Plumbing & Electrical

In-floor plumbing & electrical at the kitchen and solar electric battery bank compartment.

In-floor plumbing & electrical at the kitchen and solar electric battery bank compartment.

The majority of the plumbing and electrical in the tiny home is routed through the floor cavity. The loci for all of the systems exists at the kitchen-end of the tiny home, near the trailer hitch. There are three critical MEP hubs in this area: A) an externally concentrated cluster on the trailer hitch, where the municipal connections for water and electricity, the instant hot water heater, and the interchangeable propane tanks for kitchen appliances all exist, B) the electrical breaker box in the kitchen wall at the end of the house, which is adjacent to the mini-split unit, and C) the in-floor compartment under the kitchen floor where the solar electric battery bank and on-board water storage exist.

Water intake and outtake lines for on-board water storage tanks.

White tube: fan and air vent for solar electric battery bank. Grey box: electrical hookup to battery bank from charge controller.

Floor cavity for solar electric battery bank and on-board water storage.

Floor cavity for solar electric battery bank and on-board water storage.

When we designed the trailer for our tiny home, we had the structural tubing framed 12 inches below the top of trailer to allocate for a deeper floor cavity where the solar electric battery bank and on-board water storage tanks could be stored for easy access. The total depth of the cavity is 18", with 9.25" clear under the 2"x10" floor joists.

While having these systems integrated into the enclosure of the tiny home was inconvenient, as they ate up valuable floor storage space, added considerable weight to the home, and made the trailer construction more costly, it was critical to house them within the enclosed, temperature-controlled portion of the home. Concerning the battery bank: if stored without temperature regulation, high temperatures can shorten battery life, while low temperatures can reduce battery capacity. Concerning the on-board water storage: in an off-grid water supply system (and especially in the case of a tiny home on wheels), great care should be taken to make sure that water pipes do not freeze in the winter. If your rain water catchment storage is outside of the home, above ground, and not insulated, then you would need to disconnect your pipes from your water supply in freezing temperature situations. For this reason, we planned to always have 90 gallons of water (enough for two people for one week) on-board in our tiny home, so that in the event of freezing temperatures we could still access water in the short-term.

Plumbing connections. Top left corner: shower drain. Top right corner: toilet water supply and drain. Bottom right: washer water supply and drain.

Plumbing connections. Top left corner: shower drain. Top right corner: toilet water supply and drain. Bottom right: washer water supply and drain.

In any given building project, it is best to optimize plumbing by clustering functions together, which minimizes linear feet of plumbing lines, minimizing not only cost, but also the potential for leaks. We sacrificed optimized plumbing in our own tiny home for our preferred floor plan configuration. However, we still managed to cluster plumbing into two 'zones' at either end of the house: kitchen/on-board water storage at one end and bathroom/washer at the other.

Just another day in the life.

Just another day in the life.

After the plumbing was entirely routed through the floor cavities at the perimeter of the home, we were able to insulate and fully sheath the fixed portion of the floor. The rest was left open and accessible for general in-floor storage. 

Bathroom light and vent switches.

At left: toilet plumbing. At right: bathroom sink plumbing.

Rain water/city water connection.

Pressure check!

Pressure check!

"The Plumbing Leak Saga" as it has become known, was an approximately 6-week period, during which a small, yet persistent leak in the plumbing system plagued Kadim day and night. He would daily adjust some component of the system, reset the pressure gauge, come back the next day, and do it all over again, until through process of elimination he located and eradicated it! It was a very trying time; don't ask him about it unless you want an ear-full!

Future location of the breaker-box, above the kitchen.

Living area light switches and kitchen outlets adjacent to one of the entry doors.

Kitchen-end of the home, prior to sheathing the floor perimeter.

Kitchen-end of the home, prior to sheathing the floor perimeter.

As demonstrated in the above images, most of the electrical was run on a datum above the doors and windows. This allowed for efficient and uninterrupted routing throughout the tiny home: at sleeping loft outlets, in the bathroom for outlets, lighting, and the ceiling vent, in the utility closet for the washer, periodically in the living area, in the main ceiling for the downlights, at the kitchen counter for small appliances, under the kitchen counter for large appliances, at the solar batter bank, and above the kitchen window for the mini-split unit. These pictures don't show it, but we did install metal plate covers on the studs where electrical wires were routed to prevent any future accidental penetration of the wires when installing interior and exterior wall sheathing or finishes. 

Instant hot water heater.

Fully installed above trailer hitch, alongside municipal water and electric hook-ups and propane hook-ups.

Kadim Alasady

I graduated with a Masters of Architecture from the University of Kansas in May 2013. During my final graduate year there, I conducted a thesis project with an emphasis on parametric tool sets, mathematics, and structural typologies. Using the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona by Antonio Gaudi as a precedent, I explored computation methods to inform the processes in architecture and in the composition of spatial experience. My interest in these subjects continues to serve as a trajectory to guide my independent research and the development of personal projects. My journey through architectural education has given me a strong and diverse skill set which allows me to explore many fields in the digital arts and design. When I am not working architecturally, I am in a constant pursuit to experiment with my creative impulse. This experimentation ranges from modeling starships, thinking about composition, touring art and design galleries, working in the shop, etc.