As far as traditional off-grid structures go, an outhouse needs a simple plan for a simple DIY build – a tall wooden box with a door positioned atop a hole in the ground. Job done! Or is it? Is that the limit of DIY outhouse design today?
Modern outhouse plans and designs remain simple, cheap, and easy to DIY. But they’ll be infused with individuality, expressing the ethos of sustainable living where repurposing, regenerating, and creativity form the foundation of homestead life. Let’s lift a lid or two on 17 DIY outhouse ideas and plans, shall we?
Table of contents
- 17 Simple Outhouse Plans You Can DIY Cheaply
- 1. DIY Plans for a Traditional Timber Frame Outhouse Structure
- 2. DIY Plans for a Traditional Pit Toilet Outhouse
- 3. DIY Plans for a Pit Latrine Outhouse with a Washing Station
- 4. DIY Plans for a Simple Pit Toilet Outhouse
- 5. DIY Plans for a Cheap Outhouse Using Scrap Wood
- 6. DIY Plans for a Modern Swedish-Style Outhouse
- 7. DIY Plans for a Custom Backwoods Outhouse
- 8. DIY Plans for a Sleek Compost Toilet Outhouse
- 9. DIY Outhouse Plans With Detailed Measurements
- 10. DIY Plans for a Temporary Wet Weather Outhouse
- 11. DIY Plans for a Garden Outhouse
- 12. DIY Plans for a Rainwater Harvesting Outhouse
- 13. Idea for a Disappearing Outhouse
- 14. DIY Plan for a Portable Pallet Wood Compost Toilet Outhouse
- 15. DIY Idea for a Japanese-Method Demountable Outhouse
- 16. Build a Pathogen-Free Composting Outhouse
- 17. A DIY Outhouse in an Old Chicken Coop
- Simple Outhouse Plans – FAQs
- Putting the Lid Down
17 Simple Outhouse Plans You Can DIY Cheaply
Simple outhouse plans help you DIY a wooden structure to accommodate your choice of a toilet, be that a pit, flush, or composting toilet. Free online DIY outhouse plans and ideas outline the materials, tools, and techniques you’ll need to build a hygienic, compliant, and durable outhouse. Cheaply!
Essentially, an outhouse has two main parts:
- The waste disposal system (toilet type).
- The sheltering structure (the outhouse).
The type of toilet you will use in the structure will play a significant role in the planning and design of your DIY outhouse structure.
- If you plan to build a traditional outhouse with a pit latrine (a hole in the ground), you will need a light wooden structure that can move without fuss when the outhouse hole fills up.
- A flushing toilet in an outhouse will need a septic tank. But the structure will typically be permanent and can therefore be as elaborate as you desire.
- A composting toilet is portable, dry, and self-contained. The structure, therefore, can get elevated (a tree outhouse, anyone?), freestanding, or set in a foundation.
- There is a fourth option! A composting outhouse, where the solid waste gets composted in bins beneath the elevated permanent structure (on a slope or a deck).
There’s much more to cover regarding the best way to manage pee and poop on a homestead, which we’ll get into as this article unwinds.
Let’s look at those DIY outhouse plans!
1. DIY Plans for a Traditional Timber Frame Outhouse Structure
A great way to learn timber-frame house construction methods is to build a traditional wooden outhouse using a DIY plan like this one from howtospecialist.com.
The plans include all the materials and measurements required to build a structure that lasts for decades.
These plans let you improvise with finishes and fittings. And they are excellent templates for your creative outhouse ideas!
Best of all, you can use these plans for the four toilet types mentioned above.
Get the plans here.
2. DIY Plans for a Traditional Pit Toilet Outhouse
Courtesy of motherearthnews.com and the Texas Department of Health, this set of plans for a DIY outhouse is comprehensive, covering everything you’ll need to make a pit latrine outhouse, from the hole in the ground to the ventilation specifications.
The plan, apart from the timberwork, shows you how to create a sanitary pit latrine, which involves digging a hole and pouring a concrete ring that sits around the hole and forms a foundation for the outhouse.
A host of other outhouse protocols get covered in the plans, which are informative and easy to read.
Get the plans here.
3. DIY Plans for a Pit Latrine Outhouse with a Washing Station
This quaint timber frame outhouse plan from instructables.com has a pitched roof rather than the more common sloped flat roof, which gives it a rustic charm and welcoming appearance.
- The plans include how to equip the outhouse with a washing station.
Once you’ve built the structure, the plans will advise you on installing a sink and water tank to the exterior of the outhouse for hand washing and sundry off-grid cleaning jobs.
The need for good ventilation gets explained in the plans, where a PVC pipe is the recommended breather for the outhouse pit.
Get the plans here.
4. DIY Plans for a Simple Pit Toilet Outhouse
For a cheap and quick outhouse build in the traditional style, these plans from howtospecialist.com will get you up and riding (so to speak) in no time!
Using readily available milled lumber (2x4s, 2x2s, and plywood), the plans describe in detail how to dig a pit and build a wooden base for the superstructure – a quick solution for a temporary outhouse.
The plans got borrowed from our top outhouse plan picks but demonstrate what elementary carpentry can achieve with basic materials like standard lumber, polycarbonate roofing, and colorful paint.
Get the plans here.
5. DIY Plans for a Cheap Outhouse Using Scrap Wood
A wise old soul once said – necessity is the mother of an open mind! And grandmashousediy.com certainly had the lateral thinking at a full 270 degrees when she designed this charmingly ramshackle outhouse.
It’s a pit latrine outhouse made using reclaimed barn lumber, windows, and a door.
The plans demonstrate how to build a simple sub-frame for the outhouse, which can get leveled using rocks.
- The complete build cost a modest $30!
Get the plans here.
6. DIY Plans for a Modern Swedish-Style Outhouse
OK, these aren’t plans, per se – rather a how-to guide on building a stunning cube outhouse fit for the pages of an architectural design magazine, like dwell.com.
But don’t let that intimidate you. This outhouse plan/idea will break any barrier to adventurous carpentry you may be suffering.
By taking the measurements in our favorite plan listed above and expanding them laterally to give you a more spacious base and roof, you’ll have this beauty in situ with no hassle. Don’t forget to paint it black!
The extended roof and deck make space for a wash station, which you can equip according to your tastes.
Get the plans here.
7. DIY Plans for a Custom Backwoods Outhouse
This set of plans from ana-white.com gives you detailed measurements and hardware requirements to make a traditional wooden outhouse capable of withstanding freezing Alaskan winters.
- The pit is lined with an old barrel to keep water out. And the deck gets slatted for easy cleaning.
Ana used reclaimed tongue-and-groove timber and plywood for most of the cladding. And 2×4 and 2x2s for the framing.
How you decorate the interior and exterior is up to you – a pleasant job on a solid canvas!
Get the plans here.
8. DIY Plans for a Sleek Compost Toilet Outhouse
This outhouse idea from elevatedspaceshop.ca for a timber frame outhouse with a solid floor to accommodate a composting toilet includes a roof extension from which to hang an outdoor shower.
The unit looks impressive! And using extended lateral measurements from the first plan, you can have a similarly chic amenity in your forest.
The outhouse is positioned on concrete footers and includes a mirror (you could put a window in), solar lights, and a ventilation chimney plugged into the rear of the compost toilet.
The slatted shower wall, dark wood stain, and corrugated iron roof add to the post-modern look. Stylish!
Get the plan here.
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- How We Built a Cabin Kit in Our Backyard [a Tiny House for Guests!]
9. DIY Outhouse Plans With Detailed Measurements
Here’s a set of DIY outhouse plans from myoutdoorplans.com that give you a step-by-step guide to constructing a traditional timber outhouse booth which you can use with any of the four toilet options mentioned earlier.
The plans have professionally-detailed measurements for the base, frame, walls, roof, and door.
- The plans include the hardware needed to build the structure.
You can tweak/extend the dimensions in the plans to tailor-make your ideal outhouse.
Get the outhouse plans here.
10. DIY Plans for a Temporary Wet Weather Outhouse
Some outhouse builders insist on lining a traditional latrine pit with insulated and treated timber or a drum or barrel to prevent groundwater from entering the outhouse pit.
This plan from instructibles.com demonstrates how to insert a timber box with a PVC covering to ensure the waste matter in the pit does not get diluted by heavy rainwater seeping into the earth around the outhouse pit, leaving the outhouse unsanitary and unpleasant to use.
The finish is utilitarian! But the design is perfect for temporary applications.
Get the plans here.
11. DIY Plans for a Garden Outhouse
At this point in our list of outhouse plans and ideas, you’re probably asking when the outhouse innovation begins! Here’s a starter – a traditional outhouse design a la plan # 1 with a few aesthetic touches for the discerning gardener.
Constructed by an East Texas outhouse enthusiast, the design has the outhouse sitting on a raised plinth with flowerbeds within its confines.
A stained-glass window, opening side windows, and a ventilation chimney allow optimum ventilation of the pit and interior.
The decor includes a full-door mirror, a rug, and a vent fan.
See the plan here.
12. DIY Plans for a Rainwater Harvesting Outhouse
Having an ample supply of on-tap water near your outhouse adds a touch of sophistication to the structure. The luxury is even more so when it’s rainwater harvested from the roof of the outhouse!
Once again, the traditional outhouse design from plan # 1 got used to construct this unit, with an innovative gutter attachment feeding a cistern with a spigot adjoining the structure. Brilliant!
See the design here.
13. Idea for a Disappearing Outhouse
Imagine an outhouse that disappears during the day by blending with its surrounding foliage! Here’s an outhouse with a composting toilet and bathtub that redefines elegant outdoor ablutions. Positively trippy!
Do you have old mirrors waiting for a home or know where to salvage industrial-size mirrors? Then you could create a vanishing effect for your outhouse using this design by Australian architect Madeleine Blanchfield.
See the design here.
14. DIY Plan for a Portable Pallet Wood Compost Toilet Outhouse
A composting toilet with two seats in a portable outhouse made of pallet wood for under $20!
This plan from thegreenlever.com is based on the traditional timber outhouse design but includes two toilet seats – one for a pee bucket and the other for a poo bucket.
The outhouse was constructed in a workshop to be demountable and transported to the site for easy erection on a level stone foundation.
See the plan here and watch the video.
15. DIY Idea for a Japanese-Method Demountable Outhouse
Using old raw timber milled at his workshop, The Samurai Carpenter created a beautiful portable outhouse using traditional Japanese joinery methods – Arbutus, Douglas fir, and yellow cedar connected with dowels and mortise and tenon joints.
The solid floor makes a perfect platform for a camp toilet overlooking a lake. Awesome!
View the build and assembly here.
16. Build a Pathogen-Free Composting Outhouse
To prevent poo from releasing pathogens into groundwater and the atmosphere, eco-wise homesteaders are building composting outhouses like this one at Dirtpatcheaven.
A composting outhouse uses two large bins beneath two toilet seats to compost poo mixed with sawdust, peat moss, or wood ash. When an outhouse bin fills, it is closed and allowed to compost where it stands while the other outhouse bin is in service.
Urine is diverted into a separate container and used to nourish compost heaps and garden greenery.
Learn how to make it yourself.
17. A DIY Outhouse in an Old Chicken Coop
Repurpose an unused shed or chicken coop to create a comfortable outhouse using a waterless composting toilet like this one by earth2wendy.
The composting toilet has a urine separator to divert the pee from the poo bucket, keeping the outhouse odor-free.
The outhouse is replete with a sink, washing water, a fan, solar lights, organic bags, and sanitizer.
The owner of the video has disabled sharing so we cannot share the video with you in this article. However, you can watch the video here!
Simple Outhouse Plans – FAQs
Building a simple outhouse is much easier with the plans shared in our guide! We also know you may have questions after examining these outhouse ideas.
So – we compiled a list of answers to help! May they find you well.
An outhouse can be kept free of odors by keeping urine off the fecal matter using a urine diverter. Covering the fecal matter in lime, wood ash, sawdust, woodchips, or peat moss will eliminate smells from the feces.
Ventilating the outhouse and toilet with an extraction fan and pipe vent or chimney will also help eliminate bad smells. A 50:50 mix of water and vinegar used in a spray bottle kills bacteria that add to odor formation.
An outhouse hole should be at least four-feet deep and three feet by three-feet wide to comply with most state regulations. In some states and countries, outhouse pit latrine holes should be at a minimum of four-feet deep.
In most jurisdictions, outhouse holes can only get dug if they’re at least 70 feet from the nearest well or water source.
A simple outhouse can get built in as little as two days if the earth is easy to dig and the builders have all the skills, tools, and materials necessary to make the construction process as smooth as possible.
You can build an outhouse for under $20! The secret is to use repurposed timber, materials, and fittings.
Outhouse foundations can get built using heavy timber beams, stones, rocks, or concrete. A good outhouse foundation will be level, durable, strong, weather-resistant, and termite-proof.
Zero dollars! If you have a shovel – you can dig an outhouse hole for free. Hiring a contractor to dig the outhouse hole with an excavator or backhoe could cost around $300.
A legally compliant outhouse must have a vent to expel pathogens from the structure and eliminate odors that attract insects and critters that could transmit harmful bacteria to humans and animals in the area.
The origins of the crescent moon cutout on an outhouse door are uncertain. Some say the moon represents mythological feminine order, while others claim the design is purely functional as a door handle and air vent.
The best wood for an outhouse will be weatherproof and termite-resistant. Cedar is the most popular wood used for custom outhouses, while treated timber and pallet wood are excellent for DIY project outhouses.
It is always safer to consult with your local building code authority before erecting an outbuilding on your property. In many states, a rural outhouse without a concrete foundation can get erected without planning permission.
Traditional outhouses often have two holes to extend the period the outhouse can remain in one location. When one outhouse hole fills, the other empty hole gets opened for use. Sometimes, one outhouse hole is used for urine, while the other gets used for feces. Composting outhouses sometimes use a two-bin method to allow one toilet to be in use while the other bin composts in situ.
Human feces exposed to oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, heat, and time provide a natural feeding and breeding ground for microbes that break down the solid waste into a soil-like substance that can get used as composting material.
Putting the Lid Down
With these 17 plans to assist, you can make an informed choice and begin your DIY outhouse project.
For our money, a composting toilet is the best way to go – no digging, no splashing, no holes in the outhouse floor, no flies, and no smells if you ventilate well and cover the poo with sawdust or wood ash.
Get a Kreg pocket hole jig to execute professional screw joints in the timber frames and to make a cheap urine diverter using an automotive funnel feeding into a one-gallon jug strapped to a five-gallon bucket. House this outhouse contraption in a wooden box with a toilet seat, and you’re sitting pretty!
Whichever DIY outhouse plan you choose, make that throne your own!
Wednesday 5th of October 2022
I so appreciate the work involved for this (and indeed, ALL) your posts! This one, I especially like that you put all of the video instructed plans grouped together at the last. This helped me look at each one without having to go back and forth with the videos. Thank you again for all of the hard work!
Sunday 9th of October 2022
Excellent :) Thanks so much Carol!