Outhousesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Hi folks, We recently bought some secluded acreage and plan to build a stackwall house (eventually). Right now we plan to build a couple of outhouses (as soon as all the snow is gone). We live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I'm looking for advice including how deep to build; do I bow in the hole in the ground (or will it collapse if we get too much rain); are styrofoam seats a good idea for winter use; etc... Your comments and advice are appreciated. Thanks! Dan Vachon
-- Dan Vachon (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 31, 2001
Dave,, an outhouse can be as simple or complex as you want it, can be just a bucket,, or an elaborate outside facility., You can compost in a differnt pile, or in the hole, watch your water table,, dont want to containinate your own water,, Use whateever you like indoor when you sit and its cold,, just times that by 10,,(Im in Mich) Just when your finished with the paper work,, use some organic material,, sawdust,,shredded leaves,, whatever,, helps compost it,, and keeps the smell and flies down
-- stan (email@example.com), March 31, 2001.
Can't help with the cold part, but we used our wood ashes between "flushes". We also hung a fly sticky paper strip inside the hole hanging down to foil those no-see-ums that bite the bum!
Funny story: We used an outhouse for about 6 months, I had a bladder infection, the meds the doctor gave me turned my urine orange. Well actually when he the doctor asked me if it had turned my urine orange, I had to tell him that I hadn't a clue, as we were using an outhouse right now! He had a good laugh at that, thought it was pretty neat we were building our own home, and became a meat customer of mine with the goats! Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 31, 2001.
Hey Dan whats a stack wall house? Is that stacked 2 by 6 for walls? Just wondering.....Kirk
-- Kirk Davis (email@example.com), March 31, 2001.
Dan, MY wife and I just finished building an a-frame style outhouse. It was recommended by my researh to dig the hole below the frost line. The reason for this is that during the winter the mirco organisms will die and not break down the humanure. I would recommend that you try to dig your pit below the frost line as well. I am not sure how deep you have to dig or if you live in a perma frost region. I reckon six foot would do it for most people anyway. I built my outhouse on top of three railroad ties. I ran them all in the same direction. I put one on the back edge of the hole, one on the front edge of the hole and one slightly offcenter in between. This gave me a great foundation for the platform to be built on. And since they were treated railroad ties, they will never rot or break, (at least in my lifetime). I would recommend not putting anything in the pit except woodashes. Chemicals will destroy the mirco organisms that break down the humanure. I you want to see a picture of my outhouse you may view it on my webpage: Http://communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks On the left of my homepage you will see a row of links. Scroll down to the one that say Ozark Lifestyle. It is a photo albun and has a nice picture of our outhouse. I hope this will help. Sincerely, Ernest
-- Ernest in the Ozarks (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 01, 2001.
Dan, there are web sites that have plans and directions for building composting toilets that might be helpful. I've used an outhouse for quite a bit of my life, and the pit sometimes was just a hole in the ground, sometimes cribbed with whatever logs the site provided. It was normally about six or eight feet deep, and at least four feet square. The styrofoam is definitely the warmest seat in really cold weather, though for cleanliness sake, you will probably want to replace it once in a while. With styrofoam, the seat won't feel cold even at seventy degrees below zero -- and I don't think it gets that cold in Nova Scotia, does it?
-- Kathleen Sanderson (email@example.com), April 01, 2001.
Not to put a cap on your house, but are outhouses legal in your area? In some they are not permitted.
-- Gary (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 01, 2001.
Ours is about 8 ft deep. We use a soft vinyl seat, warm enough even at O deg (coldest it got this winter) & easier to clean than styrofoam. We have used lime (previous owner left some) and wood ashes. We'll keep using ashes because we have more of them than money. The Humanure book (I think I'm spelling it right) has a lot of info on composting toilets & outhouses. Also it's very funny! Can't remember the author's name - we got it from the library.
-- Bonnie (email@example.com), April 02, 2001.
I have dug out and built 5 outhouses over the past 32 years, most were hand dug but one I had a backhoe do, we dug down 8' and then I put a 24" culvet in, backfilled and built on top of that, it was in sand so there was no other way to keep the sides from falling in. the most recent one I built was 2 years ago, we dug it 5' deep, ( don't expect to use it for more than 3-4 years and then fill it in. I made it 6x6', there is planty of room to keep the ash can & store some garden tools. The floor is T&G pine, the siding is clapboard, the roof is high-rib sheet iron and it has a stained glass window but this is the last one I will ever build and they are not legale here anymore. As for the cold seat business, I have always kept my seat in the house hung behind the wood stove in the winter and do not use a seat in the summer. I use the inside oval of the seat as a template and the cut it out with a keyhole saw, rasp and sand off the edges smooth and then paint or urethane the bench. The oval that is cut out I screw to a square pice of plywood with a knob or handle on top, that makes a good tight fit over the hole. I use 4" pvc pipe for a vent with screen over the top held in place with a 4x4x4 pvc Tee. I have used 3 or 4" aluminum exhaust pipe for clothes driers too. I vent the through the wall below the bench with screen, that give good air flow to the vent stack. Also I leave the door open all summer, bugs and spiders are a given and it depends on what part of the country you live in, 4 of my priveys were in Western NY the last one is in Oregon.
-- Hendo (OR) (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 03, 2001.
I suspect it is the urine which will make the house smelly, not necessarily the solid themselves. Saw one in OR which diverted the urine via a funnel and hose to a separate gravel-filled pit.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (email@example.com), April 04, 2001.
Our outhouse is like a hole in a bench. We didn't dig anything out, just put the house up with a bench inside & hole in the bench. We have a hole in the side to dig out the "stuff" when it gets full. With 5 of us using it, I dig it out maybe 3 or 4 times a year (it is hard to dig out in the winter when it freezes). Someone told me of a house they moved around when the hole got full. Of course that was a hole dug in the ground that they filled in when they moved the house. I like the seat ideas I've been reading. Ours is just a reg. seat & it's cold in winter (gotta just hurry up & do your job). I do wish we had a double seat, though, when more than one of has to go really bad.
-- Bob (WI) (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 04, 2001.