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Bathroom without Plumbing?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Any ideas about how to quickly add a 1/2 bathroom (toilet and hand washing area) to a walk-in closet without plumbing? There's no bathroom on the main floor of a house I want to buy and I'm pregnant so I can't do stairs as frequently as I'd need to, plus the children are young and might not hold it to get far away. The cost of running plumbing there isn't something we can do yet. I'm thinking of a sawdust toilet+outdoor compost bins setup and a dry sink cabinet with a basin and pitcher. Maybe build a toilet tank shaped box on the back of it to hold the covering material? What would be better for easy use and effective odor control, pine shaving or pellet type small animal bedding, or sawmill sawdust? I'd need the box to be waterproof and washable in case my boys have bad aim, so finishing sealant will be needed and a good fit above the bucket. I started reading the humanure handbook which everyone raves about but found it preachy and off the topic of practical ideas. I found some resources on pitcher and basin washing in Montessori materials. The only permanent improvements to the room I'd need yet would be waterproof flooring and a light switch on the wall. Considering wood look vinyl plank tiles for a floor that's easy and cheap and nice-ish. Not sure about how and when I'd go about adding an exhaust fan.

post #2 of 7
Is it legal where you live? I'd start by checking out regulations, first, but I'm pretty confident you can't just dig a hole in your floor and call it a bathroom. I'm sure you would want to make sure prevent health issues related to disease, decreased ground water quality, drainage issues, etc.

I don't know if this is what you need, but it might be an ok place to start? http://chfs.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/CA014E47-2256-444D-8FE4-84C9FF456C8E/0/onsitesewagemanual.pdf
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

It's not a hole in the ground, this system is a bucket in a box inside, emptied into a well kept compost bin outside with plenty of carbon materials, composted and aged 2 years apart from soil and groundwater, and the result is a high quality pathogen free compost that would be safe for food crops but I'd only really use for non edible plants unless I had it tested. And this will be in PA, in a small town with few ordinances.

Edited by JamieCatheryn - 9/17/12 at 8:45am
post #4 of 7

We are pretty happy with our sawdust bucket toilet.  It's a little labor intensive to take it out and dump it, but DH is happy to be in charge of that and I'm in charge of keeping the clean sawdust stocked.  We have running water with sink and shower and sawdust toilet in the bathroom upstairs, but haven't gotten around to building our downstairs bathroom yet.  It's planned to be in the greenhouse that's attached to the front side of our house but we're still finishing building the endwalls of the greenhouse.  So in the meantime we added just a sawdust toilet to our downstairs bedroom and use our kitchen sink for the hand washing.  The floor in the bedroom was already washable.  We prefer fine woodchips (sort of coarse sawdust) that we get from a local sawmill.  They have a big chipper that they use to process their scraps, and it screens out the finer chips before blowing the big chips into semi trailers to be sold somewhere.  The fine chips they don't have a market for and we can get them for free.  We can also get sawdust free there, but we've found that the sawdust is too absorbent and it wicks moisture to the surface more than the fine chips.  moisture at the surface = odor.  We've also used planer shavings, and they work really nicely, but they're harder to come by for free.  Planer shavings are basically the same as the pine shaving bedding you can buy in the pet supplies section.  In our bedroom we just use a plain old bucket for holding the clean wood chips, and we have an antique oblong copper canner (holds about 2 buckets full of wood chips) for the upstairs bathroom wood chip supply.  

post #5 of 7

I grew up without a ground floor toilet... Barring health problems, it just means everyone will develop stronger legs. You could get an adult potty chair just for urinating to get through your pregnancy. Boys can use a jar. I would find installing and maintaining a nonflush toilet more trouble than steps...

post #6 of 7
Oh! PA has some of the most relaxed regulations regarding this kind of thing. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't need a permit because you're not changing the house's structure or doing anything with plumbing. I think the internal design is up to you, but I'm not sure if you can empty the pail in a regular compost bin. Have you considered a composting toilet? Those are definitely within PA regs and will still get you the great compost you're looking for.
post #7 of 7

I think your plan sounds great-- we are putting a similar set-up in our cabin next week. Look at the downloadable humanure handbook for a better discussion, imo than the printed books. There is also a gallery of other ppls' ideas on the website that helped get us thinking about possible improvements.


We made a wooden box from cheap 12" wide pine (called utility shelving at Lowe's; most ppl just use plywood, but I found a sale on the pine). We ceramic tiled the outside to make it more washable, although many others just paint it with Glidden Porch Paint (it's low voc & waterproof & cheap!) or polyurethane for a finished-wood look. We broke up some tile with a hammer and filed the edges smooth (the boys loved that!) and made a mosaic pattern on the top (the girls loved that!) however most of the pretty design is covered by the toilet seat! Oh, well, should have done the mosaic on the sides-- maybe next time if we add a bathroom, heh. We painted the inside and all un-tiled surfaces for washability bc who wants a toilet that's hard to clean?


If you want pix, pm me your email addy (-- I really should check into photo bucket or something; I'm living in the dark ages of email me this n that, heh!)


HTH & I'd love to hear what you decide & how it goes for you!

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