A Modern Homesteader

Building an outhouse

With summer comes a doubling (or more) of population on the homestead. What mom and I had been doing worked fine for two adults, but wasn’t going to work with two kids. 

So, thus began the outhouse project. A rough sketch was done and a materials list built. After a trip to the hardware store, all supplies were on hand and construction began. The entire construction is 16″ OC.  

Outhouse sketchOuthouse materials list

This is a pretty simple construction project and a good exercise in framing, if you need some practice. Adding a wood door on the front would give you a simple small garden shed.
First, I started with a 4′ square frame. We decided against doing a permanent foundation, and opted for a low platform on a fairly level area behind the existing cabin.
Outhouse frameOuthouse floor joists
Outhouse platform



Then, we framed the walls.
And raised them.
Outhouse Framed
And put the sheathing on.
Outhouse sheathed
We hung a curtain, placed our loveable loo and used it as it was for a little while. I was nervous/worried about cutting the bird’s mouth rafter seat and the weather was going to be clear, so why not?
Why not? Black toilet seats get very hot in the summer sun! Ow!
After looking at many books and online references I came across the “direction” to just hold a rafter up and tack it into place and then mark it. This is much easier to do without the sheathing up! It took some finagling but I was able to get one marked well enough that I was able to cut the birds mouth and the ends to be straight verticals.

Outhouse Rafters Cut Rafters up

I used a combination of a skill saw and a saws-all to cut the birds mouths. Most sources recommend just using the skill saw but, I didn’t want to over cut as much as I would have needed to. So, right or wrong that’s how I did it and the cuts turned out pretty clean.
Nailed the rafters into place and then came the fun part of getting the sheeting up onto the roof! Fortunately, between 3 people (2 young teen and 1 adult woman) we were able to get the sheeting up and nailed into place.
The last step, was to cut the side sheathing down to size.
 Finished Outhouse Finished Outhouse
It’s done for now!
We plan on doing some sort of wooden door in the future, the curtain just isn’t working out well. Painting and adding some trim will pretty it up, as well.  I’d like to put tar paper up and some metal or plastic roofing, along with a gutter and a rain barrel. I’d like to use the water for rinsing our loo buckets out and keeping the compost pile moist. An inch of rain would yield 15.57 gallons on the 4’x6.25′ roof. It’s not a lot, but since we average 17 inches per year it is an extra 264+ gallons per year.
Notes: If one does all their measuring and cutting first, this could be a really quick, weekend project. A framing nailer is awesome and makes this go much quicker. On that note, 24″ OC would probably have been sufficient and would have allowed me to use my nailer in those tight corners.
Do, trace your birds mouth’s before you put up your sheeting. Having an adult helper will help you feel less nervous about getting up on ladders on uneven surfaces. If you want to put this on skids it would be easy to do. If you have high winds you might need to anchor this to the ground somehow.
We could have made it smaller, but even going 36″ square wouldn’t have saved on sheeting and would have required more cutting. At this size, we can place a small storage cabinet to store extra paper and supplies and never need to feel cramped!
When you are working with living in a 200 square foot cabin with 4 people, it is amazing how much that extra 16 square feet improves your quality of life!

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