The Bathroom

Alfredo, our amazing plumber, was here this week and in one day did just about everything that needed to be done. This means that the upstairs toilet is working, our bathroom is now almost finished, and the kitchen will also be after the electricians have finished their work next week. Not everything has gone smoothly. We did try to get hold of a whole house on-demand water heater, which we would still be able to use once the solar thermal panels have been installed (which won’t be until the spring at the earliest). However, it turns out that our current electrical supply is only 100 amps, and whole house on-demand water heaters require 200. So, we have decided to keep our existing rented electric hot water tank until we’ve sorted out what, if anything, to about the electrical supply. Once the electricians have been, we will have hot water. It may not be worth worrying about the ampage of the external electrical supply if we are going to have Solar PV installed next year…

As we’ve described earlier, the bathroom is in a Japanese style. It is a room divided in roughly three parts: a changing room with a wooden floor, sink and mirror; a large shower space, that is mainly designed to be used sitting down, usually in a little stool – although we will also have a higher hook for the shower for those who want to use it in a western style; and a deep but short soaking tub – which you only use once you are totally washed and clean in the shower. The entire space of the shower and tub is tiled and it’s effectively a wet room. The only thing we’re not entirely happy with is the framed glass doors that divide the shower from the changing area. We did get them very cheap on sale – we have had to save money in all kinds of areas – and they unfortunately look it. On the other hand, the tiles are also just about the cheapest and simplest white, 6 square inch tiles you can find, and they look great now everything has been finished. There is also a line of grey 2 square inch tiles that runs around the shower space, which helps give some definition and also enabled Chris to use whole tiles where the they meet the shower pan, which just gives a nicer finish.

The shower pan and the tub are both from Kohler. We did investigate importing a tub from Japan but it would be both expensive and there are plumbing differences. Japanese tubs empty directly into a pan underneath the tub which is then plumbed in. It’s a system which dates from when Japanese baths just emptied directly into the ground. The 4′ Kohler Greek tub we have installed isn’t cheap, but it is the only commercially available Japanese style soaking tub we could find in North America. You can get wooden tubs of varying cost, but romance aside, these need to be pretty much permanently damp or they can start to crack, and passive houses are much drier than the average house.

All the faucets and controls are from the Moen ‘Align’ range, which we got through our plumber at almost wholesale prices. The unit and the mirror cabinet in the changing area are both from Ikea. It’s an ‘Odensvik’ sink in a ‘Godmorgen’ 4-drawer unit in gloss grey, for those who are interested. You can’t really see the proper colour yet as we aren’t going to take the protective blue plastic off until everything is finished.

The shower is from US company, Bricor. It’s a handheld shower, the B110 model with the lowest flow rate available commercially, 1.125 gallons per minute. They work by adding in air to the flow, so it feels like a lot more water. Bricor also specially tweak each shower head to fit the water pressure you have. We’ll find out if it works soon…

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