Tiny housing options are taking downsizing to a new level. And with property prices on the rise, the trend seems unlikely to slow soon.
Some tiny home offerings are built on a foundation and will have plumbing like a standard home, but a tiny home on wheels will have plumbing more like an RV or boat.
Whether you choose a mobile tiny house or one planted firmly in a neighborhood, DIY tiny house plumbing takes some extra TLC. Here are some things to consider when you start working on your tiny home's pipes.
Most traditional homes get their water from a city, and are thus considered “on-the-grid.” If your home is not connected to the public water system, it is considered “off-the-grid." Tiny homes can use either system.
Some homeowners choose a water tank they can fit inside a cabinet. The tank is filled by connecting an RV hose to a water supply (“on-the-grid”) or by carrying backup containers of water ("off-the-grid").
Once hooked into to the water supply line, the next thing to do is heat the water (unless you prefer exclusively cold showers).
One method is a tankless propane water heater. This can be a cost-effective option compared to paying for access to electricity.
You'll need to install a pump for water pressure in your sinks and shower, and, of course, a pump needs some form of power to get it going. If you’re off-grid, opt for a gas or maybe even the latest solar powered option.
If you are on-grid and connected to the area’s public water supply, no pump is required for water pressure, but you might want to buy a heated water hose for colder months, to avoid lines and pipes from freezing over.
Some tiny home owners choose to skip the whole integrated plumbing system, instead keeping stores of water near their points of use. This means storing jugs or barrels near any sinks or showers for direct access, and it requires refilling by hand. This method is cost effective, and if you're young and strong, you can probably handle this option (it might even make for a good routine workout), but if you're getting into your golden years, you might want to think twice about moving all your water around by hand.
Greywater and Blackwater
Draining wastewater works a bit differently in a tiny home, since sewage connections are not always available. In general, water that drains from sinks and showers is referred to as “greywater” and toilet waste water that drains is known as “blackwater.”
Greywater is easier to dispose of, since it has less potentially harmful bacteria. To get around dealing with more hazardous liquid, some tiny homeowners prefer composting toilets, which eliminate the need for blackwater disposal, and may even help the environment.
If your tiny home is on-grid, or parked at a great campground, you can hook up to a public sewer or septic system via an RV sewer hose. In this scenario, you can get rid of greywater and blackwater quickly at the same time.
Off-grid greywater is typically sent through pipes from your home to a portable storage tank, which you empty when you need to at a certified dumping station. Another possibility, if your tiny home is built on a foundation, is to lay pipes that deliver greywater to your garden or lawn.
This two-fold solution can save you money by watering grass and other plants with recycled liquid. If you want to go this route, be sure to use only natural, biodegradable and organic toiletries since greywater can harm foliage if it's contaminated with too much soap.
Have it Your Way
If your tiny home is mobile, you might choose to connect it to functional water systems when they're close to hand, and keep some backup options like tanks or jugs for when you're roughing it. If you like to keep your options open, you might find it appealing to trade a little extra space in your home for added flexibility.