Saturday, September 10th, 2011:
One of the earliest decisions as we began wrapping our heads around this tiny house project was to depart from conventional plumbing and pursue a composting toilet. We decided to take this leap for two reasons in particular:
-We did not want to be tied to the demands related to proper disposal of black water, wich really limits where a tiny house can be located.
-We felt like we had a real opportunity to re-evaluate our impact with this project. While we do appreciate the luxury of conventional waste management, it really is staggering how much water is actually consumed to dispose of our waste. We had the ability to make a deliberate and conscious choice regarding our waste, and took the opportunity.
We researched many different types and brands of composting toilets, eventually landing on the Biolet 10 Standard. We like the simplicity and features of this particular model, and felt like it would be the best fit for our needs.
The installation was a bit challenging as it required venting for the composting system to work properly. We opted to vent out the bathroom wall as opposed to up and out the roof. Cutting a hole in a wall seemed a bit more manageable than through the ceiling and metal roofing, though it then required navigating a couple of 45 degree angles.
Another challenge was that the vent pipe must be insulated anywhere it is not kept warm by the interior of the house. We ended up ordering another length of exterior vent pipe as well as two of the 45 degree angle fittings from Biolet to complete our project. Otherwise, every thing we needed for this unit came with it in the box.
Thanks to Danno Frierdich, Kyle Klues, and Eric Brennan for helping with the venting of our composting toilet system!
Sunday, January 23rd, 2011:
Finished the last two bathroom walls, completed the electrical work, and put the sleeping loft walls up.
The aromatic Red Cedar from the bathroom is filling the tiny house with the most pleasant smell, and the lights are filling it with the most pleasant glow! Today, the electrical work is officially a wrap. We’ve learned such a great deal throughout this phase of the project and, until now, had no idea how extremely satisfying it is to flip a switch and see that somewhere a light goes on -because you wired it to do just that! My, what we’ve taken for granted before learning what it actually takes to make things work…
Officially broke ground on the next large project: The sleeping loft. The end walls are up, and we’re ready to begin building the ‘upstairs’ closets and storage areas.
The Biolet Composting Toilet has arrived! Pretty light weight, and not too many working parts or gadgets… Looks like it is going to be pretty straight forward. It was fun to pull it out of the box and set it where it will live in the bathroom.
Put up the aluminum drip edge along the side of the roof in preparation for the metal roofing installation. Getting closer to wrapping up the roof project!
A friend of Camp, Ed Cler, stopped in to check out the Tiny House project and offer his stainless steel expertise. Ed is part of a family owned metal working business in Villa Grove, IL, Paul’s Macine and Welding Corp, and will be helping us meet the challenge of staying away from a fiber glass shower stall by designing a custom built stainless steel shower. We will also be following the Tumbleweed design suggestion of installing stainless steel counter tops in the kitchen. Ed and Paul’s Machine will be able to create these custom pieces for us as well!
Slower progress today in regards to construction, but a lot of progress behind the scenes…
Cut the rafters today in preparation for beginning the roof.
Was able to arrange for some friends to get together tomorrow to attempt to frame and cover the roof. We also picked up the roofing metal, ordered the windows, and purchased the toilet.
A major challenge for us was determining what to do with black water discharge, especially if the tiny house is not parked near a sewer or waste disposal facility. When looking into possible solutions Gabby suggested we consider composting toilets. As with the insulation, not to mention the whole tiny house concept in general, I thought she was completely nuts at first. The thought of our waste sitting around in such a tiny space was intimidating to say the least. After a lot of research the idea became more and more attractive. As we began to learn more about the concept of composting toilets not only did our black water waste problem get solved, but we realized that its use was very well aligned with why we are pursuing the tiny house to begin with. The final selling point was being able to deal with the waste we generate in a way that does not grosly waste or contaminate water. As with the rest of the folks in our culture, we have done both of these things to an unimaginable amount of the resource in our lifetimes, and it feels pretty darn good to try a different approach as we begin our lives in this tiny house.
We looked at several brands of composting toilets and finally decided upon the Biolet 10 Standard. This unit, while a bit funny looking and bulky, should more than meet our needs with no impact on our modesty or senses. You can check out a video from Biolet to get an idea of what their products are all about. The clip is a bit dated, and the narrator is kind of a creeper, but it offers a nice summary!