2.01.2018

The hut inquiry: building an outhouse


When the weather calls for it, the garden is a fantastic place for the whole family to congregate. But, can the garden be used for other things? As a parent, it can all get a little bit too much for us sometimes, and we need a little place to retreat, and, while it's not a particularly popular approach, some people have had sheds (or outhouses - not those kinds) built in their garden so they can escape for five minutes or so. It's an excellent idea if you are looking for a way to reinvigorate your garden, but also, a shed can be used as an extra room for the house. Do it right, and it adds a lot of value to the property. Lots of people desire a garden now, and if you had a shed or an outhouse that suits the design of the property, and has its own unique sense of style, you can significantly add value to your home when it comes to selling it on. So, let's build you a shed!

Pre-planning
Before anything else, you need to check if you can build an outhouse, and this means getting planning permission. It depends on the size, but if you choose a small shed, you don't need permission. But we're talking about a building that serves the main house. This means you need to decide what you're going to use it for. If you were to use this outhouse as an extra bedroom, you would need planning permission. However, if you're using it purely as an extension to the main house, and you aren't using it as a place of residence, it will be covered under the property development rights you have. For it to be covered under the development rights, the shed or outhouse must be a single storey and have a maximum height of 3 meters. When designing the room, you need to consider the materials. It can be difficult to get an exact match on your materials, especially if you're trying to keep it in the style of the house, but you should think of durable materials, such as timber, or High Density Overlay (HDO), to help protect your outhouse against the weather elements. With plywood or timber, these lend themselves very well to the barn style outhouse, which works with traditional homes as well as contemporary ones. After this, the windows and the doors need to be considered. Because you have limited space to play with, you need to pick an area to place the door, so it makes the space inside optimal, but you have to make sure that it's accessible from the outside. On top of this, consider the windows, you need to let in plenty of light in these outhouses. But you also need to make sure that your windows are free from glare. And one final note on practicality, if you are installing large windows, it's best to have them not too large, making you a target for thieves.

Picking Your Purpose
As exciting a prospect as building an outhouse or a large shed can be, you need to think about the purpose of this room. If you've got family members all excited about this, you may need to cater for everybody, all shapes, sizes, and ages! While your partner may be very excited about the prospect of a home gym, is it feasible to put all of the equipment in there? Instead, you might want to compromise with this, and have some workout equipment outside, as long as the items are able to withstand the weather conditions. Lots of children would view the outhouse as a little cubby house, and they want a little hideaway from everybody else so they can play properly! But, a garden shed may be a suitable compromise in this. As a garden shed is a good size, but not too big, the parents and children are happy in this case. On the other hand, you might want to make it a space for you to go and relax, so you might want to decorate the room with cushions and pillows and make it a relaxing space. Or you could make this room a place for all of the consoles, board games, and the pool table that's been taking up room in the house! The temptation is to use this space as a dumping ground for old items after a while. But do your utmost to resist this!

Safety Concerns
Depending on the material you use, your outhouse isn't going to be a sturdy as your home. So you need to consider if creepy-crawlies can burrow their way into the outhouse. Choosing solid material will help, but beware in certain seasons where there is excess moisture in the air. Another thing to consider is where you position the outhouse. It should be at least 2.5 meters away from the main house, and you should be able to walk around all of four sides. The temptation would be to put it up against the wall, but if there are problems with the building, you will need to repair them, so you need easy access. By putting your outhouse close to the garden wall, you're not letting the outhouse “breathe”, which could be a breeding ground for damp, which will attract more insects and bugs, and will become a bigger problem as time goes on. You also need to consider the cavity of the ground you are building on. You need to level the ground first, but the builders could do this for you. If not, there are solid concrete blocks or wooden “skids” that help to level out the ground. It's best not to use the typical garden wall blocks, because this could crack under the weight of the outhouse. On top of this, remember the purpose of your outhouse, if you plan on adding electricity to the outhouse to make for a proper games room, you need to speak to a qualified electrician beforehand. You need to do this before you build the base. However, if you only plan on having electricity in the shed for certain occasions, the temptation would be to use extension cords. This is not the solution because this could not only cause injury, but if somebody accidentally sliced through the cord, it could result in electric shock. If you plan on running cables to the outhouse, make sure that they are safe, secure, and thoroughly insulated, by using rubber mats.

Weather Practicalities
Installing an outhouse means that it's susceptible to all seasons. When it's winter, it'll get cold quick, and when it's summer, it will heat up. Beating these issues can be quite a challenge, but there are some things you can do. During the summer, you can easily use air conditioning, or install some fans. But the best option would be to put the outhouse in an area there is mainly shade. When the winter weather comes, it can get bitterly cold. If you have electrical fixtures, you can use infrared heat bulbs, which is a very cheap energy source. In addition to this, a wood barrel stove, or some propane space heaters will do the job. But, an even cheaper approach, especially if your shed faces the south, placing vinyl sheeting, or plastic panels over the walls will help to keep the inside nice and warm.

As a way to please every member of the family, and add value to your home, building an outhouse is a very sensible option. Lots of modern homes don't have much space, and whatever space is left is taken up with junk. In building an outhouse, you've got a place that is, in essence, independent of your home, but it is close enough for you to escape to on occasion. Life is a parent is quite stressful, as we all know, and sometimes we need 5 minutes to go and to recalibrate. An outhouse, in this respect, is a perfect choice. You've got somewhere to go that is far away for you to gather your thoughts, but close enough if there are any problems for you to fix. If you are lucky enough to own your own home, an outhouse is an excellent way for you to add some value to your property. Do it right, and it makes your garden the envy of all of your neighbors. Do it wrong, and it looks like a hobbit house! The great thing about an outhouse is that it's somewhere to go all year round. The problems many gardens have are that the furniture, or the swimming pool, or any of the amenities that normally go out in the back garden, such as swings and slides for the kids, can't be used until the summer months. The outhouse is a fantastic idea, because it's a building you can use all year round, it is practical, and a bit of extra space to your home, and it's a haven for anyone who wants to go there!

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