Relaxshax's Blog

Finding Insurance for your off-grid cabin/tiny home- Possible? Necessary?
January 5, 2011, 11:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

OOPS! A mega-cool photo of a cabin in Iceland was at the top of this blog for about 3 minutes- then buried below (next most recent thread)- be sure to check it out!)

ALSO- Note: There’s alot of text here, but I included it all so as to avoid any redundancy in advice or answers, should any one choose to pitch in….

Lawn Cameron (from the tri-state area), who is the owner of a gorgeous new cabin we’ve featured on this blog, and I have been emailing a little back and forth in regards to a cabin-insuring problem she is now facing. Its yet another hurdle, as I’ve mentioned, for tiny house owners- and a frustrating one. Well, after us tossing some ideas/problems back and forth, I told her that we should just post our entire email thread on my blog to see if we can enlist any help or expertise in this area. Perhaps, hopefully, some other blogs might even jump in to help, as the more-the-merrier, when searching for hard answers…

So here’s the thread…


Deek, Hey its Lawn….

     I’m wondering if you know of anyone who’s been helpful in terms of homeowners insurance?  The only quotes I’ve been given so far are $960 and $1100 annually.  (Like, seriously..?!  wtf??)  I’m wanting to refinance with a bank as I’m hoping to return to school in the fall, but banks require homeowners insurance and no one offering homeowners insurance wants to take on my case because I a) don’t have electricity, and b) don’t have a thermostatically controlled central heating element.
Sigh.  Why is it SOOO difficult to want to do something eco and small and simple…?!  I feel I’ve run into these problems time and time again because our culture/country is not set up to support it.  So. Frustrating.
Anyway…if you could offer up any advice or assistance, I’ll gladly take it!
Thanks, and Happy New Year~


On Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 5:32 PM, Derek Diedricksen wrote:

Hey Lawn….
  yeah- lotsa hurdles…..I really don’t know anyone- but does your structure fall under a blanket policy if it resides on the land of another main home? Or do you just not get it- which comes with its own risks….
  Unfortunately, they have you over a barrel in many of these situations- and its why “the rich get richer” and why housing and zoning is largely controlled by banking in many respects.
  Sorry to hear it!


Yeah, the structure’s the first one on the property, and my first home, so I don’t have anything that I can place it under, which is another bummer 😦  I’m determined to figure this out…somehow!



Can you label it a “Shed” through some loophole- or a hunting camp/art studio/shack? Now, you say they require thermostatically controlled heat (JUST to insure you) or to be able to drop the rates? Make sure you call around for several rates too…can even a small solar set-up be considered electricity? Heat-wise, check out the Japanese Toyotomi’s- I’ve worked with one for awhile, and have installed them- they’re amongst THE most efficient heaters on the market- and run on #2 kerosene (which you’ll find up north no prob)- or low-sulphur diesel.
Can I blog on this at some point even? Maybe we can find someone who can help…


TOTALLY a blogworthy topic!  If I had my own, I’d definitely be using it to vent right now.  I CAN get insurance for it as a seasonal camp/building, however, seasonal does not cover my valuables, nor theft, nor natural disasters.  In fact, it’s basically a fire policy.  A fire policy is great, and I may have to settle for it (if the bank will allow me to refinance with JUST that insurance in place–waiting to hear back), but I really do want theft and natural disaster for coverage, too, since my work is currently a distance away and my valuables and personal property are all at the house.  This would be so much easier if I had other insurance for something in the works…
For everybody I’ve called, not having electricity (and some will consider solar; most will not unless it’s grid-tied) AND not having a thermostatically controlled central heating system is a problem for most insurance companies & their underwriters.  This is bass ackwards.  Take a look at ice storms; the people who had frozen pipes are the ones who did NOT have woodstoves and their insurance companies had to unload to cover the cost of frozen pipes due to electrically-based heating systems.  I have one p-trap & pvc pipe exiting the residence as part of an approved primitive graywater design (which leads to graywater infiltrator basins).  All I do is empty the P-trap when I leave; the house freezes all the time during the week.  It’s never a problem.  So for me, adding central heating means only adding to my fire risk.  Even if I had it, I wouldn’t pay to use it because I’m too cheap…aka frugal 😉
So far, I started high with the larger insurance companies and agencies that have a wider reach (Allstate, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, Johnson Agency, Clarke Insurance, etc).  Most of them look to Lloyds of London, which has huge premiums and outrageous annual rates.  The ones that don’t reach out won’t offer me anything.  I did recently post to facebook and got some leads to people from larger companies who have done the research in the past for off-grid homes and have led me several different directions.  I may have a light at the end of the tunnel with a small insurance company nearby, and potentially a mom & pop insurance operation across the state.  Sounds like small is the way to go, but I have to actually acquire any yays or nays or numbers to know if that advice is actually sound and/or substantiated…we’ll see.  Sigh. 
My goal is to have an answer by the end of the week.  I’m thrilled to share any info I obtain out of this whole process; from my online research, there certainly are a fair amount of folks out there who are struggling with comparable issues.  I’m all about networking.



-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen


A-frame tiny house/cabin in a landscape in Iceland
January 5, 2011, 11:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was lucky enough to travel to Iceland years ago- and its absolutely gorgeous out there! I do, however, wish I came across THIS gem…. What a cool panoramic wall photo/hanging this would make!

Someday, I’d also like to take the Tiny Yellow House TV show on the road (we’d need sponsors and/or a fund raiser) so as to bring the tiny housing community some great footage of the amazing and unique housing from that country. Someday…..

-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen