Building a small cabin-style home or converting a shed into a home is often the result of a desire to live a much more frugal life. Those who do this want to minimize ongoing household expenses, and they are willing to drastically reduce the amenities and square footage of their homes in order to achieve their goal.
If you are planning to do a shed conversion or build a small cabin-style home, the following frugal plumbing tips can help you cut costs both while building and later while living in the home.
The first way to save money is to minimize the amount of materials and labor needed for the installation process. One of the best ways to do this is to concentrate all of your home's plumbing into just one small area. In a tiny-home construction design, this can easily be done by:
- incorporating laundry appliances in the kitchen or bathroom, instead of having a separate laundry area
- placing the kitchen and bathroom next to each other, using a wall to separate the two spaces
- locating the footprint of the cabin or shed close to the connections for water and sewer service
This type of careful planning to concentrate the area in which plumbing and sewer lines will be installed will provide initial savings on cost by reducing the amount of materials and supplies needed, as well as resulting in less plumbing maintenance needs while living in the home.
The next way to reduce both the costs of the initial installation and the ongoing operational costs is to make substitutions when choosing the plumbing fixtures and appliances you will need. For example, opting for a low-flow toilet is a cost-effective way to reduce your water bill. Another excellent example is to opt for an on-demand hot water supply system that will only heat water when it is needed. This will eliminate the space needs of a water storage tank and significantly reduce the ongoing costs of operation.
When planning this type of construction or conversion project, it is important to check first to make sure that your construction plans are permissible under current codes building and occupancy codes for your area. Your local planning and zoning or residential building codes officer can assist you with this. In areas with residential building or occupancy codes, owners may be given hefty fines or even ordered to demolish their homes if they are found not to be in compliance.
Taking time to discuss your home design and the plumbing it will require with a reputable, licensed plumbing contractor before you begin the actual construction can help you avoid mistakes, cut construction costs, and ensure that your finished home meets your standards for frugal, yet comfortable living.