Tag Archives: plumbing

Overdue for an Update

I have started moving in!  I have been sleeping in the tiny house since my mattress was delivered at the beginning of the month.  It has been glorious to wake up in my loft, hearing the birds outside and feeling so very much at home!  The bathroom isn’t finished yet, there is no electricity and the propane hasn’t been installed yet, up until yesterday there was nothing to sit on and the floors were covered up with cardboard.

Here’s a recap of the work that has been done in the month since my last update:

The bathtub has been built!  The drain was installed, but leaked, so we had to head back to the drawing board and after some consultation and a new drain basket, fingers crossed, I will have a functional tub at the beginning of June.    Here are the tub progress pics.

The toilet bench has also been built.  The final coat of paint is drying as I type this.  The toilet bench also accommodates the winter grey water tank and the fancy grey water plumbing.  I have to attach the piano hinge for the two lids on the bench (one for the toilet and the other for the grey water compartment).  The sawdust will live in a bin that will rest on the grey water compartment.  The toilet will be ready early next week.

The kitchen counter has been installed!  I am really happy with the counter I chose and with the amount of counter there is in the tiny house.  The kitchen sink and faucet were installed and the freshwater plumbing is almost finished, with the exception of the countertop water inlet connection.  As it’s spring, I am all hooked with a potable water hose and I have running water.  The exterior grey water tank or french drain still has to be worked out, but as I am not living in the house full-time yet, it hasn’t been a problem yet.

The HRV units got their boxes, which we filled with spray foam, and then they were finished.  I am really happy with how the HRV units look and I get a bonus space above them to sneak in a knick-knack if the fancy strikes me.

Left to do (nb: this is not an ordered list)

  • Get a welder to come out and weld on the brackets for the propane tanks.
  • Get propane installed.
  • Install the stove and the furnace.
  • Finish the freshwater plumbing.
  • Install the drain and faucet on the tub.
  • Install the lids on the toilet bench.
  • Install ¼” plywood on the front edges of the rafters for the roofers.
  • Get a new roof.
  • Figure out my clothing storage.
  • Install the last of the trim in the bathroom.
  • Install the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.
  • Have a house-warming party!
Advertisements

Plumbing

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.

Winter is Here

As winter settles in and the temperature stays below freezing, the realities of building a house on a trailer bed in Montreal make their presence known along with the weather.  When I first decided to build a tiny house I searched and searched for tiny houses built for my climate.  I was frustrated because I found very few resources for adapting a tiny house for northern climates.  I found the story of a tiny house that was riddled with humidity – condensation on all the windows and poor air quality as soon as the house was sealed up against the weather.  I found another house built in the Yukon, but couldn’t find much on how it was handling the winter.

I started my build without all of the answers for my questions and fortunately some of those questions are being answered.  At the beginning of December  I found an HRV unit that will work with both the size of my house and can handle the winters.   I am thrilled to know that my house will have a healthy air quality all year round.  I fully plan on using passive ventilation during the spring, summer and into the fall, but have no desire to let the heat escape and windows freeze open (and then possibly warp) in the winter.

But air quality isn’t the only thing to worry about.  Plumbing also a concern.  How to set up the plumbing so that I can have running water year round.  I have purchased a 26 gallon fresh water tank so that I don’t have to have a connection via hose to have water in my house.  This water tank will live under the sink, and the water pressure will be supplied with the help of a small RV water pump.  To fill the water tank, I have bought a marine fresh water deck inlet that I plan on installing in my counter so that I can fill the water tank from inside the tiny house, I will also be able to run my water from a potable hose in the summer through an exterior water inlet.  I don’t really relish the idea of having to fill my water tank from outside in the middle of January.

Then what to do with the water once it goes through the tap… I am pretty sure I will only be using my grey water tank when the weather is warm and will live with very simple plumbing in the winter – i.e. having a bucket under the sink to collect grey water and showering at friends or the gym.  The direct vent propane tankless water heater that I had really hoped to be able to use, can be susceptible to freezing, and I haven’t been able to find the  one vented through the roof that I selected for order in Canada and it would also require some fancy venting through the kitchen and main sleeping loft.  I went back to the drawing board and have chosen a 6 gallon electric water heater.  As much as I would like a tankless water heater, the  propane options don’t work well for my house.  The electric tankless water heaters require a lot of power each time they are used, and I’m concerned that it will test my electrical system every time it’s used.  The 6 gallon electric water heater will demand more constant but lower demand on the electrical system.

Other considerations I have made for my climate:  an insulated door with a smaller window,  triple pane windows (only an increases the Rvalue by 2, but every point counts), an additional 1″ of insulation on the exterior of the walls and 2″ on the roof.  I am looking into ordering straw bales to go around the bottom of the trailer instead of building a skirt of temporary insulated panels around the base of the tiny house to keep the space underneath the house somewhat insulated.  The straw will also serve as composting material during the summer.  I am sure other things will be added to the list as I go along.

Siding Completed!

The exterior siding on my tiny house is done!   This weekend we finished up the siding on the dormers and it is really satisfying to see the house with all of its siding completed.  Unfortunately, the roof wasn’t able to be done this past week because the 4″ screws weren’t delivered.  So, fingers crossed, the roof will get done this week.

In order to put up the siding on the dormers, the flashing had to go up along the front and two sides of the dormer where they meet the roof line.  Aluminum flashing 4×4 L flashing was cut to size and nailed into place with the roofing nailer and then strips of  weather guard  was installed on the side of the flashing that was on the roof.  All of this to keep water out.  After the flashing was installed, the trim was put up and then the siding.

The angled sides of the dormers ended up going more quickly than expected.  Getting the angles for the slope of the roof took a bit of time, but once that was done, it was a matter of getting one piece cut and checking that the angles were right (there angles were not the same for each dormer – some of that due to the insulation, the flashing, etc) and then cutting it to size and then using that piece as a template for the piece above it.  I was rocking the mitre saw, changing the angle of the saw and making some simple notches.  I then would run the cut pieces to Stefan, who was up on the scaffolding or a ladder and he would check the fit, get me to adjust the size and then install them.  The last couple of pieces on each side of the dormers were the trickiest, requiring lots of different angles.  There wasn’t much waste and I should have enough siding left over to build a small utility shed on the tongue side of the house.

Once all the siding was up, we moved the interior siding that was delivered back in October into the tiny house.  I started to move it early this week with the help of my aunt and two of my cousins. It became clear  that my original plan for getting the interior siding into the tiny house was not going to work out.  So we left the job half done and Stefan and I finished it this weekend. Stacking 16′ long boards inside a 20’10” house takes patience and delicacy.

Next step, a roof (everyone send good thoughts out for a delivery of 4″ metal roofing screws on Tuesday), then getting the electrical and gas lines roughed in, so that the spray foam insulation can go in.  Once that is done, the interior can begin.

A dormer with all of the siding up.
A dormer with all of the siding up.
Stefan installing the flashing.
Stefan installing the flashing.