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Thread: Need advice for off grid cabin

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Need advice for off grid cabin

    I was going to build a cabin with a well, septic and electricity but after getting estimates for these things I am now wondering if I should just go off grid. MEA told me that it would cost almost $20 a foot to hook up to electrical and I am almost a 1,000 feet away from it. Then I was told it could be $15,000 to $25,000 just for the septic and who knows how much for a well. This is way more than I want to spend just to enjoy my cabin on weekends. I am going to go with a propane tank and can possibly use all propane appliances and lights but not sure what to do about water and a toilet. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. My cabin will be out off Church Rd in Wasilla near Chignaki Pond.

  2. #2


    One way to cut your expense on the electrical is to have the meter close to the road where the power in now located and then you could run your own under ground power from the meter to the cabin,it would just be a matter of renting a small trac hoe and buying the proper size direct burial wire.Check with Fisher Brothers on the septic . They are from the wasilla area and do top quality work. Good Luck

  3. #3


    Thanks for the tip, I will look into that. It would be nice if I could put in the electric, well and septic, just don't want to have to sell an arm and a kidney to do it.

  4. #4



    Regarding water, ten years ago the going rate for well drilling was at least $30 per foot. There are well logs which record your neighborsí well depths, and how much water they found. Well drilling success can be quite variable. I have one neighbor 200 yards away who drilled several shallow wells (several hundred feet deep) without much success. Then he went 420 feet and hit a gusher. Another neighbor 300 yards on the opposite side of me went over 600 feet deep but found only a modest amount of water. The site you choose for the well must be accessible to a large truck.

    For a weekend get-away cabin, hauling water and storing it in your attic might be more practical. Then you could transfer it from your vehicle using a small electric pump, and have a gravity fed system. A perforated drum, filled with coarse gravel and buried could be used for gray water. This would work for occasional weekend water use. Make sure the codes allow this. The codes might require a full septic tank and drain field.

    Twenty thousand dollars is a big investment for electricity. If you want to power the cabin, you could have a very fancy generator-inverter-battery system for less. If you only need electricity to power tools or a micro-wave, a nice 2800 watt generator would do. Propane lights are pleasantly rustic, and you could run stoves and refrigerators on propane.

    You could build a vault outhouse over a large tank (about 500 gallon capacity). Anchorage Tank can make it with a protruding standpipe about 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall which penetrates the floor of the outhouse. They can coat the inside with a rust preventative. This out house design is similar to road side rest stops. Itís suitable for high use since it can be pumped out by a sewage truck when necessary. Keep enough water in it so everything is submerged. This prevents flies that might reach it through your vent screens from laying eggs easily. Plenty of water is also necessary when itís time to have it pumped.

    For less use, a conventional out house would be suitable. Any liquids deposited in it percolate out. When solids in the pit rise within 2 feet of grade, move the outhouse to a new pit, and bury the old pit. Check the borough codes for location. I think it must be 100 feet from water sources. Check for other requirements too.

    It might be the borough requires a construction permit for dwellings larger than 480 square feet.

  5. #5


    Thank you for all the good suggestions, I really enjoy this forum and I am glad I joined. I am finding a lot of useful tips that I will be able to adapt to my cabin and it's good getting these ideas now prior to us starting to build.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    The seven years I did off grid I was realy off grid.Hauled water from stream,wood for heat/cooking + some propane and lamp oil for light.Flies for summer and cold in the winter outhouse. I miss it but the bride won't go back
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  7. #7
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    I second Fishers for the dirt work. Septics are going from $6000 to $8000 up here on the high side. Like it was said before, you can have MEA bring power to your property line and you can dig your own line into your cabin. Water in that area can be tough. In another 10 years, if the economy doesn't tank any worse, you will be surrounded by other houses. Wasilla is starting to grown in that direction and you really aren't even that much out of town. With that in mind, any money you spend doing the job properly should be considered an investment since you will likely want to sell it down the road.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  8. #8


    there's a multitude of options you could use to outfit your cabin, no.1-electricity, either go the generator route wire your cabin accordingly & be sure your generator is large enough to operate all you want to operate, HONDA EU 2000 or 3000 are both excellent choices, no.2- propane refridgerator, lights, on demand hot water unit for showering,propane cook stove, no.3-toilet, either an outhouse or a self composting toilet perhaps a sunpro unit then you eliminate the need for a septic tank system, no.4 heat for cooking & staying warm, firewood & a good woodstove not a fireplace, to much heat loss goes up the chimney, no.5 water for cooking,showering,drinking, either get from a local lake,stream,river but treat with a BIG BERKY WATER FILTRATION UNIT, hope some of these suggestions will be of some use to you & goodluck w/your cabin building.

  9. #9


    I appreciate all the tips. I will give Fishers a call for the Septic system. And that does make sense that any money put into doing it right will be an investment for us down the line.

  10. #10


    That is Fishers Brothers and not Fishers fuel.


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