Plumbing and Electrical, Part I (pre-Insulation)

Hello everyone!

It’s time to celebrate the New Year – and the next step(s) in our tiny house construction. After more than six months we’re finally continuing the build. Actually, our Runaway Shanty is getting spray foamed right now as I am typing this. Thankfully the winter weather waited long enough to get us to this point without any troubles, but now it’s finally time for some snow!

Lots of work going on inside: The bathroom wall is up; shower walls and kitchen counter have been put in temporarily.

So, why would we wait all summer to finish our home, just to proceed through the coldest months of the year? The easiest explanation could be money. It’s true that we had to save up more of it, but the real cause was our inability to find a plumber and an electrician. We have fought battles with the DMV to get our house registered as a camp trailer, our stove needed a custom-made pipe due to the gambrel roof and our triple-pane windows from Germany weren’t easy to come by either, but, after all this, we never expected that plumbing and electrical would turn into the biggest test of our resilience. At some point Shawn even joked to rename our house to “Tiny House, Giant Problems” (a homage to our fellows Jenna and Guillaume which we met last year).

Since I believe that everything happens for a reason, we actually had two noteworthy occurrences that made the wait worthwhile:

1. In the end of November we noticed water coming in through the bottom of some windows. It wasn’t much, just enough to get our hands wet, but as we all know, even just the tiniest drop can cause problems. If the inside would have been already finished, we might have never seen it, or would have noticed it too late. After all, the house is newly built. So I’m glad we caught it. We called our builders and they stopped by to caulk the windows again. We assume that the movement of the house during towing might have caused it. Hopefully, the additional seal and the spray foam will hold up against the wet enemy for a while, but we will definitely remember to check for any leakage from now on.

Counter

From left to right: Stove, Dishwasher (furry), Kitchen Sink, Water Heater, Water Pump, Water Tanks

2. So many plumbers rejected our request, and even the only one that stopped by to look at our project, denied us a few days later. In my desperation I asked around in my office (I work at our local newspaper) and at some point also approached the reporter who had written an article about us in summer 2013. She nodded, thought for a few seconds and then scribbled down a name and number on a little sheet of paper. “Call Tim, he’s the man,” she said with a smile and handed me the note. As it turned out, she was right. Tim is not only a plumber by trade, but also a wonderfully gifted carpenter who built his own house by himself and also transforms school busses into living spaces. We have been working with him for a few months now, and our house is currently sitting on his property so that he can work right out of his garage.

Tanks

To create more storage space, our grey water tank will be stored in a hole in the ground.

What about the electrician? Similar story. When we finally found someone who had the necessary experience and interest, we were blown away by his proposal. 5k just for electricity is not what we had planned to spend. A friend of mine from Germany who just moved to the States and possesses enough electrical knowledge is now helping us. Phew…

P-Trap

Our p trap is easily accessible through the hole in the front, should it ever start leaking.

Now, for everyone interested in knowing the set up of our plumbing and electrical:

We are trying to keep as much as possible inside our tiny house to keep our pipes from freezing in the winter. Our shower has been raised a few inches to fit the p-trap underneath. We have a 24 gallon fresh and 26 gallon grey water tank. Both of them, as well as the water heater, the water pump, our washer/dryer combo and the electrical panel will be stored under our 10’6” long kitchen counter. The electrical panel also charges a battery which will in turn supply us with 12 Volt when we are not connected to electricity. Being able to go off grid for a while is important to us. With the battery we can run our water heater, water pump, heat recovery ventilation system, two 12 Volt outlets and our three waterproof LED strips (kitchen, bathroom and outside). Means, no matter where we are, we will have hot water, lights and a little bit of electricity. Our Kimberly Wood Stove will keep our home cozy and warm. At least, that’s our plan in theory, but we have bought most items by now. All that’s missing are a few more lights, the battery and the washer/dryer combo. You can click here for a more detailed list of our materials.

Elektrik

Some of the electrical wiring in our sleeping loft.

For now we will use a ladder to get into our two lofts, not a stairway. Since the house was already twice as expensive as anticipated we have to reduce some costs.

Anyway, we are very much looking forward to 2016 and all the surprises it will hold! 🙂

Happy New Year to y’all!

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9 Responses to Plumbing and Electrical, Part I (pre-Insulation)

  1. Carlene says:

    I want to run my plumbing in my electrical inside my home through pipes not through my walls

    • That’s a good idea, Carlene! We also will have some of the plumbing exposed or at least easy to get to.

      • I just had this conversation with my brother yesterday……I want my plumbing & my electric running on the inside of my walls NOT BETWEEN my walls & he insists it can’t be done that way!!! PICTURES PLEASE!!!!!!!!

      • Uh-oh! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. 🙂 We just saw a documentary about unique homes and one of them had the wires running outside the walls as well, just hidden inside some pipes. It fit right in with the design. So, if that’s what you want to do, you should think about how you would like to incorporate it. Do you see our counter in our photos in this post? Most of our plumbing is exposed but hidden underneath the counter. The only pipe inside some walls is the one under the shower, but we can reach it by removing the board in front of our shower base – you can even see the opening in one of the pictures. Good luck!

  2. Looking great. Cant wait to see more.

  3. livingtinycanada says:

    I understand your frustration finding skilled workers to help out.
    We have been lucky enough to find people that we can “trade” skills with. In exchange for electrical help, we are doing drywall and painting for a friend.
    For solar, we have received a lot of help and will be promoting the company that has saved us in our crisis.
    We did the plumbing ourselves with pex pipe and some PVC, pretty basic stuff. It was pretty easy but I’m sure you have more requirements that we do. If you have any questions let us know!

    • Thank you so much for your input! We like the idea of trading skills – it definitely fits the tiny house lifestyle! We actually have a friend who is now doing the electrical wiring for us, and we will offer some tree trimming in return (Shawn is an arborist). 🙂

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