Though still under construction, a new improvement to the bunkhouse is rapidly shaping up! Life in a small house (197 square feet of occasional awkwardness) can definitely have its challenges. After living in the bunkhouse for a few years, we both felt the need for a bigger bathroom; the present micro-facility (while functional) had lost its previous charm.
However, the character of the bunkhouse itself had not lost its charm and we wanted to keep its snug, and original, form intact. So, how does one add on to a house without actually adding on to it? We came up with an unusual solution which most people would find ridiculous and highly impractical but which we think is a lot of fun: a freestanding “outhouse”! We collaborated on its design, guided by both the availability of salvaged materials we had on hand and the physical attributes of the site. While near the bunkhouse, the addition is not physically attached to it.
While we each compromised design-wise in some areas, we both agreed that the exterior should be a combination of Queen Anne and Italianate details similar to those used when we restyled the bunkhouse. Unlike the bunkhouse, however, the “outhouse” is clad in vertical board and batten siding salvaged from demolished area farm buildings. Only the brackets of the cornice were newly-made. The flat roof and vertical siding were deliberate choices made to visually contrast with the bunkhouse and avoid being too matchy-matchy.
Jim is a master of accomplishing a lot in small bits of time found here and there between other projects and obligations. He completely built the new addition himself over the course of three years harnessing weekends and evenings as time allowed. My role in the construction phase was purely supportive; I assisted with sourcing needed materials and helped when an extra hand was needed to move or position material. The following photos will show the structure as it evolved.
While not quite finished, the new bathroom is far enough along to illustrate. The shower remains to be grouted and plumbing and electrical connections are not yet complete. The room is still very much a work site. Hopefully it will all be operational by summer. Until then, let’s take a quick tour of Jim’s brand-new, still-in-progress, 1880’s-inspired, outhouse-bathroom!
Wow, that’s one damn classy shitter!!! We used an outhouse til I was 16 although ours was built into the shed and had a light bulb in 1963 that had been put in when we got electricity in ’95. (That’s 1895). I love the windows, the floors (can’t believe those morons tore those out) and the classy paneling. Jim sure is a wizard at improv. I have one request. Get someone (maybe you) to etch the traditional crescent moon on your entrance door glass. They have kits to do that. It’s easy. What a nice job. You should give tours.
You and Jim are on the same track! He had previously suggested painting a moon on the glass, but etching one would look a lot nicer. He appreciates your kind words!
Online you will find a company that sells the etching acid. All you do is draw your picture – crescent moon – on sticky paper (provided with the etching acid), cut it out, brush on the acid and overnight, it’s done. We did some very elaborate stuff. It’s easy and looks great.
I assume that you will have screens on those big inward windows as bugs love unusual odors. An ounce of prevention…….
Very Clever planning and work. A total eye pleaser. Bravo ! Beautiful work and did I say clever ?
Glad you like it; thank you!
Jim is amazing!
Yes, he is! 😁 He started building things with blocks as a child and literally never stopped!
That is an amazing view! What a cool building – thanks for taking us on the tour. One of these days you will have to explain all of the houses you guys are working on. I probably lost the thread. I know the Victorian is going to be a rental, right? But you guys are also working on a mid-century house too, right? And a bunkhouse…..it all sounds fun!
Well, it’s all fun most of the time! Nobody wants to read about the depressing or stressful parts of our projects, so I just don’t post about them! We love the view. We don’t have the same one in the bunkhouse because it is largely obscured by an old wash house. No; the Victorian house will never be a rental (at least as long as we’re still kicking!) If we get too old/feeble to live on the farm we will live in the Victorian (in town). Until then we will make it available to interested groups for tours on occasion.
We live on an old dairy farm; the original house was replaced in the 1960’s by a modest split-level. I haven’t worked on it recently, but will be starting on it again in the summer. Part of it has been completed, but there is a lot yet to do. The bunkhouse stands nearby. It originally housed seasonal help on the farm. We live in it because it is small and was easier to rehabilitate in a short amount of time. Originally the plan was to move into the split-level when it was done, but we like the bunkhouse so much that we might not. Currently the split-level serves as a workshop, extra bathroom, laundry room and all-purpose storage area! Thanks for touring the outhouse; glad you like it!
Ahh! This now makes a lot of sense! Thanks for taking the time to walk me through it. And yes, we do all try and keep our dammit moments to ourselves….
Very well done. Alot of creativity in your project. I love the Queen Anne windows that you incorporated. They add such a blast of color to the project. Nicely done. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, Jerry! The windows truly are the heart and soul of the place; without them the character would change entirely for the worse. We both find the simplicity of Queen Anne sash to be more endearing than the highly elaborate windows made with lead or zinc, even though they are typically of higher quality. We’ll keep building with old stuff until people stop tearing old buildings down!
And those windows are 10,000% less upkeep. Anyone that thinks they want leaded glass has no concept of how it’s made and unmade. They invented the term “high maintenance” just for leaded glass.
I really enjoy your perspective on your projects. And the view through that Queen Anne window is pure gold.
I’ll admit, I am too citified to go outside to a ‘privy’ to do my business. Especially as I am of the age that I would need to do it several times a night. Brrrrrr 🥶
LOL! The trek to the outhouse is not as bad as it looks… I took photos from angles which hide the bunkhouse (it’s only six feet away). We are planning to some day build a connecting hallway of glass which will allow each structure to maintain its own physical identity yet allow for more comfortable journeys in the winter. Even a city boy would be OK with that! The glass hallway will hopefully have some passive solar benefit if we do it right. That might be a post for next year…
I can’t think of another way to say it– This is wicked cool!
Thanks! We’re really looking forward to being able to use it…
Wow, this is brilliant! You guys are geniuses. This is so creative and gorgeous. I wish my bathroom looked like that.
A real estate broker might have a different perspective on how smart this is… it’s probably not a great idea if you are looking at resale value (fortunately we’re not planning on selling)! But we’re very happy that you like it!
This whole thing is impossibly fabulous.
Thanks, Ross! Since posting this, Jim has installed light fixtures, sink faucets and the toilet with wall tank! And the shower is grouted. We have electricity but no running water yet. We’re getting closer to full functionality and are kinda giddy!
I never thought of it til now but traditionally outhouses dont have flush toilets. Why dis you choose this wastwful and over- complicated route. The old way was simple, effective and didn’t waste pure water. The house i live in is off grid, has no running water and has a humanure compost pile. It grows the best winter squash ever. One of my customers has an in-shed outhouse odor free. She uses ashes from the fireplace.
No worries; the water used to flush isn’t pure–it’s not safe for drinking water and simply goes back to nature via a septic system. Pure water isn’t being wasted. Mounting the water tank high up on the wall allows for a gravity-enhanced flush which is much more efficient than a tepid swirl of water from a tank attached to the bowl. Many “water-saving” toilets have to be flushed twice to get the job done (not very thrifty)! If we had wanted a traditional outhouse we would have just dug a hole in the ground!
I maintain a compost pile, but am not brave enough to include my own waste! Wood ash is great for many uses… I use it on my exterior steps when they are icy for better traction. It’s also great in the garden.
How do you get online if you are off grid? Do you have electricity from solar or wind? We should all start adopting as many off-grid practices as possible now that we are rapidly devolving into full Third World status as it will make rolling blackouts, etc., more bearable.