Two Blondes on a Build Story #4: Building our tiny outhouse

Hello friends!

Here is the next episode of our Two Blondes on a Build video blog series, in which we address the question “What do you do when you need the loo in the forest?” Check out how we built our tiniest room and what we put inside it!

The full transcript from the video

Here on the south side of Salt Spring Island, we live just a stone’s throw away from the sea strand and the sea, which reminds us that we are connected to precious natural resources around us. In the streams and the rivers and in the ocean herself, water sustains all life. And like the many wild creatures living in the forest, we too lived out in the open for a while, while building our little shed…

SARAH

Sarah: …and we bought a marine composting toilet that now needed a home.

When we spent a year at sea, it taught us many life lessons, not least to be more mindful of the resources we use on a day-to-day basis and while we were sailing, we were able to manage on very little water indeed for our daily needs. So, when we moved here to start building our dream eco home, it wasn’t a hardship really to put a tent up on the grassy knoll there and to just live as minimally as possible.

For washing and showering, we would just use a bowl of water and, occasionally when the rains came, we would strip off and shower in the rain. I don’t think our neighbours saw us so that’s a good thing but after a while we thought we had better sort of put something in place that is a bit more permanent for us to use, particularly while we were building our house and we knew it was going to take a good two or three years to have the main house up and that is why we decided to have a go and build our own little outhouse because not only would we be able to go to the loo in a bit more privacy we would also be able to shower and get clean after a long and hard day’s work.

Despite a sprained ankle, Brett worked like a Trojan and cracked on with framing up our six foot by six-foot outhouse. Meanwhile, I hauled the materials up from the road. 

Here, Brett sizes up the layout for our outhouse and sorts out where the composting toilet, shower and sink will go.

Brett has framed up the floor using the same materials and techniques as for the shed. The floor contains a double layer of insulation; he has put in the drainage pipes, he has covered the insulation with plastic and has put the plywood floor on.

In case you were wondering why the outhouse is a couple of feet off the ground, it is because we will link it to the patio area around the shed by a boardwalk bridge through the trees.

The rear wall frame is up. I’ve been framed! The front wall including the doorway is now in place.

Brett has put plywood around the outside of the walls of the outhouse and has also put the roof on.

You can’t keep a good man down! Despite a sore ankle Brett is on the roof of the outhouse and covering it with water and ice shield.  

This is the beginnings of our boardwalk bridge. It is made out of cedar boards and I have spent the last couple of days putting three coats of Varathane on each one.

In framing up the boardwalk, we have put pipes underneath, one to carry the hot and cold-water lines and the power cable from the shed to the outhouse, to hook it up to our rainwater harvesting system and solar unit and the other pipe is the drain from the kitchen sink.

The boardwalk boards are now in place and, from this perspective the loo looks as though it is far away but in reality it isn’t (honest!).

As with the shed, we have put a layer of typar around the outside of the walls and then we have clad it with cedar siding, so that it will blend into the forest.

Carpenter, electrician and plumber, there is no end to my husband’s talents so it is only right that he should be the first one to try out the shower.

Cor blimey he’s clean, I can’t call him a dirty old man any more!

Oi, what are you looking at? Oh, the moment of truth, what’s the verdict? It’s a thumbs up from me! 

Brett: Hi folks, so we’ve had to install a Nature’s Head toilet and the reason we have done this is that a composting toilet separates the pee and the poo, which really cuts down a lot on the smell. The pee goes through our pipe system and into our grey water pit and the poo is emptied about every two or three weeks into a composting pit that we have on site and it basically becomes soil fairly quickly in fact and so it’s been an easy and quick way to get a proper bathroom facility on site. Now the composting toilet uses a product called coco fibre (coco coir) which is basically coconut fibre and we get it in big bags and it works well to mix with the poo and the paper so that you have something that composts fairly well.

Overall, the system is very environmentally friendly and that is one thing that is very important to Sarah and I. 

Brett

Brett: Well, we have a bathroom with a composting toilet and a sink and a shower and we needed some place for the water to go. A tank that we have bought, it would be a feed tank for cattle, and in it I have put layers first rock, about 3 inch and under diameter rock, then a layer of felt cloth (semi-permeable membrane), over that is sand, and then more of the gardener’s felt and then on top of that, tree bark and basically it helps break down the soaps and detergents that go in there and it eventually goes off. What comes out of this tank goes to a little grey water pit. 

Of course, with every bathroom you need hot and cold running water, so we went out and looked for a Camplux hot water system. It runs on propane, for it is a portable system that normally would be used on a motor home or trailer and it has been pretty good. This is a 1.7 gallon per minute. We do tend to have a struggle with hot water at times, especially if you turn the hot water on in the kitchen and here, so, and this heats the water for both. 

It is not completely finished, we have just a type of roll roofing on the roof. We will be putting the same steel roofing that is on our shed and our future home as well as putting trim wood on and stuff. Of course, all of that stuff is a little extra right now and with all of the other work we have to do it may have to wait until next year but it will get done and all the buildings will be finished with trim, proper roofing and soffit, fascia, eaves troughs and everything. 

The Music

As usual, I have included some pieces of music from the YouTube Audio Library, which are in the following running order:

1. Whispering stream – E’s Jimmy Jams

2. Sweet relief – Zachariah Hickman

3. Trickle of water – Underbelly and Ty Mayer

4. All the fixings – Zachariah Hickman

We hope you enjoyed this story! Please do give it a like if you did and don’t forget to share the link and subscribe to this channel if you haven’t already.

We welcome comments and questions and please feel free to share this blog post and video with others. In case you missed the first three episodes, here are the links:

Two Blondes on a Build Story #1: What the bleep have we done?

Two Blondes on a Build Story #2: Building our tiny house

Two Blondes on a Build Story #3: Tackling a thorny issue and drainage

Thanks so much for watching and also to those of you who have liked and shared our previous videos or left us comments and questions.

More exciting Two Blondes on a Build adventures are coming soon to a screen near you.

Peace, love and light,

Sarah x

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