Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to use your RV as a guesthouse when you have it parked at home? Sure you can fill the tanks and run an unsightly extension cord from your house to do it, but what if you could create your own hookups right there? Imagine an asphalt pad in the back with a nice post that offers you water and electrical hookups, and your own sewage hookups in the ground! What if we told you, it can be done? If you have the land and the resources, setting up your own RV hookups could allow you a lot more freedom when it comes to overnight guests.
*Note: Prior to any digging, call and have all utility lines marked! This is a free service and the number will vary depending on location. If you dig and cause damage to any lines, you will be in a heap of trouble and will be held financially responsible for damage. You don’t want that. You also don’t want to find out the hard way that you have just hit and broke an electrical line as the voltage courses through your body. Some names of these services are “Miss Dig”, “One Call”, and “Dig Safe.” If you call your electrical company, they should be able to give you the correct number for your location.
You also need to check for codes and regulations on these types of installations. You may need permits or in some areas, these types of modifications may not even be allowed. It is up to you to make sure you follow all rules and regulations, as they will change from state to state and county to county!
To keep the rig stable, it is a good idea to pour yourself a concrete pad. You can contract a company to do this, or do it on your own. Here are some steps on how to get it set up on your own!
The first thing you need to do is define your area and get it prepped. You'll want to dig the area out about 7” deep. You are going to add gravel under your concrete to get a good base so that the concrete stays in place.
Next you want to build what they call a “form.” This is basically a giant frame that will hold your concrete while it dries. You will build these out of 2x6 boards. Ensure you get the 2x6s not the 2x4s. The extra 2” thickness is needed to make sure that your concrete is strong enough to support the weight of the rig. You will build this frame and anchor it into the ground with stakes at the corners. Check to ensure it’s level before you begin adding anything inside it.
Add around 3 – 4” of gravel into your frame and pack it down tightly. This will allow rain and moisture to drain and keep the concrete from cracking. Next, spray it lightly with a hose to dampen it.
Now you’re ready to mix and pour your concrete! Once you have it mixed, make mounds throughout the frame that are around 2 – 3 inches taller than the frame itself. Spread the concrete around with a shovel or hoe until it is relatively even!
You will now want to ensure it’s level all the way across. You’re going to need a helper at this point. Grab yourself a nice straight board that stretches all the way across the top of the form. Have the person helping you grab the board at one side while you grab the other. Saw across the top of the frame with the board to get it even and removed excess concrete. Check for any low spots, add more in, and repeat this step.
Once the concrete has dried enough to no longer be shiny on top, you can go back and smooth it out with a wood float. Once your slab is dry, you want to ensure it’s not going to crack due to moisture, temperature changes, or weight. Cut slits across your concrete around 1/4 of the depth of the concrete every 10 feet.
While you still have some cement from building your pad, you can use it with your post to hold your water and electrical lines. You can do this with a simple 4x4 wooden post and then later use brackets to secure your lines to it.
When you dig your hole, you want to dig it so that it is 3 times the size of the post you're are using. So for the 4x4 post, you want it to be about a 12” hole. When purchasing your post, plan ahead on the depth. You want 1/2 the height that will be above ground, below to ensure it is stable. So if you want your post to stick up 4 feet, you want to get a 6 foot post and then dig your hole 2 feet down.
Place your post in the hole and add your concrete. If you don’t have any left over from your pad, Quikrete makes a fast setting cement that you can actually pour into the hole dry and then add water so you don’t have to pre mix. Whichever way you decide, ensure to follow all mixing instructions on the bag.
Using a level, ensure your post is straight and let the concrete dry. Drying time will vary so again, follow instructions on the concrete bag you use.
You’re now ready to start running your lines!
You will want to dig a trench from the house to the post so that you can put your water line underground. If you live in an area where you experience cold temps, you want to find out how far down the “frost line” is. This is the depth at which the ground freezes during the winter. Running your line below this will keep it from freezing when it gets cold out.
Tap into a 3/4” line and run your line down the trench. Once you get to your post, run it up the post and secure it with u-shaped pipe clamps. Add your faucet and fill in your trench! Your water line is all set! Now we’re on to the electrical line!
The first thing you want to do before you even begin is get a dedicated circuit for the line! If you don’t do this, you’re going to start blowing breakers whenever you try using it! Next you want to find out what kind of amperage your RV is set to pull (ie 30amp or 50amp) and get the correct box and outlet.
Dig a trench from the beginning of the line to the post, at least 18” deep. Run this in a separate trench from the water line! Use conduit to protect the line where it is exposed above ground. You can use this conduit under the ground as well, or ensure you get underground cable. Once you bring your wire up the post, you then again want to ensure it is protected by conduit. Attach the line with u-shaped pipe clamps just like you did with the water line. When you mount the outlet, pay attention to the way your cord will be plugged in so you can ensure the outlet is turned properly and that you don't have to twist your cord to get your RV plugged in.
Now that you have everything coming into the rig, it’s time to look at what will be going out!
Dealing with sewage is never a fun chore, so adding in hookups wherever you can will help keep you from having to travel and dump your tanks. There are a few options that you can consider when it comes to your sewer hookups at home. You can add in a septic tank or get a self-composting toilet. No matter what route you take, you want to make sure that you talk with your guests about the dos and dont's of an RV bathroom and what they can & cannot flush. When you have someone staying in it that has never dealt with an RV before, they may not be aware.
Adding in a small septic system for your RV is the most up front work but the lowest maintenance option here. You can buy a premade septic system, or there are plenty of DIY units out there you can look up. The way the septic system works is, the sewage drains into a large container. Solids go to the bottom and liquids on the top. There is an overflow area into another container where it helps ensure the solids are not getting in. In this 2nd container you will find a filtered exit point that takes liquid out. This liquid is then taken to what is called a drain field where it is evenly distributed into the ground and naturally cleaned. The solids will have to be periodically pumped out and the filter will need to be cleaned. The frequency of cleanings will depend greatly on how often the RV is used. Here is a great way to create your own septic system!
A self-composting toilet eliminates your black tank all together! It works by separating the liquids from the solids before they ever even leave the toilet. The biohazard of human waste is only there when the two are mixed, so you don’t have one with this type of toilet. The liquids collect in a bottle in the front of the toilet where you can then take them and dump them outside later. The solids collect in a compartment in the back where you will have either Sphagnum Pete Moss or Coconut Coir. Turning the handle afterward mixes the waste with the soil you have in the back where it will begin to compost. The surprising thing about this is, it doesn’t smell at all! There is a built-in fan that will send any existing odors out of the RV before the mixing process even happens. When it’s time to empty the toilet, you just empty it on your composting pile, or spread it in your garden! While this is perfectly safe, just make sure you only use this on non-edible plants.
Having hookups at home really helps you to utilize your RV in more ways and enjoy your investment more often. If you feel that installing any of these is more than what you want to tackle, you should be able to find reputable contractors in your area that will take care of it for you! So go ahead! Enjoy that RV for more than just camping trips by setting up your own RV hookups at home!