Outhouse progress

Another weekend (actually two) and the outhouse is now sewn up for the winter!  We still have a lot of trim work to do, make a front porch, landscape, add solar lights, and paint; but at least the outhouse is safe for critters (we can lock it up now) and is now in service!  🙂

Building an Outhouse

We used OSB with TechShield (the shiny part you can see), which is supposed to prevent heat from radiating from the roof to the inside, as the first layer on the roof. It didn’t cost any more than the other OSB without the TechShield, so we went ahead and bought it.

We used metal roofing and James Hardie cementitous siding because of it’s fire resistance.  Once the landscaping is done by clearing away the brush and forest duff, the only way the outhouse will burn down during a wildfire is if there is a crown fire (a fire that is up in the trees) and a tree actually falls onto the structure!  At least in theory.

For venting the pit, we chose 4″ black ABS pipe that was 10 feet long.  Supposedly, because of convection currents when the sun hits the black pipe and heats it up, the foul odors will actually be sucked up and out of the top!  This also helps to dry the contents in the pit – which will contribute to better composting and further reduce odors.

How to build an outhouse

Putting in a header for the door and starting to place the Hardieboard siding.

Next spring, however, we will probably be installing one of those wind turbine thingys on top of the pipe, which will help with the venting even on cold and rainy days.

The door was constructed with 2 x 3 framing, with a fairly thin wood veneer board on the inside and the Hardieboard siding on the outside.  We went ahead and threw some batt insulation (you know, that pink stuff) inside the door.  Why?  Because we had some left over from insulating the tool shed!  Actually, we have a lot of the insulation left over and will probably go ahead and insulate the walls of the outhouse also.  Because we can.

Building an outhouse

The interior structure of the door, built with 2 x 3 lumber, faced with Hardieboard on the outside and a wood veneer on the inside, with insulation between!

We bought most of the hardware for the door from our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  Those hinges, which are pretty heavy-duty, were priced at only three for $1.

How to build an outhouse

Over the OSB, we stapled down tar paper and then attached a metal roof. We used a specific type of roof jack that is meant to weatherproof the hole for the 4″ vent pipe. This is the back of the outhouse.

Can’t beat that!  I was really impressed with our Re-Store.  They have brand new windows and doors that apparently were left over from construction jobs or were custom ordered to the wrong size, etc., with the original tags and stickers still on them!  Some of these items – especially the doors that had the miniblinds inside the window – were half of what you would pay at the regular big box home improvement stores!  Once we get the homestead house plans squared away with out architect, we will probably start buying doors, windows, cabinets, light fixtures, etc., when we see those items at the Re-Store or on clearance at the big box stores!

Anyway, back to the outhouse.

How to build an outhouse

We put a window in the west side, completed the siding, and then used the Hardieboard trim around the window. We will eventually be using the same trim on the corners and under the eaves of the outhouse.

Hanging the door was a feat in itself.  That sucker was pretty heavy and at first it didn’t fit!  We didn’t take into account the thickness of the door when opening it, and so had to take the whole thing down, pull one side off, trim it down, put it back together again, and then re-hang it!  Whew!  When that was done we were very pleased with our work!  A handle and locking hasp  finished the door!  Now all we have to do is paint it and embellish it with a crescent moon and a star!  (Female and Male symbols on old outhouses back in the day) For an explanation of this, you should probably read the first post on building our outhouse, which I have listed at the bottom of this article.

Building an outhouse

Once the door was hung, Ray attached a handle and matching hasp so that we can lock the door. It will at least keep out honest criminals and curious critters!

Once the outside was pretty much weatherproof, we turned out attention to the inside.  The bench seat was fairly simple to construct and is solid as a rock!  The framing was tied into the structure of the outhouse with both nails and screws (you don’t want us to fall in, do you?), then the entire bench seat was clad in plywood.

Building an outhouse

This is the framing used to support the plywood and actual toilet seat. That sucker is solid!

Before the plywood was attached, however, Ray installed a piece of  sheet metal on the inside of the plywood, to prevent the plywood from getting wet with – well – urine. 😉   We cut holes in the top of the plywood to fit the specialized toilet seat and the vent pipe, placed the vent pipe through the hole and the toilet seat in it’s place and – wow – we could finally use our outhouse!  Hooray!  I never thought I would get so excited about being able to “go” in an outhouse!


Our next task will be to finish the trim work on the outside, add door jams with weatherstripping (not as much to keep the warmth in, but to keep the critters out!), insulate and put walls up on the inside, hang the sink and medicine cabinet, build a front porch, and landscape.  Oh, and paint.  And maybe tile the bench seat with the tons of tile my sister gave me.

Building an outhouse

A fully functional outhouse! Wahoo! We still have a long way to go with all the finishing details, but at least now it is useable and safe!

I know a lot of you are out there thinking, “why in the world would they go to so much trouble building a silly outhouse?”  Well, my answer is simply this:  if we are going to be our own contractors and build most of our new home ourselves, we need to practice using a lot of the materials and techniques we have employed in both the tool shed and now the outhouse.  Does it need to be insulated?  No, but we have two rolls of insulation taking up room in our garage right now.  Do we really need to use that tile?  Why not!?  It’s free, my sister didn’t want it, and it will surely be easier to clean than plywood!

This may or may not be the last post about our outhouse this year, as we are going to start turning our attention to other projects up on the homestead and also in our valley home!  If you haven’t read the previous posts on the outhouse, you can find them here:  #1.  We’re Building An Outhouse!,  #2.  Our Outhouse, Part 2,   #3.  Fixtures for the Outhouse,  #4.  Outhouse Update,  and finally #5.  Another Outhouse Post.

Thank you for reading this blog post and for any comments, questions or advice you leave below!  I try to answer every one!


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27 thoughts on “Outhouse progress

    • Oh – I do not like rats! Believe it or not, I allowed one of my sons to have a rat as a pet when he was a young teenager. Of course, his name was Templeton. He was actually an okay rat, liked to be cuddled and pet, and never bit! But those wild rats – no, no, no! We have wood rats and also deer mice on the property, not to mention the moles, voles and snakes – all of which could get into the outhouse if we didn’t shore it up well enough. That’s one of the reasons we are taking such care to build this critter proof! Thanks, Steph!

  1. I’m so glad I found your post series, what great information. I will definitely be sharing it. These skills, like building outhouses and doing laundry without electricity, are skills we still need to have. Good for you…make it pretty with tile and cozy with insulation! I would love to see a picture when it is completed!

    • Thank you so much, Shelle! We probably won’t have it all done until next spring. Once we get a rain barrel to hold fresh water, to supply the sink, hang the medicine cabinet, insulate and put up walls, tile the bench seat, finish trimming the outside, install a rain gutter in the back to collect water for irrigating the orchard, and then paint (whew), I will post again! I also checked out your site and will be spending a lot of time there in the future 🙂 I love your current logo “taking the scared out of being prepared”! Hahaha – that sums it up! Thanks for stopping by – we should keep in touch!

    • Yes, Colleen, ours is permanent. And temporary! We are building this to use for about one year – while we are living on the property building our home. Then, after we move into our home (with flushing toilets), the outhouse will be used only when we are on the lower half of our property and need to use the outhouse without having to go all the way back to the house! Besides, you can clean out an outhouse! It isn’t pretty – but it’s possible! Thank you for your question, Colleen!

    • Haha – basically, you have! I think I have posted all of the blogs pertaining to building our outhouse on your blog hop! Thanks for hosting it and letting me share 😉 my outhouse!

    • Our Re-Store is wonderful! They even had some antique lighting fixtures and a few beautiful old solid wood doors! Maybe someday I can visit the store in your town! Thanks for stopping by Joan!

  2. Oh this is perfect! I’m so glad I found your site. We are building a cabin in Alaska that we want to be sustainable, complete with an outhouse. So, so glad I found you!!

    • Alaska – holy cow! I really love our outhouse, but to be honest, you might look into a composting toilet also! These can actually be installed inside your home, just where a regular toilet would be in the bathroom. That way you wouldn’t have to go outside to “go” – especially when it’s 20 degrees below! Or – perhaps have both! Thanks for stopping by. I can’t wait to read your site!

  3. Well, this is the first time I’m here. I’m hailing from Friendship Friday/Create with Joy. I know sometimes it’s nice to know how people found you. I know I do. Anyway, this is pretty interesting, and what a logical idea to have one outside like that with comfort while you’re building your home. Thanks for sharing. I think I better see if I can get up to date here. This is so cool! Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks so much! It will sure beat having one of those port-a-potty stinkers! I slid on over to your website and saw the cutest T-Shirts you have reviewed! We may have to get a few!

  4. Hi there! I saw your post at FarmGirl Friday. Your outhouse is a wonderful idea. I like the fact that you plan to leave it up after your house is finished and use it when you’re away from the house. Good thinking. My husband has built a composting toilet, but who do you think will have to empty it…right. I like outhouses better. 😉

    • Hello, Toni! So nice to meet you! So, okay, I have never actually used a composting toilet, but from everything I have read (a lot of people sing their praises) the “stuff” that you empty isn’t supposed to smell or be icky. I don’t know, like I have said, I haven’t actually used one. But, the outhouse was actually a cheaper alternative for us. Believe it or not – commercial composting toilets usually cost more than $800-$1,000 or more! You say your husband built one? I would sure like to see a post on that!

  5. So glad you’ve shared your experience with Wildcrafting Wednesday readers! It’s been a long time since I’ve used my grandparent’s outhouse, but I can still remember the smell on those hot summer days! I hope your vent does the trick for you! 🙂

    ~ Kathy @ Mind Body and Sole

  6. Some of my Arkansas friends built their outhouse with old windows on all four sides (the “Crystal Palace”) Privacy is not the problem you might think and the beauty of it is that even with the door closed in sub-freezing temps the woods are all around you and you do not get that ‘boxed-in’ feeling.

    • Wow – that sounds really cool! I can imagine sitting in there, doing my business, when a deer or a rabbit scampered by! How lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I was just reading through your outhouse posts and really enjoyed them. If you ever encounter any unpleasant odors I have found that mothballs in a small holder or just dropped on the floor do a pretty good job of keeping stray odors in check. You can also put a quart or two of waste oil in the pit to make a barrier. We used to use spent oil from the turkey frier.

    • Thank you, James! I am glad you liked the posts! So far we haven’t had any issues with odors. Every few days or so we sprinkle in a bit of leaf mold, wood ashes, or even just a bit of dirt. This seems to be the best way so far, but if we do end up with issues, I will certainly try your remedies! Thanks for stopping by today and I appreciate that you took the time to comment!