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Posts Tagged Design

Building Tiny Bathrooms

When folks ask us what was the most challenging aspect of building a tiny house we will chorus in unison: BATHROOM. Several factors made this the most difficult part of construction.

IMG_7842Firstly, this is the room we spend the least amount of time. For Cedric, this meant that finding inspiration to work on the bathroom was not easy. It was more interesting for us to design and build the kitchen where we spend the majority of our time. Secondly, designing a bathroom on wheels is challenging in and of itself. We love tile but the fact that the motion of moving the house would likely cause cracking and/or breakage threw that option out the window. We tried buying a shower pan but nothing fit our tiny space. We looked to RV and boat design but we wanted as little plastic as possible and much of those use plastic to create a waterproof space.  We considered using a hardwood such as teak since it was available through the warehouse where we constructed, but we feared it would be too heavy. Our bathroom is on the tongue side of the trailer and we didn’t want to weight it down. That was another reason for throwing out the tile idea-too heavy.

Finally, we decided on corrugated tin which was light and attractive. Before DSCN2756installing the outer materials the walls and floor were painted with reclaimed, heavy duty marine paint that’s used on ships to prevent water damage. For the flooring we decided to make a stainless steel shower pan. Cedric found the material at a junkyard. It was previously a kitchen counter but Cedric shaped, cut and welded it to fit our  bathroom space. This is where our community came to our aid because we did not have the equipment to reconstruct the stainless steel counter top.  We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it without the help of our friend Bill who has a machine shop. It was not a cheap option and it took a lot of work to get right but we don’t regret the time or the money spent. Our bathroom will probably outlast the rest of the house!

Once we had installed the tin and pan we noticed we had issues with standing water. We fixed this by banging the shower pan in around the drain allowing for better drainage. We built in a box on one side with a hinged lid where our bucket composting toilet is located. We heat our water with an on-demand hot water heater that’s propane powered. It works like a charm although we did have trouble keeping the flame lit on a very windy night!

IMG_7841The bathroom, or the wet room as we call it, is still not quite finished with one window left to trim but other than that it has turned out to be a great space.  We created a drainage field based on a gray water system we had used while working on an organic farm. It allows us to water our plants while showering which our banana and pineapple plants love! We are careful with the products we put down our drains using biodegradable soaps and shampoos that won’t harm the soil or plants. If comments on our garden are any measure of success than we hit the nail on the head. Of all the gardens I’ve had in Charleston, this one received the most praise from neighbors. I definitely think the extra watering had something to do with that! Ultimately, we’d like to build an outdoor shower for summer months as well as a possible outdoor kitchen but we still have a few months to consider those options!

Your Turn!

  • What challenges have you faced designing WCs for tiny spaces?

Amazing Rooftop Garden

Found this neat rooftop garden, I am not really feeling the art, but the curves are pretty neat.  I can imagine laying on the backs of the windows almost like a lounge chair on a spring day, taking a nap.

Go House Go! – Book Review

Today I wanted to share with you a great book that comes to us from Portland Alternative Dwellings (link below) written by Dee Williams.  Many of you will know her from her house being profiled in many videos, some of which I have posted on this site.  Not too long ago Dee launched Portland Alternative Dwellings with her house the Don Vardo, which is one of my favorite Tiny Houses to date.

Click Image For Link

The book, described by Dee as a “Tiny How To Manual” discusses some of the key structural elements in Tiny Houses in great detail.  I am very glad to see such a manual enter the Tiny House market as it fills a much needed gap when it comes to Tiny Houses on trailers.  These houses must be able to withstand huge forces as they roll down the road, Dee has been able to systematically address these issues in her book.

The manual starts of by describing types of forces that are exerted on a trailered house then shifts into how to address them.  She covers, in detail, the foundation, anchoring, wall design, roof design and water infiltration prevention.   Not only are they key elements to the design of a Tiny House, but it is often areas where an inexperienced person needs the most guidance.

There are a few things that this book (and the Tiny House market in general) left me wanting: a discussion on plumbing, electrical and gas.  I think what I really mean to say is that this book is great, but I would love to see Dee take a crack at each of these topics in their own stand alone book (hint hint, nudge nudge).  Dee does starts off by saying this books wasn’t designed to cover those topics, so I see this more as a opportunity than a negative.

There are a few things that I wanted to highlight in this book that make it really stand out.  First of the level of detail that Dee has put in here is great, not only does she show some great diagrams, but she backs up her design with solid data sources.  This book is a nice mix of easy to read language, but loaded with serious content that incorporates elements to adhere to Department of Transportation, the International Building Code and others.

Next is Dee’s foundation/floor framing design, after looking at other trailered Tiny Houses, it was clear this one is superior in many ways.  From handling stresses during transportation to the fact it is superior while have a lower sub-floor height than others.  I really like this approach and feel that it is more robust than others out there.

Finally this is the manual that I feel complements many Tiny House plans.  When you purchase plans from various Tiny House vendors you get highly engineered plans that are good quality, but assume you know a lot about house construction or expect you to pay for a contractor to build it.  This doesn’t mesh with the demographic that builds Tiny Houses.  They are typically hard workers, looking to save on labor costs, but don’t have the construction skill set.  This manual helps mitigate that gap in knowledge.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to those who are purchasing any Tiny House plans.  It will give you the knowledge and confidence in producing a truly high quality house.

The Little Easy

This is definitely on the larger side of small homes, but it has 2 bedrooms and everything is reletive to the number who live in the space.  Also being that it is a LEED certified home and still around (guessing here) 1000 square feet I thought it was post worthy.  Other interesting facts is that it can be built for under $100k, it is hurricane proof, it is handicap accessible, integrates food production and is a stellar design. This house was chosen as a winner in a LEED design competition and will actually be built in New Orleans.

At the end of the photos there is a link that will expand to show the insane amount of detail and thought put into this house.  They considered the environment, location, design to foster community building etc etc etc it is a lot of text, but I encourage you to check it out.  It is this level of thoughtfulness that drives great design,  it is not a house built by a checklist of specs, but a house driven by a philosophy and good design; This is what cookie cutter housing lacks.

Via

Check out all the details in the link below

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Reader’s Renderings

So recently two readers of TheTinyLife.com and our Facebook Page have posted some drawing they made on google sketchup.  I thought they were pretty good and I thought I’d share.  If you all ever have drawings, photos, stories, videos etc.   Shoot me an email  ryan112ryan [at]yahoo.com

I’ve been messing around with Sketchup for the last few months. I have a few ideas down. It’d be great to have some feed back. I have plenty more photos in my profile any and all ideas welcome.

-Stephen Smith

Now in production, 216 sq ft Tiny House. Two configurations: “A” module is bed/bath, “B” module is cooking/living. Modules are constructed from panels, bolted together on-site; may be disassembled and moved later.

-Bryan Jenkins

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