"Garden Project"; Are you Serious, an Outhouse?

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 08-01-2007 12:26 AM 3492 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, I built this about three years ago on a “commission.” A friend of ours wanted to give her parents a unique gift, and so she decided to give them something they had always wanted… Outhouse.

For those that are too young to remember them, an Outhouse is a potty that is placed outside of the house. Down-Under, the Aussies call them a “dunny”. I have also heard the term “privy” used, but I think it is also used for indoor bathrooms as well. There are a few more names, but most are not too nice to type up for family to see. Military folks have various titles as well.

The family uses this Outhouse in the front yard in the middle of their circle drive as a decoration in the landscaping.

They love it so much, that I actually got a nice long letter from our friend’s Mother about how much they love it. I have thought a few times about driving a couple of hours to get a photo of the Outhouse in its natural habitat, but haven’t done that yet.

When I was first asked about making the Outhouse, I was a little put off. For six months I was actually a little frustrated and angry. The “commissioner” was a good friend of ours, so ultimately, I put my pride behind me and did it for her. As I was contemplating what to do, I kept asking myself, “what have I done wrong to have people think of me when they want an Outhouse built…” After thinking about the project request for the 6 months leading up to the gift deadline, I came to the conclusion that it was actually a compliment to be asked to build an Outhouse.

All of the materials for this were found around my little farm. The budget was so small on this job, I couldn’t afford to buy anything, so I scavenged around. I added two windows, and made the door hardware and locking mechanism out of some steel strap I had. The Family added lace curtains to the windows. Inside, there is a seat with a hole in it, with a cover. I think they use the interior as a storage compartment for outdoor gardening items.

So, to officially add this to the Summer Outdoor Challenge, and to show the world another entry into my weird, and unique woodworking projects….......I present the Outhouse.

I don’t have any good photos of it, heck, I didn’t want to build it, much less remember it. But, I shot a couple of quick shots as the customer was here to pick it up. She didn’t have a truck, so we ended up loading it into my pickup and she made the drive to her parent’s house to do the presentation. She reported that her brother said, “Hey, I want one of those too.”

Still laughing,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

16 comments so far

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4847 days

#1 posted 08-01-2007 12:41 AM

Nice huh, out house? you don’t see many of those around anymore, actually Mark my family used one until I was about 11 or 12 years old. Then we got runnin water in the house. I tell you, I/we were never so happy to get anything than an inside john. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 4845 days

#2 posted 08-01-2007 12:42 AM

Mark – nicely built outhouse, it must be a women thing. Susie has been asking to have one built and put in one of her flower gardens. One in the shop is not enoough for her. Now that she has seen this post and loves it , I am sure that she will be asking again.

Thanks for the post … I think

-- Joel Tille

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4777 days

#3 posted 08-01-2007 12:53 AM

Great story, Mark. I snickered all the way through it. We all need something in life to keep us humble – but an outhouse? What a hoot. For your interest, in Australia this is known as a dunny.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View VTWoody's profile


95 posts in 4658 days

#4 posted 08-01-2007 01:40 AM

I love weird things like that. My parents would probably ask you to build them one if they saw it. They would definitely get a kick out of it.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4927 days

#5 posted 08-01-2007 01:40 AM

That’s so great!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Karson's profile


35209 posts in 5001 days

#6 posted 08-01-2007 02:36 AM

Great Mark. I gentleman just up the road from me has about 2-3 in front of his woodworking business. He sell them all the time. he uses palet lumber to make them. He told me that he had one customer order ten of them for resale in his garden center.

Maybe this is a Delaware thing.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4698 days

#7 posted 08-01-2007 02:42 AM

Every month I go to the local Antique sale. There is a guy there that always has a couple for sale. So may be more widespread.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4654 days

#8 posted 08-01-2007 04:40 AM

We’ve got an actual one from the old railroad station that once stood in Lexington, SC. We use it for a pump house as we do not have city water here. I’ll have to post a picture.
I don’t see these for sale at Harbor Freight or Walmart per your “Adirondack” project post. Could be a real money maker. Thanks for the great post.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4678 days

#9 posted 08-01-2007 05:00 AM

Mark, You even make an old fashion necessity look like I would want to own one. Nice job done.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View robbi's profile


176 posts in 4555 days

#10 posted 08-01-2007 05:21 AM

We had one of these as a “back-up” many years ago. The only time it was necessary to use was when it was raining or snowing because the water table was to high and the indoor toilet wouldn’t work. Never enjoyed it very much…..a little cold. Yours looks much nicer than ours was. Nice job.

-- Robin, California

View mot's profile


4926 posts in 4637 days

#11 posted 08-01-2007 05:51 AM

Great water closet!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4900 days

#12 posted 08-01-2007 05:58 AM

We still have our outhouse at the cabin, but converted it into a garden tool shed. Of course I filled the hole first.
We went modern now, & have a composting toilet.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 4588 days

#13 posted 08-01-2007 06:12 AM

I have used them as late as a few years ago, when I had my remodeling business. I used to travel a lot and ended up working on a house out in the middle of No Place, Texas. The had running water to an older house but that was locked up when we where there, so they landowner kept the old outhouse clean and ready for us. It was a bit rough. I ended up hauling a seat with us, becuase the thing was built in the early 1900’s and it showed.

BTW, Great project! I am thinking of building one to house all my garden hand tools in so I can get them out of my shop.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4761 days

#14 posted 08-01-2007 11:42 AM

I remember my last trip to the outhouse when I was a wee little girl. We also had an outhouse out in the fields. It was a treasure – much better than going behind a bush.
See? An outhouse isn’t just an outhouse—it’s memories; it’s a tie to our pasts

Rick and I want to build one with our old barn boards that we have. We want to store rakes and shovels in it.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4563 days

#15 posted 08-01-2007 01:58 PM

Don’t be ashamed of the outhouse project, Mark. Back in the ‘60’s two of my uncles spent 6 months on the Navajo Res. building outhouses because the bottom dropped out of the houseing market in Phoenix. I’ve seen some neat ones. I think I was 14 before we ceased to have 8 rooms and a “path”. You did a great job.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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