Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion Failed escape in British Columbia

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    Rob Chipman, I asked Mr. Tibbles about the sanitation issue. When he built his septic system an inspector came out and tested the soil for percolation rate. It’s commonly called a ‘perk’ test. This is going to be the deciding factor as to where any septic bed system can be placed relative to the lake shore. A composting toilet would comply with current codes.

    Rob Chipman

    el nav:

    Thanks for that, and you’re right, it was a little confusing about the setback – I meant the building, not the septic field.

    I’m sure a lot of places around there would perk, but that there might be a problem with size of the field and placement of it, so…what’s the story with a composting toilet? Does the health authority not accept them as a suitable system, or does it depend on what sort, or what? I don’t know a ton about them, but it seems to me that in this day and age of tech we could figure out a good one that’s low impact. Guess I have to hit google!


    Many of the composting toilets need some ventilation to work at their best. I know of one installation on a rocky island where there is no possible way to get hydro power so they use a composting toilet which has a solar panel to power the ventilation fans. Works fine in summer but its questionable if it is suitable for year round use with low temps and cloudy weather plus snow covering the solar panel. Somehow heat would need to be added to maintain the decompostion process. Incinerating toilets might be the way to go. Judging from the number of cottages on that side of the lake is there no power utility feed at that point?


    To Rob Chapman

    I happened to be talking yesterdaay to a health department inspector. Composting toilets are a question mark this far north due to low temperatures. The composting breakdown is dependent on maintaining a minimum temperature to maintain the decomposition process. Some kind of solar heat collector is called for.

    Sewage lagoons are permissible on 4 acres or larger property. Installation of septic fields are subject to a soil percolation test on the actual site not on typical values or averaged conditions of adjacent properties.


    To escape the tenticals of orginized regional districts is almost impossible these days. If you need to be somewhat close to a town for supplies etc. you’ll likely be with-in a regional district. Bylaws such as zoning are available on any regional district website. Sewage is very close to the number one concern in any regional district. Polluting of the water table is a very real thing and it needs to be controled…remember the plage in Britian..and septic systems are that control. You can not legally dispose of gray water on your land with out having a system to deal with it when you live in a regional district let alone sewage. The area in which I have my land falls under a zoning Bylaw called Uplands Resourse the bylaw gives you a varity of things you are allowed to do on the land, and it fits with “my plan”. “Fitting Your Plan”…is a very key thing when your considering living off the grid…you must have a plan… and knowing your zoning should be a key component of your planning. You do not want to piss off your nieghbours by not adhearing to the zoning bylaws in the area of your land. Pissing them off usually ends up with a visit from your friendly bylaw officer from the regional district your in.

    I wouldn’t give up on your dream just because you made a mistake on where you bought land. Sell it and start over. Who wants to live near PG anyway!!! I’ve lived there, I know what it’s like. Good luck.


    If you are determined to get way off the grid and not be bothered by inspectors pick a place that is a days horseback ride from the nearest road.

    No way will an inspector bother to go to one house if it involves renting a horse for two days; 1 day going to and one day coming back from. Pick a place over the ridge from a lake large enough to land a twin otter. Those work horses can air freight 2000 pounds of payload and drop it shore side close to your cottage. For example 4 drums of fuel for an Alaskan Saw Mill and you can build a home in a month from local trees. A pilot friend of mine di that. Ride out once a month for supplies or arrange for a float plane to drop off supplies on a schedule. There are several vanity press books dealing exactly with how some people did exactly that and this website also published an article about one man who did exactly that up in Alaska. You can’t get further off-grid than that.


    Just make sure you buy in an uassumed township

    first question do I need a building permit

    yes – not interested next!

    no – this property is worth more to you and less

    to the masses. I know I can find this 3 hours drive

    from the 5th largest city in North America

    If there is a building inspector involved



    You make it sound like an inspector is always the enemy. Not necessarily true. Standards were developed from hard won experience. In other words until something went wrong, there was no standard. Asking an inspector ahead of time could also save you a lot of grief later on because the inspector will say don’t do this because it will result in so and such. and If you manage to get talking in a friendly way quite often you may hear something like “well if it was me I might do so and such and it is code legal but it will still save you money” On the other hand if you are a hard ass about things and get into an adversarial situation the inspector is just as likely to say “tough luck! Do it as written in the code or else ….”

    I have been on both sides of that fence and have seen how it works both ways.

    Around her a lot of construction was done buck shee and adecade or two down the road you see the result in problems. These can become more expensive to fix than the original cost to go the extra effort.


    Your OBC certified inspector will not due to liabilities

    give you much advise any more. This all changed about 6 years

    ago. You give the engineered stamp drawnings done by

    you OBC certified P.Eng to your OBC certified builder

    who buys OBC certified wood, 2×6’s in this area and he builds

    your OBC certified and inspected house preferably with union

    labour. For all this you pay for permits and then they turn

    around and stick up your taxes.

    Have only ever met 1 inspector that was misrable. He was

    a Fire Inspector. When they started enforceing NFPA96 and

    every resturant that didn’t have stainless steel fryer hoods

    had to comply. $5,000 to $15,000 normal cost. Closed a lot

    of resturants.

    When I say I’m looking to go off the grid I mean in all the

    right (for me) ways.

    In the old days you would build yourself a log house

    If it fell down on you

    you couldn’t sue the designer, the inspector, or the builder

    You were responsible and you took responsibility

    And of course now you were wiser and built a better one

    (If you lived)

    Not looking to build a house off-grid

    so much as a way of life

    Nick Rosen

    another dead thread? Why aren’t these archived?


    Probably because so called dead threads have an uncanny way of reviving just when you least expect it. for a while this forum was inundated with spammers to the poin t a lot of people got turned away.

    Just yesterday I got a comment for a thread on another forum that had been dormant for over a year.


    BTW TRM A friend and I have been looking for suitable property and found plenty of low ( compared to here) priced properties in northern Ontario.

    Yeah I know it isn’t convenient enough for you but many of them would be ideal of grid properties.

    One of the major flaws with this forum is the lack of notification of new posts on any thread you might be monitoring.

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