GREAT INVENTIONS

Outhouse remodel

By Ray Ford

How two cottagers turned a privy into wood storage

Outhouse remodel

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But progress isn’t always predictable at Doug and Brenda Hackert’s Benoir Lake cottage, in Haliburton. Their indoor washroom reno produced an outdoor privy.

“It all started when my son, Bradley, said he could get a good deal on a shower stall that was a second from Home Depot,” Doug says.

For about $130, the one-square-metre fibreglass stall seemed too good to be true—and it was. When they tried to squeeze the stall into the cottage, there was no way it would fit. And since they couldn’t return the stall, the Hackerts wondered what to do with the white, er, ivory elephant.

A loo reborn

Don’t bother knocking, because ever since Peter McArthur fixed the john at his Gatineau-region cottage, it’s always occupied. Now when he visits the old privy, it’s to fetch logs, rather than to, ahem, drop them.

The washroom-to-woodshed transition came last Labour Day weekend, after McArthur tore down a lean-to shed as part of a garage reno at his Lac Long cottage. Looking for a way to keep the cottage fires burning, he spotted the loo, its long drop fallen into disuse.

The problem was the privy’s rotten roof. “I know very little about metal roofs, or any roofs, for that matter,” he says. But with a can-do attitude befitting generations of cottage improvisers, McArthur scavenged leftover steel roofing, got a crash course in the use of snips, and installed a new crown on the throne, complete with a cedar ridge cap.

“So far it’s working fine,” he says. “There’s nothing quite like blindly taking on a project you know very little about and having it come to a successful conclusion.”


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Ray Ford