cents. And it's from a local aquifer. It's very fresh. It's you can drink it. It's all tested regularly so it's good water and so then we Hook up the trailer go fill it for a dollar 25 bring it back And then we were pretty primitive when we first got started out here. We just had a garden hose that we connected it to, and then the garden hose went to our camper that we were living in, and that has its pump to pressurize everything. But now things have kind of evolved. So instead of a 525, we actually have a 2, 500, great big, it's about 9 feet tall, cylindrical water storage tank. And so we were still hauling with the smaller tank, it filled a large 1, it was like 5 or 6 trips, but we would fill it. And then from there, instead of a garden hose, we're upgraded now. So we have actual plumbing underground. All the plumbing is PEX, and we have a 1 horsepower water pump that pressurizes all the lines to all of our faucets and showers and everything. So Once you're inside the house, it's like everything's normal. You have just like you would in a city. But to fill the 2, 500 gallon tank, if we were hauling ourselves with the 5 or 6 trips, it's like 6 bucks. But we did just for convenience. Convenience always has its cost. For $100, there's a local individual in the community who has a large truck with a big 2, 500 gallon water tank. And she goes and fills it and just pumps it all in 1 go. So we do that every 3 months and it's a hundred bucks. So for $33 a month, it's, it's more money, but it's very convenient that I don't have to haul anymore myself. It's still trucking. Yeah. It's a nice convenience to have. So.
Ethan Waldman [00:31:46]:
Very nice. Very nice. Yeah. And I guess again, like, do you ever have freezing temperatures where you are?
Blake Oelfke [00:31:53]:
We do. Although it's, it's pretty rare. I, I come from Minnesota, so I'm used to the frost line being way down there. So I did all of my plumbing fairly deep compared to what I've... I've talked to some neighbors that they're like, oh, my main line's about 3 inches under the soil. And I was like, oh, mine... I went down 2 feet just to be safe. So a little bit of overkill there, but yeah, for our pipes, we do have them insulated, wrapped when they're exposed and then the ones on the ground are fairly deep. Okay. Yeah, yeah. Not that it's needed, but it's nice to have the peace of mind.
Ethan Waldman [00:32:25]:
What brought you from Minnesota to Northwestern Arizona?
Blake Oelfke [00:32:30]:
Well, that is actually where my wife is from. She was born and raised here. And after we got married, we decided, I decided, oh, let's take the wife back home and meet the family. So I took her back to where I was from. And we bought a little house and started settling down. And we enjoyed it. But when winter rolled around, it's not as fun as an adult as it is when you're a kid. You remember what winter was like and you think it's fun, but it's tough to work in. And so we ultimately started considering our options and that's where we decided to go off grid and to be more self-sufficient, self-reliant and to build something of our own. So that's where we started the whole planning phase. And on that note, actually, I have an anecdote I like to tell. What we did is we had about an 860 square foot house, 2 story, because they have basements there, so finished basement. We were realizing we weren't using most of this house, me, her, and the dog. There were so many rooms full of things, but we weren't using the things, we weren't using the room. So we decided to challenge ourselves that we would start taking everything out of a room, selling it, getting rid of it, donating it, and then closing off that room and not using it. And 1 by 1, we were shutting down parts of the house until we literally lived in our spare bedroom. We utilized the kitchen and bathroom, but we lived in 1 bedroom, which is smaller than our current bedroom. And I think that's really what opened our eyes and prove to ourselves, like we can do this because when we move into the tiny house, it's going to be a mansion compared to what we're doing. And was it, that's definitely a challenge that I
Ethan Waldman [00:34:14]:
would say, try it if you're considering going tiny and you can describe yourself. Nice. It's free room to, to see it. Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. And III definitely recommend that people do that, that kind of thing as well when they're living in a bigger house and trying to figure out whether they can do it.
Blake Oelfke [00:34:33]:
Ethan Waldman [00:34:34]:
It's a fun exercise. So, um, do you and your wife have any plans to, you know, expand the house or is this like, are you thinking that you'll be here forever or until you need something different?
Blake Oelfke [00:34:47]:
Yeah, that's a great question. So we do see this as our forever home. My wife, Alex designed pretty much everything about it. From like pen and paper on up. She was the big designer. And I mentioned earlier that we built like a roof, a lean-to addition to the house to put solar panels on. But when we built it, we were kind of thinking ahead. So we built it to be strong enough that we can frame it in and it'll be an actual livable addition. Okay. That would double the house. We would be up to 800 square feet at that point. I don't know if I can call it a tiny house, but that is the goal. We are going to probably not this year, but next year start working on that. And then we would have a guest bedroom or maybe an office and then a larger dining room. Cause that's kind of something that we didn't, we didn't build, we didn't plan on and we don't necessarily need it. But when we have family over, it would be nice to have a large dining room table In the works. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman [00:35:49]:
Awesome. Well, Blake Oelfke, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. It was really great to meet you and I just love what you're doing there.
Blake Oelfke [00:35:57]:
Thank you so much, Ethan. It was great to be here. Coming From a long time viewer to now being on the show, it's like a dream come true. Full circle. Awesome.
Ethan Waldman [00:36:06]:
Well, um, I love, you know, on that note, I do love interviewing listeners who have done the tiny house thing. So you know, if you're out there, if you're like Blake and you're like, Hey, I listened to your show and I built a tiny house, get in touch with me. Podcast at the tiny house.net and I'd love to interview you too. But Blake,
Blake Oelfke [00:36:27]:
thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks for having me. I had a great time.
Ethan Waldman [00:36:33]:
Thank you so much to Blake Offkey for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes, including a complete transcript and some videos from Blake's YouTube channel. Blake shared a tour of his whole solar setup, And you can find that in the show notes at the tiny house.net slash 266. Again, that's the tiny house.net slash 266. Also check out our sponsor this week atomic tiny homes at atomic tiny homes.com slash th LP, they are building some incredible homes. They offer traditional financing and they can deliver a tiny home to you really quickly. I'm really excited about working with them. So make sure to check them out as well. Well, that is all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the tiny house lifestyle podcast.
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