How to Build an Outhouse Yourself


Those of us who are privileged to reside in cities and towns with running water, continuous electricity and indoor plumbing tend to take these things for granted. City folks think of an outhouse as a hillbilly’s second home in the outback when in fact a significant number of people living in the world do not have basic amenities. As such, they rely on these facilities for daily survival. In the event you have to venture to a place where indoor plumbing is just a concept, don’t fret too much. You can easily read up on how to build an outhouse as an alternative to using the running waters of nature.

Check out the areas surrounding the house. When choosing a location for an outhouse, there should be adequate privacy and preferably not within hearing or smelling distance. Ensure your chosen site is as far away as possible from all water sources to avoid pollution due to seepage in to the soil. No amount of precaution and ground lining can alleviate this risk. Otherwise, your whole venture is down the toilet, pun intended.

The foundation normally comprises of a pit, dug wide and deep enough with ample capacity to last a while. It’s preferable to choose a site with relatively compact soil as loose earth has a tendency to shift and may cause detrimental effect to the outhouse. Once you’ve got the geology part settled, build a floor out of concrete or wood, the latter being more traditional. Since the floor size determines the size of the outhouse, its dimensions should be large enough to cover the pit with space to comfortably move inside the outhouse. Cut a suitably-sized hole through the floor above the pit.

Build a raised platform so that you can sit whilst in the outhouse. Add a lid to contain the odor. Instead of a platform, install a toilet bowl with a wooden cover to maintain some authenticity. Build the surrounding walls and add a roof. For an entrance, include the conventional door with a latch and a little crescent as a peephole. Alternatively, hang a heavy canvas sheet as a curtain for modesty. When done, slide the curtain and hook it aside.

Ventilation is added by allowing a small gap under the eave of the roof. Since there is no electricity to the outhouse, no exhaust fan is available to ventilate the outhouse. Ensure you close the lid after use. The outhouse also has no lighting and usage after hours requires a battery-powered torch. In all, it is a challenge to clean the facilities without running water. Include sufficient toilet paper and emphasize on proper outhouse hygiene to all users. Other than that, enjoy your experience and thank the Romans for inventing indoor plumbing.