The bathroom and kitchen are the two most regularly remodeled rooms in any house. Trends change, needs change, color or just people's taste change. If we are building something to last for 200 years how many times should we realistically expect the bathrooms in the Barn House to be remodeled over this period of time? How long does the average bathroom last? Ten years, twenty years, thirty years? If the average bathroom lasts say, twenty years, than are these bathrooms really going to be remodeled ten times over the next 200 years? What is the cost and waste for all of this remodeling? How can we design and build today so that we can either reduce the number of times it is remodeled, make it easy to remodel, make it less costly to remodel and recycle or reuse what is being put in there in the first place?
The paragraph above is a repeat of some of our plumbing goals. I put it here again just to let it sink in a bit more. One of the big choices in a bathtub was what material it should be made of. There are literally thousands of bath styles made of acrylic and the price of them is not too bad either.
As part of our research we took a trip to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and visited the Kohler showroom. What a lot of cool bathing systems! They have the title wave system that literally covers you with a tsunami from fourteen different directions to the wash tub whirlpool that spins you around so fast in the water that you would probably drown because you got so dizzy. Ok, so maybe not quite.
They also had sitting in the showroom a cast iron tub that Kohler made over 100 years ago and it looked terrific, right next to it was their modern version of this classic cast iron claw foot tub and other than being a bit larger it had not changed much in all of that time.
We then took a trip to some antique stores in New Hampshire and started to notice all of the cast iron tubs that were selling for some awful high prices at the antique stores. Guess what? We did not see one acrylic antique tub. Our next trip was to a local bath shop in New Hampshire where we got an opportunity to talk to a manufacturer sales person from one of the acrylic bathtub companies and asked him how long we should expect his company's acrylic tub to last. It appeared that he had never been asked that question before and was a bit stumped so I prodded a bit and said 20 to 30 years? His response was yes it should last that long unless we replaced it for a different model.
Ok, if an acrylic tub lasts 30 years than over a 200 year period we could have six replacement tubs for each of our three baths than that is 18 tubs that would most likely head to a landfill. Or we could buy 3 cast iron tubs that at least had a chance of lasting 200 years and worse case could be reused by someone even if they ended up being decorative flower pots.
The next dilemma was what size tub did we want. Part of "Going Green" is conservation of our natural resources such as water. The tub I was lusting after could hold 82 gallons of water. This really required the old Ben Franklin list to try and make this decision, so bear with me while I put it in writing.
On the positive side of the page are the following-
1) The newer styles are definitely getting bigger and rarely are they getting smaller so maybe a larger tub will stay in "style" longer.
2) Even though the tub is bigger we could always put less water in it. (this is where I start kidding myself)
3) Kohler classifies the tubs we are looking at as designed for two people so I guess the 82 gallons could be divided by two and qualify for conserving water.
4) For me the biggest reason is quality of life and the health benefits of a nice hot tub after either a stressful day or a physically exerting day.
Ok, now I need to justify to myself further our decision to go with larger tubs and my need for the creature comfort of a large soaking tub.
All of the faucets except for the filling spout of the tubs have flow restrictors of 1.5 gallons per minute, our washing machine and dish washer are designed to conserve water and our composting toilets use only a few ounces of water. Our artisian well drilled for the Barn House has a flow rate of 24 gallons per second so we certainly have plenty of water.
Bottom line, our grey water system is designed to clean all of the water used in the Barn House and return it to the water table.