Chris Strathy cover

Is there anything cooler than taking a shower in your own waterfall? This week, Chris Strathy comes back to the show to tell us about his treasure trove of fun, off-grid projects. We talk about his redneck hot tub design, building an underground hobbit house, rehabbing an old log cabin, and so much more. Stick around to be inspired and hear all of the good wisdom that The Capable Carpenter has to offer.

In This Episode:

  • The Strathy homestead is a permaculture dream
  • What can you salvage from an old farmhouse?
  • The Hobbit House, a-door-able office, and other homestead features
  • How to build your own redneck hot tub
  • Plans for the upcoming house

Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Chris Strathy

Chris Strathy

Chris Strathy builds tiny, alternative, and off-grid. He also loves outdoor living projects and all things REUSE! Chris lives fully off-grid in the Blue Ridge foothills as he and his family start a small homestead.


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More Photos:

The redneck hot tub is the affordable DIY solution for a nice hot soak

Chris likes to use as many salvaged materials as possible

This home office is absolutely a-door-able!


This outdoor kitchen setup is sweet!

There are 3 springs and a waterfall at the homestead

One of the water catchment systems at the homestead


Chris's homestead sits on 15 acres of old tobacco farmland

The redneck hot tub 2.0 in Yucca Valley, California


Ethan Waldman 0:00

What do you do with all that stuff? Like where do you even store it again? How do you keep it from...?

Chris Strathy 0:05

Man, right now that is the big hole in my heart. Buying stock and tarps is probably a good idea. Get a little stock tip for you people.

Ethan Waldman 0:15

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 206 with Chris Strathy. Chris Strathy is back because he is just a treasure trove of fun off grid building projects. In this interview, we talk about his redneck hot tub design, living off grid in a camper, building a an underground Hobbit house, rehabbing an old log cabin, and so much more. You'll just be inspired by this conversation. And I truly hope that you stick around and hear all the good wisdom that Chris Strathy has to offer.

I'd like to tell you about the sponsor of today's episode, PrecisionTemp. PrecisionTemp is making one product to solve two issues that I know everyone deals with - running out of hot water and heating your tiny house or skoolie. PrecisionTemp has made the amazing TwinTemp Junior propane tankless water heater, which provides unlimited hot water for your tiny house and hydronic heating. This means you get warm, heated floors, so there are no cold spots. It's designed specifically for tiny houses and features whisper quiet operation as well as high efficiency. If you want more information on how PrecisionTemp can make tiny living easier and more comfortable, visit While you're there, use the coupon code THLP for $50 off any PrecisionTemp unit plus free shipping. That website again is coupon code THLP for $50 off any PrecisionTemp unit plus free shipping. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.

Right. I am here with Chris Strathy. Chris strathy builds tiny, alternative, and off grid. He also loves outdoor living projects and all things reuse. Chris lives fully off grid in the Blue Ridge foothills as he and his family start a small homestead. Chris Strathy, welcome back to the show.

Chris Strathy 2:33

Hey, Ethan. Thanks for having me back.

Ethan Waldman 2:35

You're welcome. I've been I've been wanting you back for - baby, I want you back! - for so long. Because like, you know, you're in Tiny House, Engage my online community, and just like I feel like every week, you're like, posting some picture of a sweet carpentry or building project that that you're working on.

Chris Strathy 2:54

Yeah, I'm having a lot of fun. Yeah, working on some really cool just a little bit of everything. Having a blast specially on the land. Just kind of my tradition. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 3:03

Yeah. And it seems like you've got awesome client projects going and awesome kind of personal projects going how do you how do you find the time? How do you balance?

Chris Strathy 3:15

Oh, man. Well, time has definitely yeah, that's what I value the most. So it's I've - a day at a time. The land's taken a while. We've had it for over a year. And just even getting the driveway in was just a day at a time. It was like the wettest year ever. And we actually had to cross a real wet spot to get in there. And then just it's kind of just a day at a time with all of it. So big expectations to be in our house already and we're just getting started.

Ethan Waldman 3:44


Chris Strathy 3:45

We're just kind of breezing. Yeah, we're having fun. Same way with customer projects kind of one at a time. I get to speak with all these people and do like long months of planning and then the job itself is just a few weeks. I get to post all the fun pictures and share those.

Ethan Waldman 4:04

Nice. Well tell me so I figured we'd start with the homestead because I think last time we had you on the show that was before you guys had bought that land. What was on the land when you when you bought it? Was it like completely just wooded and undeveloped, or was there some stuff there?

Chris Strathy 4:25

No. So the only I guess official structure was 120 year old tobacco barn.

Ethan Waldman 4:31


Chris Strathy 4:32

Like a log cabin style tobacco barn that was never chinked and they would hang tobacco in it to dry it.

Ethan Waldman 4:40


Chris Strathy 4:40

Really cool. It's in really great shape still there. So the land we purchased, what was a tobacco farm, kind of original homestead 1800s homestead that somebody purchased 30 years ago and then they split it in half. I have a neighbor that owns about 15 acres. A really great dude. And then I have the other half of that.

Ethan Waldman 5:06


Chris Strathy 5:06

It's beautiful. It's all terraced. But it was all tobacco farm. And really that's it. There's lots of hardwoods, it's been selective logged a few times, lots of walnut, lots of poplar. But yeah, it's a kind of a permaculture dream because it's a hillside in the foothills. It's a southern exposure, and it's all terraced. And we have three springs that come out of the ground, kind of at the highest point on our property. So as we start planning and trying to really make a go at homesteading, it's just really is a dream come true as far as the piece of property. But yeah, it's we're getting going on it. But as far as building anything official, we haven't really got there yet. As far as infrastructure, we got like 1000 feet, a road, all the culverts and drainage and drying out that lower bar and actually just drilled the piers for the house that hopefully we'll start next week. Getting ready to frame it up. Gotta get going on that. So yeah, it's been an adventure.

Ethan Waldman 6:17

Hey, it's Ethan. At this point in the recording, Chris and I got disconnected. And so when we got connected back up, I asked Chris to just recap a little bit of what he was saying. So you might hear him repeat a couple of things. But let's jump back into the interview.

Chris Strathy 6:33

Yeah, I think I rambled on about kind of the infrastructure and how it took us about a year. We closed on the land about 14 or 15 months ago.

Ethan Waldman 6:45


Chris Strathy 6:46

And even that took a long time to happen. It was just kind of as all the world was falling apart.

Ethan Waldman 6:52


Chris Strathy 6:53

This and that. And then it was a year of rain, the floods were coming. So it was watching the weather and saving enough money to do a few 100 feet of gravel at a time. So really been working, having a blast, but working really hard just with kind of machetes or chainsaws or shovels or just renting a machine a day at a time to dry the place out make it accessible, deciding the best place to put a house. So it's been a day at a time. It's been a lot of work, but it's kind of it's been obvious, I'm just kind of able to trust the process and it just all works itself out. I am not sure if we got cut off or not. But I drilled the pier holes for our house. We're getting ready to start that next week. As I finish up a tiny house that I'm building on the property to go to a customer in Virginia, really cool Airbnb experience they're developing in Henry Virginia. They actually bought the first tiny house I built. So it's really cool. I'm really grateful for the opportunity. I'm building a tiny house to match the first tiny house I built. That will be an all one kind of rental Airbnb Tiny House experience. So.

Ethan Waldman 8:05

Very cool.

Chris Strathy 8:06

That's what I got going on on the homestead. I'm getting ready to kind of wrap that tiny house up in the next few weeks and then get my cabin framed up, under roof, okay to let my mechanical stuff free while I go do some other stuff. I'm actually going back to California. Hopefully, if the timeline works out. Once I get my house all framed up. I'll let the subcontractors in there, give them a few weeks to kind of do all the pulling wires and roughing everything in getting ready for installation. And then I'll go play in the desert for another week.

Ethan Waldman 8:42

Will that be with Deek?

Chris Strathy 8:43

No, that's a this is a customer in Yucca Valley. So Deek, I went out with Deek, maybe three years ago to his place in Twentynine Palms, which is amazing. Anybody listening, if you have the opportunity to do a workshop, Deek take him up on it. They're just fun guaranteed to have a blast, but it's just a really cool spot out there. That was the first time I was west of the Mississippi and I fell in love with the desert. So I went, I took a job out there. About a year later, that kind of fell apart. It was just one of those deals. It was somebody that you just couldn't make happy and but the silver lining was during that trip, I met somebody just at a restaurant and we kind of became friends and stayed in touch for a few years. And then he's become a friend and a good customer. I just got back from doing kind of reinventing his backyard outdoor living area in Yucca Valley, which is close to Deeks place out there. Yeah, and then I'm going back to kind of I don't want to say restore a 1953 camper in pretty bad shape, but we're not looking to like it's not going to move again. It's just going to be another little fun getaway spot on his desert homestead. It's a 1953 Tagalong camper that we'll get where it's a whole nother guest house.

Ethan Waldman 10:07


Chris Strathy 10:08

Yeah, we'll get that going this time. And then back to the homestead just back to finish in the house. The really fun thing about the interior of the 1000 square foot cabin we're building is it will be entirely from an old farmhouse. I salvaged.

Ethan Waldman 10:25

Oh, wow.

Chris Strathy 10:26

Yeah, back in November. I got a phone call from a lady that was selling a piece of property that had this old farmhouse on it and she found out that people buying it, we're gonna bulldoze it. So she had it in the contract that she could do. You know, she could salvage this if time worked out and one of the Historic Preservation Society around Greensboro, North Carolina had my number and we got connected and it was great. My friend AJ and my friend Renee, you got to roll the r when you said Renee Munoz, helped me demolish the interior this farmhouse. We got flooring, rough sawn studs and joists.

Ethan Waldman 11:13


Chris Strathy 11:14

The house was had zero plaster. So it that's rare for a house of this age not to be covered in plaster. It had upgrades and additions but I got the entire 1950s kitchen with the farmhouse sink. I got cast iron tubs beadboard all the ceilings were beadboard tongue and groove walls.

Ethan Waldman 11:36


Chris Strathy 11:37

So yeah, the entire interior of the new house will be mostly from that farmhouse, but it'll be 100% salvaged.

Ethan Waldman 11:48

What do you do with all that stuff? Like where do you even store it again? How do you keep it from...?

Chris Strathy 11:53

Man, right now that is the big hole in my heart. Buying stock in tarps is probably a good idea, a little stock tip for you people. I have a shipping container, just not ready to bring it to the land because of how we're living. How I'm just trying to be low profile right now, where we live, we would need a zoning permit to bring it out there. And so right now everything's under tarps, nice tarps and on pallets. But most of my salvage collection I had before I used up. I have a thing for old doors. I still have lots and lots of old doors. Yeah, lots at my parents place but I built some structures with them. Once we got out to the land I built like lean to for our solar components and batteries and rain catchment systems and an outhouse and so I kind of been saving for a long time. I always have a pile but my pile has been as the smallest it's been in a long time because I've been giving it away. I've been building things to sell for presents. Like I said structures all over the land.

Ethan Waldman 13:09


Chris Strathy 13:10

Done several workshops in the past few years where I've used a lot of my windows and doors just to see him used on a fun project.

Ethan Waldman 13:18


Chris Strathy 13:18

You move salvaged windows enough, you break them. I'd rather see him up the tree on a friends property or

Ethan Waldman 13:25

Plus, you got to use the stuff so you can make room for more.

Chris Strathy 13:30

Exactly. Yeah, it's not.... yeah.

Ethan Waldman 13:32

Otherwise you go from a salvage reuse person to a hoarder. If you never use it. There's a fine line.

Chris Strathy 13:40

And I'm someone who's, yeah, I'm OCD about I don't need a lot, but I like my stuff tidy. And when you have piles of salvage, it's just like, you can only move it but so many times and stack it. We have copperheads and mice and it's just but essentially, all my piles and tarps are slated to be opened up, sandblasted, sanded, clear, led, and capsulate and all that fun stuff. And used up in the next few months for the interior. I'm ready to use it.

Ethan Waldman 14:16

Oh, nice. Nice. So on the homestead, there are a couple things I want to kind of zero in on and kind of ask you about like what they are how you built them. The first one is is The Hobbit house. And that's that's what those are your words. So what what is The Hobbit house?

Chris Strathy 14:35

So the hobbit house, I guess from a visual standpoint is a walkout basement without a house on top of it.

Ethan Waldman 14:45


Chris Strathy 14:46

So it's a walkout basement and a floor system encapsulated in pond liner. And then it has doors on it. And the reason for building it was a storm shelter essentially because we live in a place that It's not I wouldn't be able to sleep at night No, and I didn't have a place to throw my family living in a salvage camper, you know, and I wasn't going to invest in the time to try to make that safe. Because it is what it is. And the hobbit house is just super fun. It's showcases geothermal. It's, it was cheap

Ethan Waldman 15:23

How bit is it?

Chris Strathy 15:26

It's probably going to be my workshop. But it also overlooks the waterfall. So yeah, essentially, it's a mineshaft.

Ethan Waldman 15:35


Chris Strathy 15:35

It's a and it's, it's a kid friendly hole on the ground. It's safe. It's cool. You know, it's not meant to be a full time residence. It's right now there's no power in there. I got a essentially with what they sell now where we're like, perpetually camping, except really comfortably. Yeah, just kind of on the land. No, we're not trying to set up permanently the way we are. Now. That's not sustainable. But same with the hobbit house. You know, it's just fun. It was a priority at the time for safety.

Ethan Waldman 16:14

How did you dig it? Did you dig it by hand or?

Chris Strathy 16:18

Mini excavator. So the land our land is, in essence, I really didn't excavate much to build it. I built the structure. And then I built a retaining wall on the high side of a hill and then sprinkled five or six inches of dirt on the whole thing and planted crap. So it's not underground, essentially, there's a really solid, you know, three inches of timber framing, encapsulated in pond liner, it's all graded properly, and then it has our maybe 10 inches of terrain on top of it, that all drains properly.

Ethan Waldman 17:01

You basically like built, you built a really beefy little structure and then just kind of buried it into a - it was already partially buried

Chris Strathy 17:09

Essentially. Yeah, it's an it's a spot that, you know, nobody can ever drive on it. And like I said, I have a lot of experience with grading and stormwater control and all that. So I wouldn't advise like digging a hole and putting something in it. There's a lot that goes into it. To make it for longevity and safety.

Ethan Waldman 17:31

You wouldn't wake up underwater.

Chris Strathy 17:37

Yeah, I don't want to see anybody get hurt. And you know, and there's there's lots of ways to get that same effect without going subterranean.

Ethan Waldman 17:47


Chris Strathy 17:48

But I also like to freak Big Brother out and hide in there, you know, my, the microchip in my neck, you know, goes off

Ethan Waldman 17:56

You can hide out underground.

Chris Strathy 17:57

I'm just I'm sort of joking. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 18:02

That's awesome. And so the, you mentioned the waterfall which which I know you didn't build that's just kind of a cool bonus feature.

Chris Strathy 18:10

No, Mother Nature built that. And I thank her for it daily. It's a beautiful spot.

Ethan Waldman 18:17

It looks gorgeous.

Chris Strathy 18:19

It really is. Yeah, it's one of the three springs that come out of the ground on our land. And I actually found I didn't find a cistern. But I did find a bunch of old irrigation pipe at the very top where they apparently used it to water the fields at one point and all that tobacco.

Ethan Waldman 18:37


Chris Strathy 18:38

And then I've been using it as a shower I love I'm kind of like a Wim Hof fan, cold water therapy ice bath kind of guy. I think there's a we'll just say anti inflammatory is probably my number one reason for doing it but yeah, I don't think there's anything cooler than taking a shower in your own waterfall. You know, it's kind of like a dream come true for a guy like me that wants to live outdoors and it's just a really cool spot just to hear the water. That to that whole area was overgrown and had lots of kind of wash outs and erosion just because of the year we had prior to getting it. So I've been doing a lot of work down there. Clearing out old poplars 20 years ago was actually a pond there was a dam there that had blown out before. I think the previous owners got it so maybe 30 years ago. Yeah, there was nothing in there and he the previous owner told me they used to hunt squirrels actually a tree stand on the corner of the hill but he said there was nothing there. So I'm not trying to clear all that but am trying to get it to drain properly get it where we have some natural growth. was down there and it stays kind of dry and people can kind of get down there by foot and yeah, just gonna enjoy not trying to build anything down there. I am going to move my office made of doors, somewhere close to there. I just don't like where it is now it's up in the air. I don't like it, but I think it's where I can kind of peek around the corner and do my drafting and kind of office work and sketching.

Ethan Waldman 20:28

Yeah, the office made of doors. I think you posted a picture of that. It's like a square structure that's up on stilts, almost.

Chris Strathy 20:36

Yeah, it's up on stilts now and it was trying to utilize as much of the roof as possible. We use the storage underneath and yeah, toys. It is a nice view where it's at, you can actually see the waterfall from where it is down through the trees.

Ethan Waldman 20:51


Chris Strathy 20:52

But yeah, it's we get weather on the piece of property. I want it to last. So some of the stumps I left from the poplars I cleared out by the waterfall. I cleared a nice wide open spot, planted it all up. And I'm going to set it it'll be about two or three feet off the ground, little deck on the side, but it'll just kind of stare at that waterfall. Got all right tucked around the corner, just be able to walk right up to it. It'll just be a great spot.

Ethan Waldman 21:25


Chris Strathy 21:26

It's kind of my church. You know, same way with the the outhouse you know, we're getting ready to have a legal septic system and all that. So we'll slide the composting toilet outhouse and got a little outdoor shower deck and all that I built out of salvage. We'll drag that down there next to the my a-door-able office. And you like what I did there?

Ethan Waldman 21:49

I got it. You got to have a catchy name for your projects

Chris Strathy 21:55

That deserves some finger guns right there. But yeah, so just I think, you know, that'll be my spot. It's already my spot but that way you know, when nature calls, it's nice to have little spots or land is isn't huge, but there's so many little nooks and crannies and getaways that I plan to make just that so there might be five or six little outdoor showers spread out throughout the place and little lean to use and you know, Deek's vibe, I guess with with my flair, you know the same idea of his little compounds like Vermont and essentially the playground I've always wanted, you know, seesaws and zip lines and swings and maybe a waterslide

Ethan Waldman 22:51


Chris Strathy 22:51

But just yeah, different spots to enjoy different views on different days.

Ethan Waldman 22:57


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Well, one of those one of those projects that that you've posted about a couple of times and I want to kind of go through like almost walk someone through how they would build one is what you're calling the Redneck hot tub.

Chris Strathy 23:59

Yes, sir.

Ethan Waldman 24:00

And I've seen I've now seen several iterations. But you know, at the at its most basic, it looks like you you get like a farm feed trough essentially a metal trough and then you somehow get some fire either under it or next to it like it seems like you've been kind of perfecting this, this design to kind of tell us about the latest iteration of it. And you know, if you were going to build another one, how would you do it?

Chris Strathy 24:26

So the Redneck hot 2.0 just built in Yucca Valley, California and essentially it's a wood fired hot tub and you're just transferring heat through the side and underneath a stock tank. And what you're doing is you're finding a galvanized 55 gallon drum and cutting it so that the side marries to and fits as tight as you can to a stock tank and that's where the heat will transfer. The first one I believe I made quick on the fly, I learned a lot, what not to do. But the really cool thing about that one, it all fits together and you can drag it through the woods, set it up, you know, take it on job sites, anytime I was working with grid that there was water.

Ethan Waldman 25:16

The transfer of heat between the 55 gallon drum and the in the trough is just they're just touching each other or is there any like piping or tubing or anything that runs to the firebox or it's just that simple?

Chris Strathy 25:33

Oh, that's that simple. So I will say things to think about are you want the top of your firebox below the waterline, so I learned that so to keep the heat and you know, that metal from getting scorching hot. That's something I learned from my first one.

Ethan Waldman 25:52


Chris Strathy 25:52

But yeah, essentially your, your findings, something that fits against the side of that tank in mind, go underneath it and that it heats up super quick. You know, my first one, I don't know the gallons, but it's like a two foot by four foot feed trough great for a single person to sit in real deep for an ice bath. They would heat up in like an hour and a half. And I mean, like 105 110 degrees like dangerous, which I love. I love dangerous. People freaking about that. I don't want to see anybody, like, turn themselves into soup. But the same idea on my last one. The tank was huge. It was a it was either three foot wide in the middle or four foot wide. I mean it. Four people could get in this tank comfortably. Two people could both kick their feet out and nobody was touching.

Ethan Waldman 26:48


Chris Strathy 26:49

I don't know the gallons on that. But we fired it up at lunch. And by four or five o'clock. It was 100 degrees. It wasn't like scalding hot.

Ethan Waldman 26:59


Chris Strathy 27:00

Building tops for them are a big deal. I just stayed in an Airbnb, actually this land the place that I'm building the tiny house for. They have a $7,500 Alaskan or Canadian cedar tank kit. And it has a separate firebox and it uses a convection current and all that. It's beautiful. It's a piece of art. It's got a bench in and all that 7500 bucks first of all, but it wasn't all that efficient. I mean, the bottom stayed cold. So even though it was the temperature at the top was 110 which is perfect. You get in and your feet are cold. You know and then yeah, it's just beautiful and fancy. But this does just as well. So yeah, actually Tiny House Magazine last month is got a component to the Yeah, redneck hot tbub 2.0 even got a little hand drawn pictures of how to cut out the top of the barrel, the side kind of detailed instructions. Please support them to not to give a plug or anything. I hope that's okay then but

Ethan Waldman 28:16

Yeah, that's totally fine.

Chris Strathy 28:17

Yeah, they're amazing. They've been really good to me. And that is a really good article. I say good. I wrote it. I hope it's done well, but it's detailed. For somebody that actually wants to build one. That article will equip you to do so.

Ethan Waldman 28:31

Nice.Tools, materials, everything.

Chris Strathy 28:36

Tools. materials. Yeah, what to do what not to do. Another just a side note, because people may see pictures of these and I'm all about salvage, but a lot of times salvage barrels had like oil or gas or something flammable in them. So please be careful.

Ethan Waldman 28:52


Chris Strathy 28:52

There's ways to mitigate that. There's ways to do it where you're not dumping sludge in a sewer. Yeah, but yeah, yeah. Don't Don't go buy a grinder from Harbor Freight and start grinding on some and explode.

Ethan Waldman 29:06

Good. Good advice. Very good advice. Yeah, that would be my guess. So in your version of the tub, there isn't really a way to cool it down other than just like adding more cold water.

Chris Strathy 29:17

No. So I have a design for baffles, which is one where the flames would go underneath and when you got to a point that you wanted, you would put a baffle in and then the heat would just go up regular chimney,

Ethan Waldman 29:31


Chris Strathy 29:32

instead of underneath the tub. So that would be that would evenly distribute the heat a lot more. It wouldn't be like one hot spot. You know, essentially it would just be to get to a point, but I found especially with the bigger tubs, you gotta work hard to keep up with the heat you want. So like the cedar tub, when you throw the lid on it, the insulated top and leave the fire going The next day, it's dangerous, like you can't even put your hand in it to take the plug out. Where mine, without a top, once you let the fire go, you know, it's, I think between the metal, it's not insulated, there's no top on it, that the heat just disperses a lot quicker. So efficient, heating it up, innefficient at holding the heat.

Ethan Waldman 30:22

Got it.

Chris Strathy 30:23

I guess would be the right way to describe it. But it's just fun. And it's, you know, somewhat sustainable. I think with scrap wood. You can burn galvanized off and it's another comment people say is, "Oh my god, you're gonna poison yourself." That'll happen once. Especially if you're using a galvanized tank, you'll get it. So are a galvanized drum, it'll get so hot that it burns off and it's done. And you got to like, throw a tent over it and Huff on it for 30 minutes for it to have any effect. That's it affects the people that weld on it constantly like their entire life.

Ethan Waldman 30:59


Chris Strathy 30:59

Yes, I just kind of want to recognize that it's, I'm all about eco friendly, but I'm all about reusing and keeping a drum from rusting to nothing and all that sludge and whatever, you know.

Ethan Waldman 31:11


Chris Strathy 31:13

So these fire boxes can be made out a lot of things, if you just understand the concept, you can find an old wheel barrel and cut it out and cram it against the side of a tank and an old pipe for a chimney. The you know, essentially the pipe is just keeping the smoke out of your face. If the winds blowing and you're in the tank, it's not a necessity, it's just learning how to transfer the to the heat to the side. And again, the bottom really just helps heat it quick. So by design, the barrel kind of goes underneath and it allows like a foot of area underneath some part of the tank for the coals and the fire to build up and get underneath there. And you'll look down in there and it'll look like a pot of boiling water. You know, like you're getting ready to boil pasta,at least like there were the firebox.

Ethan Waldman 31:59

And then it kind of swirls around and disperses.

Chris Strathy 32:02

Convection will do the rest. Yeah. You could heat it up once in awhile and swirl your hand around in there, but the convection currents gonna kind of naturally do the rest.

Ethan Waldman 32:11

Yeah, very cool.

Chris Strathy 32:12

They used to call me the boy scout from hell. I don't know that that just popped in my head. But that was a we just grew up just kind of being a redneck engineer.

Ethan Waldman 32:22


Chris Strathy 32:24

But yeah, who doesn't want an easy, affordable, hot soak? Like hot tubs are one of those things that seem like a luxury to a lot of people. And they are. They're heavy, and they're expensive to operate.

Ethan Waldman 32:38

And the electricity costs are are huge.

Chris Strathy 32:40

Yeah, unsightly.

Ethan Waldman 32:42

They always break.

Chris Strathy 32:43

Yeah, this is kind of a dummy proof. Like, you can't let it go ignored for a long, long time.

Ethan Waldman 32:50

Now, if you're in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm guessing that you get winter freezing temperatures do you do drain the tub each time you use it? Or do you you know, reuse the water.

Chris Strathy 33:02

So I would drain the tub. So I'm getting ready to build a redneck hot tub 3.0 I guess I'm not sure I might even I might go bigger, I might go right to like 4.0 or 4.0 Max

Ethan Waldman 33:15


Chris Strathy 33:16

Something big. Yeah, the max. But that will be a permanent fixture. And in my case, since I have constant spring water, I would drain it. So I would drain right back. And you know, just use biodegradable soaps, if I'm going to use it to bathe, you know, maybe leave it for a weekend or two as we're party in and soak in, because it's gonna be a larger for a person. But essentially, the greywater will just drain right there into that spot and kinda nature will do its thing before it hits the creek and, and that's all good. So if it's somewhere where it's gonna get cold enough, where it's gonna turn into a block of ice, which could happen where I am, I'd probably drain it. But there's also ways to mitigate that like milk jugs, things that will allow the water to expand without destroying the tank. So if you're in a place where water is hard to find where you need to save it, you know or want to save it because you're paying for it. Whatever the case may be. Then that's like I said, what I hear people do.

Ethan Waldman 34:26


Chris Strathy 34:27

But for the most the most part, the Redneck hot tub I take with me I always drain because I usually take it to job sites. That's why I built that one. The firebox and the chimney fit inside it. I think total might weigh 40 or 50 pounds. I can either drag it or throw it on my shoulder and set it up for a week if I'm working somewhere that has water and wood. Yeah. So

Ethan Waldman 34:52

There you go. People How often do you hire a carpenter who comes with his own bathtub, his own hot tub?

Chris Strathy 35:02

So I'm not gonna lie I've It's my secret dream that this is like my claim to fame. I'm becoming more and more wanting to be like the guy that's unrecognizable and like I don't really need to anybody to know the name but I would love for people to know the hot tub, to know for that making, making hot tub affordable goals, affordable for everyone and $14 bucks that harbor free stock tank and a drum and you can live in ecstasy your back.

Ethan Waldman 35:36

There you go. I think there's a set of plans to be to be created and sold here.

Chris Strathy 35:41

Oh, yeah, Tiny House Magazine. They're in there. You can buy by the issue support them by all you should buy all their issues for the gift you get by just getting those plans.

Ethan Waldman 35:51

Do you know, what issue of tiny house magazine it is?

Chris Strathy 35:56

I think it was last month, maybe 110? Maybe?

Ethan Waldman 35:59

Okay, okay.

Chris Strathy 36:00

Yeah, I think it's 110. Yeah, that's it. You're welcome, I think is what I should be saying as well.

Ethan Waldman 36:08

I'll find I'll find that issue and we'll link to link to it. They're very reasonably priced. And a really great resource.

Chris Strathy 36:14

It's fun, please do?

Ethan Waldman 36:15


Chris Strathy 36:16

Yeah. Then I'll put my email and website or you will hopefully, yeah, I love send me picture. Send me, email me. Email me tasteful pictures of your hot tub. If you're going to be in it, please. But yeah, I want to see those builds, man, I want to see like four person ones. All different fireboxes. Like, see what you can find to make a cool fire box.

Ethan Waldman 36:43


Chris Strathy 36:45

Yeah, I love it. I want that to be my claim to fame. If I if I were to have one. I would love for it to be the redneck hot tub. And all its versions.

Ethan Waldman 36:55

Well, turning to the future projects. On your homestead, it sounds like you're going to be building a house that'll be kind of your permanent home on that land. And you tell us about about that project. And you know, what, what are the some of the features of the design? How is it built all that kind of stuff?

Chris Strathy 37:18

Sure, yeah. So it is going to be a 20 50 rustic style home. It's a single story floorplan, two bedrooms, two bathrooms. So essentially, it'll be a bedroom/bathroom at each end. One will cater more towards parents one will cater more towards children. And then the living room. Kitchen in the middle. It's going to have a steep pitch roof. 1212.

Ethan Waldman 37:49


Chris Strathy 37:49

And then above each bedroom and bathroom area will be lofted and it'll have a cathedral ceiling. So it's just going to be a two bedroom house. We're trying to build a essentially the smallest legal home we can build. Just with minimal housing requirements, what we wanted to do 1000 square feet, it's probably 700. But with what we had and the space we wanted, we weren't I don't like to number shame we weren't really going for I guess smaller isn't better and the case in what we were trying to do. I think that's just kind of it just depends, you know. Tiny is tiny is to that person what it isn't to somebody else.

Ethan Waldman 38:37

Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Chris Strathy 38:38

So but yeah, essentially with two bathrooms, egresses, all that. Yeah, they make it where it's about 700. And it maybe it could be 600 If you do the right floor plan, but there's just architectural design isn't my gifting and we wanted some space. We didn't. It's it may be our forever home, but we also just wanted something that we could get up.

Ethan Waldman 39:07


Chris Strathy 39:08

Maybe it'd be a rental. You know, we just were kind of just doing things a day at a time. We're feeling more and more that we really don't want to use the place to make money with other people.

Ethan Waldman 39:21


Chris Strathy 39:21

And we can get into that if you want. So I don't know it may be for my mother in law one day. It may be that we add the bar old tobacco barn onto it and it becomes a three bedroom house.

Ethan Waldman 39:32


Chris Strathy 39:33

But anyway, got off on a rant there, each bedroom and bath area. So each end of the house will have a loft over it. We're gonna do a cathedral ceiling and we'll do like a library ladder on either side.

Ethan Waldman 39:47


Chris Strathy 39:47

So the boys two of my three boys stay with live with me live with us. So they'll share a bedroom and I'll do like bunks where they'll have their own spots. But if that doesn't work, and they're just constantly punching each other in the face, then loot the oldest will move up to one of the little lofts and have his own little spot or so we're just trying to make it adaptable and then making the best use of materials. And, you know, like I said earlier, I have everything to do the interior of that home from the old 1890s farmhouse. So, I wanted to use that up without chopping it up. Yeah, essentially, to kind of make it. No, we're gonna name the place after we're going to name it the Moffit Mill house, because that was the house we demoed was the old Moffitt Mill.

Ethan Waldman 40:40


Chris Strathy 40:41

The first house on that, right, so

Ethan Waldman 40:44

Very cool.

Chris Strathy 40:45

Yeah, man. We're stoked. We're having a blast.

Ethan Waldman 40:47

What's your timeline on building that? Like, how long do you think that'll take to do?

Chris Strathy 40:52

So my goal is to finish it this summer. And it's just a day at a time, there's no real need for me to kill myself. I have great subs lined up.

Ethan Waldman 41:05


Chris Strathy 41:06

Since we're building it ourselves. I could do the plumbing, electrical and HVAC, but also have a lot of work lined up a lot of really fun jobs and jobs in cool places. So right now we're just doing the dance for a while the dance was we lived in a campground and a salvage camper while I did everything I could to renovate our last home to get it ready to sell.

Ethan Waldman 41:31


Chris Strathy 41:32

We did that. At that point, we were able to move on the land, we were able to buy the stuff to build a solar generator, you know, power generator and spring box and water tanks. And, but it's still we made a decent amount of money when we sold our other house. We paid off all our debt and purchased our land paid it off. That left us like just enough to build this house.

Ethan Waldman 41:59


Chris Strathy 42:00

And not enough, essentially no way enough, but I'm not gonna there's no need to rush. We're in no rush to get out of the camper. But I'll need to break off the house and work.

Ethan Waldman 42:12


Chris Strathy 42:13

But, you know, in the grand scheme of a timeline, it's more efficient for me to go do what I do somewhere for a week and let a gifted plumber or electrician do what he does in my house.

Ethan Waldman 42:24


Chris Strathy 42:25

Everybody's happier. I believe everybody should make money. I'm not. You know, there's a lot of things that if I do it's just a dumb idea. It's not I may be able to do it. It just doesn't make sense. In my opinion.

Ethan Waldman 42:38


Chris Strathy 42:39

I just value time. Like I don't, it's not about the money to me, it's just hours are finite. And I would much prefer doing something that I know is gonna fill me up and make me happy than busting knuckles, turning wrenches, or something that isn't my gifting.

Ethan Waldman 42:55

So yeah. And you got to know you're got to know your limitations. It's been great to chat with you and hear about the Redneck hot tubs which I just think is such a great idea. And the homestead thanks for sharing all that. And I'm excited to get this out to out to the listeners.

Chris Strathy 43:14

Thanks, man. Thanks for having me on.

Ethan Waldman 43:17

Yeah, yeah, you're very welcome. And of course, I will post links to your website, where people can see your past projects, they can get in touch with you there if they want to have you out to their spot to do some work. And I'll post as many pictures as as you as you will send me I will post them on the show notes page,

Chris Strathy 43:39

I will send you plenty buddy, I am in the process of upgrading and renovating my website so that it is current and that'll really be the primary and only place kind of a follow along with my circus, but it will be fresh and it'll be personal, there'll be plenty of ways to interact and what I got going on.

Ethan Waldman 44:03

Thank you so much to Chris Strathy for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes at Again, that's There you will find a complete transcript and lots of photos of some of Chris's projects. And if you enjoy the show and want to help us out, please share it with one or two other people who you think are might be interested in planning building a living or just learning about the tiny house lifestyle. Sharing the show is the best way to get new ears listening to the show and we're always trying to reach new people. So thank you for helping us out with that. I am your host Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

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