A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Monday, September 14, 2020

Ten Essential Tips for Remodeling your Privy


Do you ever rejoin your family after a rest stop in a National Park and feel compelled to note how the majesty of the vista was complemented by the stellar latrine?  Do you return from a barbecue at the neighbors’ place feeling a little jealous – not of the perfect angle of their woodshed roof or the impeccable notching of the logs at the four corners of their home, but of the subtle perfection of the smallest structure on their property?  When we find ourselves in a beautiful privy, it's easy to feel relaxed, content, and coddled. 

If you're looking for outhouse remodeling ideas, you might be feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. Every stunning design looks appealing, but which options are right for you?  We’ve compiled pointers that will help you craft a privy that perfectly meets your needs.  

1) Draft a budget

When the time comes to refurbish your outhouse, you’ll find the renovation costs can add up quickly.  Whether you’re choosing a brand-new cinderblock to act as a doorstep or purchasing this year’s Farmers’ Almanac to provide as reading material, the project can create unique demands.  These difficult budgetary choices can affect the long-term desirability and resale value of privy square footage.

2) Choose a contractor who understands your needs

Clear communication of expectations is key. Be sure that prior to signing on one of your teenage children for the job, she knows that the new hole needs to be at least eight feet deep, and that she must finish digging before the ground freezes. Rather than paying by the hour, consider offering your contractor the old gift cards to the local ice cream stand that you found when you were cleaning out the kitchen drawers. 

3) Decide whether you will include a bathtub

You will not include a bathtub.

4) Select a realistic and functional layout and design

While two-seaters may seem momentarily appealing, take time to think this through.  Really.  Take all the time you need, here.

5) Focus on materials

Just because you are building with CDX plywood doesn’t mean you can’t simulate the kind of higher-end look afforded by B or even A grades.  Go heavy on the paint.  Have you considered taupe?  It lends a more earthy look, and also blends well with actual earth.

6) Consider optimal lighting

A dark privy suggests “old-fashioned” and “giant spiders”.  Conversely, the direct light that results from entirely omitting the door may be jarring to some.  Instead, consider a crescent moon cutout. This will not only yield a classic-but-classy look, but will also allow for filtered, diffuse natural lighting -- perfect for reading the Almanac, and ideal for creating a flattering ambience for all ages, skin types, and weather.

7) Remember to provide necessary outlets

When it comes to wiring, it’s all about convenience!  Plan ahead for the darkness of January by buying a heavy-duty extension cord for trail lights in June, then forgetting where you put it.  (It’s in a Rubbermaid tote under the porch).

8) Don’t overlook storage space

Too many privies lack shelving area adequate for not just one Almanac, but back issues as well.  For extra style and comfort, consider adding an old coffee can to prevent your toilet paper from being stolen by squirrels.

9) Add a little luxury

Go for the best where it really matters, and embellish your wooden commode with a seat cut from the finest polystyrene board that money can buy. Yes, we’re talking about the extravagance of four-inch R10-rated foam.  True, a full sheet will set you back as much as $37.83, but trust us, by the time you’ve located that Rubbermaid tote, you won’t regret the indulgent insulation.

10) Incorporate adequate ventilation

We can’t stress this one strongly enough. 

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