The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant attention to the notion that you don’t have to live in proximity to your employer anymore. The virus has also ushered in a move away from urban areas to locations more remote where social distancing are not just words but a way of life. In its second year, Baltic Sands’ Eco Home Tour of three homes off the grid is likely to attract more curious homebuyers this year even with a virtual presentation versus in-person, says Ida Alwin of Baltic Sands, a property development and real estate company in Yucca Valley.
“You can put your roots down anywhere,” she says, “and you don't have to sacrifice modernity. You really don't. And I think gone are the days when off-grid meant you had to hike two miles into a wooden cabin in the middle of nowhere. Really, the technology is there and it can support a very sizable house with all your appliances, wifi, and computers.”
The free virtual program will be live at 1 p.m. Nov. 21 with video tours of the three homes - two in Pioneertown and one in Joshua Tree. Real estate agent Chantel Sanchez of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, who has completed the National Association of Realtors’ Green Designation program in energy efficiency and sustainability in real estate, will speak as part of the tours.
A live Q&A will start at 2:30 pm. with architect Don Albert, who has a background in sustainability. Albert’s talk will be recorded for later playback. The entire video package will be available for registered participants through Nov. 29.
The Palmer-Rinehart House in Pioneertown is an original homestead cabin that's been renovated.
Alwin chats further about the Baltic Sands Eco Home Tour and off-grid living in the high desert with Palm Springs Life.
What did you learn from holding last year’s event that you could apply to this year’s?
Last year, we didn't really know what to expect, whether people would be interested in the subject, whether we would have a lot of attendance. And it was incredible how many people actually turned out. So, I think this year, I'm trying to give people a sense of what it's like to live off-grid from the homeowners from a practical point of view. And also trying to give people a lot more information on how they can do go off-grid, because I think it's a subject not very widely known. I was always surprised how many people are coming at this fresh without any knowledge at all on the subject.
Why is there a gap in information about off-grid living?
Everybody knows about solar panels, and that you can put solar panels on your roof. But the actual subject of off-grid is not that widely available.
Could that lifestyle look daunting to the average person?
I found it daunting initially. Just the wealth of choice that you have. The different types of solar panels and batteries. And with part of this Eco Home Tour, I'm trying to show people that, yes, there is a lot of choice, but there are events like ours, organizations like ours everywhere, where people are there to help you discover what is right for you.
What were some of the most common questions that people asked last year?
What it's like to live off-grid? Is it difficult to live off-grid? What are the sacrifices made in living off-grid? And if they're interested, a lot of people wanted to talk to contractors and experts on the subject. They weren't sure where to look to find people to help them.
What can you tell me about the homes you will be showing on the video tour?
The glass house in Pioneertown is two bedrooms and one bath. The wooden homestead cabin in Pioneertown had one bedroom and one bath. The one in Joshua Tree, it's actually one of our homes that our company built. It’s three bedroom and three baths. We develop off-grid properties. And that property we chose specifically because it had no access to power. It's like miraculous that there's a house there. The views are incredible.
Baltic Sands built the home in Joshua Tree.
The homes appear to kind of blend into the remote environment.
As soon as you start to go off-grid, you're a lot more aware of your surroundings. And you kind of start to be a little bit more in touch with how much energy you're using. You start to think about how can we make the household sustainable? And that comes from just putting a little thought into that off-grid process because suddenly you're invested in saving energy, and you need to know where that energy is going, and is it being channeled to the right place. You become a lot more proactive and thoughtful about your surroundings, I think.
What do you think may carry over to the 2022 tour from this year?
Next year if we're able to do this physically again, I'm going to retain a virtual element, so that people who can't actually come to the tour will still be able to maybe see a part of it online. That virtual element really gives a lot of flexibility, and you can draw in a lot more of the audience from the East Coast, or up North, or wherever.
To register for the Eco Home Tour, visit balticprop.com/eco-homes-tour.