FreeHouse FAQs and Important Information
What does “off the grid” mean?
Off the grid homes are completely self-sustaining. To be “off the grid” means you are not connected to the public utility infrastructure, such as the electrical grid. Homes that are off the grid do not rely on on municipal water, sewer, natural gas or electricity.
Why off the grid?
According to the United Nations Population Division, over half of the world’s population live in cities; that’s over 3.5 billion of roughly 7 billion people living on the planet. In fifty years that number is expected to double. An autonomous living experience is one that is becoming more of a rarity as cities develop and grow. Meanwhile, we rely more and more on technology as part of our everyday existence. But the more connected we become technologically, the less connected we are with each other face to face.
Traveling off the grid offers a unique opportunity to reset ourselves. It enhances communication with those we care about, as well as our personal connection to nature.
Furthermore, it is a way to travel without exploiting our resources. FreeHouse focuses on off the grid properties because they’re sustainable. Experiencing the off the grid lifestyle, even if only for a weekend, fosters consciousness of our depleting natural resources.
What are the rustic, remote, and unplugged scales?
We have included a scale graphic within each property description to indicate just how rustic, remote, and unplugged an individual property may be. By providing this scale, you can better match the property offerings to your desired off the grid experience.
What is the Rustic Scale?
When many people hear the term “off the grid,” they imagine a rustic cabin deep in the woods. FreeHouse offers a wide range of properties. Some have this simple rustic charm and character, while others offer all the comforts of home -- or even a luxury retreat. More rustic properties will offer amenities like outhouses or composting toilets, bunk beds and outdoor solar showers. These properties may require you to pump your own water from a nearby stream, or bring sleeping bags and headlamps. Some will not have any kind of power and will only offer light from propane powered lanterns or solar powered LED lights.
Less rustic getaways, on the other hand, will be finely finished. They might offer pools, wood fired hot tubs and saunas, fully stocked kitchens, flat screen tvs, solar powered in-floor radiant heat and more.
What is the Remote Scale?
Some properties are accessed only by foot (or on skis, snowshoes, snowmobile, mountain bike, etc.), but many properties you can drive right up to. Some are located within a small, entirely off the grid community, while some are incredibly remote. The driving distance, as well as the distance covered on foot, has been considered when ranking a property on the remote to accessible scale.
What is the Unplugged Scale?
Many FreeHouse getaways lack cell phone reception and are even farther from a wifi hotspot, though some have a high level of connectivity, providing access to all the technology you are used to at home (satellite tv, radio, wifi, cell reception, etc).
Many properties do have wifi, though they are miles from another building. Yet, there are many more who intentionally remain disconnected to be able to focus on the beauty of their surroundings and revel in a true escape, free of the distractions of our modern day world.
Common Concerns when traveling off grid
What’s the bathroom situation at an off the grid house?
The majority of FreeHouse properties have a traditional, modern bathroom just like yours. Properties on the more rustic end of the spectrum will have outhouses or composting toilets. These may be connected to the house or you may need to walk outside to get to them. This information will be indicated in the property description.
What is a composting toilet?
A composting toilet is a “dry toilet,” often located inside the house. It collects waste in a large bin below the toilet and allows it to decompose there instead of being flushed away to a water treatment plant. Waste is often mixed with sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss to facilitate aerobic processing, liquid absorption, and odor mitigation.
Are there unique skills or knowledge needed to stay at a house that's off the grid?
For most off the grid properties, the answer is, “No.” However, you will see from some of our property descriptions that some Freehouse properties will require travel on foot over the snow through terrain with avalanche danger. If you are staying at one of these properties, it is highly recommended that you have avalanche safety training from a reputable program such as:
Wolf Creek Avalanche School (Pagosa Springs, Colorado)
Colorado Mountain School (Estes Park, Colorado)
Check the weather and be aware of snow conditions. Access to some properties can be temporarily restricted due to drastic weather patterns like storms and flash floods.
Other factors to keep in mind:
If you are renting a property that is listed with rugged 4WD road access, you will need to be comfortable driving on this terrain, sometimes over high mountain passes and through streams.
Some properties that are more remote will require map and navigation skills.
For many places you will need to know how to start a fire.
For a few places, you will need to use a composting toilet (specific instructions for amenities such as these will be available at the property).
Do I need specific equipment to stay at an off the grid house?
The answer to this is property specific, and is indicated on the listing. In general, many properties are removed from a population center far enough that you will want to bring in your food for the entire stay.
For some more remote and rustic properties you may need to pack in all of your gear, including:
Clothes for any weather conditions
Please check the property description for specific requirements. And never hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Booking FAQ’s (for renters)
These properties can be difficult to get to and hard to find. How do I get arrival instructions and specific directions to my rental?
Detailed directions to each property as well as any lockbox codes and necessary information will be provided to guests directly from the owner before arrival.
Please note: Map pins for each property are NOT EXACT and are not intended to be used to access to the property.
When will I be charged for a reservation?
Your payment information is collected when you book a reservation. Some properties allow you to pay half of the reservation fee up front and the remaining half at a date predetermined by the owner. A security deposit may also be held on your card until you have checked out and the owner reports a successful stay. You will be held to the reservation and cancellation policies of the individual property, stated on their property description.
Do I have to pay a security deposit?
If the property you are renting requires a security deposit, a hold in that amount will be placed on your credit card. It will be released after the owner reports a successful stay within 48 hours of your checkout. If the owner requires a security deposit, it will be outlined in the property description.
What is FreeHouse’s cancellation policy?
You will be held to the reservation and cancellation policies of the individual property, stated on their property description.
Can I modify or cancel a reservation?
You will be able to modify or cancel a reservation through the website. If it is too soon to the date of arrival and you are already within the cancellation period, you will need to contact the owner. They will issue you a partial refund if due.
What forms of payment are accepted?
All major credit cards are accepted.
Can I pay with any currency?
Yes. There is an additional fee of 3% for currency conversion.
Do I need to pay for my rental directly through FreeHouse and communicate with the owner through FreeHouse’s messaging/email system?
Paying or communicating outside FreeHouse makes it harder for us to protect your information and puts you at greater risk of fraud and other security issues. That's why we prohibit paying for a reservation outside our website in our Terms of Service and strongly encourage you to communicate using our messaging system.
How do I report a problem?
If the problem concerns your rental, please contact the owner through our messaging system. If the problem exists outside of a specific rental, contact us by email or phone.
Property Owner FAQs
When will I be paid for a reservation?
You will be paid 48 hours after the reservation is made. If you are concerned that the cost of your property, and paying 100% up front, is prohibitive to renters then you may request half of the payment up front and the remaining half at a date predetermined by you.
What type of insurance is provided for my property?
FreeHouse recommends owners have a vacation rental insurance policy.
Does FreeHouse take security deposits from renters?
You may charge a renter a security deposit. This charge will go through on the renter’s credit card at the time the reservation is booked. You may refund it to them once you have inspected the property after they check out. You must state this in your property description.
What are the processing fees?
FreeHouse charges a 3% processing fee to the owner. See Terms.
My property is listed on another rental site. Will that calendar sync with FreeHouse’s calendar?
Yes. If you manage your property's rental calendar using iCal, iCloud or a google calendar (as Airbnb and VRBO do) it is easy to sync your calendar, or multiple calendars if you are listed in multiple places, with FreeHouse's calendar. This means you do not have to keep up with more than one calendar. They automatically sync.
How do people find my property through FreeHouse?
FreeHouse does the marketing for you! You have a very unique property that deserves the right kind of exposure to a specifically targeted market. Unlike other booking sites, who sell a vast array of vacation rental properties of many types to a wide range of demographics, FreeHouse focuses strictly on adventurous travelers looking for an off the grid escape.
We will employ social media to spread the word about FreeHouse, your off the grid properties, building off grid, and so much more.
FreeHouse uses proprietary photos whenever possible, on our website, facebook, and instagram. We like to shoot our own drone footage to get the “hero shot” of a FreeHouse. This is the shot that shows the essence of the property, in its beautiful, remote setting, etc. This photography and videography intrigues renters and makes them want to visit your amazing property.
I have an off-the-grid rental property that I think would be perfect for FreeHouse. How can I list my property?
Contact us! We’re excited to talk to you.