Mike Basich: Big Name, Tiny House

September 17, 2014

Mike Basich: Big Name, Tiny House

by Stacey A.

This week I caught up with old-school snowboarding legend, Mike Basich, in his secret, off-grid home about 10 miles outside of Truckee. The experience reminded me what I love about journalism - getting to meet inspirational people who make things happen that others only talk about. 

Basich picked me up in his biodiesel truck and drove us to his mountain getaway, situated over 40 acres of land in the Sierras. I felt like I was entering a secret world as we came into what Basich calls Area 241, named after his Japanese clothing company. Basich designed and built the entire house by hand, beginning in 2005, using wood from trees on the property and metal he welded himself in his Colfax workshop.

View of Basich's cabin, deck, and solar panels. 

Basich has been into DIY projects since he was a kid, and prior to Area 241, he helped remodel a few houses and build some treehouses, but nothing to the scale of this project. With a learn-as-you-go attitude, he started the arduous task of building his tiny home, realizing that if he didn't do it then, at age 33, he might never. 


He was advised against purchasing the property because of its inaccessibility in the winter, but the price was too good to pass up, and Basich is the kind of guy who is always up for a challenge. Because of the remote location of the property, Basich is forced to live completely off the grid with a holding tank full of water from the creek and solar panels. He said not having the option of being connected actually helped him learn to live more simply. "I'll get up and go to bed with the sun, which makes a huge difference on my energy consumption."

A view of the living room from the bunk-bed style twin where Basich sleeps. 

Basich's cabin is less than 300 square feet yet somehow feels expansive. Every inch of space is used deliberately. He built the cabin with all the essentials but no bathroom, a true mountain man. However, he added some luxury features, like an outdoor hot tub with fireplace underneath to heat it to about 105 degrees. There are also some other cool quirks, like a hidden grill that opens up from a stone pillar on the deck. At the heart of Area 241 is Basich's profound love for snowboarding. By far his biggest luxury is his private, single-seat chair lift which he completed a few years ago, upgrading from the tow rope that used to be on property. 

I was impressed at the incredible intricacy of every single thing in his home. It's not just a house but really a piece of art that Basich built. The place has a very earthy feel to it, with lots of crystals built into the walls and table as well as some intricate metal work with half moons, stars, and mountain tops adorning every door. It's all very beautiful yet completly functional at the same time, a sure benefit of designing a house from scratch. 

One of many crystals built into Basich's house, a gift from his sister.

The front door to the house, one of many intricate metal pieces hand-crafted by Basich. 

Basich's on-property, biodiesel snowcat, which he uses to haul supplies up the summit.

Basich spends about half of his time living in the space when he isn't traveling the world for his main sponsors Go Pro and Flow. "It's a place I can come back to when I get lost in the world."

He's a pioneer in many realms...snowboarding, photography, and tiny homes. He and his sister, Tina Basich, were some of the first big name snowboarders in the sport back in the 90's. Before GoPros were around, Basich shot self portraits of his riding by rigging up his own cameras to capture what he saw when snowboarding. He's currently part way through a self portrait book.

His masterpiece, Area 241, was featured in the 2012 book, Tiny Homes

Basich's feature in Tiny Homes.

What Basich realized from Area 241 was that his life passion was building. He said he used to think "Once I do this, I'll be done, but that's not me. I think everyone goes through that. You try to get somewhere, and then you're there, and then you want something else, something new to challenge you." 

He continues to work on a variety of projects, and Area 241 is nowhere near complete. He recently built a tiny, mobile home for himself and his girlfriend. He also has plans to build a stage for Area 241 where he can host performances and gatherings like his recent 170 person camp out. Eventually, he'd like to get a well so that he can be even more off-grid with his own garden and has experimented with a few apple trees already. 

One of several bricks outside of Basich's home, engraved after the project was complete. 

From his hammock, he shared some wisdom with me, "It's a lifetime work learning what you actually need to survive. All the extra things...you know, they come and go." Thanks for the inspiration and the hospitality, Mikey!


Our intern, Stacey Alonzo, is an outdoor enthusiast, yoga instructor, aspiring journalist, Burner, and lover of food, drinks, live music, and travel.

Posted in: Truckee Folks