Brian's House Building Blog

Your Guide to Plumbing for Tiny Houses

by Peyton Sanders

In the 21st century, there is a growing movement towards minimalism, specifically when it comes to minimal living. This is most evident in the tiny house movement. People in Australia and all around the Western world are choosing to unburden themselves of extraneous space they don't need and are moving to not just smaller houses, but positively tiny living spaces.

Is a tiny house right for you?

There are many benefits to jumping on the tiny house bandwagon. First of all, because the cost of such a house is so low, many people build tiny houses from scratch because it's financially tenable to do so. It's far more possible to get on the property ladder for the first time with this kind of property, and people entering into retirement can downsize and really boost their retirement fund in an impressive way. What's more, it's actually been found that acquiring more and more stuff that rattles around in big houses makes people unhappy.

Getting into the actual design of your tiny house can be a whole lot of fun. While designing the interior space is probably the part you'll enjoy the most, it's really important not to neglect the nuts and bolts of the building design, like the plumbing, particularly because tiny house plumbing often requires an entirely different approach to standard houses.

Getting water into the house

Your first challenge with the plumbing design is getting water into the house. Of course, if you have a static tiny house, you can rig yourself up to the fixed plumbing system in your neighbourhood, but many people with tiny houses choose to put their homes on wheels so they can avoid land costs and decide to live wherever they want without staying in hotels.

First of all, you have the option to store water and not have running water flowing into your house at all. This does mean that you will need to be close to a water supply, but if you normally park somewhere like a campsite this wouldn't be a problem. And if you want to store buckets of water on your property, remember that you will need space for it, whether inside the home or outside, and tiny houses by definition don't have a lot of free space. Simple gravity showers can be installed that you can pour water into, and you can take as much water as you need for dish washing.

Something between a fixed plumbing system and no plumbing at all is called a hybrid system, which involves a system that hooks up to a permanent supply as well as a tank and a pump. This is a great idea if you want to have complete flexibility—ideal if you have a base but like to travel with your home sometimes.

Getting water and waste out of the house

Plumbing is always a two-way street. It's not only water for hot showers and dish washing that you need to concern yourself with, but how to get waste and water out of the house.

There are two degrees of water waste—grey water and black water. Grey water is the waste that comes from your shower drain and through your kitchen sink, whereas black water is the type that comes from your toilet, and it's normally the case that you have to dispose of these types of waste in different ways.

The simplest system is always to hook up to a city or town grid, but this isn't an option if you are mobile. The best way to separate the two types of waste otherwise is to use a composting toilet without plumbing for black waste and to dispose of all other grey waste by taking it to a waste disposal centre. Also, grey water is safe to be used on plants, so if you have some outdoor space around you, this is a very simple way of disposing of this waste.

The key thing is simply to match up your system with your lifestyle, which will really depend on whether you are living on or off grid. If you'd like to start designing your tiny house, speak with a contractor from a company like Bill Jacobs Pty. Ltd.