Burst-pipe disaster at the OKC container home

During the entirety of this project, there haven’t been too many things that constitute a “disaster.” In reality, the following tale of a burst pipe that flooded the container overnight doesn’t really a disaster make, but it was a frightening episode that caused more than a little inconvenience.

So, as I mentioned in the kitchen post, the Heatworks1 instant hot water heater was mounted under the sink. After the sink went in, the unit was flushed and activated according to the manual, and it surely did make hot water in an instant. Everything seemed to be working fine.

Well, a few days after the kitchen had been finalized, I showed up to the container one day and noticed a giant puddle out front as I pulled up. “Did it rain last night?” I thought to myself. Upon opening the door, it looked like it had rained INSIDE the container, because there was a discernible layer of water covering everything that had been on the floor.

The aftermath

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Everything that had been on the floor, from my snowboard bag filled with clothes and gear to all of Morgan’s tools, had to be taken outside to dry in the sun and wind.
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We opened doors and windows in the hopes that increased air circulation would speed the drying of any moisture that had crept into the walls and trim boards.

For a while, I couldn’t figure out what had happened, but then I opened the kitchen sink cabinet and noticed all the pipes under there were wet. I called the plumbers, and they were able to point out the problem fairly quickly: A piece of PEX tubing installed as part of the outlet line of the Heatworks1 had exploded somehow. The plumbers noted this was highly unusual, as PEX tubing is ultra-durable. While it may give way to hairline cracks and pinholes in a line, the plumbers say they had never seen a piece of PEX fail in the violent manner in which mine did.

So, they went about replacing the burst PEX line, but it became clear that the HEATWORKS1 had developed a leak on its inlet valve, on the bottom of the unit. It would just have to remain off until the manufacturer, whom I also contacted that morning, sends a replacement, which they seemed happy and willing to do after I jump through a few hoops online.

Later that day, a neighbor came by to tell me he had noticed the container leaking from the drain valve that leads out the bottom of the kitchen floor to the outside, thereby creating the puddle seen in the photo above. He was kind enough to shut off the water main at the meter box near the street (I think he’s actually a plumber, too).

Anyway, it was very relieving and heartwarming to know I’ll soon be living in a place with great and considerate neighbors such as that.

 

Kitchen comes together at the OKC container home

Pretty much concurrent with the work for the shower, work progressed on the kitchen as well. The base cabinets had already been installed, but I still needed a counter top, a sink to go in it, a fridge, a pantry and a hanging cupboard.

OKC container home raw cabinets
Here you can see the kitchen cabinets as they appeared after installation. Doors removed for staining. Notice the Heatworks1 instant hot water heated installed on the sidewall of the cabinet, under where the sink will go. This comes into play later.

Heatworks1 under sink Heatworks1 under sink

For the base cabinets, I chose a stain color called driftwood from Home Depot and applied it using a brush, then further textured the stain by running a ragged piece of plastic over the freshly applied coat of stain. The end result creates striations throughout the stained surfaces (hard to see in pic; I need to get close-ups…).

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Storage

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Morgan installs a hanging cupboard above where the counter top will go.

I honestly don’t do a lot of cooking, and so I don’t have a lot of cooking supplies, flatware and related kitchen trappings. I only have two bowls, four plates, four forks, spoons and knives, two tall glasses, two short glasses, four shot glasses, one metal pot and one small frying pan. Between the base cabinets and this hanging cupboard, I should have more than enough space for my current kitchen plus the counter top appliances (burner, toaster over, coffee machine) that I’ll eventually want to get.

Counter top

In the interest of saving on material waste and also conserving a few dollars in the process, I went to Builders Warehouse in search of a remnant to use as my kitchen counter top. They have a kinda weird policy where if you buy a full new slab from the, they won’t do any fabrication on it (won’t cut holes, trim to fit or polish). If you buy a remnant, however, they will do whatever you want. So I was in luck when I found a remnant that was barely over the dimensions I needed. I also selected a shallow sink designed for an RV and, with sink and granite remnant in their hands, they trimmed it to fit, cut out the required hole and polished the raw edges after about a week after items were purchased.

Counter prep
Morgan lays down adhesive, which will permanently affix the counter to the cabinets.

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We lifted the heavy granite remnant into place and admired my new kitchen counter top. It would remain clamped overnight to encourage the bonding process. Going the remnant route definitely has its advantages with regard to the fabrication of a counter top that fits your needs, but it also helps if one isn’t too picky about the color or style of the granite, because finding a remnant that meets both practical and aesthetic constraints for a job would be quite difficult, I imagine. So, I wasn’t too picky going into my remnant hunt; I just wanted something close to the size I needed. Waste not, want not.

Kitchen sink

Now that we had a counter top, I could call the plumbers and have them install the kitchen sink up to code specifications. Of course, I had fired the original plumbers, but the tile guy had a recommendation that worked out really well: E3B Plumbing (inexplicably, I CANNOT find a link for these guys, so maybe I have the name wrong … ?). These guys have a central dispatch and uniforms, which speaks to their size and professionalism. They sent out two plumbers to install my sink on the same day I contacted them, and those guys were finished in about two hours.

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Consulting instructions for the faucet.
Consulting instructions for the faucet.

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And so, with the addition of a faucet, fridge and pantry unit, the kitchen really kinda came together all at once. The fridge I chose was a Danby apartment-sized fridge, which is Energy Star-rated and matched the look and feel of other design elements of the container. It works really well and is very quiet.

OKC container home kitchen

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.