If you’re from North America an outhouse means an outdoor toilet. But on British soil it refers to a garden building, separate from your home, that can have any number of uses. It can be a great use of garden space, and act like a detached extension to your home. Here are some tips for building an outhouse in your garden.

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What’s its purpose?

If you think there’s room in your garden for an outhouse, you’ll need to decide what it’s used for. One size doesn’t fit all and choosing whether it’s going to be an office, a games room, a dance hall, an art studio or even a sauna, will determine the space needed and how it’s to be built.

If it’s going to be a gym, for example, you’ll need a hard floor and good ventilation. If it’s for dancing, you’ll need a more sizeable construction than you would for a garden office. You’ll also need to determine whether you’ll need plumbing and how easy it’ll be to attach the building to your home’s electricity supply.

Placement

Before you consider materials, you’ll need to think about where the outhouse is going to go. The layout of your garden may decide this for you. You might want it to be close to the house so it’s easier and cheaper to connect it to the mains, but you don’t want it so near that it blocks your view or the light coming into the house. You should also consider the neighbours – will it block their view or light coming into their home?

Materials

To determine the best materials for the job you’ll also need to consider when you’ll be using the building. Will it just be in summer, or do you plan to use it in the winter too? If the latter, then you’ll need to get it properly insulated and install good heating inside. But either way, it’ll need to be fully water and weatherproof. Make sure you use roofing sheets that can withstand the weather and provide your outhouse with protection.

Execution

Have a detailed look at the work required and decide whether this is something you can do yourself. You might find that much of it is within your comfort zone, but that you’ll need to bring in an electrician and a plumber to tend to those areas. You might also have friends with different skills who can help you cobble it all together. However, if you’re not confident about tackling such a project, it’s best to pay the extra and get a professional to do it for you. This way you can be pretty sure it’ll be warm and waterproof.

Adding an outhouse can be an exciting project – from the planning to the challenges of construction and seeing the end product taking shape. And if it’s well built it’ll even add value to your home.

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