Brian is an “obsessive craftsman” who believes he can build most anything in his life. On his Oregon farm he has built, or renovated, 5 tiny structures. After being told by the county that he couldn’t erect a yurt, he built a code-approved main house “to give us a place to legally stay”.
Once the main house was built, he created several smaller structures (less than 200 square feet) on the property from 90% local materials.
The farm is completely off the grid and Schulz points out that this doesn’t mean they rely on propane or lots of photovoltaics. Nearly all their tools for living have been adapted to fit the off-grid lifestyle. For his prototype solar-powered bathhouse Schulz used recycled solar hot water panels, salvaged hot water tanks (from the dump), a solar thermal window and a recycled soaking tub. Indoors, Schulz has adapted a chest freezer to create a low-consuming refrigerator (using a tenth of the electricity of a regular fridge) and a 1940s wood-fired cookstove to cook, heat and as a heat-exchanger, harvesting waste heat and thermo-syphoning water to heat up the home’s hot water.
They do have a limited number of photovoltaic panels which produce about 1000 watts of electricity when the sun is shining (for the entire farm), as well as a micro hydro generator in the creek and solar thermal panels.
Schulz models much of what he builds on the Japanese aesthetic and tries to make everything in his life not just functional, but beautiful (e.g. his bathhouse was designed not just as a shower, but as a way to de-stress).
Schulz is an avid kayaker and for his day job, he builds skin-on-frame kayaks (as well as teach others to build their own).