Off Grid Retreat

Belmont County, Ohio

A lake side retreat located on an Ohio Valley cattle ranch, designed sustainably off-grid.

Project Type: New Construction Residential
Location: Belmont County, OH
Role: Architecture and Interior Design
Year: 2014


The off-grid retreat is a very personal project.  Greg’s dad had long dreamed of building a cabin overlooking the lake on the family’s cattle farm, so one year as a birthday present, Greg presented him with a floor plan for the project. Later that year they started construction, serving as the contractor themselves.  

During the cabin’s construction it became clear that connecting it to the water and electrical grid would be prohibitively expensive. As a result, the cabin operates entirely off-the-grid, and its sustainable features became an exciting aspect of the design process. The cabin’s earthy and rustic exterior belies a number of sustainable residential strategies.  

While a lengthy building lifespan minimizes environmental impact—for example, the charred cedar will last 80 years—an array of solar panels 50 yards from the house allows it to operate independently from the electrical grid. A cistern collects fresh water from a nearby natural spring.  The retreat’s southern exposure maximizes winter sunlight with 24 feet of floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun’s warmth is passively absorbed and stored in the concrete floor, keeping the interior warm. Combined with its thickly insulated walls, the cabin requires little additional energy, and has gone up to three days in winter without any electrical heating.