Water and Waste

Dwight wrote to me today and asked me about how I deal with my water – black, grey and potable and I thought this was a fair question so here is my answer.

There are four kinds of water that I deal with at Tiny House Ontario: black, grey, rain and fresh.

Lets deal with the dirty stuff first.  Black water.  What I did at THO was to use a bucket for waste in the “in-house”. The toilet waste is being put into a four year cycle in a spot I have dedicated to this. In my case all the black water is dry because I use coconut coir to soak up the fluids.  I empty this waste or black water into a different space each year and after four years it is safe to use on the garden.  Admittedly however, grosses me out so I will use this waste for my flower gardens.  “Don’t s*** where you eat” is something I take rather literally.

Grey water at THO consists of my dishwater, shower water housecleaning water and personal washing water.  I don’t have a washing machine so my water use is pretty small.  Grey water is of course not just water but also the materials I use for cleaning.  In my case, I am very cautious about what I use.  Vinegar, baking soda mild biodegradable dish soap and bar soap is all that is used here, and this is simply poured out in the areas around my house.  i gift this to my flowers and trees and they appreciate this, particularly during the dryer seasons. The soil is thin here and drainage is great. The soil is mixed with limestone rocks and is very shallow – about three or four feet.  Then below this for the next 80 feet down there is a limestone escarpment before we hit the water table. I don’t worry at all about grey water drainage nor about polluting the ground water because my topography allows this.  If I had different land I would have to use different methods.

Rain water.  This I collect to use for washing and watering my garden.  What I use is dumped, just as I described above.

Potable water is carried in.  This is stored in a non BPA 5 gallon jug. I use this for rinsing the dishes, cooking and drinking. I use about a gallon a day per person. This is stored in my cloth porch in my case. When it is below zero I bring smaller containers of water one gallon each and keep one on my counter an the others under the bed and bring them down as they are needed.

One thing I do have to be very careful about is not to leave any containers of water out.  My first year it was a hard lesson because I found a dead salamander floating in my dishwater.  Now I am very diligent about dumping everything and also about flipping over any containers to the opposite side, after I am done with them.

Tiny House Ontario has three rain barrels.  These meet most of my water needs.

Tiny House Ontario has three rain barrels. These meet most of my water needs.

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 2 Comments

Do you want a totally off grid sustainably built tiny house?

photo courtesy of Chris Magwood

photo courtesy of Chris Magwood

Photo courtesy of Chris Magwood

Photo courtesy of Chris Magwood

Okay, I have to say I am pretty excited to be asked to announce this!  Here is your chance to own a tiny house built using 100% sustainable products and to have the labour thrown in.  This means that you will get one of those awesome eco houses that we all dream of (at least I do), for about the same cost of a non-sustainably built home.

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Magwood

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Magwood from a student build


Seeking a Tiny Home Client
The Endeavour Centre is a not-for-profit sustainable building school based in Peterborough, Ontario. Each year, Endeavour completes a building with its full time students, and this year they will be focusing on constructing an off-grid tiny home built with healthy, sustainable materials.
Endeavour is seeking a client for the finished tiny home. The client would be involved in the design of the home, the selection of materials, systems and finishes. Financially, the client would be paying for the hard costs (plans, materials, etc), while Endeavour would provide the labour side of the equation at no cost.
Endeavour is seeking to build a tow-able tiny home in the 200-250 square foot range, but would also be open to discussing a tiny home destined for a permanent foundation.
The home would incorporate renewable energy systems, non-toxic and locally sourced materials, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting and a non-fossil fuel heating option.
Endeavour expects the material and system budget for the home to be in the $30-40,000 range for the completed home.
If you are interested in collaborating with Endeavour on this project, please contact Chris Magwood at chris@endeavourcentre.org.

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 13 Comments

Marching In

It has been a while since I have posted anything about Tiny House Ontario, I also have not written much for Tiny House Listings.  I am not good at pretending to be engaged with things when I am not.  However, I realized today that we are nearly at the end of February and with March around the corner there are things to do.

Guillaume stopped by at THO and found that a storm had whipped over the solar panel.  Given that the temperature highs have been in the minus 20 range and both he and I don’t trust the tensile strength of frozen wire and the panels it will have to stay tipped until spring.  If not broken I will put a log under it to keep it down instead of just rocks.  Not sure if my battery is frozen now too… It all have to wait until spring.

Solar mishap - photo by Guillaume Corbin

Solar mishap – photo by Guillaume Corbin

A nice photo here too of my tiny house and Guillaume’s together.  His sits a little farther away from the camera than mine but it sort of gives you an idea of how much higher a loft can be in a house that sits on a foundation.

It also reminds me that I have to bring the old BBQ to the metal recycle location and buy a new one.  The one at the centre of this photo gave up on me last fall.  I hope to get a smaller one.  This big old guy is left over from the days when we still had children living at home.  I would like one that has the size of a toaster oven but with a side burner.  Any suggestions?

Guillaume checking in on our houses - photo credit Guillaume Corbin

Guillaume checking in on our houses – photo credit Guillaume Corbin

You know, I am so glad to be healing up!  These days I am walking five miles a day to get my resistance back up and I am painting some too.  I am working out because the fact is, I need to be in better shape to work at the house.  And you know, I am really looking forward to getting home to Tiny House Ontario and being once again engaged with with tiny house community.

There is a lot to do there, as always.  So much stuff is left undone, but my primary goal for spring is to get the solar sorted and get my little wood stove in.  After that I will have to see what is, after (what will be) 20 months of absenteeism, most pressing.  I don’t imagine that I will have much time for polishing the sofa with my arse.

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | Leave a comment

Chris Magwood

I want to be sure that you all don’t miss the story that I wrote for Tiny House Listings regarding the ecological tiny house building program in Peterborough.

Too, they have in the last couple of days announced a number of the new programs for 2015.

We are so very fortunate to have such a great program in Ontario!  I hope a few of you will be there this year.  Let me now what you think.

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Magwood

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Magwood


Categories: Building code, Environmentalism, Home, Insulation, Nature, Off Grid, Ontario, Open your eyes, Renovation, Rules, Sustainable living, Tiny house, Tools, Trade | 1 Comment

Exact Cost: Phase 5, Year 4, 2014

The beginning of the year and looking forward to movement.

The end of 2014 year and looking forward to movement in 2015.

This post is about nothing.  Zero.  Zilch!

Due to the fact that it was a year of illness, which is by the way totally behind me now, I did no updates on Tiny House Ontario.  This means that my Exact cost for 2014 was $0 for updates and property improvement.  The only thing that was paid is the now more expensive tax bill for 2014.  This was $862.  I have, however, never included taxes in my costs.  This is because I see this as a bill and not as a cost for house improvement, if that makes any sense.

2014 Phase 5 $0

2013 Phase 4 $2419

2012 Phase 3 $5,124

2011 Phase 2 $8,839

2010-11 Phase 1 $11,740

Total, To Date (on building, driveway, homesteading, improvement & taxes) – $28,522

 Land – $67,000

Investment in THO and Property $95,522  —–

Because of all that, my plans this year are to carry through with some or all of my plans for 2014 in 2015.

My first plan is to get some exercise so that I am fitter to start this spring!

I am evicting Guillaume from THO… That sounds much sterner than it actually is.  He has been brilliant to take care of THO in 2014!  I am happy to have him near me both as a friend and neighbour!  But now has his house closed in enough that he can, with reasonable comfort and safety, sleep in his own loft and because I will be back this year, clearly two separate households can’t share a 93.75 square foot house.

As for the house here is what I wish to work on:

Install the Mini 12 stove.

Update the bathroom so that the mice cannot get in.

Finish the stonework.

Turn the garden into a little green house so that the critters can’t steal everything I grow.

Install the floor on the main level.

Install the floor on the second level.

I will be mighty happy if I can get all this done!

I would also like to move the shed from my Hamilton house to the land at THO.  It would be good to have it there so I could store spare wood, equipment such as maple tree tapping, and outdoor stuff.  I think I would also put off season clothes in bins there.  We will see if time and energy permit.

I am glad to be starting off 2015 with more optimism again!

Categories: Cost, Tiny House Ontario | Tags: | 8 Comments

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