Another Outhouse Post!

Last weekend we were finally able to make it up to our future homestead and begin framing the outhouse! Yahoo!  My biggest fear has been that some creature would find his way through our barriers and fall to it’s demise into the pit!  Wouldn’t that be a nightmare!

Paw prints in the outhouse concreteI will be so glad ecstatic when we can get the pit covered!

There was concrete evidence 😀   that our neighbor’s dogs were snooping around after we poured the concrete.  We had to leave and go back to our home in the valley long before the concrete was dry.  I had worked so hard to get the surface of that concrete just right, so you can’t blame me for being just a little upset!  Oh well, nothing can be done about it now.  I suppose we can count our blessings if this is the worst thing that happens!  Besides, I hear you have to pay twice as much for that designer Mexican Saltillo tile with the kitty-cat footprints on it!

sill plates for outhouseThe first task at hand this weekend was to put on the sill plates.  We are using 2 x 6 lumber for this part of the framing simply because it is stronger and in the end won’t cost that much more than regular 2 x 4’s.  Also, the top layer of concrete blocks were 6 inches wide, so the 2 x 6 sill plates fit perfectly! We measured the proper length for each sill board and cut to fit, then drilled a hole so the J-bolts that had been embedded into the concrete in the block wall foundation could protrude through the sill board.  With a washer and nut over each J bolt, the sill plates were all fitted on.

Now we had to take them back off, Assembling the walls of the outhouse  one by one, to build each wall to the sill plate.  Once each wall was done, we erected the entire wall (yes, it was heavy), again placing the J-bolt through the drilled holes in the sill plate, tightened on a washer and bolt, and – et voila’ – one wall was done!  Then to the next.

Once we finally got all of the walls up, we plumbed two sides and a corner, then nailed them together;  then went to the opposite two sides, plumbed them and nailed them together also, and so on.  We knew that we wouldn’t get it exactly perfect, but fairly close was good enough.  Besides, we knew when we put on the top plate and lateral roof supports, that would help to plumb it up also! 3 walls up on the outhouse

So next we fastened the 2 x 6 top plate along the roof, and once that was on the walls were really sturdy.  For the final roof framing we placed  2 x 4’s on edge on the outside of the 2 x 6 top plate (screwed in from underneath and lapped on the corners for stability) then placed eight lateral support braces from front to back.  This should be heavy duty enough to withstand the occasional snowstorm we have on our property.  At this point, the framing was done!  Now it actually looked like a building!   Roof braces for the outhouse

The final task we finished on the outhouse this weekend was to wrap the building with asphalt impregnated paper.  This is a great underlayment for the siding we chose to use, which is cement impregnated Hardiboard, manufactured by James Hardie.  We put the same siding on the tool shed, except on the tool shed we used planks.  On the outhouse we are using 4 x 8 sheets. This material is fireproof, and along with the metal roof and the concrete blocks for the first 18″ of the wall, this building should be fairly fire resistant.  Outhouse wrapped with asphalt paper

Next week we hope to get the siding up and the metal roof on.  If we don’t run out of time, we would also like to get a door installed, so the entire building will be secure and I don’t have to worry about critters falling into the pit anymore!  (shudder)

If you missed the first three posts of building our outhouse, you can see them here – We’re Building An Outhouse, Our Outhouse Part 2,  Fixtures for the Outhouse, Outhouse Update.

Thank you for any advice or suggestions you have!


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Outhouse Update!

We have a floor!


Hubby and I worked on the outhouse again this weekend.  If you haven’t seen the previous posts, you can see them here – We’re Building An Outhouse,  The Outhouse – Part 2,  and Fixtures for the Outhouse.

When we arrived at the future homestead on Friday evening, we settled in for the night as the sun was already starting to set, and we knew we were going to need a lot of energy for our tasks the next morning.  Early Saturday morning we uncovered the hole we had dug and were happy to discover that no critters had fallen to their demise at the bottom of the pit.  Whew!

The first thing we needed to do was get the footing poured and the first course of concrete block set.  This didn’t take to long as we did it the lazy man’s way – dig a trench, pour in dry concrete, set blocks on top, pour in water and let it sit for a minute – then make sure the first course of block is reasonably level.  Foundation footing for outhouse and first coarse of concrete blocks

* Please note:  Neither hubby nor myself are professional bricklayers, nor are we professional builders.  If you see a wall that looks a little kaddywampus, a concrete block that isn’t quite level, or something that seems awry – it probably is.  If it is functional and looks decent, we go with it.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  It’s an outhouse, for heaven’s sake!

The next thing we did was to pound three foot rebar into some of the holes in the concrete block, drive them down through the footing and into the earth, but leaving about 7 inches above the concrete block to tie into the next course.  Then the rebar was cemented in.  rebar in blocks and filling in blocks with concreteSo far everything was going well.  The walls were reasonably straight and the cement blocks were fairly level.  At this point we put mortar between each block, then began setting the second course of block.  This second course will be above ground and you can see the opening where the door will eventually be.  In each corner and in the middle of the long walls hubby Ray placed a J-Bolt, which will tie the sill plate (2 x 6 laid flat) to the cement block structure.  This is pretty much the same way we built our tool shed.


Also, since the second course of cement block was narrower than the bottom foundation block, we married the two with a bed of sloping mortar, which you can see along the back side and half way to the front on each side wall.

Second course of cement block with J-Bolts

At this point, with the footing and foundation block pretty solid, hubby Ray got back into the hole and dug it out a little closer to the edge of the footing.  And that was the end of Saturday.

Sunday morning woke us up a bit sore and creaky, but we wanted to get the floor of the outhouse poured before we had to go back home for the week.  So we had breakfast, two Advil, and a strong cup of coffee to prepare for more work.

The first thing we had to do was to place some supporting rebar across the opening of the hole, along with some 2 x 4’s to support the weight of the concrete floor that we were going to pour.  Ray cut cement board to fit around the supporting foundation block (that block in the middle of the floor area that looks out of place) which goes over the rebar and 2 x 4’s.  Then he cut a piece of scrap lumber for the back edge of the floor and wedged it into place, and a scrap 2 x 4 was secured with stakes at the door to the level we wanted the concrete to come to, with a slight slope down toward the door.  Once the foundation for the floor was all secure, we threw in all the rocks that had been excavated from digging the pit. Preparing outhouse floor to pour concrete

Next came washed river rock pebbles, to fill in voids between the rock.  We wanted the actual concrete to be about 3-4 inches thick and we had seven 80 pound bags of concrete mix, so we added only enough pebbles needed to make up the difference.  Then we added more rebar that would be imbedded within the concrete, to give it a more rigid structure.  It was important that this floor be structurally sound because it overhangs half of the pit! The floor all ready to pour concrete!

We were finally ready to pour the concrete floor!  How exciting!  With hubby Ray mixing the concrete in the wheelbarrow, then dumping it onto the floor, my task was to spread it out as evenly as possible.  Not a difficult job, just backbreaking!  It didn’t take us too long to get all the concrete poured in, and once Ray was finished mixing all the concrete he began  cleaning up the wheelbarrow and tools while I leveled and smoothed the concrete. outhouse cement block foundation with concrete floorI tried my best to get the concrete highest in the back, sloping toward the door, so that when I want to spray off the floor with the hose it will drain out easier.  We will see how well I did when we go back up to the future homestead to start framing up the structure. Of course, we covered the pit again before we left to protect the neighborhood animals from falling in!


So, what do you think?  Are we doing all right so far?       😉


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The Outhouse – Fixtures!

While thinking about the outhouse we are building (read about Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed it) and how everything will work, I happened to get an E-Mail from Home Depot about them having over 3,000 items on clearance.  I decided to browse through and found something that caught my eye – a toilet seat that is really tall (see HERE). It’s purpose is to make it easier for the elderly or disabled to get on and off the toilet seat, but I saw it as a great “no spider near the tushy” solution!  If we secure this over the hole in the bench seat, then at least there is a clear 6 inches where you can see if there is a spider lurking!  Here is what it looked like out of the box.  What do you think?

elevated toilet seat for outhouse

Then I started thinking about sanitation.  At first I thought I would just have hand wipes or sanitary lotion on hand, then I realized that the 300 foot water hose will stretch from our well to the outhouse, which will make it convenient to spray off the floor when it gets dirty. But, it will also fill a 50 or 100 gallon barrel water storage tank elevated on a platform that we can pipe to a sink inside the outhouse.  Running water! That’s when I remembered I have a sink from my grandma’s old house!  It’s a wall mount (perfect) and is really old, but it’s free and would work perfectly!  I’m sure it will clean up just fine.  We may have to find a new faucet, but that’s okay.  old sink for outhouse

Finally, my dear sister, Deana, is remodeling a smaller house to move into instead of rambling around by herself in her current, huge 3,500+ square foot house.  The smaller house she is remodeling is the one her husband, Danny, grew up in (and where she first met her mother-in-law more than 43 years ago) which is really special.  Danny passed away one year ago today and we will miss him forever.  While I was at the house one day this past spring helping Deana tear down a few walls in the remodeling process of the bathroom, the medicine cabinet (see below) was removed from the wall and was to be placed in the dumpster, when I rescued it.  I wasn’t sure where I would use it at that time, but now I am so glad I was able to save it.  It will look great over the old sink in the outhouse!   Medicine cabinet for outhouse

The plan is to drain the water from the sink into a French drain on either side of the outhouse, where I will plant flowers.  One variety of flower I must plant is the hollyhock, in Danny’s memory.  He told me long ago that people always planted hollyhocks around outhouses so the actual structure would be hidden behind the beauty of the tall flowers!  Good idea!  Along with some native ferns and maybe some bleeding heart and some –  wait, I’m getting ahead of myself – the outhouse isn’t even built yet!      Hahaha!


Danny, my brother-in-law. You will always be alive in our hearts!

Come to think of it, there will be so much about Danny in our outhouse, perhaps we should call it something like “Danny’s Den”!  😉    Knowing Danny, I think he would approve and is smiling in heaven right now.


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Our Outhouse – Part 2

Last weekend we did a bit more digging – we are down to 5 feet now and think that should be enough!  If you haven’t had a chance to read why we are building an outhouse and our first weekend of work, you can see it HEREAbout 3 feet deep  Two weekends of digging in clay dirt gives me a lot more respect for our ancestors! By the time we were down below 3-3-1/2 feet, it was much more difficult to dig and pitch the dirt out with a shovel because the hole was only about 3 foot by 3 foot. So, for the last foot or so of digging, Ray would go down into the hole and loosen up the dirt with a shovel, then I went down into the hole (while he took a much needed break) and scoop the dirt into a 5 gallon bucket, which was then hauled up and out!

About 5 feet deep

Yup – about 5 feet deep – that’s deep enough!

The next step was to pour a concrete footing around the base of the foundation, but first we had to figure out how big to make the actual structure of the outhouse.  Since we were going to use concrete block and didn’t want to bother cutting any blocks, we just decided to lay out the concrete blocks to a configuration that looked good, and went with that.

Laying out concrete block

This configuration of concrete blocks looks good.

Once we figured out the footprint of the foundation, we had to dig a trench for the concrete footing to be poured, which the concrete blocks would sit upon.  Not only will the concrete blocks and footing help keep the structure off the ground, it will also help to keep critters from digging underneath to get into the waste in the pit.  Believe it or not, raccoons and skunks are known to dig into the waste pits to dine!  Eeeewwwwwwww………

digging the footing

Digging a trench to pour concrete, upon which the concrete blocks will be placed.

Once the trenches were dug we were done for the weekend.  Our backs were sore and our shoulders were almost frozen in place.  We knew this project was going to take some time, but isn’t it funny how it always takes longer to do anything than we originally think it will?  While inspecting our handiwork we came to the realization that this hole could be potentially deadly for any wildlife or our neighborhood dogs, so we covered over it with a wooden pallet and some scrap wood.

Cover to protect deer & dogs

We covered the hole with a pallet and some scrap wood to protect wildlife and neighborhood dogs.

So, next weekend we hope to get the footings poured and the concrete block set, pour the floor of the outhouse with concrete and lots of rebar, and then begin building the actual structure of the outhouse!

If you have any suggestions or see any potential problems, please let me know!  I have done a lot of research on how to build outhouses (there are so many ways to do just about anything), but no amount of research can compare to those who have done this before!  Thank you!

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