Uh Oh, Water

When I first told my parents about my tiny house plan, their biggest concern was how I was going to get water in and out.

It won’t be simple. Water is one of the reasons my home will not be regularly mobile. While on the road, my house won’t have running water. Now, I’m sure there are campgrounds with RV hook-ups that I intend to make my house compatible with, but if I wanted to travel in a giant vehicle all the time I’d get an RV or a camper.

Some tiny houses, like this one in New Zealand, have built-in water storage so they can be off-grid. I don’t plan on being off-grid anytime soon, but I can fit some water storage into my house plans if I need to.

I intend to find someone to rent property from, hook up to their water via an underground hose, and pay for what I use. Winter is a serious issue, with some tiny housers simply not using much water at all in the winter and showering at the gym or friends’ houses. A hose will freeze. I could bring water in manually, but the hose taking water out of the house will freeze. Even having a hose far enough underground, there will be some exposed at both ends – but heat coils and insulation for pipes and hoses are available. My grandmother lives in a house that’s above ground and she has heat coils, so it’s doable.

I love that tiny houses force you to think about what you bring into your home, because you know it eventually has to leave. All systems in a modern home are hidden as much as possible, but in a tiny house, if you bring water in, you have to devise a way for it to get out. If you buy a bunch of new clothes, some old ones are going to have to go. I like that tiny houses make you purposeful. We need to wake up from our bad habits because we waste so much water and throw out so much stuff. I think being up close and personal with what we use will help us be more conscious. I love my twenty-minute showers and even though I know I’m using a lot of water, it’s not really real to me because it goes down the drain and I don’t see it. That being said, the water will still disappear down the drain in my tiny house, but I will be more careful with how much I use because I’ll know exactly where it’s going. We need to realize that our water supply isn’t endless and that it is a luxury to turn on the tap and have clean, hot water come out.

Speaking of getting the water out, the only water systems I’ve read about for a tiny house is where they just let their grey water run off onto some rocks or into a few natural filters. That’s decent, they use biodegradable soaps, but what about WINTER? I live in Canada, so water freezing is an issue! I’m going to research grey water systems more, but basically I believe I’ll have to have some very nice landlords that will let me dig a pit and fill it with different layers – the main material being rocks, I think – and then I’ll have a hose that will empty evenly (through holes in the hose) into the drip field, I think it’s called. Otherwise, my whole water system will have to be manual: bring jugs of water in, and periodically empty large water containers from under the house. That will definitely make me careful of the water I use.

Side note: sometimes water from the kitchen sink and the dishwasher is not classified as grey water because food can have harmful bacteria, so there’s another issue to consider.

It really all comes down to finding a good landlord. I would like to use a dishwasher and laundry machine in my house (as well as two sinks and a shower), but if I have to wash my dishes by hand (although I’m not convinced that it uses less water) and go to a laundromat, I’m okay with that.

I think I’ll contact some tiny housers and ask what they do about water (especially in the winter).

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"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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