Final Plumbing

An awful day to be doing anything let alone plumbing my house.  Humidity, rain, and thunder were the order of the day.  The plumbers arrived on time and got right to work.  Overall, I think they did a very nice job on the final.  I didn’t care for them on the rough in but they were great on the final.

I picked up a bunch of traps and sink lines for them to use from Lowes.  They brought their own stuff which was as good or better than my stuff, so I told them to use their stuff.  Lowes accepted them back no questions asked.  I think the difference between big box parts and pro parts is getting bigger.

The plumbers were like 800 pound gorillas leaving dings, footprints, and smudges everywhere.   When you do your final, take precautions to protect any finished areas because they will get marked up since space is limited in a tiny house.  They tried their best to be careful but its tough sometimes.

By lunch time we had everything installed with a lot of condensation but no leaks!  As of this writing, I have cold water in my Bodega with hot water on the way next week when the gas company installs my tank.

Once the tank is installed, the plumbing inspector will come by with incense and rose petals to bless the work and sign off.

Wed night I met with the board of health (two guys in an old town office).  They looked at pics of the grass over my septic tank and signed my occupancy permit.   This weekend will be final touchup and the place will be ready for wood floors.


Final Odds n Ends


This weekend I began what will be 2 weeks of punch list work.  Meaning I finished all the little odds n ends that were too time consuming to deal with when I was building.  It also means that I was fixing things that I broke when building other things (wall dings etc).

The weekend began by renting a 12ft ladder from Home Depot.  I could have bought one, but they are $280 and I just don’t see the need when a rental was 22 bucks.

Fan Fix

When I originally installed the fan, very little air was blowing.  I speculated that it needed some room away from the ceiling to let aerodynamics work properly.

I pulled down the ceiling fan and installed a 24 inch rod on it.  I also decided to install a special switch that would reverse the direction of the fan.  That is a very useful feature in the winter heating season where you want the fan sucking instead of blowing.  Here is the circuit diagram in case you want to add one to your DC fan (I did not draw this, just stole it from a google search).


With everything back together I tested the fan and guess what?  It actually blows and sucks air!  Lesson: make sure you have enough space around your fan….tough in a tiny house, but important.

Stove Trim

The other task I needed the ladder for was the trim around the stove pipe.  This was a very complex piece since the pipe goes thru both the flat and sloped ceiling.  I had my friend Tim make me templates on his CAD system so I could trace them onto cardboard and then metal.

The trim is made in two pieces and are different sizes.  I made cardboard ones first, then when I thought I had it right the cardboard helped me mark the sheet of aluminum.  I use thin gauge aluminum and scribe it with a sharp utility knife.  If you scribe it deep enough, the pieces can be wiggled a bit and will break at the scribed line.  The process was a real pain in the ass let me tell you! If possible install your chimney so standard trim can be used.

Kitchen Trim

I wanted something to break up the walls of the kitchen and make the control panels not look so much like well….control panels.  I decided to use up the leftover paneling from the porch project.

Using a liberal amount of Liquid Nails paneling formula and a few strategically placed finish nails I added about 24 inches of paneling.  I will add some nice black coat hooks and who knows what else.  Might find an old school telephone for the wall as well.

Water Tank

The last thing needed before the plumber comes is the water tank.  I built up the “tee” pipe with all the doo-dads you need.  It starts with a gate valve which lets me block the pipe so I can force water to the other house.  Then a check valve is installed so that the tank can’t push water back into the well.  Next a connection to the tank, pressure gauge, relief valve, and pressure switch is made.  The pressure switch “switches” at 60 PSI which will command my pump controller to shut off.  The relief valve opens if that fails to happen.

After installation I discovered that there was a leak which sucks since this stuff is really packed in there.  The cause was the plastic fitting on the tank.  The instructions to hand tighten and then some are totally bogus.

My solution was to rip out the tank and use a pipe sealant rather than teflon tape.  Then I tightened it pretty darn tight.  After pressurizing it for the second time….there was still a leak!

For the third attempt, I decided to leave everything in the hole and tighten it in place.  Using a mother adjustable wrench I tightened it to the point where I thought it was ready to crack.  After pressurizing the third time, it was still leaking a tiny bit.  I’m going to let it be and see if the pipe sealant stops it up.  There is nothing in the hole that can be damaged, so a little drip is not an issue.  During humid months the tank will sweat which can produce a lot of moisture….so a little drip is acceptable (to me anyway).

Whats Next?

This Thurs the plumber is coming for final plumbing work.  The propane company will be coming by next Thurs to install a 200 pound tank.  This weekend, I will be doing more punch list items, cleanup, and hardwood floor shopping.  If all goes well, I should be installing the flooring by the third week in Sept.  A move in date of Oct 1 looks to be doable.  Stay Tuned!

Plumbing Rough-In Complete

Lots of activity this weekend.  The plumbing rough-in is 100% complete and the electrical is moving along nicely.  Today I will report on the plumbing and my next post will show the electrical work.

Rough Plumbing

Friday I spent the day watching over the plumbers.  I’m glad I spent a bunch of time prepping for the plumbers or it would have turned out much worse.  I ended up losing my built-in medicine cabinet, part of a closet, and one cabinet has a pipe going thru it.

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photoYup, that hole in the roof is a bit ragged…easy foam will be required!

The closet I expected to lose a bit of space to pipes so I’m not that upset about it.  The Medicine chest was lost because the plumbing code says that there needs to be a “future vent”….I guess the future of that vent will be spent where my medicine cabinet would be.

The pipe thru the other kitchen cabinet didn’t need to be there and will be “relocated”.  I had not counted on needing to vent the laundry box but it needs to be vented or the sink will suck all the water out of the laundry trap and the house will stink.  I’m just going to move it under the cabinet…no big deal…looks like there is room to squeeze it in there.

I did manage to screw up the hole in the roof which needed to be a 3 inch pipe and I only cut the hole for a 2 inch pipe.  Worse still, I installed a 2 inch boot which needed to be cut out and replaced.  The replacement boot is mostly held on with Lexel and a couple nails.  Not the installation I wanted but I doubt it will leak

Plumbing Inspection

There were three things that needed to be done to inspect the plumbing:

1) The stack gets plugged  at the bottom with an air bladder device and filled with water.  I have no water in the house yet so I had to lug a 30 gallon drum filled with pond water to accomplish this task.

2) The water pipes are tied together and pressurized to 120PSI.

3) The gas pipe is plugged on the end and pressurized to 3PSI.

If no joints leak from the stack pipes and the pressures stay constant in the other pipes, then they pass.  The inspector also looks at the pipes and locations to make sure everything that’s required has been installed.  There are some critical heights that need to be adhered to or bad things can happen if a drain plugs up.

The inspector came by this morning and signed off without finding any issues.  I took the time to get advice on the placement of the propane tank and a few other things.  I probably won’t see him again until the final inspection.
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Hose to pump water into the stack

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Ajax supervising the water pump as the stack fills

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Shower controls plumbed with PEX piping

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Here you can see the vent pipe that was run thru the cabinet space.  I’m going to run it thru where the medicine chest would have been.

Prepping for Plumbing

Finally a nice weekend to get some work done.  The outside air temp was nearly 50 degrees and due to my stellar insulation job the inside temp was colder.  This weekend I worked to get the place ready for rough plumbing and electrical.

I’ll add some pics to this post….my phone battery died….check back later!

Water Heater

I purchased an EZ Tankless hot water heater which is a MA approved direct vent model that runs on LPG.  It’s a sealed unit that does not use combustion air from the house.  Instead, it uses a unique pipe within a pipe system where fresh air comes in from the outside pipe and exhaust leaves the center pipe.  This preheats the air and cools the exhaust.

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The instructions tell you how much room to leave around it and how far the exhaust port must be from a window and other vents.  In my case I need to maintain 12 inches from the loft window.

I started by installing 4 inches of foam left over from the outside in the water heater bay.  On top of that a 2×3 fits nicely to hold the insulation in place and provide a mount for the heater.

I used a 4.25 inch hole saw to make a hole for the pipe.  Even though the instructions say no special clearances are needed for the pipe, I lined the hole with a sheet metal thimble and put some metal plates on either side of the wall.  The seams of the pipe get sealed with HVAC metal tape.  A couple of deck screws attach the unit (which is not that heavy) to the wall


A mistake I made was not cutting the holes around my drains big enough.  I ended up using the 4 inch hole saw to open up the shower and toilet holes.  A tip for using a hole saw on an existing hole:  Use the saw to cut a hole scrap plywood.  Attach the plywood scrap to the deck with screws and use it to guide the saw.  Rather than guiding the blade from the center drill, you guide it from the outside.


I bought a Kohler shower kit from the Depot and installed the temperature control in the shower unit.  Since the shower unit is so small, I decided to place it off-center which hopefully will make it less likely to poke you when showering.

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The shower head I mounted in the ceiling a little towards the wall rather than the middle.  You dont want water spraying on the opening too much.


I bought a laundry box to make life easier.  Its plastic and pretty flimsy (like everything these days) but I think it will work.  I used some fender washers and deck screws to attach it to the framing members rather than the included bracket which were shit.


With all the big stuff out-of-the-way, I marked up the floor and installed scrap plywood in the places where piping would be coming and going.  I don’t want the plumber making it up as he goes.

Kitchen cabinets

I began framing the kitchen cabinets as a bonus task this weekend and discovered that my building is not as square and flat as I thought.  It seems that the slab is 1/2 inch higher in the middle than the sides.  This translates into my kitchen cabinets touching the floor on one end and being 1/2 inch up on the other.

I also discovered that the floor above is a bit out of level.  I spent a bit of time getting a reference lines that I could work off of.  This kind of thing is fairly common, you just need to plan ahead so no one notices when the project is finished.

After a bit of wrangling I got the upper cabinets framed and a the two ends of the lower cabinet assembled.  I ran out of lumber and will try to finish up after work this week.

Whats Next?

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Underslab Plumbing

After being held up for weeks I finally have pipes installed!  The main 4 inch pipe sweeps nicely under the foundation.  This pipe is bedded in sand so that rocks won’t poke thru.  There is also a vertical pipe that rises to grade for servicing the pipe (cleanout).

Once under the slab the pipe rolls up to a very funky PVC tee which has an extra 2 inch port on one side.  The bottom of this fitting connects to the septic system.  The main 3 inch port (would be the tee port if this were a standard tee) connects to the toilet.  The other 2 inch side port connects to the shower drain.  The shower drain has a trap installed under the slab.

The top port is bushed down to 3 inches and runs over to the wall.  The kitchen sink, vanity, and washer drains will go here.  The stack vent will also connect to this pipe.


You notice that the top pipe is very close to the top of the slab.  In fact near the wall its only 1 inch below the surface.  The radius of the elbow is going to make it tough to install the sill boards for the wall.  Why on earth did the plumber do it this way?

He wanted to reduce the pipe size to 3 inches at the cleanout and run 3 inch lines in the slab.  This would have lowered all the pipes by about 4-5 inches and put them just below the level of the concrete.  The plumbing inspector is a ball buster and *might* have given him a hard time about that setup.  Not wanting to cut the job apart, he did it the way he thought the inspector wanted to see it and not the best way for this job.  The stupidity in this state is amazing!



Tomorrow the plumbing inspector will sign off in the afternoon.  I will finish up the slab work and get the building inspector to approve the slab and hopefully next weekend the slab can be poured.

Holiday Update

I have not posted in a while and I have many things to talk about.  The detail work on my slab is close to being complete and I am getting things ready for the concrete truck.

In the state of MA, residents are just too stupid to glue pipes together.  It’s possible that someone might be overcome by the smell of PVC glue and become injured somehow….its for the children…keep them safe!

Someone somewhere (probably a plumbers union) decided that only licensed professional plumbers are allowed to install pipes.  This has led to a situation where plumbers just don’t give a shit.  They cherry pick the jobs they want to do without returning phone calls for the other jobs offered them.  Many quote extreme prices for small jobs hoping to gouge the shit out of unsuspecting consumers.

One plumber quoted me $7500 not including fixtures to plumb my little bodega.  At first, I thought “maybe this is going to cost more than I thought”.  Then I looked at his quote and he had listed “ABS drain pipe and fittings” at $675 just for the materials!

Being curious, I pulled out a tape and determined that it would require about 11 feet of 4 inch pipe, and 9 feet of smaller 1.5 to 3 inch pipe to complete the job.  The job would require about 10 fittings.  Quoting $675 for 20 feet of pipe and 10 fittings can only mean a few things: 1) this guy is a crook, 2) he wants to see if i’m an idiot, 3) he did the quote wrong, 4) he really does not want the job.

I need to keep looking….so far 3 phone calls/emails and no responses.

Insulation, Vapor barrier, and Rebar

In my last post I had the center part of my slab filled in with gravel.  This weekend I compacted that gravel and brought the level to within 2 inches of the top.  I then installed 2×8 foot sheets of insulation over the top.

The vapor barrier is a product called Tu Tuff.  It’s a 4 mil plastic sheeting that reminds me of potato chip bag material.  The vapor barrier is laid over the foam and tucked into all the nooks of the slab to hopefully keep moisture out of the slab.

On top of the vapor barrier I installed rebar (which is pretty expensive BTW).  Code requires me to have two 1/2 inch pieces at the bottom of the footings and one at the outside edge near the top of the slab.  I also added some cross pieces to make the slab even stronger.  Before the pour I will install some mesh over the top of the rebar just because.

You will notice that 1/4 of the slab is undone….thats where all the plumbing needs to go.

Deck/Porch Details

The front porch will be about six feet deep and will sit on concrete piers in front and be bolted to the slab.  Its much easier to install “J bolts” than drill fasteners so I laid out the bolt pattern on the foam insulation and stuck the bolts in place.

My concrete piers I just dug three holes 4 feet deep and used 6 bags of concrete and some rocks to pour footings.  The building code requires 13 x 13 inch footings 6 inches thick.  Mine are probably thicker and wider as I just filled in the bottom of the hole.  Note that I also installed some 1/2 inch rebar to prevent the frost from shearing off the piers (happens a lot here).

Plumbing Layout

The last thing I did in preparation for the plumber was to install mock walls so the plumber could figure out the exact locations for everything.  The shower pipe will have a 12×12 box around it to allow the plumber to install the trap post concrete pour (rebar stake in box).  The large box is the form that will create the recess for the well expansion tank

Full Gallery

Septic Installation

My septic system is being installed as I type this.  Several truckloads of fill are on their way to the job site for the soil absorption system (SAS).  Dan hopes to have all the piping, distribution box, and tank installed today so the engineer can “bless” the installation.  Yesterday Phil from the board of health came by to see the soil at the bottom of the SAS.  Apparently he was happy with what he saw.

Here is the latest round of pics:

The house lot as viewed from the parking area. This access road will be replanted with trees when construction is finished.  For now I need to get dump trucks and concrete trucks to the site.

Walking up the access road this is where the house will be located.  The mound in the background is behind the SAS.

East side of the SAS area.

Looking west over the SAS.  The pile on the left is all the stumps and rocks from excavation.

This rock was so big even Dans big ass machine could not pick it up.  He dragged it to this location, hopefully he drags it somewhere else.

I’m going to leave work early to take pics of the system components before they get buried.  I’ll have some more septic system pics in the next post.

The next milestone on the horizon is the slab.  Dan said that he should be digging the hole for it on Saturday morning.  I may be able to get some grading done on Sunday.  Hopefully next Wed I can get my building permit which would allow me to start putting in forms.