The tiny house is moving forward in leaps and bounds, and then something comes up that stalls everything for a bit and then the build moves forward in a different direction until something comes up that has to be creatively encountered. The plumbing demands of the house have certainly caused a few minor stalls, creative problem solving and multiple trips to the hardware store.
There are conversations in the tiny house community about the cost of a tiny house per square foot vs the cost of a traditional home. I have strong opinions about that and won’t get into them now, but I will say that in a tiny house, particularly one in this climate, you have to fit in a lot of the same elements as a traditional home in a much smaller space and then fit in some things you would have to think about let alone find space for.
I started figuring out my plumbing needs and purchasing the big elements of my plumbing several months ago. My plumbing system allows for pressurized water supply from a hose and also a supply via a 26 gallon fresh water tank under my kitchen sink. The pressurized water is pretty straightforward – the water comes in and goes either directly to supply the taps of the kitchen sink, bathroom sink or bathtub with the normal bypass to the hot water heater OR it can fill the fresh water tank. The fresh water tank can be filled 3 ways: (1) the pressurized supply that comes in through an RV water inlet that has a hose connection and (2) a poured water supply line, (3) poured in through a marine water inlet in the counter. Once the fresh water tank is filled, there is a water pump that draws water from the tank to supply cold water directly to the taps or to the hot water heater to supply hot water to the taps. The reasons for the fresh water tank and the multiple ways of filling it are weather related. At -30 celsius, there is no guarantee that even the best heated potable water hose will be able to supply water to the house, and at the same time I want to be able to fill the water tank from inside – getting water into a small hole at chest height at -30 is not my idea of fun.
Once the supply aspect of the fresh water system was worked out and plumbed, the rest of the fresh water went really quickly. The fresh water plumbing is done with pex and clear vinyl tubing (for filling the fresh water tank through the exterior and interior inlets).
The grey water has had its challenges as well. The grey water from the bathtub, the kitchen and bathroom sinks all goes out of the house at the same spot under the tub. The grey water will leave the house and go into a storage tank or a french drain will have to be set up, depending on the location of the house. That system will work well until the weather goes below freezing. I have no desire to chance what will happen in a grey water outlet or tank once the water in it freezes and expands. Visions of cold hours under my trailer at -30 are also not my idea of fun. The original plan was to have buckets under the sinks and to shower elsewhere in winter, both of which I am fine with. Unfortunately, fitting a fresh water tank, a pump and a water heater under a counter does not leave any space for a bucket.
Here is the solution: the grey water from the kitchen goes past the bathtub, joins up with the grey water from the bathroom sink and then heads to a valve that either sends it towards the tubs grey water and out of the house or to a grey water container inside the bathroom. Putting the solution in place called for some creative plumbing and pieces. I am still on the hunt for a 5-6 gallon grey water tank that I will be able to remove from its spot in the bathroom and empty in a suitable location.