Wow! That is all I have to say about the bathroom. We started by framing the room out. We framed the walls and ceiling with 2×4 on 24″ centers. Once we had the walls and ceiling framed we took 1×3’s and ripped them down with the table saw to 2″. We decided to pour 2″ concrete floors throughout the house. We attached the 1×2’s to the base of the walls. We put down a 6mil plastic sheet to form a vapor barrier. The last step in preparing the floor, before pouring the concrete, was to cut welded wire mesh to fit the space. We screwed this to the plywood so it wouldn’t pop up through the concrete as we poured and worked the concrete.
The concrete work was hard but not as technically difficult as I thought it would be. The key is to keep the concrete from drying to quickly. If it is too dry and starts to set before you tamper it, you will have a rough looking floor. One room we did too wet and then we did the next room too dry. Too wet was good (just more time to dry) too dry and you will have serious problems. I had to go purchase a bag of self leveling concrete and it is expensive. So try to keep the mix wet enough to give you time to work it. Also, before you pour the concrete put some cardboard or some foam pieces around your septic lines so that you can take that off after the concrete dries and have room to work with your pipes.
Once we were done with the concrete floors we started building the shower. With a shower there are several steps to building.
- Frame shower walls
- Install Concrete board
- Tape and bed seems of the board with proper tape material and thinset (allow to dry)
- Use red devil waterproofing membrane material to seal all cracks and places that you taped and bedded. (allow to dry)
- Lay a layer of thinset mortar to give some slope to the pan liner (allow to dry)
- Install the pan liner (one piece, we put ours up the wall about 6-8″)
- Pour the shower bed layer (we used the sacrete decking material) (allow to dry)
- Now you can put down thinset mortar and your tile. It is best to lay the bottom layer first and allow to dry before doing the layers above. This will give you a solid base.
As you can see, the shower takes a lot of time not just because of the work involved, but because there is a lot of time spent waiting for the different steps to dry. We also used a slate tile so we had to seal the tiles afterwards with a porous tile sealer.
The next step of course was to run the water lines. In a container home I imagine that you could run these inside or underneath the container. I opted to run underneath the container since I planned on insulating underneath the containers anyway. I used a plasma cutter to cut rectangular holes through the container joists. I then ran the lines from the utility room over to the bathroom. There are several options for water line and junction materials. You can use copper, CPVC, PEX, Etc. I opted to use PEX. I then decided to purchase a crimper and crimp most of my connections. We have a 1″ main water line coming into the house. After that I reduced it to 3/4″ and then put a pressure reducing valve in-line to make sure there is not too much pressure on my connections and household appliances. From there I have it plumbed to hot water heater and then out to the house.
We were able to reclaim some old hardwood cabinets from a home in Dallas that was being demolished. The cabinets were dated but my wife and children were able to sand and re-stain them and now they look good. We converted the bottom of a china cabinet into a double sink vanity. We priced these at around $1000 in the stores and we were able to do ours for about $80 not including the faucets (those are also extra in most vanity purchases). We got a good deal on some very nice faucets and ended up spending about $220 on our vanity. (not including our sweat equity, lol).
Bathrooms also need ventilation to reduce humidity. To install the light/ventilation we had to frame it using 2×6’s. Most ventilation fans are made for 2×6″ framing so keep that in mind. to exhaust the fan to the outside we cut a hole using a plasma cutter which made a snug fit for the vent cap we used. I siliconed the the outside and foamed around the inside.
We ran the electricity underneath the containers the same way we did the water lines. I ran one 20amp circuit to the outlets and one 15amp circuit to the lights and fan. The electricity was a much needed break… hahaha, it is much easier than the other items in the bathroom.
Now for some natural light. We purchased our windows and solid wood front door from the Habitat For Humanity’s Resale store. They really have some great deals. We got $400 windows for $100 each. The windows are 6′ x 5′ and are easy to install in the container walls. We got one half round window that we used in the bathroom and it didn’t have a nail strip around the edge. To hold the window in I framed out the window with 3″ flat steel, I then welded a 1″ tab of steel in the front on each side and one in the middle at the top. I then framed out the backside with wood so that it held in the backside. I applied clear silicone around the edges and foamed the larger gaps underneath the 3″ plate steel.
Since we are building on cash flow, we are now in the process of saving for spray foam. Once we have the spray foam applied for those two rooms and the raceway where the water lines travel underneath, we can start utilizing our bathroom in the house and sell our RV. We plan to take the cash from the RV and finish the spray foam on the rest of the house :-). We will add more later as we do the finish work.