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View Full Version : Outhouse - how big should I build it


chrisser
06-28-2011, 05:58 PM
Putting a new windshield into one of the cars this week.

Next week I plan on starting my outhouse for our composting bucket privy.

Curious how large I should make it for comfort and ease of use.

Would 4' x 4' be about right? Seems that would waste the least wood if I used panel lumber for the sides.

What are your experiences? Anything you'd do differently if you had to build another?

KarenBC
06-28-2011, 07:01 PM
Putting a new windshield into one of the cars this week.

Next week I plan on starting my outhouse for our composting bucket privy.

Curious how large I should make it for comfort and ease of use.

Would 4' x 4' be about right? Seems that would waste the least wood if I used panel lumber for the sides.

What are your experiences? Anything you'd do differently if you had to build another?

I'd make it wider, to accommodate a "2 holer" so one could be in use while the other side is composting down. I think the outhouse would "last" longer that way before needing to be moved.

I have a shelf above the door - that I keep toilet paper on (in older Tupperware containers that are the right size to hold 3 rolls).

I'd also make sure there is enough floor space to comfortable fit in a 5 gallon pail for hot lime)

And I'd think more on how high the seat should or shouldn't be placed (higher is better I think - easier on aging knees)

NCLee
06-28-2011, 09:00 PM
A little more info, please.

Are you talking about a seat over a 5 gallon bucket to accumlate the deposits? Doesn't sound like you're talking about a traditional outhouse set over a hole in the ground.

Anyway, one way to help you gauge how much space you want/need, use scrap plywood or cardboard. Set this up around your exisiting indoor toilet. Butt the side pieces to the back wall. Then, set a piece across the front to enclose the area. How wide does it have to be for you to have enough elbow room? How deep does it have to be to have enough knee room? (Take the depth of the tank behind the seat into consideration in this measurement.)

Suspect that 4' square, if you're using a seat over a bucket, will be a plently (unless you need room for several buckets). Often travel trailer bathrooms are much smaller than 4' and that includes a tiny hand sink. Some are both a toilet and shower along with the sink in a space maybe 3'x3'.

If it's a traditional outhouse over a pit, depends on the size of your family. Smaller the pit, the quicker it will fill up. Plus, if a two-holer, more than one person can use the "facilities" at the same time.

Just some thoughts...

Lee

chrisser
06-28-2011, 10:50 PM
I'd be using the standard 5 gallon pail. I have an Ecovita privy kit.

Plan is to have a hinged box. Lid would have the privy kit affixed to it (it's a urine-seperator). Inside the box would be the bucket and the urine bottle.

I figure that box would be however deep is required for the seat, and just make it as wide as the outhouse.

The reason for the outhouse is just to make the sawdust bucket toilet a little more user friendly, especially for guests (otherwise known as volunteer labor).

Our initial weekend cabin is going to be 8 x 12. We could put the bucket in there with just the wife and I, but with a few people, it would be a good idea to have a dedicated building for the sawdust bucket. I don't want the toilet experience to put people so off that they won't come help us and most people are used to absolute privacy in the loo.

I think I could figure out what the minimum amount of space I could get away with and still be able to "operate the facilities". On the opposite extreme, I don't want to go overboard on too big as it would be a waste of wood and time. I thought others might have a sense as to what the best size is based on what worked for them and what didn't. I can't imagine the workspace needed to operate a pit privy is all that much different from a bucket privy. Most have a bench - its what's beneath the bench that makes the difference between the two, right?

I guess I was hoping for "I made mine 36" wide and I keep wacking my elbow on the wall, so go a little bigger" or "30 inches is plenty wide, but make it at least 4' deep - that's where you need the room" or vice versa. One of the things that occured to me is to make it wide enough that you could bend over to pick up your britches if they dropped to the floor without having to open the door.

My imagination can only go so far. Once I have a bucket and four walls around me, it's too late to find out I should have made it another 6" wider or deeper (or narrower), although I suspect erring on the side of too big is better than on the side of too small.

Dame
06-29-2011, 02:32 AM
Went and measured our original, 1900 vintage outhouse. Inside dimensions are 4' deep x 5' wide. The two hole bench is 19" high and 22" from front to back. The bench inclines away from ones feet when seated. The door opens in so as not to catch in the wind.

This works well as the dimensions provide for an adult to comfortably attend to one or more young children when using the facility.

I would, if the place got regular use put a chunk of eve trough on the front over the door to keep the rain off while coming and going.

oldtimer
07-11-2011, 01:17 AM
If you have little kids, you might consider installig a little kids seat. We found that to be really helpful, and we started with a six foot hole. If you mix up a magic mixture to help with the composting, this hole ought to last you all years and years and years.


See this site for a blueprint of a nice outhouse provided by North Dakota State Univ. : http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/aben-plans/6054.pdf

chrisser
07-11-2011, 01:41 AM
Thanks everyone.

I actually started on it today. Used some plans I found online as a rough guide.

I ended up making it 4' x 4'. I probably could have made it narrower, but I'm using sheet siding and since it's 4' x 8', it's just more efficient to use a full sheet for each side, rather than making it narrower and wasting material.

I built it on 4x4 skids that are 5' long and I use the extra foot to make a step.

The base is a 4x4 sheet of plywood on top of the skids, then 2x6s with the front and back cavities a little wider so I can fit 2x8x16 solid concrete blocks between the 2x6s. I can fit 10 blocks inside the floor cavity and I'm hoping that weight placed low will be enough to prevent the structure from being blown over by the wind.

Front and back walls are done, although I haven't finished with the door yet. They're basic 2x4 on 16" centers with hardy siding. The sides will be 2x2s with the same siding. Sides won't hold any load - they're basically just to keep the wind out.

Roof will overhang all sides by about a foot and I have galvanized corrugated roof panels for it.

I'm building it so it can be disassembled/reassembled and so far it's working out well. Took me about 1/2 an hour to remove the two walls and disassemble the floor into pieces so I could easily move it into the garage for the night.

Inside will be a bench with a hinged lid for the sawdust bucket. I recycled a lot of wood I had, but I've still had to shell out about $200 in materials, and I'll probalby be another $100 in before I'm done. It's not going to last 100 years, but it ought to last a few decades with a little maintenance now and again.

Hoping to finish it up by next weekend. Then I can start on the shed/cabin I plan next.

The sections are glued and screwed together. Assembly will go like this:

Floor section is turned upside down. Skids (with stairs attached) get bolted to the bottom.

Flip it over so the skids are down. Floor section is open. Fill with blocks.

Drop the floor panel on top and screw it down (probably spread some adhesive and put down some linoleum I have left over from another project on top before putting the walls on)

Lag bolt the back wall onto the floor structure. Lag bolt one of the sides onto the floor and bolt it to the back wall. Bolt the other side to the floor and to the back wall.

Drop the bench in place and fasten.

Lag bolt the front wall (with door) to the floor and bolt to the side walls.

Slide the roof up the back wall and over the top. The birds mouths in the rafters will retain it in place. Bolt rafters in from the bottom of the wall plates. Put in roof screens.

Put in the sawdust bucket and it's done.

I figure it will take about 2 hours to assemble after prepping the site, and I think we'll be able to get it down to our property in one load. Should be able to run down early on a Saturday morning (4 hour drive), prep the site, assemble the structure, and be home later that night.

offgridbob
07-11-2011, 01:03 PM
I am known country wide for my great out houses. They should be a thing of art and a couple of rules I go by are #1 you have to be able to bend over to pick up your pants without hitting you head on the door. #2 the toilet paper/corn cobs has to be handy. #3 It has to be well vented. All the rest is just creative jenius on your part

kfander
07-11-2011, 01:16 PM
We're going to use an outhouse building, but put a compost toilet in it, and we're probably going buy ours already made by the Amish. They sell two size outhouses: 48"x48" and 39"x39", at $340 and $295 respectively. With the small difference in price, we'll go with the larger.

grumble
07-11-2011, 02:12 PM
OG Bob, you know how sometimes people state the obvious, even though nobody really thought about it before, and it makes folks smile? Well, sir, I just smiled.

Mrs. Owens
07-11-2011, 04:54 PM
OK, Paneling is 4x8 so 4 pieces of old used paneling for the outside and 2/4's for the frame. A little plywood (used pieces if you can get them) to make the throne with a hole (an old toilet seat is a real good idea). A nail for the TP and a few magazines or newspaper. There ya go. Dig the hole as deep as you can with getting out with a ladder. I like to make mine NOT look like an outhouse so that if the officials have a problem with it, it can pass as a feed shed.:secret:

offgridbob
07-12-2011, 12:51 PM
Grumble, I might add that if your in bear country like I am, it needs to be big enough to swing the rifle around or a place to hang your 45. Or during deer season put your out house in the right spot and you can us it as a deer blind (;>}

grumble
07-12-2011, 02:11 PM
Ha. That means you have to cut shooting ports in the side. Maybe that's the "good ventilation" you mentioned earlier? <G>

oldtimer
07-12-2011, 10:33 PM
OK, Paneling is 4x8 so 4 pieces of old used paneling for the outside and 2/4's for the frame. A little plywood (used pieces if you can get them) to make the throne with a hole (an old toilet seat is a real good idea). A nail for the TP and a few magazines or newspaper. There ya go. Dig the hole as deep as you can with getting out with a ladder. I like to make mine NOT look like an outhouse so that if the officials have a problem with it, it can pass as a feed shed.:secret:
Well, I wouldn't want to lie about it so why not just call it a tool shed and hang up a hoe and a rake or something in there? Keeping feed in there would encourage mice and rats and rats can be an outhouse problem anyway.

Txanne
07-12-2011, 11:20 PM
Chrisser,
I have passed this thread--then stopped and read it--

Every time it brings back memories of my off-grid "out-house".

In 95 when I moved off grid--my sons decided I needed an outhouse.
Didnt have power of course--so they took plywood and 2x4's to old neighbor down the road--cut all the
materials after many brotherly disagreements that go along with a (brothers)being involved
in a project LOL.

Brought it all back and asembled the pretty new buillding--smelled new ,looked very nice--
But there was something wrong and I couldnt quite figure it out--THEN suddenly it dawned on me--there were NO POTTY HOLES.

I fall-out--they had worked so hard--driven a 160 miles to HELP momma and their were no holes.
So much for brothers working together.
I quietly said--Boys you gotta take it apart--they looked at me like I had finally lost all of my mind--they thought I had anyway for moving all the way out here by myself!!

So --sheepishly they disassemmbled my potty house and went back and cut the holes in their proper place.

To this day they refuse to discuss the missing holes--the most vital part of the little house.

Momma(me) doesnt bring it up UNLESS--------their getting the best of me at family gatherings. The all is fair in love and outhouses.


Outhouses all ways bring a smile to me--because it can be funny--except at 20'

txanne

chrisser
07-13-2011, 02:11 AM
Great story Txanne.

Haven't made any more progress on the outhouse.

The car I just put the windshield in blew a brake line while at lunch. It's the line that runs across the front and, inconveniently, the leak squirts brake fluid on the catalytic converter making the car a rolling smoke machine that won't stop.

I took a stab at fixing it tonight at my office, but its no substitute for being home with all my tools, jacks, etc. I have to do some maintenance at work tonight, so maybe tomorrow I'll be able to wrap it up, then start up on the outhouse again Thursday.

We have an 8x12 shed at work that the CEO has wanted to get rid of for awhile. I almost took it last year, but I didn't have the need for all that material, and I didn't really want to spend the time it would require to disassemble.

However, now that I plan on building a shed/cabin, I can use every piece.

I'm getting the whole thing for free, as long as I get it all out of there. The celing is only 6' high with gable rafters. My plan is for a gambrel roof for a second story loft, and maybe another foot higher first floor ceiling, but in any event, it saves me 1/2 to 2/3 of the cost of materials for our cabin, and will probably contribute a bit to the outhouse too. Wife and I are going to spend this weekend disassembling it and moving it home.

BWHLover
07-13-2011, 04:27 AM
Great story Txanne.

Haven't made any more progress on the outhouse.

The car I just put the windshield in blew a brake line while at lunch. It's the line that runs across the front and, inconveniently, the leak squirts brake fluid on the catalytic converter making the car a rolling smoke machine that won't stop.

I took a stab at fixing it tonight at my office, but its no substitute for being home with all my tools, jacks, etc. I have to do some maintenance at work tonight, so maybe tomorrow I'll be able to wrap it up, then start up on the outhouse again Thursday.

We have an 8x12 shed at work that the CEO has wanted to get rid of for awhile. I almost took it last year, but I didn't have the need for all that material, and I didn't really want to spend the time it would require to disassemble.

However, now that I plan on building a shed/cabin, I can use every piece.

I'm getting the whole thing for free, as long as I get it all out of there. The celing is only 6' high with gable rafters. My plan is for a gambrel roof for a second story loft, and maybe another foot higher first floor ceiling, but in any event, it saves me 1/2 to 2/3 of the cost of materials for our cabin, and will probably contribute a bit to the outhouse too. Wife and I are going to spend this weekend disassembling it and moving it home.


chrisser,

Contgs. on all of the free materials, I am sure that you will find uses for every piece.;)

Mrs. Owens
07-13-2011, 05:04 PM
Yep, NEVER pass up any building materials. I rat pack every piece and sure enough I find a use eventually for it all. Free is a great deal and you are on the right track. Go for it!