Are outhouses legal these days? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 06-12-2010, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My grandma had an outhouse,but this was back in a small hungarian village.

I am wondering if you are living outside of the city do you still have to install a septic? We are in the city and have a septic. The previous owners had to pay 10k to install it before they could sell the house.

I had no issue using an outhouse at grandma's place though nighttime was a bit of a pain.I would rather have a hole drilled for the outhouse than pay 10k for a septic,but I am guessing there is no option these days anyway.....or is there?
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#2 of 9 Old 06-12-2010, 09:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mattemma04 View Post
My grandma had an outhouse,but this was back in a small hungarian village.

I am wondering if you are living outside of the city do you still have to install a septic? We are in the city and have a septic. The previous owners had to pay 10k to install it before they could sell the house.

I had no issue using an outhouse at grandma's place though nighttime was a bit of a pain.I would rather have a hole drilled for the outhouse than pay 10k for a septic,but I am guessing there is no option these days anyway.....or is there?
I think it is okay, in some places. You would need to contact your local zoning office. I know plenty of people who have them in VT, and NH.
Good Luck and let us know. Have you thought of a composting toilet? Septic systems offer a solution for drainage water also.

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#3 of 9 Old 06-12-2010, 10:30 AM
 
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I don't think it's an issue if you live rurally. I know people who live VERY rural and have outhouses. My mom grew up in the 60s with no running water or electricity and it was common in her area You could always call your local zoning office and ask.

Although, having used them, I'd shell out the money for septic. It's okay during temperate weather, but in winter or summer its horrible.
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#4 of 9 Old 06-12-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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The first time I encountered an outhouse was also in a small Hungarian village. I would check with zoning first just so you don't have hassles later if you do decide to put up an outhouse. That being said, I did know someone who farmed and they had an outhouse as well as an indoor bathroom. My guess is it kept the inside bathroom cleaner when they were dirty from working outside.
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#5 of 9 Old 06-13-2010, 12:36 AM
 
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Outhouses are legal, but you are now (supposed) to have a holding tank thats pumped out occasionally like a septic. The old simple dug pit outhouses are not legal anymore though. (though we have one that is 'grandfathered in' and I'm sure theres others around too) I'd imagine even a holding tank is probably cheaper than a whole septic system though!!
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#6 of 9 Old 06-13-2010, 01:19 PM
 
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Definately check with the code office... a lot will depend on your state, your county, etc. We've found that the "code guys" can really make or break things and involving them from the start can save a lot of hassle and heartache.

My personal experience... we bought our current home, a two room cabin in a rural area, through a bank. There were inspections, and lawyers, and insurance reviews. After living here for a bit over a year, a "code guy" showed up. Apparently the former owner had made some modifications to the cabin without getting them approved in advance. The bank and lawyers and insurance agents didn't "catch" this, but it became a massive problem for us that we are still trying to resolve a year later! So while the "don't ask permission, ask forgiveness" model might seem attractive, please do get things approved first!

Oh, and in my county, an outhouse with concrete "tank" or a composting toilet are both ok ONLY if you also have a septic system. There are variances available, but those need to be addressed individually. But the next county over doesn't allow outhouses at all (also rural/farming). It's really site specific. You might be able to find the building codes for your state/municipality online if you want to have some ideas ready before contacting the code office. I know we've been able to do some things because they're in the building code even though our local code office wasn't aware of them.

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#7 of 9 Old 06-14-2010, 11:12 AM
 
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Outhouses are common where I live. Nearly every rural property has an old outhouse. Problems with outhouses are just as common.

Like someone else said, check with local code/zoning authorities. Putting in the old fashion pit kind might turn into a nightmare.

In my area, existing outhouses are ok. If they have been in use for a long time, you can keep them "as is," no expansion or enlargement allowed.

We have a cabin in an area where indoor bathrooms are the exception. We had an outhouse, as well as indoor plumbing, but tore it down. Everyone had an absolute COW! Strangers were stopping at our place telling us how stupid/foolish/ignorant we were for tearing it down because didn't we know, we could never build a new one?!?!?!

(We tore it down because 1.) it was falling down and we had no desire to fix it and, most importantly 2.) it was the "public" outhouse in the area and DH had major issues with strangers strolling into our yard to use our outhouse.)

The Amish and Mennonite (some orders) still erect outhouses but any new outhouse requires a building permit (inspection) and a holding tank.

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#8 of 9 Old 06-14-2010, 11:20 AM
 
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Look into composting toilets - you can have the toilet inside your house but without septic.

That said, the legality of skipping septic varies. I mean, it's legal to have a composting toilet anywhere, but many places require septic even if you don't actually use it (got that? lol).

I know Joel Salatin was complaining in his book that his zoning laws required septic hookup for the little cottage his son built on his land.

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#9 of 9 Old 06-14-2010, 03:55 PM
 
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Yep, depends on where you are. At least 20% of our borough lives waterless and we have the second largest city in the state. Outhouses are very, very common. Not just old ones but new ones are going up every day. You can see mine on my blog. It's pretty cute if I do say so myself.
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