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Plumbing solutions for tiny houses and nontraditional spaces to maximize function

(BPT) – Ignited by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, alternative housing options continue to trend upward — even while the overall housing market has cooled. Remote work has opened possibilities for living almost anywhere, even working while traveling, which has led to increased interest in options like tiny houses.

A recent survey by Fidelity National Financial subsidiary IPX1031 found that over half (56%) of survey respondents would consider living in a tiny house. Even more surprising, 86% of people who were not homeowners said they would consider a tiny house as their first home purchase, and 84% said a tiny home was an option they would consider for retirement. Other alternatives like modular homes, trailers and converted vans have emerged as potential options for anyone alarmed by exorbitant home prices, rising mortgage rates and soaring utility costs — and for those seeking a greener lifestyle.

Nontraditional homes offer benefits including economy, mobility (tiny houses with wheels or vans, for example), simplicity and sustainability. But they also present challenges. Beyond learning to de-clutter and simplify, you also have to learn how to meet essential needs, including most importantly: plumbing. Any living situation requiring above-floor plumbing solutions demands extra thought, so whatever space you call home is livable, practical — and comfortable.

Fortunately, implementing plumbing in a nontraditional home or even a portable setting is easier than ever, thanks to the development of user-friendly products that make workable bathrooms, kitchens and laundries possible for almost any setting.

Innovative bathroom solutions

For tiny homes, modular homes or other kinds of nontraditional housing, today’s effective above-floor plumbing technology can also improve water conservation. For example, macerators, grinders and drain pumps specifically designed for small spaces allow you to install efficient plumbing systems virtually anywhere, even for portable bathrooms.

Having to connect to a septic system 100 feet away, which was too far for conventional drainage, tiny home builders Mario and Ciarra Soto chose an option that offered the convenience of a traditional flushing toilet. Because tiny homes like theirs aren’t usually connected to a municipal sewer system, the Sotos had to figure out how to connect to their nearby property’s septic tank. The solution? The Saniaccess 2 macerating toilet system fit right behind their toilet, taking up little space. Meanwhile, its half-horsepower pump and macerator blades rotating at 3,600 RPM handled their drainage needs efficiently and quietly — and they even installed it themselves.

Kitchen options for tiny houses, food trucks or basements

In settings ranging from tiny houses to food trucks or even modular homes, optimizing limited space is key to a successful kitchen setup. Ideally, you’ll want to install a drain pump unit that not only handles drainage of gray water (water used for purposes other than sewage) from your sink and dishwasher, but also fits inside a kitchen cabinet.

One choice is the Sanivite, about one-third the size of a standard drain pump, which can discharge gray water away from a variety of fixtures up to 16 feet vertically and/or 150 feet horizontally to the drain line. The Sanivite offers quiet performance by emitting less noise and vibration. This solution was ideal for Dane Perkins, project manager and co-owner of GMH Construction. His clients wanted to add a basement bar to their lakefront home — which would have involved breaking through their basement’s concrete floor. Instead, this new unit could drain water easily to meet their clients’ needs for far less cost.

Laundry solutions for smaller spaces

While the ability to do laundry is crucial to daily living, adding laundry facilities often seems impossible in modular settings. With a more compact profile than other drain pumps, the Saniswift Pro is a heavy-duty drain pump made for hard-to-reach, tight spaces common in modular settings — such as beneath a bathroom or kitchen sink. This unit can handle gray water from up to three fixtures (such as a shower, dishwasher and/or washing machine) and doesn’t store waste, but uses a short-cycle motor to begin draining immediately. The result? More efficient, effective drainage with no unpleasant odors.

If you’re considering a nontraditional housing option or need solutions to above-ground plumbing problems, visit to explore a variety of products that can make a difference, no matter what kind of housing you choose.

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