Can You Build Off Grid Home In Washington State?

It is legal to live off the grid in Washington State. The state, like Oregon, has some fairly tight land-use restrictions in place to safeguard the environment.

While these rules do not make it unlawful to live off the grid, they do restrict what you may do with your land. You’ll need a permission for almost everything, whether it’s a compost toilet or a new shed on your land.

Is it possible to homestead land in Washington?

Homestead rules in Washington provide for a maximum exemption of $125,000, but no maximum acreage is specified.

Remember that the homestead exemption does not shield you from secured creditors like your mortgage company. Despite a “homestead exemption,” if you don’t make your mortgage payments, your lender can foreclose and sell your house at auction to pay off the loan.

Is Washington State a good place to start a homestead?

Washington is the state that has it all when it comes to starting your own farm or homestead. Rich soils, a diversified climate, access to major shipping ports along its Pacific Ocean coastline, forestland, pastureland, and orchards characterize the Evergreen State.

There’s also grape cultivation for the state’s wine business, a strong freshwater and saltwater aquaculture industry, a lush rainforest, and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. You might never want to leave Washington after seeing it.

If this sounds like the kind of place where you’d like to start your farm or homestead, here’s all you need to know about homesteading in Washington.

What states promote off-grid living?

The Best States in the United States for Living Off the Grid

  • Alabama. Alabama does not appear on every list of states that allow off-grid living.

In the United States, where is it lawful to live off the grid?

Off-grid living rules differ not just by state, but also by municipalities and counties. Off-grid living is generally restricted in urban regions, as well as rich suburban neighborhoods, particularly those with homeowners associations. Small towns have also imposed limitations on common off-grid activities, which typically center on disconnecting from the electrical grid and sewer systems, albeit usually not as rigorous as in urban regions. Rural locations are the finest places to take advantage of off-grid living because they usually have the fewest restrictions and, aside from health department septic installation laws, even lack zoning constraints.

Rainwater collection laws, composting toilet requirements, solar energy restrictions, and completely unplugging from the electrical grid are all legislation to consider in each state. Many states also have laws and restrictions on selling raw milk from your off-grid homestead; building a permanent dwelling (using a tent or mobile home for an extended period of time could result in fines or eviction); the size of your home (your house may be too small in many states); and making sure any mobile home or manufactured home you buy meets minimum age requirements. Read your property deed carefully, since some may have livestock restrictions; how waste from a composting toilet is used or disposed of could also be a concern. Individual state-level regulations for each state can be found here.

While it is possible to live off the grid in every state, some states are better than others. The ten best states for off-grid living are Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Hawaii, Colorado, and Arkansas, based on six main categories of factors (cost of living, freedom of lifestyle, water availability, how easy it is to grow food, energy availability, and the area’s community). These states feature the lowest total living costs and property taxes, the most freedom for off-grid living, the least restrictive building codes, the finest off-grid water access, high off-grid solar or wind power potential, and favorable growing conditions for agricultural gardens.

In Washington, what is a homestead?

Significant revisions to Washington’s homestead statute have been passed by the state legislature. Governor Inslee signed the Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5408 (link is external) into law on May 12, 2021.

The statute, in general, allows for increases in homestead exemptions depending on income “the previous year’s county median sale price of a single-family house.”

The term “homestead” refers to real or personal property that is used as a residence by a dependent of the owner. The definition of a dependent is the same as it is in the federal bankruptcy code. A homeowner’s dependent is not required to sign any documents necessary to transfer the property.

Any sale of the homestead property in a bankruptcy action is considered a forced sale. The proceeds are exempt from the reinvestment restrictions. This follows the court’s decision in the case of In re Good.

The homestead exemption is equal to the greater of $125,000 or the previous calendar year’s county median sale price of a single family home. A court must accept statistics on the county median sale price of a single family home from the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, or from a successor institution designated by the Office of Financial Management if the Washington Center for Real Estate Research no longer offers the data. [This information can be found here under the heading “Tab “Annual Median Price”

The debtor’s exemption in a bankruptcy proceeding is determined on the date the bankruptcy petition is filed. If the debtor’s interest in homestead property is worth less than or equal to the amount that can be exempted under the homestead law on the petition date, the debtor’s entire interest in the property, including the debtor’s right to possession and non-monetary interests, is exempt. Even if it exceeds the statutory limit, any increase in the value of the debtor’s exempt stake in the property during the bankruptcy case is also exempt. This wording is intended to address the Wilson v. Rigby case.”

On the WAWB Best Practices Page, there is an item providing practice guidelines connected to the homestead statute.

Is there a homestead exemption in the state of Washington?

A debtor in Washington must choose whether to claim exemptions to preserve their assets under federal bankruptcy law or Washington law when filing for bankruptcy. A debtor cannot pick and choose between Washington and federal law alternatives. As of 2021, the homestead exemption for someone’s primary house under the federal exemption is $25,150 in equity if filing alone and $50,300 in equity if filing married jointly. The maximum homestead exemption in Washington was $125,000 in equity in real property used as a principal residence until a recent adjustment in 2021.

The Washington Homestead law had significant modifications on May 12, 2021. The homestead exemption will be based on the greater of $125,000 or the median value of a single residence in the previous year for the county in which the real property is located, subject to restrictions, as of May 12, 2021. The Washington Center for Real Estate Research provided the data for each county’s median value.

The median income in each of these counties for bankruptcy filings in 2021 is as follows:

The debtor’s homestead exemption applies to both real and personal property that they use as their primary residence. The homestead exemption also applies if the property is used as the primary residence of a dependent of the owner. Given the amount of money at issue in a bankruptcy case when a debtor is claiming a homestead exemption to protect real or personal property, it is strongly advised that the individual seek the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney before filing a bankruptcy case.

To be eligible to use the entire amount of the county median value for the homestead exemption, several conditions must be met. If the debtor did not purchase the real property at least 1215 days before filing bankruptcy, the debtor is not entitled to the full amount of the exemption based on the county valuation and is instead limited to $170,360. If the debtor sold a previous home in Washington state and used the money to buy a new home within the last 1215 days, the debtor should be allowed to invoke the Washington bankruptcy exemption (based upon the median value of the county).

To be eligible to invoke the Washington exemptions to safeguard assets in a bankruptcy case, the debtor must have resided in Washington for at least two years prior to filing. If the debtor has not lived in Washington for at least two years, the appropriate state is determined by the 180 days prior to the filing (meaning count back two years and an additional 180 days). If the debtor lived in more than one state during the 180 days, the state in which the debtor resides becomes the debtor’s home state “During the 180-day period, the debtor’s “domicile” is defined as the state in which he or she resided.

In addition to the requirement that the debtor have owned the property for at least 1215 days, the Washington homestead exemption may be limited in cases where the debtor has been convicted of a felony, securities fraud, or due to bankruptcy “any criminal act, intentional tort, or willful or reckless misconduct in the previous 5 years that resulted in serious physical injury or death to another individual.” 522 of the United States Code (q).

Example 1: The debtor relocated to Washington on January 1, 2020, and on the same day, purchased real estate in Pierce County as their primary residence, filing for bankruptcy on June 1, 2021. Because the debtor acquired the property fewer than 1215 days ago, they would be unable to claim the $424,300 Washington exemption. The debtor would also be unable to use the Washington exemptions (the lower amount of $170,360) and would be confined to either federal exemptions or state exemptions from the state from where they relocated. If the debtor is not allowed to use the federal exemptions, the debtor may be limited to the federal homestead exemption of $25,150 if single (as of 2021 rules), or to no homestead exemption at all if the debtor is not allowed to use them. This is a tough topic that necessitates careful consideration before filing.

Example 2: The debtor relocated to Washington on June 1, 2018, and on the same day, purchased real estate in Pierce County as their primary residence, before filing for bankruptcy on June 1, 2021. Because the debtor lived in Washington for at least two years previous to filing bankruptcy, they would be eligible for Washington exemptions, including the Washington homestead exemption. However, because the debtor did not acquire the real property at least 1215 days before filing bankruptcy, he or she will be limited to a $170,360 exemption.

Is it legal to build an Earthship in Washington?

An Earthship is a type of passive solar home composed of both natural and repurposed materials (such as earth-packed tires). Earthships can operate entirely or partially off the grid.

Earthships can be erected in any location, in every climate (with permission), and yet supply energy, potable water, controlled sewage treatment, and sustainable food production.

An Earthship will hold whatever temperature you put in it… and because it’s a Passive Solar House, it’s also incredibly tight, interacting solely with the sun and the ground for heating and cooling, offering consistent comfort year-round in any environment. As a result, you’ll be able to build a sustainable home on land that isn’t quite at the ideal latitude of 13.5 degrees east of south.

What are the rights of squatters in Washington?

Are you a real estate investor? Have you noticed a squatter on your property in Cheney, Liberty Valley, or elsewhere in Washington?

Squatters are protected under the law. Squatters are allowed to dwell on someone else’s property in Washington if the owner of the land does not pursue legal action to evict them. Squatters can also use Adverse Possession to claim full legal possession of the real estate property.

But, in Washington, what precisely is Adverse Possession? Adverse Possession is a property law notion that allows squatters to own another person’s property if they match certain criteria.

Squatters who want to make an Adverse Possession must meet seven different criteria.

  • During their seven years on the property, the squatters must have paid property taxes.

Knowing you have a squatter living in your property can be stressful as an owner or landlord because it might take a long time to get rid of them. As a result, it’s critical that they comprehend all pertinent information about their rights. This manner, you’ll be able to keep unwanted intruders out of your home.

The following are some of the most often asked questions about squatters’ rights.

Is it less expensive to live off the grid?

Overall, living off-grid is a less expensive way to live once you have everything set up. Renewable energy is less expensive, eating off the land is less expensive (but requires more maintenance), and living in a less opulent home can also save you money.

What are some of the drawbacks to living off the grid?

A example of general Pros and Cons can be found in the bullet list above. Everyone that goes off the grid does it in their own unique way, with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

For instance, someone who buys a solar system and pays to have it installed will incur a large cost, which is a disadvantage. Their system will be fully working in a short period of time, which is a plus.

Someone who constructs their own energy system from scratch or salvaged parts will save a lot of money, but it will take a long time to get it completely working, which is a disadvantage.