Off-Grid and Free: Siting a House and Elements of Our New Homestead

| 10/30/2019 10:18:00 AM

Preliminary Clearing and Stakes for Element Location 

The Off-Grid and Free series recounts one homesteading couple's journey to build a new homestead in Nova Scotia. Read the full series here. Find the author's book, Off-Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness, at Moon Willow Press.

In our last installment, we built the road in to the new homestead and did the land clearing with our trusty chainsaw. Now that we had an area cleared for the new homestead, it was time to site the house and from there, lay out the rest of the elements. Where would the garden, herb garden, woodshed, compost bins, solar panels, septic system, water well and orchard go in relation to the house? Where were the best paths to access views of the ocean and branch out for firewood gathering as well as walking paths?

House Location is Priority

As you can see, everything really hinges on where the house is situated so that was our first task. In our case, because we had a large chunk of land with a great deal of flexibility, we had no concerns about building near property lines. We wanted to have an ocean view but we also took into account future shoreline erosion. The house will ultimately end up as an oddity for the fish to explore once it tumbles into the sea, but it’s our hope that is a long way into the future.

We staked out the 4 corners of the house as best we could and I used a compass properly set to take into account declination so that the house would be oriented facing due south. Using the northeast corner as a reference point, I sighted down towards the southeast corner and made sure it was a line oriented due south and then repeated for the northwest/southwest line. It took some time to make sure the dimensions of the house were right, the house faced south and the 4 stakes we pounded in were for a square home. I checked squareness by measuring the diagonals. If the 2 diagonal measurements are equal, you can be assured of a square building.

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