Livin’ The Trailer Life

by Lisa Linderman on June 17, 2010

in commercial kitchen,construction projects

Plans have been afoot for some time around the Homestead to get me set up with a commercial kitchen.  Okay, technically, a “Commercial Food Processing Facility”.  Difference?  Commercial Kitchens are certified by the county health department, and typically serve people directly from the kitchen.  Think restaurant, hot dog cart, taco wagon, Grange hall kitchen, things of that nature.   Commercial Food Processing Facilities are certified by the WSDA and are used to produce food primarily for sale at retail outlets or through retail venues (like Farmers Markets and the Internet), rather than on-site.  But for ease of speech, I tend to use the term Commercial Kitchen.

For a while, we contemplated putting a new kitchen in our basement.  However, that would have required walling off a portion of our basement from the rest of the house, leaving us with no direct outdoor access from the basement proper, and no easy access to the bathroom without going through a playroom/bedroom.  In Washington, we can’t have the primary house kitchen certified, so that was out.  We thought about renting one, but the rental costs run from $15 to $100 per hour, often don’t include the use of utensils, and require me to load up everything from salt to baking pans and take it with, unload, cook, reload, bring it home, unload, lather rinse repeat.  While that’d be fine, it didn’t seem the optimal way.

Somewhere in there, we hit on the idea of a trailer.  Hmmm.  Well, Battle Ground doesn’t view renovations of a trailer (a non-permanent structure…heck, it has wheels and a tongue) as anything requiring a permit, as it’s not part of the property itself.  Win. WSDA doesn’t care if my kitchen is on wheels or concrete, as long as it has all the necessary food safety measures and accoutrements.  Win.  I can rent out the facility myself to others if I own it, and if it’s not in my house I can rent it out during hours I might not care to be conscious.  Win.  I can start from scratch and renovate to my liking without disrupting life in the house.  Win.  In the event that we move at some point, we can haul it with us.  Win.  In the event that it doesn’t work out, or in the better event that it’s so successful I have to upgrade facilities, I can sell the trailer or lease it out to someone to have on their own site.  Win. 

It’s been so rainy for the last month we hadn’t been able to get the trailer delivered.  But finally on Tuesday, Ed brought out the trailer.  Ed rocks.  He was completely calm about having to manuever his truck within a handful of feet from three beehives, despite being deadly allergic.  He was good natured about getting his wheel stuck in our Pit O’ Pea Gravel.  He was *amazing* at driving the truck and getting the trailer in exactly where we wanted it, exactly level, and exactly parallel to the garage.  Sweet!  He has to come back some time in the next couple of weeks to do a tie-down procedure, but for now it’s on metal stands and wheels, and is stable enough to work in.  The ties are really only to make it earthquake-resistant anyway.

We’ve ordered the linoleum; we went with the cheapest commercial grade we could, but in a lovely stonework pattern.  Looks like we’re going for Rustic Kitchen in most respects, with a gray mottled counter, gray slate-looking floors, and gray faux-weathered wood paneling on the walls.  Sweet. 

The most complex part is coming up immediately:  installing a toilet and the plumbing and electric for the entire structure.  The toilet will be a blackwater tank, ew, and the rest of the drains will be graywater only, draining into the one drain I have in the garage sink.  The toilet is to satisfy the requirements of the WSDA for a Processing Facility in case I want to rent the facility out; for my own purposes, I intend to use the one in the house!  All that means is that I probably will very, very rarely have to empty the blackwater tank.  Thank goodness.

It’s kind of an ugly beastie out there right now, all hulking gray and on an ugly foundation.  But we’ll get there!  Plans are to paint it to match the house, add window boxes, skirt it with T111 siding, and put potted plants all around it.  I better be able to tolerate it aesthetically, because the plan is for me to be either in it or in the garden where I can see it 40+ hours a week!

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