Container Home Plumbing for DIYers

Container Home Plumbing for DIYers

Container homes have been growing over the last decade as an alternative to traditional homes, especially when comparing the cost of a traditional stick-built home to a container home.  Container homes are a way for some people to get into home ownership.  

For others it’s a lifestyle change, cutting down on possessions and space, a great way to live off the grid or just a way to get away from the hustle and bustle.  A container home only takes a fraction of the cost to build over a traditional home, but one important question that DIYers often have is how to best address container home plumbing.

Container Home Plumbing

There are complete container homes for sale that come with everything you would need as far as the actual structure and interior.

Most, however, will require you to finish the bathrooms and kitchen yourself (including plumbing, adding appliances and finishes) or you can hire a contractor to do it for you. 

If you have the experience and knowledge, it is possible to do the plumbing yourself.

Important Steps Before You Begin

Before getting started with the plumbing, make sure to check in with your local building office to find out if you need to pull permits, need inspections of the plumbing, etc. 

Make sure that you build your plumbing to code and use the correct, approved material.  You will need to have a professional inspect your lines, or it will be done as part of an inspection by a local building inspector on your home before you can move in.

First Steps For DIYers

The first step that you will need to take if you plan on DIYing your plumbing is to locate the water and sewer lines on or near your property.

You will most likely need to contact your local water company to help you locate those lines and connections.

Before you do any digging to install any new lines, we would suggest that you call 811 to have all underground utilities located and marked for safety and accuracy. 

There are also third-party companies that you can hire to come out to your property to locate lines for you.  If you are planning on hooking up the electrical utilities yourself, you may want to go with a third-party company as they can locate all the lines you would need to have access to while they are there onsite.

  • Make sure that the lines are clearly marked so that you only have to do this step once. 

Drilling Hole For Plumbing

The first step for the plumbing is to drill a hole directly where you plan on having the plumbing come up in your home.

The best place would be in the bathroom, especially if the bathroom and kitchen share a wall.  In that case your plumbing of the container becomes a little easier with that shared wall.

Remove the soil from around the hole that you’ve just drilled.  Next, you’ll need to dig down to the plumbing line on your property, ensuring that you dig carefully.

You don’t want to break the main line.  Once you’ve dug down to the pipe you will need to clear enough dirt out so that you have room to work with making the connection with your plumbing and the main line.

When you start building your plumbing lines, make sure that you are using adequate plumbers’ glues and grease for valves, if needed.  Your local builders supply store can help you out in this area to make sure you are getting the right product for your application.  One very important note, you need to apply the cement or glue to both joints that you are working on.

Once you have the connection ready to go you will want to contact your local water company and request to have that water line closed off.

Once that has been done you will cut into the pipe and add your connection, making sure that it is secure and won’t leak. 

From there you will lead that new pipe up through the ground and into your container home.  Last step for this process of main hookup is to fill in the dirt around the main line pipe.

Checking The Connections

After that step you will then move on to either running the plumbing in the home, if you haven’t yet, or begin the hook up for all of your sinks, toilets, showers, and appliances, if any.

Something to keep in mind is that no matter how many sinks, toilets, etc. that you are installing in your container home, they all need to drain into the central pipe that leads to the sewer/septic line that is underneath (or near to) your container home.

You will want to test the plumbing by dumping water down the drains in the shower and sinks, and by flushing the toilet a few times. 

Once you’ve done this follow the pipes and check to make sure that there are no leaks in any of the plumbing.

The Sewer Line

We’ve covered running the water lines, but there’s still the sewer line to run.  This is one area that you need to take time and do it right, or you can end up with some serious sewer issues in your home. 

You want to make sure that you don’t have too much drop in the sewer line.  If you do what ends up happening is that the water will out run the waste.  Too little fall and the waste will collect and won’t be moved properly.

A good rule of thumb is to drop the line on a 1-2% fall (about 1/8”-1/4” per foot).  You will need a couple of clean-outs.  Typically, they are placed somewhere close to the home, and the other one near the septic tank or city sewer line.

The purpose of a clean-out is to provide easy access to your home’s drain pipes in case of clogs and debris, in case they need to be cleared and cleaned. 

There is a cap on top of the clean-out pipe that is easily removed to gain access to the pipes.  Most local building codes will require installation of at least one clean-out.

Putting in the sewer line is just as easy as running the plumbing.  Make sure that everything is cemented or glued together well, again, ensuring that you apply whichever method you are using to both sides of the joints.

Once you’ve built the line you can go ahead and test it by pouring liquid down a drain and listening at the clean-out closest to either the septic tank or local sewer system.  You will want to again check the pipes for any leaks.

As long as the line is leak free you can then go ahead and fill in the dirt around the pipe, making sure you compact it as you go.

The Bottom Line

Adding plumbing to your container home is possible, whether you are a DIYer or if you choose to hire a licensed local contractor.  Either way, it is important to make sure you comply with all of the rules, codes and regulations.  If permits are needed make sure to get them, you want to be able to pass all inspections.  Once done, you can enjoy your container home complete with plumbing!

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