There is a growing niche market in the U.S. for “tiny homes,” or mobile dwelling places that are typically under 400 square feet.
“Tiny homes are just as diverse as any other home,” explains Johanna Elsner, who owns Perch & Nest Co. in Winston-Salem, N.C., with her husband, Tom Elsner. The couple specializes in building luxury, tiny-home recreational vehicles (RVs) that are a grade above standard RVs and other mobile units.
Crucial to creating that luxurious feel is the inclusion of a traditional toilet, rather than a maintenance-intensive composting unit. With limited space, however, incorporating a bulky water tank is often impractical.
As for standard RV toilets?
“They don’t aesthetically mesh into the deluxe atmosphere we’re trying to generate,” Elsner says.
Finding a solution
Johanna Elsner and her husband were thrilled to discover another option being used by a business partner. Saniflo, which manufactures various pumps and macerators that allow plumbing to be installed virtually anywhere, offered a solution for their model tiny home.
The couple settled on the Sanicompact, a one-piece macerating toilet that makes installing plumbing a simple task in tight spots. The fact that it flushes and resembles a traditional toilet was also attractive, given the goal of creating a homey feel.
Licensed plumber Garrett O’Neal of O’Neal’s Plumbing undertook the installation.
“Not only was this toilet compact enough to fit in the petite, 4-by-6-foot bathroom, but the installation was super straightforward, lasting only about one hour,” O’Neal recalls.
He ran 1-inch pressure-rated PVC piping beneath the floor for a distance of eight feet to a black water holding tank.
“The allowance of the smaller pipe and fewer fittings translated to material cost savings,” he adds.
The end result
The model home debuted in April at the 2017 North Carolina Tiny House Festival in Pink Hill, N.C., which drew enthusiasts from across the state.
“The macerating toilet was a hot topic for conversation among visitors to our tiny home,” Johanna Elsner says. “I described it as an off-grid option with a traditional feel, and the reception was incredible.”
The tiny home and its macerating toilet will continue to intrigue passers-by at similar events in the future.