Outhouses are rarely seen nowadays, but they are a reminder of how far we have come in regard to personal hygiene, public works, and homebuilding. In most cases, a house must have at least one indoor bathroom in order to be approved for sale. Nobody wants to purchase a home with only an outhouse for the facilities. However, there are some people who want to learn how to build an outhouse on their property to add charm and an old-fashioned feeling.
Whether or not they intend to use the outhouse on the everyday basis is not the issue; they just want the quaint throwback of outdoor facilities. Some own historic buildings and they want to restore the original look and feel of the property. Others are trying to recreate the feeling of yesteryear for their own tastes or because they are hosting guests who want to enjoy a rustic experience. No matter why you want to build an outhouse, the process can be a fun challenge.
Design Your Outhouse
The first part of the project is the design phase. You need to choose where to put your outhouse on your property and choose the dimensions for the project. When choosing the outhouse placement, make sure you do not put the outhouse near the water supply. It needs to be at least 100 feet from any supply of running water in order to prevent contamination. This applies to your own well system, if you have one, as well as rivers, creeks, and public water supplies.
Begin construction by digging the base. You will want this to be at least five feet deep and approximately three feet around. The deeper it is, the longer it will last without cleaning. Obviously, much of the material being deposited into the hole is biodegradable, but the breakdown takes time. If it fills too quickly, you will need to shovel it out.
Constructing the Floor of the Outhouse
Next, construct the floor of the outhouse. Most people build this with wood, but it can be done with concrete. Cut a hole in the base that is positioned over the hole in the ground. Otherwise, the base is just a flat surface, equivalent to the measurements of the width and length of the finished outhouse.
Next, construct the toilet. This is usually just a simple hollow box with a hole in the top. As long as the average adult can sit on it comfortably, it should work. You will want to sand the wood before using it to avoid splinters. For added comfort, screw a standard plastic toilet seat over the hole in the wooden box. This also makes it more sanitary because you can clean the plastic more easily than you could a wooden seat.
Enclosing the Outhouse
Once the toilet is installed, build a closet-like cover around the structure. Three pieces of plywood, a wooden door with hinges, and a piece of plywood for the roof is all that is needed for a basic outhouse. Assemble the larger pieces just as you did the toilet box, but install hinges to hang the door on the front of the outhouse. When you are finished, cut a few window holes for ventilation. These should be high on the plywood pieces to ensure privacy. You can paint the exterior or interior of the outhouse or add a battery-operated lighting to create a more comfortable space.