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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tiny House Update: Plumbing and Electric Rough In

Alisha McDarris

Ah, plumbing and electric. Such necessary components to a modern day build. At least for our tiny house. And prior to the last couple of weeks, I knew almost nothing about either. I knew how to flip a breaker and fix a leaky faucet, but that was about the extent of my experience. I can now say that I possess slightly more knowledge on the subjects than I did last month. But just slightly.


Thankfully, we had a lot of help in these areas from people who knew a lot more than we did, so that helped keep my brain from exploding with all the talk of amps and watts and lines and loads. Having never wired a house we didn't know what size wire to use, how to connect everything together, what size breakers, how to connect lights, you get the idea. Same deal with plumbing. So if you've never taken a course on roughing in electric or plumbing at your local community college, I highly recommend enlisting the help of someone who has. Or better yet, someone who makes a living at it. We were lucky to know a few people who are experts on the subjects, so we even got the help for free! And man are we grateful. Cause we would have royally screwed something up.

As it stands now, plumbing and electric are all roughed in in the tiny house. Plumbing was much easier than electric and far less time consuming. My uncle came over for about 3 hours total and roughed in the entire interior. He was also kind enough to meet us at our local building supply store to help us pick out everything we needed. Twice. Super helpful. Plus he had all the tools and a bunch of extra pipe so we didn't even have to purchase that stuff. Yay for uncles! What we used for our tiny house plumbing was pex pipe, which is flexible and resists freezing. It's only a tiny bit more expensive than PVC but it's lighter and easier to work with and doesn't require as many connections. All that was required was to drill a few 3/4 inch holes (for 1/2 inch pipe) in the studs where the hot and cold water lines needed to run and to just shove the pipe through. Add a few fittings where faucets and washer hookups will be and voila! We haven't run our drain pipe yet, but it will run underneath the trailer and we'll use ABS pipe instead of PVC because it's lighter.

How to rough in electric in a tiny house was really baffling. So we felt so fortunate to be introduced to a friend of my parents who more or less does that sort of thing for a living. He was willing to come over several times a week after work to help us wire the house and figure out the breaker box system (which we only changed like three times). But he was so patient with us and we're really happy with how everything is split up, even if it required nearly 300 feet of 12/2 wire! His help was invaluable and we learned a few things along the way, so now I can throw around words like "line" and "load" and "3-way" in a conversation about electric and not sound like an idiot. And now I know how to wire a house and split up breakers so we don't blow a fuse if we want to use the blender and the toaster oven and the fridge at the same time! It's really quite exciting.

So my best advice on installing plumbing and electric in your THOW is to make friends with an electrician and a plumber. And then try not to stress about how long it's taking. Build on!

Alisha McDarris / Author & Editor

Alisha has been a writer and photographer forever. OK, maybe not forever, but at least for more of her 20-something years than she hasn’t been those things... [Read More]


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