Open House Postponed, Yet Again…

July 3, 2013 § 20 Comments

At least I didn’t send the e-vites out yet (I had a bad feeling that something like this would happen so I held off).

Even though I am already living in my house it is not yet complete and it looks as if there is another road bump.   We have Sun-Mar, the composting toilet manufacturer, to thank for this. I have a big long story that I will most likely tell in full detail at this rate, as soon as it gets all figured out.  The short story though is that they messed up yet again, I ordered three things and there are four errors so far on their part.  Not very pleased.  The latest is that they promised me a replacement part in no less than a week and a half (I have been held up on this for over a month now and losing my patience with them).  One week later and I get an email today saying that it won’t even ship until two weeks after the arrival date should have been.  I was really rushing to try to have the open house on the 13th because the next several weekend are already spoken for.  I feel like having the toilet installed is a pretty important part or I would just have it anyway.  I wish things were smoother but it looks like I will be ‘camping’ a few more weeks (not easy to do when it’s been 100+ degrees!).

In the meantime I have some other stuff I can work on, tomorrow I will either shoot for building some of the drawers or my entertainment center/bookshelf deal, we will see what I feel like in the morning!

Happy fourth of July everyone!  Be safe!

Macy

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§ 20 Responses to Open House Postponed, Yet Again…

  • Elizabeth Roberts says:

    Sorry for your troubles and I am not surprized. It seems none of the composting toilet manufacters can get it right. Part of the problem is not enough demand to entice better designs and competiton.

    • Macy M says:

      You’re absolutely right! I will describe the tail here shortly, hopefully. Have you had similar issues, what company(ies) have you dealt with? I am honestly appalled that they think it is acceptable to run a company this way.

  • Diane says:

    There is another blogger, it might be Clothesline Tiny Homes, that has been very frank about the problems posed by her incinerating toilet. Truly, safe and pleasant handling of sewage does seem to me to be the biggest challenge in a tiny living space. I wish you the best dealing with this company and hope the toilet can be made to work properly!

    • Macy M says:

      I sure hope so too, Shane and Carrie did have lots of issues with their used incinerating toilet, they have some pretty funny stories that came out of that though, some including kitty litter 🙂 Ahhh… these issues always make for a laugh! I hope it works out too, i will be sure to update! Thanks for the comment!

  • Hang in there you have handled it gracefully. Have a Happy 4th, Allie.

  • Esther says:

    I’ve also heard bad things about SunMar. If you have the option to return it and go with another make you should consider it. If something goes wrong down the road when this thing is in full operation it’ll probably be that much harder to reach a solution with them. We bought an AirHead composter, and although it isn’t installed they’ve been above and beyond helpful.

    • Macy M says:

      That is great information, unfortunately I can’t return it at this point, I am going to do my best to make this thing work and if not I get to pay to explain to everyone else what DOESN’T work. I still have faith in the product, just completely appalled at their customer service, or any kind of service at all, if you can call it that. I will be sure to update 🙂

  • Sander Tel says:

    I am in the process of designing a diy version of the composting toilet. From what I understand any compostng system shouldn’t be complecated and also not expensive to make. Basically a bucket, some way to catch and divert urine, a small fan (from an old computer) with exhaust tube and a standard seat with (semi air tight) lid..

    • Macy M says:

      This is correct, I would have gone with a home-made system but I am trying to challenge building codes a bit, I know that would never fly with any jurisdiction and is likely to make me have to move. I still have faith in Sun-Mar’s product because it really is such a simple ‘machine’, just not impressed at all with their service or prices. Their products are approved for a great deal of cities however, which is the main selling point. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      • Sander Tel says:

        Hi Marcy, can you borrow a SunMar from somebody, get your date with the building inspector and afterwards build in your home made toilet/bucket system thingy ?

        • Macy M says:

          Unfortunately not. The two units that are approved are approved in part because they are permanent fixtures. I have the gravity remote version of Sun-Mar’s products, installing it entails cutting a 10 inch hole in the floor. I am being really leery about this right now because its my floor and if the product ends up sucking like their customer service then I now have a ten inch hole in my floor. I do actually have faith in the product though, it’s a pretty simple technology. The toilet itself is also $2,000, not something a person would just lend out even if I could find someone who had one. Also, I don’t have to have the building inspected by an inspector (the wheels take the building department out of the equation and make it a DMV concern), my concern is if/when I get turned in for illegally living in an ‘RV’ (that is most tiny house’s designation) I am prepared to fight the codes and justify how it should not be illegal. In a city center the main concern is public health and safety, having a home made toilet that I dump into a compost pile somewhere on site is definitely not going to fly.
          In short, no inspection is required, I am just preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. 🙂
          Macy

          • Sander Tel says:

            Allright, I was wondering about codes and so forth since the house is not legally a building… I would really reconsider actually buying the sunmar unit, 2 grand is a lot of money… You can easily make do for now with a diy system of sorts and leave the floor intact in the process… Apart from that, the diy system “flies” like the sunmar system in that you still need to dump content (ahum) sooner and/or later.

            I feel you can spend your 2 grand toilet budget on other things maybe spending about 100 dollars on your DIY seating arrangement…
            As long as you make sure the solids end up in a 5 gallon bucket and the urine is collected trought a het mangled funnel and a piece of garden hose. Obviously you need to keep sawdust and/or chips handy.

            Maybe you can put a (temporary) DIY setup inside a makeshift pallet sized outhouse and test the facilities from a small distance away…

            I found a good video on youtube of a gentleman who is an expert in waterless seating arrangements: David Omick ->

            I am sure he can help you design and maintain a diy and very affordable composting toilet as good as or even better that the commercial versions…

            Anyways: really, c’mon: 2 grand…I can’t believe it…

            regards, Sander.

          • Macy M says:

            In my particular case the Sun-Mar unit was already purchased over a year ago, it is already spent, it’s a choice I made early on that I am sticking with. At 20% of my budget I expected more than was delivered from Sun-Mar, both literally and figuratively, that stuff happens though, I’m working through it.

            The waste control is, as I see it through my conversation with the cities, is ‘The Reason’ that tiny houses are not legal and also the reason you can get away with them in more rural areas but run into far more conflict in city centers. Health and safety become paramount with higher densities of people. I believe I could absolutely fly under the radar like many other tiny house folks do, that isn’t my goal though. This is an experiment in living for me, and my background in architecture makes me want to fight for this lifestyle as a ‘legit’ choice and make it more attainable for anyone who may choose it. Having a legally recognized waste containment system is, I feel, a very important part of having a tiny house recognized as a valid dwelling rather than a make-shift situation which is what it is commonly seen as. While two grand is a lot I was still able to build my house for less than $12,000 which was the goal, and installing it puts me in a much better situation when it comes to fighting codes, which aligns me with my goals.
            I appreciate your comments and completely agree that that is a great way to go, my main point is the friction with a jurisdiction, I am throwing them a bone so to say in an effort to push tiny houses a little closer to attainable for more people.

          • Sander Tel says:

            Also, my experience with the governement (even the dutch) is that they react badly to challenges… Best to keep a low profile or even better have your strength in numbers… I wonder what a tiny house invasion would look on the lawns of pennsylvania ave…

            Anyways: my plan is different in regard to legallities..I just try to keep out of the way and seek a place with people who have room to spair: farmers, large estates OR in a place which isn’t visible to the public eye… what people don’t see they don’t want or want to spoil…

            regards, Sander

          • Macy M says:

            I am not aggressively challenging anything, I believe there would be a poor reaction for sure. I have become a planning and zoning commissioner, my objective is more to demystify the concept of a tiny house. If it becomes more ‘normal’ then it is less likely to cause hiccups. There are a good portion of people who want to live tiny but the insecurity (maybe having to pick up and move at any point) in it is way outside of their realm of ‘ok’. If it was ‘ok’ more people would choose to have less of a footprint/impact. I think that is a conversation that needs started, I think the start is being able to show a case study where a tiny house can meet all the same safety standards expected of a larger dwelling.
            I personally also am a city girl to so I want to stay in a downtown core, not in a more out of sight place. 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    oh Macy, I’m sorry to hear about your toilet troubles. like someone stated above, toilets do seem to be the trickiest thing about tiny houses.

    we had initially planned on a blackwater tank and an RV toilet, and after using one in our truck camper this past week I really wish we had just gone that route! would have involved getting a rolling container to move the waste to the septic tank on the land we rent… but that seems better than:
    1. burning poop.
    2. bagging poop and hauling it to the dump. (heavy as #$%* haha)

    they use very little water! and are clean and odorless. and maybe there’s a way to drain them directly into the rolling container, avoiding the need for a blackwater tank…

    just an idea… we’ll probably install one soon.

    – Carrie
    Clothesline Tiny Homes

    • Macy M says:

      That is a very good idea, I would be really excited to read about that more 😉 (who gets excited about other peoples poo… sheesh!) Seriously though, your insight is super valuable on this issue!

  • Carrie says:

    also, Incinolet has very poor customer service too… guess you just can’t get motivated people to work for alternative toilet companies! 😉

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