How to Build an Outhouse

An outhouse might seem like an outdated facility, but there are people who need or want one on their property. Those living in an historic home, or running a property like an historic bed and breakfast or retreat, might find an outhouse a quaint addition. Others believe an outhouse creates energy efficiency and cuts down on the amount of water used by homeowners. Still others are more comfortable with the idea of keeping bodily waste out of their living space, and outhouses provide them with a private, sanitary option. Outhouses are also a great option for those staying in a rustic cabin without modern facilities, as might be the case while hunting or camping.

Regardless of your reason for wanting an outhouse, they are relatively simple to build. Remember, your outhouse needs to be at least 100 feet from a running water supply including your well system, public water, and any creeks or rivers near your property. The last thing you want to do is create a contamination issue and cause trouble for those living near you.

Dig the Base of the Outhouse

Your first step for building an outhouse is to dig a base. This needs to be approximately three feet in diameter and five feet deep. The deeper you dig the base, the longer you can go between cleanings. Much of the materials deposited in the base are biodegradable, but there will still be build-up. Using biodegradable toilet paper also postpones the cleaning process.

Once you have dug the base, you can construct the floor of the outhouse. This can be built with either concrete or wood. In either case, make sure there is a hole in the floor that is centered over the hole in the ground. The base needs to be the width and length of the entire size of the outhouse. You will be building the walls around the base, so keep the final measurements in mind.

Building the Toilet

After the base is laid, you can construct the actual toilet. Most outhouses have a simple toilet system that is just a wooden box. The height should be comfortable for the average adult to sit on comfortably. If you want to install a plastic or ceramic toilet seat, make sure the base is wide enough to support the seat. This makes using the outhouse much more comfortable. You will also want to sand the wood so nobody rubs against the toilet and gets splinters.

Finally, you can install the privacy walls and a door. You will be building a large box around the entire structure that includes a ceiling and doors, too. Plywood is usually the best option for this because it is sturdy and strong, without being too heavy. Once the three walls are standing, add a door or attach the final pieces of plywood on hinges. You can lay a piece of plywood over the top of the structure and nail it down to avoid problems with the wind. You have now built an outhouse and can enjoy using it just as it was used in historic times.

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