Tips for Building Outhouses

An outhouse is basically nothing more than a wooden shell situated over a hole with a roof, a floor and a front door. The average outhouse is 4 feet square by 7 feet high. The shell of an outhouse is most commonly built out of wooden beams and lined with wooden pallets.

Inside the outhouse a bench - approximately 2-feet high and 2-feet wide - needs to be built in the shape of a box, across the back half of the outhouse wall. In the top of the box a 10 inch hole to 12 inch hole is cut. The outhouse is constructed over a 4 foot deep to 6foot deep hole in the ground - the deeper the hole, the longer you can go until having to dig another one.

The outhouse hole should be dug during the summer months when the ground is warm and completely thawed.

The privy hole should be lined with wood, plastic or cement in order to prevent a cave in. A funnel can be attached around the outhouse hole opening to provide extra support and to direct liquid waste downward.

Outhouses are typically built as single or double-holers. Double-holers are convenient for families with small children (so they don't fall in). In the past, many double-holers were built for convenience or were used simultaneously by more then one family member.

Location is of the utmost importance when building an outhouse. The climate, soil conditions, exposure to public view and scenery are all important considerations. Outhouses should be built on a high plane, not on a low one, so that they aren't flooded out during rain storms or drifted in because of a snowstorm. Outhouses should also be built 50 feet to 150 feet upwind from your house or cottage, so that your family doesn't have to endure the unpleasant odors.

The roof of an outhouse should be built slightly sloped so that water, snow and debris slide off easily. Outhouse roofs are typically 6 feet to 7 feet high, with the sloped portion situated over the sitting area.

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