Years ago I was reading a story about evictions – how hard it can be for landlords to remove non-paying renters, because D.C. laws so strongly favor the tenant. I'm paraphrasing this, but here's what I remember:
“You can turn off the electricity. The gas. The phone and heat and air conditioning. But it isn't until you shut off the water that a place becomes uninhabitable.”
For the last few weeks I've been using gallon jugs for my water, which has to be the least efficient method possible. Washing your hands means spilling a half gallon, so developing some kind of a sink was high on my list of wants.
This is a simple little project that would probably take a half hour if you had everything lined up – but can also take several hours because nothing fits and you make multiple trips to Home Depot. I'll let you guess which path I took.
I picked up the two-compartment sink at Significant Elements, the salvage and reclamation store in Ithaca. I ordered a small hand pump from Amazon, and got some drain assemblies and pipe, and that was about it.
Total cost is less than $100, but I think the drain pipes may actually be the most expensive part. They're so much more than I needed for a little water, and $4/foot. Each side drains out five feet.
A friend gave me a dresser last year that just happened to fit perfectly, so I took a jigsaw to top and dropped in the sink. (Side note: jigsaws are not as fun as chainsaws, but about as useful) … The pump didn't quite fit into the sink so with help from my brother we dremmel-ed it out (another awesome tool, by the way, and I owe him a bunch of bits because we burned through a few doing this).
The water is a five gallon tank stored off to the side. One photo shows it underneath the sink, but I realized I could leave the bottom drawer in for storage.
I wouldn't go so far as saying a lack of running water makes a place uninhabitable, but it is much easier to do dishes.