Tiny houses are a rising phenomenon all over the world. With each passing day, more and more people are shifting from conventional regular-sized homes to mini-homes that are less than a quarter the size of a traditional house. Now there are many reasons for this shift, such as the minimalist appeal, the sustainable living situation, etc. But one of the main reasons people choose to live in a tiny house is the cost-effective build of it. In this article, we’ve broken down the cost of plumbing a tiny house so you can choose the perfect plan for your dream home.
To construct a tiny house would cost somewhere between 25,000 to 125,000 USD. This is pretty cheap compared to an average house in the USA, which costs more than $300,000, including the land. A multitude of factors influences the cost of building a tiny house. The first deciding factor would be whether you want to build your tiny house on a foundation or fixed land, or would you want to pursue an off-grid life and take your tiny home on the go with you. Depending on your choice, you would either need to purchase land and a permit or get a vehicle and convert it according to your preferences. After these, you would have to consider other expenses, which include plumbing, electrical, flooring, framing, roofing, insulation work, etc.
For a tiny house, these additional expenses, including plumbing expenses, can vary largely depending on the lifestyle you choose. In this article, we will look at the cost breakdown for the many plumbing solutions you can implement in your tiny house.
Plumbing or finding a suitable water supply is one of the most crucial parts of all houses, be it a tiny home or a huge mansion. One of the perks of living in a tiny house is that you have a lot of control over its design and utilities. Unlike regular houses, the plumbing of a tiny house depends largely on the type of lifestyle you choose for yourself. So there are a lot of factors that go into choosing the right plumbing and water supply system in a tiny house. And so, the cost of plumbing a tiny house varies accordingly.
The essential consideration for small homeowners when it comes to plumbing is whether they want to live on or off the grid. The place where the small home is either positioned or connected to a foundation is referred to as “on-grid.” In this situation, the house has access to a reliable water source, whether it’s the state’s standard water system or a campsite with running water. On the other hand, off-grid means living in a more rural area away from large towns and cities with water and electrical infrastructure. Typically, these areas do not have access to a traditional water source to connect to the small house. So whether you choose to live in a fixed location or decide to travel around in your tiny home will heavily influence the plumbing situation of your house.
Before we dive into the specifics, we need to know about the two types of wastewater: blackwater and greywater. The excrement from your tiny home toilet is black water. On the other hand, greywater is wastewater from sinks, showers, and washing machines. Basically, any wastewater that hasn’t come into touch with excrement is referred to as greywater. While plumbing, you would have to consider pathways for both these types of wastewaters.
Depending on the location of the tiny house and the lifestyle of the homeowners, the plumbing situation of a tiny house can be divided into three categories. These are on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid. Next, we will be discussing these arrangements in detail and breaking down the cost of plumbing in a tiny house in a more comprehensive manner.
Plumbing a tiny house is quite less expensive compared to plumbing a regular residence. The price of installing a plumbing system in a tiny house is determined by its elements. For example, a home shared by one to three people using a hybrid plumbing plan would require $700 to 900 dollars in supplies, without counting the toilet and other bathroom accessories. Otherwise, plumbing in a tiny house is expected to cost somewhere around $3,000 to $7,000. However, this does not include the cost of labor. In most places, a plumber’s hourly rate ranges from $75 to $130. This covers the cost of plumbing supplies such as toilets, sinks, and other fixtures. Larger homes in the 1,000 to 2,000 square foot range spend approximately $2,000 and $10,000 on plumbing, covering labor and other necessary costs.
The least expensive choice for an off-grid tiny house would be to live in a house with no plumbing. This would necessitate the use of a compost toilet and a greywater system to drain the waste from the tiny house. And for collecting water, you would also need a rain catchment setup or to cart or transport water in from somewhere else. Your main expense would be setting up a rainwater catchment device, getting a water pump, purifier, tank, and compost toilet for this system.
First, let’s talk about the water transportation system. Getting water in from an off-site may seem like a difficult process, but it isn’t nearly as painful as it sounds. You can easily find large water jugs are that are inexpensive and simple to get by. These jugs or bottles can usually hold around 5-gallons of water and cost approximately $15 to $20. Also, many food co-ops provide purified drinking fountains where you can fill up your water containers for a few bucks per gallon. This way, you’ll be able to observe how much water your home needs and become more aware of any water waste.
Another alternative is to install a water tank in your home and circulate the water using a pump and pressurizer. This option allows you to enjoy the benefits of plumbing without having to pay for it. The price of the pump and pressurizer vary according to their size, but the overall cost will be somewhere around $500.
And in case you are opting for the rain catchment system, you would need a transfer pump and UV filter to make the water drinkable. For this system, you’ll need to take in the price of proper equipment, which might set you back roughly $500.
The biggest problem of having an off-grid setup in your tiny house is the disposal of black water. The majority of individuals who live in tiny mobile houses opt for a waterless toilet to avoid having to deal with blackwater disposal. For a washroom toilet, a composting toilet is the most water-saving option you can find. It is inexpensive, convenient, and environmentally friendly. In contrast, incinerating toilets are much more pricey, but they don’t require as much upkeep as the composting ones. Choosing between the two is a matter of personal choice and affordability. Depending on its features, a high-quality compost toilet might cost you anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000. And the cost of an incinerating toilet ranges from $3,000 to $4,000.
And for the greywater solution, tiny mobile homes mostly opt for portable greywater tanks. Depending on their size, these may cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000. Before dumping any greywater into the ground, make sure to check your city laws and see if your waste falls under the greywater of that particular locality. This is because some areas regard anything from a kitchen sink to be “black water,” whereas it is mostly considered greywater in other places.
If you don’t plan on living off the grid and have access to a stable water source, plumbing for your tiny home will become a lot easier for you. The majority of small houses on the grid are plumbed in almost the same manner as RVs. Whether you buy a pre-built tiny house or design blueprints from companies that assist tiny house owners in designing and building their homes, most tiny houses are intended to be plumbed in this way.
In this system, the water enters through an RV hose and exits through an RV sewer valve, which connects the house to the sewage. For potable water, you’ll need to buy a freshwater hose. A sewer line costs roughly $30, a twist-on valve costs around $20, and a freshwater hose costs nearly $20 if you’re building your own house or altering purchased designs and want to go the plumbing way. Also, a removable water filter will keep germs and mineral deposits out of your supply system.
In the on-grid living situation, you can also use the rainwater catchment system or buy freshwater from your local food companies, but that would be a bit of a hassle compared to the easy direct city line system. However, choosing the best-suited plumbing solution for your tiny house depends on you.
For wastewater management, you can get a direct sewage line, dispose of your greywater in wetlands or even use gravity-fed filtration buckets if you are living on-grid.
First, let us talk about the sewer system. If you live in a permanent property, it is probably the most straightforward option for disposing of wastewater for your tiny home. Although this approach does not entail reusing wastewater, you can just send your water there if you have access to a sewer or septic system that isn’t at capacity. But if you are thinking of sustainable living, this is not the most ecologically friendly option for you.
Next, if your small house is located near a slope, you can utilize gravity to filter your greywater in a very easy way. Simply place several buckets at set intervals down the slope and guide the water through them. This configuration should cost you less than $100 and doesn’t necessitate any changes to the property you live on. Plus, it is a very eco-friendly solution as well.
You can also build a branching drain system if you live permanently on a specific property. Water flows via a drain that divides into tiny branches and a waste basin using gravity in this minimal method.
While this approach isn’t good for purifying greywater, it is excellent for dispersing it over a large area. However, this approach is more difficult to set up. You may also try to make your branching drain system by connecting a garden hose manifold to other hoses and distributing your water in the same way.
Every homeowner has to face some woes with plumbing in a house. These problems entail additional costs that are not included in the methods of plumbing we discussed till now. The most common problem in plumbing is dealing with winterization. To prevent the small home’s plumbing from freezing or bursting, both tiny houses that are mobile and that are built on foundations must frequently be winterized. While some of the solutions to these problems can be fixed easily by the homeowner himself, others might require help from professionals. To help with this, we have noted down some solutions to winterize your tiny house.
Insulation is an excellent long-term option during harsh winters if you don’t want to bother with unplugging your supply line every other night. For this, all you need is heat tape or cable, foam insulation, and duct tape. Simply wrap a piece of heat tape over your water supply to keep it from freezing and block the heat from escaping via the heating cable.
Burning supply lines is another popular solution to winterize your tiny house. In this method, the supply lines are usually buried beneath the freezing lines. But if burying doesn’t solve the problem, you can also consider completely rewiring your supply line.
Plumbing your tiny house can be quite a challenging and stressful task. And although the cost of plumbing a tiny house might not be that expensive, choosing the right plumbing and doing it most cost-effectively will help you in the long run.
We hope this article helped calculate the cost of plumbing your tiny house. And whether you decide to travel around or settle down, we hope you find the system that works best for your house.
You can also check: Small House Plumbing Diagram All You Need To Know