tiny house living

Tiny House- Big Challenges

I have had one blog reader who commented that I should describe what went wrong when we first got our beach cottage- it was not all smooth sailing! Great suggestion, so here is the story of the many bumps in the road, in all their gory details.

One of the worst times was at the beginning of week 2, after we had just moved in but work was still being completed outside. My favorite feature of our new house was the luxury tiled white shower with its fantastic huge rainfall showerhead. I love its pebbly floor and beautiful white marbled walls with the cute shampoo/soap niche. Our contractor has surprised us with an opaque shower door with a gorgeous ripple appearance. Since our shower opens directly into the bedroom separately from the tiny half-bathroom, it was both beautiful and gave privacy.

Oh No! What Am I Standing In?

I was taking a relaxing hot shower one day and heard a loud noise, almost a “pop” or “bang.” I looked down and saw nasty brown water filling up the shower drain. I watched in horror as the level rose until if filled the shower floor. I stopped the water and quickly got out.

“Help!” I yelled for my husband. He ran in from the den and stared in shock at the brown gunk in the bottom of the shower. Luckily the bottom of the shower has a raised edge so the water did not run into the bedroom. While he called a plumber and our contractor, I got dressed and then examined the water.

We have an ancient septic tank, but I was glad to see that the water did not smell like sewage but more like dirt or soil. The thought crossed my mind that I needed to check on all the sinks and toilet as well. The sinks ran and drained fine, but the toilet did not flush and also appeared to be backing up with the same brown water.

Four plumber visits later, after all the bottom floor tile and toilet were removed, we had our answer. It was not tree roots, busted pipes (turns out that they are cast iron and intact) or a septic tank problem. Instead, it was due to years of use and inattention that led to a severe cement-like clog in both the shower and toilet pipes. It took 2 weeks to fix those and replace tile, but everything now works perfectly.

So what do you ask, did we do for 2 weeks without a shower or toilet? It was quite an adventure, but fortunately it was spring time and the outside temperatures were nice. We had a port-a-john on site for the contractors so we used that for quick breaks, or the public beach restrooms for more serious bathroom breaks (!). Nothing is more a bonding moment with your spouse than planning our foray in the car to the beach pavilion for our daily “nature’s call.” This was a good time for our body rhythms to “sync up” so we only had to leave once a day. We also had an outdoor shower installed even without being enclosed, but it did seem strange to shampoo my hair or shave my legs in front of our new neighbors.

That was truly the second worst problem that confronted us. We lived several hours away from our tiny cottage and could not supervise the work of the contractors directly, so when we first arrived to move in we found several issues. The clothes washer and dryer were incorrectly set up as side by side when we wanted them stacked to save space in the bedroom. Thus, there was a hole in our cinder block bedroom wall that had to be closed, and the appliances moved. We also had to have trim added to our custom cabinets so they met the ceiling. The custom countertop also had to be replaced since the builder had put 2 holes in it for an oven and a sink, and we did not need the oven opening! Our wonderful contractor got all of these fixed in just a few days, so we were feeling pretty calm by week 3. However, our biggest challenge was yet to come- the city inspector!!

To be continued…

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