Vanity and shower enclosure for the OKC container home

The bathroom has been one of the slowest areas of the OKC container home to come together. It’s a very important room in any house, but it has a lot of moving parts, so to speak, and all of those parts need to match somewhat from a design standpoint, and they also need to meet code requirements to pass inspection.

Had I the whole thing to do again, I would have turned the entire layout of the bathroom 90 degrees counter-clockwise. The current layout created some tricky decisions with regard to meeting code, such as the clearance needed on other side of the toilet and the distance of the vanity from the shower curb. The placement of the drains is also less than ideal, but accommodations had to be made to allow space in the walls for the pocket doors to slide. That’s why the pipes run underneath the vanity instead of inside the walls.

Further, the placement of the sink drain is completely off, but that’s what happens when you’re making decisions on the fly with plumbers who’re in a hurry to make their holes and move on to the next job.

At any rate, it’s turning out to be a pretty sweet bathroom, I think, and everything works great. There’s still a bit of cosmetic work to do around the walls at the top of the shower tile (which you can’t see in the pics below), and I still need a mirror, which I think will be a medicine cabinet with built-in LEDs and its own independent switch.

Special shout out to BL3 plumbing. They’re fast, friendly and affordable, and I could not have completed the bathroom build without them. Also, another big thank you to Tom’s Custom Shower Doors.

container toilet
Installing the toilet was easy enough. It’s a Water Sense-rated dual-flush model, and actually the cheapest one at Home Depot at $88. It would’ve been nice to have a black toilet, but black ones are outrageously expensive.
container vanity
The vanity needed to be no deeper than 12″ to meet code requirements with regard to distance from the shower curb. So, I wound up using hanging cabinets mounted on this footer, which was simply a box made from 2x10s.

container vanity

Here’s Morgan Brown of HB Contractors cutting out a hole in the cabinet’s top to allow for the placement of the sink. We actually could’ve cut out a bigger section and avoided the guesswork, but we wanted to maintain the structural integrity of the cabinet as much as possible.

Here's a view of the cabinet unit I chose. I removed the doors for staining and to protect them while other work continued, such as painting the footer black.
Here’s a view of the cabinet unit I chose. I removed the doors for staining and to protect them while other work continued, such as painting the footer black.
container vanity
Here’s Morgan Brown of HB Contractors cutting out a hole in the cabinet’s top to allow for the placement of the sink. We actually could’ve cut out a bigger section and avoided the guesswork, but we wanted to maintain the structural integrity of the cabinet as much as possible.
okc container vanity
When I ordered the sink from Amazon, I also purchased the drain kit that other customers had bought. This turned out to be wise, as the plumber needed at least part of it to piece together the rest of the drain system.
okc container vanity
Next it was on to the sink/faucet for the vanity. The basin is only 9″ in diameter and was actually designed for use in a boat. The water from the faucet falls perfectly into the middle of the drain.
okc container vanity
The counter top I chose was a quartz remnant from Builder’s Warehouse. As with the kitchen counter top, you kinda have to go with the flow when it comes to the color of the remnant that fits, but I thought the white-on-white turned out pretty nice.
okc container vanity
After the cabinet doors were stained, the whole thing just kinda came together at once. I still need to paint the side of the cabinet black, add a small towel rack and install a mirror though…
okc container home shower enclosure
Here’s Tom’s son from Tom’s Custom Shower Doors in OKC installing the end panel of my shower enclosure.
okc container home shower enclosure
After about an hour, the whole thing was finished. Works perfectly, too.

Shower installation for the OKC container home

Although installing a shower enclosure in the OKC container home would not require licensed tradespeople for permitting purposes, it also wasn’t something that Morgan and I were 100% confident we would WANT to do ourselves (even though we definitely COULD have…).

I had been looking at this DIY tutorial for installing a concrete basin. The procedure seemed straightforward enough, but at the end of the day a shower is the kind of thing one NEEDS done right. If it leaks, the problems created over time would more than exceed any money saved from a DIY job. Like I recently read online somewhere, “How comes there’s always time to redo an incorrect job but never enough time to do it right the first time?”

Great point.

So, I opted to contact a guy recommended to me from the former plumber. Jeremiah Crim from Rising Sun Tile out of Stillwater stays busy, but he was able to quote me for the installation of a Schluter shower system. His expertise combined with the reputation of the Schluter product would (hopefully) give me the confidence in the shower that I need to rest easy that it will last and long time and won’t leak.

  
  
The Schulter sheets provide a waterproof barrier that removes the need for mortarboard for tile. It also has grid lines that aid in the placement of tile. There’s even a component specifically designed to create a cubby in the wall. Last, the system includes a special kind of dense foam that allows for the creation of structural features, in this case, the shower curb.

Tile work

Next came the tile work to cover the shower enclosure. I wanted the bathroom to be a real highlight of the interior, so I was going for wow factor with my selection of tile style (while maintaining my minimalist black-and-white color scheme as portrayed in the walls and trim).

For the tile, Morgan recommended a friend of his: Brian Adair. In addition to being a great tile man, Brian is also a musician in several locally active bands.


  

Misc. progress on the OKC container home

A miscellaneous post including the pouring of the parking pad for the OKC container home, passing final electrical inspection, passing plumbing rough inspection, and installing one of two pocket walls.

Parking pad

For some reason, finding and hiring a concrete contractor to pour the parking pad was one of the most difficult hires of the whole job and spanned the course of two seasons. One guy quoted me more than $5,000, but I had already had an earlier bid for around $1,200. Another guy played phone tag for about a month before sending his son, but his son was such a greasy slime ball who tried to upsell me from the bat that I couldn’t trust them at all. Eventually, I put a message in a bottle and tossed it into the high seas of Craigslist. Since I wasn’t needing a licensed contractor, all I wanted to do was find an able body with the time, know-how and will. And right price. I found that person in Seattle native Bryan Childreth. He had pics of previous work and could start ASAP, so we worked out the details and he was able to perform and provide labor, arrange the gravel and concrete deliveries, and hire the Bobcat driver for a smooth $1,000. The work was completed during one below-freezing day in mid-January.

DRIVE1
A Bobcat cleared and smoothed gravel on top of the run-up to the area where the parking pad would be poured.
Two-by-fours create borders (known as forms) for the concrete to be poured in.
Two-by-fours create borders (known as forms) for the concrete to be poured in.
A cement mixer backs up to the form and pours in cement as workers spread it.
A cement mixer backs up to the form and pours in cement as workers spread it.
The white bits are pieces of glass fiber (fiberglass). The cement is glass fiber-reinforced cement (GFRC), and it requies no rebar for structural reinforcement thanks to the bonding properties of the fiberglass.
The white bits are pieces of glass fiber (fiberglass). The cement is glass fiber-reinforced cement (GFRC), and it requires no rebar for structural reinforcement thanks to the bonding properties of the fiberglass.
Smoothing the pad.
Smoothing the pad.
A bit of cement was left over after the form was filled, so I asked the workers to create a bit of a ramp to bridge the grade from the concrete pad to the gravel run-up.
A bit of cement was left over after the form was filled, so I asked the workers to create a bit of a ramp to bridge the grade from the concrete pad to the gravel run-up.
The finished pad, as seen from the bedroom door.
The finished pad, as seen from the bedroom door.

Electrical final

Now that we had all the drywall completed and lights installed (including that pesky “future plug” in the bedroom), we were ready to have MinnTech call in final inspection.

Living room lights on.
Living room lights on.
Bedroom all lit.
Bedroom all lit.
Bathroom light, an LED. We actually had the ceiling panels in by this point, but this is just to show.
Bathroom light, an LED. We actually had the ceiling panels in by the time electrical inspection was called, but this is just to show.
Kitchen lights on.
Kitchen lights on.
The container home's hot water needs will be met by thi little unit known as the Heatworks1. It uses carbon-fiber heater elements that will never need replacing as well as a digital control unit to deliver continuous, on-demand instant hot water, and it will live beneath the kitchen sink.
The container home’s hot water needs will be met by thi little unit known as the Heatworks1. It uses carbon-fiber heater elements that will never need replacing as well as a digital control unit to deliver continuous, on-demand instant hot water, and it will live beneath the kitchen sink.

We passed electrical inspection.

Plumbing rough inspection

With the hot water heater installed, we called for the rough-in plumbing inspection and passed

The sticker of approval on the main sink drain beneath where the kitchen sink will go.
The sticker of approval on the main sink drain beneath where the kitchen sink will go.

Installing a pocket wall and door

The installation of the pocket wall and door was actually one of the first things Morgan and I had wanted to tackle once I hired him, but we soon realized we would need to have that area drywalled before the pocket door kit could go in, and at that point we just decided to drywall the whole place before starting on this otherwise silly wall.

Drywall installed on pocket wall.
Drywall installed on pocket wall.
Mud on drywall on pocket wall as seen from inside bathroom.
Mud on drywall on pocket wall as seen from inside bathroom.
Mud on drywall of pocket wall as seen from kitchen.
Mud on drywall of pocket wall as seen from kitchen.

After that, it was just a matter of painting and priming the newly installed partition.

NEXT TIME: Trim all around and some progress on the kitchen.

Framing the bathroom for the OKC container home

Near the completion of the HVAC install for the OKC container home, work began on framing up the walls and ceiling for the bathroom.

For this task, I tapped the skills of a very talented and friendly contractor I knew from way back in the days of undergrad at OU (early 2000s). Morgan Brown, of HB Contractors, is a local actor and voice talent who once lived in an apartment across from a good friend of mine. In that apartment, Morgan had transformed the interior into a series of shelves and cubbies that ultimately made the small space more efficient, and it was just this kind of drive, initiative and talent that I was hoping to tap for my container project.

Initially, we were working under the assumption that the first order of business would be to frame the bathroom so we could install the pocket doors on either side of the bathroom. This would allow us to drywall the whole place at once while also giving the plumbers clear dimensions for the shower fixtures.

So, we built the walls for the bathroom first. This consisted of vertical wooden studs anchored to the existing aluminum-stud framework. OKC container home bathroom framing

OKC container home bathroom framing  OKC container home bathroom framing   OKC container home bathroom framing

OKC container home bathroom framing

Since the lines for the HVAC and plumbing were already installed, we had to build the walls and ceiling so as to accommodate them while also leaving room for access should maintenance be required in the future.

Next came the rafters for the bathroom ceiling. We started with a wooden frame around the ceiling-mounted air handler. Since that unit was already fixed in place, it would dictate the spacing of additional framework.

OKC container home HVAC framing This frame around the air handler’s enclosure would also allow Jason (HVAC) to install the metal frame of the access panel, which covers the unit. We needed that installed before calling in the HVAC inspection. OKC container home HVAC panel

OKC container home bathroom framing

OKC container home HVAC control With the framework finalized, we created a space for Jason to install the final HVAC register that would supply the bedroom. We also had to install a temporary piece of drywall on which to mount the digital thermostat.

And with that, the HVAC install was complete. Inspection was passed without any issues.

Next time: insulation.

Plumbing the OKC container home

As one might imagine, introducing running water to the OKC container home was a foremost concern on a level equal with introducing electricity. That’s why, as I was fighting through the various headaches of getting power installed, plumbers were also hard at work getting their lines installed.

Through a friend, I was referred to the plumbing services of Fred Kluck. Fred and his son Jackson were able to get started shortly after meeting with me for the initial consultation and review of the plans.

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This plumbing work took place in late July/early August. As with most things on the container home, it was slow going trying to find the right contractor, and scheduling delays also hindered progress to some degree, but that’s to be expected. The bright side is that, once workers have boots on the ground and know what to do, the work gets done quite quickly relative to the planning and hiring.

One thing that only has become apparent recently is that the original blueprints were highly inadequate to accommodate all the various code restrictions and requirements that various trades people would inform me of while onsite. Basically, the layout of the bathroom was completely wrong, but, in the interest of getting the damn thing done, I made compromises to the design in the moment. I didn’t have time to go back to my architect and consult with him about how to accommodate various vents that were complete surprises to me, or how the design of the bathroom counter top/sink should have been revised based on the placement of an eventual pocket door. Sucks, but that’s what they call a learning process. I can’t hold the architect too liable for these oversights;the fine print on the blueprints stipulates that any and all changes made onsite should be brought to him first before any holes are made. I chose to make the holes and sort it out later.

From the outset, I knew there would be mistakes made. Inevitably, when one is so far out of their depth, as I am in this project, mistakes will be the norm. The positive side to having made these mistakes is that I will not make them again, and I can (hopefully) earn some money in the future by consulting with people on how to avoid the same mistakes.