Off-grid float cabin: retirement tiny dream home in BC wilderness

By | April 13, 2017

Margy and Wayne Lutz were camping in Coastal British Columbia when they discovered their dream home: the float cabins of Powell Lake. They’re not houseboats, but “float cabins”, that is, they’re permanently anchored to shore.

Float cabins were first built on Powell Lake as inexpensive and portable homes for loggers and fishermen. Since then they’ve become regulated and the 200 float cabin owners here these days lease their water lots from the BC government for $500 per year.

The Lutz’s bought their retirement home in 2001 for 35,000 Canadian dollars (about $25,000 USD, at the time), what they considered worth the risk if their experiment in off-grid living didn’t workout.

A few years later they retired early from their school district jobs in Los Angeles, anxious to start living their dream, and moved into their small (420 square feet, plus a 200-square-foot sleeping loft) floating home. At the time it didn’t have indoor plumbing so they hiked 4 flights of stairs up the granite cliff to an outhouse (they’ve since installed a composting toilet indoors).

Today, the Lutzs live completely off-the-grid. There’s no water heater (they boil it on the wood stove as a luxury) and no plumbing. They hand-pump water from the lake (for washing dishes, they remove most food first and use only biodegradable soap and the water is returned to the lake).

There’s no trash pickup. They compost nearly everything. For their energy uses, the Lutzs rely on solar, wind, and thermoelectric power. For heat, they rely on a wood stove (fueled mostly with driftwood) that has been rigged with an experimental thermoelectric system generating a trickle charge to their batteries.

Their buoyant home doesn’t make gardening easy, but Margy has found a way to provide much of the summertime produce. In addition to a hillside potato garden, she created a floating vegetable garden.

More info on original story:

The Lutzs’ blog:
“Coastal British Columbia Stories” by Wayne Lutz:


43 thoughts on “Off-grid float cabin: retirement tiny dream home in BC wilderness

  1. Casey Bowman

    "It's hard to find flat lands" so we moved to the next best thing, flat water! Lol ! Type in Land surveyors/ flat earth. enjoy!

  2. Mama D Does Dinner

    What a lovely video. Thank you so much for giving us a window into your extra-ordinary life. So very interesting! We are retiring in 4 years and looking into alternative living spaces. You've given me some wonderful ideas 😊

  3. Commentator541

    That would've been a hell of a cruise a cruise for 25000 dollars. OMG. Even for two people, at 12500 each? Unless it's making me money, no way I would spend that much traveling for a single vacation. Maybe for a couple vacations over a course of the year.

  4. cdnski12

    Powell Lake is an artificial Lake created by a hydro dam for the Local Pulp Mill. At some time the Pulp Mill will close. Who will maintain the dam then?

  5. Dee F

    What an amazing place to live!
    Having a rare health issue, I fear this is beyond me. But I've always been fascinated with living off grid. Well done to you both

  6. Two_Phish

    As long as their goal is functionality not aesthetics then, this is great. Personally, the curb-side appeal looks very messy and uninviting. But hey, seems to work for them and they look happy so blessed be.

  7. Veronica D. Giovanni

    Critters as in bears? I would have been terrified to go up to that outhouse at night. Otherwise, I love this concept. Seems so peaceful and is very pretty. I'd still be afraid of bears. lol

  8. P Fletch

    I have a lot of respect for these people but would like to know if they are ever bothered mentally by the constant rains during the later months. When I stayed on Vancouver Island for awhile, I found , after several months of steady rain, I couldn't take it and left. I got depressed until i reached sunlight again. Surely some people it doesn't bother?

  9. Daniel Rangel

    Great video and awesome location! I know you say the cedar lasts longer than other wood, do you have any idea as to how many years it will last? Also, I was curious if you have to get permission to be docked there and to build those stairs you have.

  10. GypsyGardener2

    Good to see this video again ! hope you are both well ! I am planning on a tiny house boat when I retire soon !you inspired me . Thanks

  11. Rebecca Stokes

    I love this! Peaceful heaven. I have to ask tho, do the Bears ever give you any trouble? I'm Australian, and don't know much about bears, so please forgive my ignorance.

  12. Wolf

    I've read one of his books, I think the first one about the lake and house, fun read and interesting life.

  13. Bless K

    I salute you guys for being so creative. I love bc, I used to truck all over bc, it's beautiful

  14. judy hobday

    This is the kind of life I would have liked if I had a companion (husband) to live it with. My late husband and I had a few acres of trees far from neighbors, but had all the comforts and jobs to go to and often we talked of getting further out after retirement.

  15. Tick Tock

    What kind of cruise would they be going on that would cost $20-25k?! lol, wow.

    Cool idea, having a floating home though… beautiful location too, I LOVE BC and want to live there very much.

    VERY cool set up with the thermal generator. I remember learning about thermal energy while in school and wondered why it wasn't utilized it certain set ups. Obviously the power generated isn't a lot, but every bit helps.. so why not eh? πŸ™‚

  16. Tom Zukow

    Completely illegal!!! Drawing water from the lake and parking wherever. Where does their garbage and sewage really go.Right! You guessed it. These people are just high end Squatters.

  17. Margy Lutz

    AL eng – We do stay at the cabin in the winter. We have the wood stove for heat and the lake does not freeze because it is so deep and because of the near sea level elevation the temperature is somewhat moderated. Our hillside patch doesn't get any bear activity, but the little critters love to eat the tender leaves. – Margy

  18. yes so

    You guys have a great life. Do you stay in the winter? If so is the lake frozen over? Up at the potato patch do you have bear encounters? Well thought out and again WELL DONE!


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