Should Tiny Houses Have Bathrooms?

One area of my tiny house that I have come to think about a lot is the bathroom.  Now of course you need a bathroom, a place to use the restroom, a place to shower, etc.  It can range from in your tiny house flush toilet or composting, to an “outhouse” style with a properly designed system or even a flush toilet;  But I am beginning to wonder if a bathroom should be outside the tiny home.  It might be using the extra bathroom of the house you’re parked in the back yard of or it might be like Drew over at Tiny R(e)volution who build his “shower shack” photos at bottom of post.  I’m not saying you should do this, but I think it warrants discussion.

Bathrooms in Tiny HousesThe reason I’ve been thinking this is because while a bathroom of some form is a necessity, as it is in a tiny house, it takes up so much space and is used so little.  This is a really important factor when it comes to small spaces.  The amount of square footage should be directly proportional to the amount you use it.  So for example your mattress takes up about 30 square feet if you have a queen size bed, which is a lot of space, but you use it for 8 hours every day.  Compare that to the bathroom, about 22 square feet, I use it for maybe 30 or less minutes a day for showering, shaving, brushing teeth and going to the bathroom.  If you simply look at it like a return on investment a bathroom is not that great use of space.

Now you can reduce your space by building a wet bath (frankly I’m not keen on that idea).  You could also setup bathroom and shower outside, using an outdoor shower and bathroom, but there are a few months a year this wouldn’t work well.  You also could arrange for whoever house you park your tiny house behind that you can use their bathroom.   Obviously nothing will beat the convenience of having a shower and toilet in the actual tiny house, but I still struggle with how much space it uses versus how much I use it.

  1. Yes, a toilet is a required seating in my home, tiny or not. I can see not having a shower and not having a bathroom sink, But my throne is a must. A place to sleep, be warm and do my business is my ideal space.

  2. I want to be as polite as possible while taking you firmly by the shoulders and giving you a good shaking. Wake up. I don’t care how many minutes of the day you need the space. If you’re parked behind someone’s house, you’re already intruding, even if you’re paying in some way.

    Now, you propose having a key to their house, so you can basically invade their privacy at any random moment. Not to mention how much fun it would be to make that trip in the middle of the night, particularly in the winter or on a rainy day.

    You only need a kitchen a few times a day. Maybe you could use theirs??? Oy!

    • Yea verily! Sorry! The throne is a necessary addition. I mentally went through this same thought process. I’m in an RV right now, and the toilet setup is very cranky, and somewhat smelly if you get it wrong. But I require a toilet. cheers for western decadence! I am also a tub type person and I’ll be working that out on my build!

    • For sure Stan!

    • Do any of you remember the funny scene in AIRPLANE where everyone lined up to slap silly that hysterical person? Well, Stan, I’m right behind you in lining up to slap some sense into Ryan, the original poster. WHAT IN THE WORLD IS IT WITH MOST MEN AND BATHROOMS???? After viewing so many youtube videos where the guys merrily chirp about their “piss jar”, all I can think is that they took too literally those Geico commercials: “Even a CAVEMAN can do it!”

      The word lavatory goes all the way back to Middle English lavatorie, from Medieval Latin lavatorium, from Latin lavare to wash. Even the f’ing Romans had running water and a way to flush waste away from homes.

      Criminy…you’d think that having a bathroom was one of the original Seven Deadly Sins! Get real.

  3. Seriously, Alex? I would be happy to wash up at the kitchen sink, but I definitely would want, no, NEED, a portable toilet in my tiny house. I live in the Northeast (Buffalo, NY) and would have no desire to venture outside on a dark, windy, snowy night to relieve myself. I’d use a chamber pot by my bed before I’d resort to that freezing indignity!

    • I’m with you Pam! And I live in Texas. I could use the kitchen sink to wash up and brush my teeth, but toilet indoors at all times!

    • Chamberpot indoors and outhouse outdoors for me!

  4. Oops! I meant ‘Ryan’, not Alex. My bad! Sorry…

  5. If you’re talking about a tiny house as a legal, long term dwelling (ie: living there on a permanent basis), this is all academic. Virtually every state in the U.S. requires residences to meet International Residential Code. IRC requires you to have a bathroom, even in EDUs:

    1208.4 Efficiency dwelling units
    4. The unit shall be provided with a separate bathroom containing a water closet, lavatory and bathtub or shower.

    So, unless you’re talking about someplace that doesn’t require you to meet IRC (Inside the United States, I doubt such a place exists) or you are talking about a tiny house as a short term shelter, rather than an actual residence, you must have a bathroom by law.

    • Who knew? LOL! Thanks for the info.

    • I’m sorry to inform you, codes are set by individual communities, counties, and states. That may be some kind of national building code, but there are plenty of places that do not require a dwelling to have a bathroom. Not that I would want to live in one!

  6. I agree with everyone. Unless you live in a warm climate thinking about going out at night when it is 20 degrees out is crazy. I know people who have outhouses though. They manage here in mid NY but I wouldn’t want to.

    • altho born in Florida I spent a lot of years in other states where I found a outhouse with a pit dug under it as the throne and a wash tub for a bath so no matter what the weather you will take care of things as need be

  7. I think the wet bath the best compromise on this, as it could potentially cut the area in half that is needed for a bathroom. Because you shower once a day usually and may need to use the toilet several times a day I think it very important to have the toilet available readily, while the shower could literally be a waterbag and a tote with a shower liner in the middle of the living area that you take down after use.

  8. For the first nine years of my life I used an outhouse located outside in the cold off of the barn and took a bath once a week in a corrugated tub in the kitchen after other people had used the water. No way do I want to go back there. It’s a miserable way to live and surely a miserable way to raise kids, especially in the winter.

    • I had the identical childhood and you’re right…NEVER AGAIN!!! We couldn’t even use the outhouse at night but had to use stinky, sloppy bedpans because of all the bears and wolves that came out at night. In the morning, when we’d empty our bedpans, I’d always count the amount of bear/wolf tracks in the sand or snow. (Canadian Border)

      Did you also bath “in order”? First me, then Grandma, then using the same bath water, my uncle and my Grandpa. By the end of the wash, the water was brown and filled with scum…ICK!

  9. How do people who have outhouses get around this law? I’ve often thought I could get by with just a composting toilet inside a tiny house, for nights and emergencies but one thing I would miss is relaxing in a tub once in a while. I wonder if you could buy land and get a permit to build a large bath house with tub, shower, sink, and a flush toilet. Set it all up on septic. Have the regulation size door, window, square footage requirements met. And then build your tiny house behind it and call it a shed/outbuilding, small enough for no permit, requirements. For me this would be the best of both worlds: tiny cozy cocoon for sleeping and relaxing , I cook pretty small, spend a lot of time online but still have a large luxurious bathroom. Humidity would be less of a concern, with electricity I could even have a sauna. If I could find a small house with a large bathroom like that in the city I’d buy it in a heart beat but the tinier the house, the tinier the bathroom.

    • On my homestead I’m developing, I’m planning a shower house using the existing septic system of the house that I’m taking down. It will have a washer and dryer, shower, sink and toilet. My trailer is 14 foot and every inch is a value. Of course I spend most of my time in the “Big Room” and don’t mind the walk when the call comes.

  10. I don’t think it’s essential to have an indoor toilet, regardless of laws, but it is definitely a much nicer life with one. Especially if you need it more than once at night. My design has a 3’x3′ wet bath at the tongue end of the trailer across a 2 1/2′ x3′ “hallway” from a run of clothing storage drawers and closet. When it’s time for a shower the portable composting toilet rolls out into the hall space between, the door to the bathroom swings back to close off the hall and bath area making a change room and lots of room to shower in the 3’x3′ space. I can leave it like that until the floor dries or swab it dry, then everything goes back. 3’x3′ of space is well worth the comfort and convenience. There will be a window at the end of the hallway that will provide light and a view to the rest of the house when the door is closed onto the 3’x3′ space.

    • At my age, to seat on a cold throne is painful. Katie H, you are a dear after my heart. They make the portable saunas that you can roll into a tent for privacy, who said a tub has to be ‘a tub’!

  11. phooey, the internet ate my first response.

    I will have a sawdust toilet inside, tucked under a bench by the back door. Also under the bench will be a litter box and extra, compostable litter to be used in both. I will only use it if necessary.
    For bathing I can use the large rubber stock tank located in the kitchen, which will be used for the dishes, laundry (I found a nifty manual washer with a ringer that fits inside the tub), washing my pup, and washing myself. I should mention that it will be plumbed as a gray-water system and that I use environmentally safe soaps.

    However, my main bathroom will be inside the barn. It will be heated by a rocket mass heater with a large cast iron tub embedded into the cub (instead of having a bench). That bathroom will be well-appointed, roomy, warm and have a window or two.

    I agree with everybody that a toilet at a the very least is important to have inside the home, close at hand for, shall we say, “emergencies. 🙂


  12. oops, make that “cob”, not cub! What I visual….

  13. I don’t shock easily, man you need a torch to cut through my skin but what a giggle I got with this one and love the comments, there should be many. Hell Ryan, I even carry a Kraft colored brown inside peanut butter jug in my car when I drive one, I always have a porta potty in a truck cap or minivan and tent. I even carry one of those handicapped thingies with me once in a while.
    Let me tell you what I seen. A guy, do his thing in a plastic bag behind a dumpster, now me, and my humor thought this was neat, crude but neat, (I only watched for research) he held one handle up the back and the other up the front, man that was innovative. Then he wiped himself clean (I didn’t watch) and took it to the McDonalds garbage bin and tossed it out. That was just about the time I felt like tossing my cookies on the floor of the car thinking of the poor person emptying that bin. I look at a McDonalds garbage bin a little differently now.
    Yes, of course, all homes need a toilet of their own or you’re in a bloody shed and even then you can have a porta potty. I don’t even pee on trees or tires but can’t convince my dog not to. For those talking outhouses in the remote areas, I have no problems with that but use a porta potty at night in the house and use the outhouse to dump it.
    No toilets, damn that’s funny.

  14. We used a port-o-John for two years while building my parents’ full size home in Florida. We were so used to it, we felt a little sad to see it go when our indoor plumbing was completed. I came to know and love several of the creatures I shared the port-o-john with: a jumping spider, several tree frogs, and the occasional scorpion. Regardless, what I always wonder about tiny homes is : what about odors? How do you live 5 feet from your bathroom and not have to deal with occasional odors… (oh, and try an outdoor shower sometime..they are wonderfully refreshing. In hot climates, they help keep the house cool by minimizing water vapor and heat. But you will have froggy and toady friends shower with you!)

    • I wonder about odor with these composting toilets and the alternatives, too; I don’t think you can beat the conventional water-based system for blocking odor and backup of methane gases and think, at least where water is plentiful, it makes sense as long as reasonable water conservation methods are in place. (I’ve been convinced for many years that indoor plumbing was invented by a woman, for reasons that may be obvious.)

      • So with the tiny houses the best ways I think the reign in the smells are
        Pee and poo in separate containers.
        When you poo add peat moss to it.
        And thirdly is if you can rig it add an exhaust vent.
        Keep the toilet seat down with weather stripping around to keep out flies
        And you have a completely unsmelly toilet.
        You can water the plants with the pee
        Read “Humanure” it’s great!

      • The Nature’s Head composting toilets are odorless if used properly. They are separator toilets. Pee one place poop the other. No mixing no foul odors. I use coconut Coir in mine and being single I only have to empty it once a month. The toilet also has a very small computer-type fan that maintains a slightly negative air pressure in the #2 holding area. This also keeps odors out. I’m 70 and have to get up a couple of times a night. It’s nice not to have to go out to a outhouse. No need to get dressed, go outside, sit on a cold commode, do my business, come back in, get undressed, wash hands and try to get back to sleep.

  15. I use an outhouse in a cold climate. It’s fine.
    My house has a closet that opens only to the outside – if I ever put the tiny house in a place where I need a toilet closer I’ll put a composting toilet there. Now its a storage space.

    I would hesitate to devote a lot of space to a bathroom in a tiny house, and also find the idea of a toilet so close unappealing.

  16. I agree that you have to have a toilet. When it’s pouring down rain (I’m in the Pacific NW so it does that a lot) it sucks to leave your little home to walk to the main house to use the bathroom. The shower can be more flexible in co-housing situations- especially if you supplement full showers (2-3x a week) with sponge baths.

  17. For me, a bathroom is required. It may have just a toilet and tiny tub, but it is still required. If the place doesn’t have a bathroom and it’s up for sale, I won’t look at the place twice as it would be a waste of my time. I want to be able to have a bath or…well…without having to go outside or to a friend’s place.

  18. I have done the outhouse at the bottom of the garden thing, i have done the outdoor shower thing. I am ready for the warm , dry, calm, light and comfortable thing. Venturing out with a torch and an armed escort into the pitch dark horizontal freezing rain while the local psychiatric hospitals escape alarm is sounding, very soon turns into a plastic bucket in the house to empty in the morning when we can see what we are doing.
    Maybe in a warmer climate …

    • LOL! Now that is a funny response. I’m in agreement. No armed escorts to use the toilet at night.

  19. Tiny home needs, bed on first floor, kitchen, sofa, loft for son and.
    I would give up storage, a dining table and my mother in law for a bathroom.
    Yep….. Just sayin

  20. I’m currently renting an rv space, the shed that comes with it has a 3×7 bathroom, shower on on side plumbed toilet on the other, because I have that shower I’m ok with my TH not having one at this point, but even though there is a toilet I’m going to at the very least have a bucket, probably just going to go ahead and build my composting.toilet, with diverter.
    I’m disabled and I know my limitations and a three in the morning I’m not going outside to go to another building.. Ain’t happening!!!!
    If I owned property I would make an attached bath house, hot tub, shower, toilet, but have each thing enclosed separate so people could be using multiple things without holding up everyone else.
    Then I’d have to figure out what to do with the three feet of space now available in my TH where the toilet used to be.

  21. You drove me nuts with this one Ryan after I gave it some though, I have to have a toilet inside for all the reasons the co commenter’s mentioned and it is something that has been a priority to me. I thought of a dodge van I built years ago. No space, no money, I took the passenger’s seat out and built a box seat with a two way flipping back and put a port potty under it. This gave the seat versatility for use when parked in seconds and filled some of the travel way to the driver’s seat, (so what, I used the door) The seat cushion could be tossed and, I would have to draw the concept but cut the plywood front facings the rear of the van in a square v (confused yet) but picture the point of the v about 18″ flat on the bottom, whatever and the top cut on a flip up door 30″ hinged to the seat plate which also folded up to the cushion back, (I upholstered it on both sides) now folded to the dash. A low profile porta potty fit beautiful and the remaining space held every cleaning aid and produced needed for everything including lots of T-paper, all in small plastic containers. Curtains across the windshield and across the van gave you a huge space to do your thing and people could sit in the back to be out of the weather, now, this was all family mind you and if a momentary odor was detected, or a toot heard, we had a good laugh. When the weather was good, the rest of us took a walk to give the user privacy. I took ill on one trip and found the seat cushion was a great back rest for prolonged sitting, turned out there was enough space to put it behind your back. (got lucky there) My illness didn’t incontinence any one on the trip, while they had fun outside, I suffered, but comfortably.
    Hey, you can turn a coffee table into a toilet, just don’t tell company what is under their biskits.
    For the shower, I drilled a tire valve stem into the bottom of the sink; we heated hot water in a large kettle and brought it to comfortable wash temp in that sink, just large enough for me, a very pudgy guy at the time to have enough water for soak down, shut the water off powered by a little dc pump attached on wall under the sink to the tire valve and hung plumbed flex line shower head on the ceiling. I remember the soap sequence, from feet to neck, then shampoo your head and wash your face (with a separate face cloth), LOL, water conservation at its best, then rinse everything from the top down. This was done between the kitchen sink and stove build along the sides into counters, for a drain plate, remember, this was just a standard van and I am 6′ tall. I cut a hole in the floor and a skylight in the roof, (from a demolition building, just the perfect size not to look crappy) I did the shower floor like a drop down belly pan using a plastic tub just perfect in size and cut the sides down to be level with the floor, I gained about 6′ with that thing and it clear the cross members and driveshaft with lots of room, I did have to have some exhaust work done but that was no big deal. This thing was in the kitchen area and easily be incorporated in a TH. For holding tanks I used a couple of lengths of Long 6″ plastic sewer pipe installed under the van. And blab la bla, if anyone wants to know more about the plumbing, covering the shower pan level with the floor, etc etc, they can contact me. In short, it worked great and didn’t take up an inch of space, if anything the seat gave storage room and sitting area plus a nice seat for travelling with my wife and I and two small children. We had a blast.
    How much stuff is going to be moved outside that are considered essentials, hell, it’s getting to the point where a billiard table is more important than a bed, swinging hammocks off a tree will come next, and that’s not so funny, in a loft in England we made them out of old theater curtains and had over 20 people in them all over the place for weekend bashes. Enough fruit from the vine and it is amazing how nice it is to lounge and sleep in a hammock. But I am an old guy now and want the conveniences handy, in the warmth and easily accessible. My focus is putting as much as possible in and we have to remember, it has to please the masses if you ever want to sell the thing. (If memory serves me right, some things are easier in a hammock, hum)
    PSSSSSSS. The big thing with porta potties is “Dump the thing” There are a million service centers and rest stops with even outdoor toilets where you can dump it. I don’t even use deodorizer in them half the time but I do keep the bowl clean and empty it. If you are shy about carrying it, get a suitcase that it will fit in, one on wheels and you can drag it anywhere, you only carry half of it and if full, it can be ugly and sometimes gagging maintaining it so do it regularly and it’s a breeze. I have two that have lasted for years and tons of use and can’t remember one little trickle of a spill, (once you figure it out, I would suggest after you buy it, fill and empty it a few times with clean clear water, and buy a good one, $50.00 is no better than a bucket)

  22. I’m designing a tiny on wheels in which there is indeed a bathroom and shower, but both are outside of the insulated envelope of the main dwelling, with ample ventilation to the outside. This way condensation from the shower and possible odors from the (composting) toilet do not enter the living space. Here in the PNW it will only be properly cold in the toilet area for a couple few months, and I can handle that for the very few minutes a day i’m there. I see the composting toilet as a glorified compost bucket, which is why it’s off the kitchen too…

    • Could always add a little space heater and turn it on when you need it….

  23. Yeah, no way am I stumbling out in the dark cold night to pee. Now a bathtub, meh, who needs it? (That’s rhetorical, I know a lot of people love them.) I only ever shower.

  24. I think your overall line of thinking is correct. Don’t waste space on areas you don’t use that often. But like many of the comments before me there’s no way I wouldn’t put in a toilet and a shower! I definitely would consider skipping the sink, opting to use one in the kitchen. I could maybe even do without the shower but going out of the house to “go” is where I’d draw the line. Besides the climate issues, I don’t want to run into a skunk (or whatever) on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There are skunks outside my house right now! In the day time I can watch for them but in the night? Fascinating topic but NO. Period.

  25. This is an interesting topic and potentially a rewarding design problem to solve. I think a fully functional bathroom could easily fit into 12 sq.ft or less, if the components were available, with very little compromise. I will be giving this some thought.

  26. If you wrestle with the space required for a bathroom your venture into the “benefits” of a tiny house are void. Want to change the world? It includes a bathroom. A toilet and a shower that is not draining into a galvanized wash tub.

    • Or a gray-water system that reuses much of the water consumed by the household.

  27. Sometimes people forget that inside bathrooms are more than just a convenience. Think about these situations and ask yourself if having an outside bathroom is the best choice.
    1: You get stomach and/or intestinal flue (Norovirus)
    2: You get a UTI (bladder infection or kidney infection)
    3: You are a childbearing aged woman with all it entails each month.
    4: You have a prostate or other frequent urge to go type condition.

    Just some things to consider if not already mentioned by others.

  28. We have a hybrid approach. Our tiny house has a bathroom with its composting toilet and shower but we also have an outdoor shower down the mountain. We built that before we built the house so we and our camping guests would have a place to go. We also have a portable composting toilet and a small tent that we can put up when guests are there so they have facilities.

    However, after an extended camping trip last year I realized it wasn’t that big a deal to get up and go outside my tent and wander over to the portas if I had to pee in the middle of the night. I don’t mind going out at night to pee in the woods so we don’t need a urine diverter for our composting toilet.

    We live in the south so our cold season is pretty short compared to northern states. This was by design – we both grew up in Michigan and moved away from the winters up there over a decade ago.

    • You are seasoned at this lifestyle but it is wise to let people know they should spread that pee system of yours far and wide. When my little building was left vacant, the side yard was the down town public urinal. I have chased many users out and watered the side yard down (many times) but man what an odor emitted from that area for a long time.

  29. I was very shocked/surprised to see anyone question the value of an indoor toilet and tub/shower! My father grew up in rural NC with outdoor conveniences, my mother grew up in rural FL with indoor conveniences. I have experanced both and can say with all sincerity that indoor beats outdoor. Now if you are talking about a limited time of outdoor toilet and shower, OK. But long term NO. In all this is a very interesting discussion. Thank you for raising this question and letting the discussion take place.

  30. you people are sick …don’t mind the tiny house but it HAS to have a shower & toilet with the waste going outside to a ditch or tank …poo & cat litter ? you need some mental help

    • Why, thank you for pointing that out, Kent… As I actually DO struggle with a mental illness, I’ll be sure to add your penetrating insight to my list.

      Seriously though, have you ever read the Humanure book? Perhaps you should take the time and educate yourself. If you still disagree, fine – but perhaps try to stay civilized in the future.


    • “Good right upper cut to Parker” and she has mentioned that book before. I am going to have to check it out but only for curiosity. I tried the cat litter thing and won’t do it again.

      • Hee!

        I’m not talking about the same type of litter that you might be referencing. I use one of two kinds for my cats and bunnies – either a palletized, ground hay and grain mixture, or recycled newspaper which comes in a loose grind or palletized. Both of these are also commonly used as animal bedding as they are nontoxic and biodegradable.

        In a “sawdust toilet” system, all sorts of materials can be used – from the things I’ve already mentioned, to peat moss, dried leaves, dirt, straw, sawdust…. What is needed is something dry, absorbent, clean-smelling and compost able.

        • Yepers, that is what I am talking about, before I use anything again like that I am going to do a little more research and probably post a request on your blog because my experience was horrid. Someone tells me to by kitty litter and I bought kitty litter and the whole process was discussing. I am lucky, in my shack there is a holly grail of white whatever they make a toilet out of with a nice shiny leaver that says away poo you are on your journey. Yes it is conventional but I have to pay for the service anyway so toss myself on the environmental gods plate and am the sacrificial lamb.

  31. All one has to do is look at the TH for sale listings and see how many times the same ones without bathrooms/toilets are listed,, delisted, price reduced, price lowered, relisted etc etc. no toilet, no sale!

  32. Sorry, Parker, but I have to agree with Kent (except for the mental health part). It’s not a house or home without an indoor shower and toilet. I live in a small apartment, just slightly larger than “tiny”, but these items are a must. No ifs, and’s, or buts!

    • Oh, Patrick, I do agree that even a most simple in-house toilet and way to thoroughly wash up is important. I consider it a necessity, although others don’t. If you search through the many responses above, somewhere I described my own plan for the TH I’m building.


  33. I understand the author’s point about dedicated space vs time used in the space, and agree whole heartedly that a toilet and (preferably bathing space as well) is close to essential.
    One solution is to have emergency sanitary functionality, even if it’s just a jug and a five gallon bucket with seat stowed under table space, along with shaping your biological schedule to coincide with your location and daily routine… A daily bike ride to the gymn for the morning constitutional, workout and shower might work Great for some people.
    Another possibility, and the one that I’ve been rolling around in my head, is to make a collapsing addition to a portable micro house. This unit flat packs to the side in transit and is assembled with three walls, floor and ceiling to the outside once the house is settled at its new location. In transit the amenities can ride in the microhouse living space.
    Humanure/bucket or solar cooker/dehydrator style systems seem like they’d
    work in a modular system like this.

  34. Absolutely not. People never get dirty or smelly and their bodies do not excrete any sort of waste, therefore the existence of a bathroom is a complete waste of space, that’s why no other homes include such silliness. Why should a tiny home be a home like the others? Just because it’s tiny doesn’t mean it should also be a home. Yeah, really just a rant, but the inclusion of all the necessary bits that make a shack a home is what makes a tiny home a home and not just a “fort” in some benevolent person’s back yard. If you have no hygiene facilities, you aren’t “living” in that tiny space, you are sleeping and hanging out. The house could not exist as a home without some outside facility. Yes, indoor plumbing is a bit of a luxury, but one that has kept Plague and other diseases from taking hold in a world where hygiene is difficult or impossible. I really do support people living simply, within their means, allowing them to work for less, save more, retire early, all the things that are so difficult if you are paying 50% of your income for a house and the utilities to support it. However, there is a lower limit. Bathrooms are the line to not cross.

  35. Coming in a week late, but cannot resist. How old are you, young man whose essential sanitary business can all be performed in under 30 minutes a day? It’s not going to stay that way, trust me.

    I know many tiny-house residents don’t see themselves as staying for more than a couple years, but what about building for people who are, say, out of their thirties? Forties? This is why I’m glad to see more alternatives to loft-beds as well: falling down a ladder a couple of times a night to run out of the house to the loo in February is no kind of existence.

    Isn’t life already enough of a struggle to survive, without making your dwelling something to struggle against?

    You are only one bad California roll away from recalibrating your equation in any case, but your domestic value system needs a little fine-tuning: ever heard the phrase “without a pot to piss in?”

  36. have totally enjoyed reading all of this! 🙂

    An indoor toilet is a must have. along with a bed on the ‘ground’ floor. i am an older woman with older woman knees and an older woman’ bladder. in other words i am not gonna be climbing a ladder to get into or out of my bedroom! nor am i going to try and race my need to any outhouse. my grace and flexibility has gone the way of the dodo. in good weather i have no problem with using outdoor facilities. shower or toilet doesn’t matter. at night or in the winter? no way! my butt cheeks have suffered enough getting kissed by a winter frosted toilet seat.

    something big enough to sit on to do my business and a shower big enough to wash the important parts i don’t think would take up that much room. and my butt cheeks will thank me for it!!!

    • Your a giggle Echo and I can not only relate from the male side but totally agree and now in my place I have a real flush toilet (heater over top of it) but just two years ago thought I could live without those amenities, as a matter of fact, they have a bachelors service at a laundry mat and I am thinking of using that because the washboard and rock is a thing of the past also. Hell, I am weakening, even put a queen bed on the main floor of 250′ and am looking at maybe stealing a bit more of the building for comfort. Oh I am going to get tossed out on my ear, I just know it. If I had gone for the King but wouldn’t fit, I would be dun in for sure… “On the subject of crap” I just finished giving my boss a mouth full and was going to the office to let them really know how I feel and shove the job where we are talking about sitting but then read your post, laughed and oh well, they know where I stand well and truly and it is a fun job where I can call my shots (but they hound, I even told her I shot one wife who hounded and to give it a rest last week) (I jest but what the hell, I received an apology) so you saved me another mile a day from going to the competition. LOL, thanks. The one thing nice about being old, experienced and not caring is you can tell them to kiss where the frost kisses you. Now, and excuse the pun, I will put a lid on it.

      • ? i helped you save/hold onto your job? well dang! it’s amazing the power and possible outcomes to random conversations about toilets, indoor plumbing and taking a dump is able to accomplish! 😀

  37. On a more serious note, there’s the idea of the dignity of being able to have some privacy in taking care of “business.” Anyone who has lived in communal settings where the bathrooms had a bunch of stalls and communal areas for washing and even showering can appreciate gaining one’s privacy in doing these duties in one’s own home. Borrowing someone else’s facilities or ducking into the nearest Mickey D’s seems to involve a loss of dignity, in my estimation. If I were in the position of building shelters for homeless people, I would want to build in some privacy.

  38. Hi everybody,

    I think a bathroom design should at least have the shower, the sink, a toilet, a mirror and a cabinet.
    My design would be a wet bathroom whereby the toilet (which is a composting type) slides through the dividing wall and into a cabinet/piece of furniture. The sink is usually not a problem in a wet bathroom neither is the mirror/medicine cabinet and possibly a towel/bath supplies storage if covered.

    A make room by means of sliding toilets kind of bathroom setup needn’t have a lot of square footage… maybe 9 or 10 and can be disguised as a build-in closet.

    regards, Sander

  39. As many times as I have to get up to go potty in the middle of the night, a bathroom is standard equipment. Because we don’t know how to layout our tiny house, we have a “luggable loo” – it’s a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat. In order to use it and keep scents down, we use 2 kitchen garbage can plastic liners, then a couple of scoops of kitty litter; every time it’s used, kitty litter is sprinkled over the waste. It gets tossed in the trash…like kitty litter does.

  40. And like ECHO, I am also older, and my bed is on the ground floor as well. The loft area is strictly for storage.

  41. oh my, this popped up in my email again due to a couple of new responses.
    i read thru the whole thing again and enjoyed it even more than the first time! the laughs were doubled!

    Ralph Sly, i find that being older means more common sense and the smarts to know exactly what creature comforts are a necessity!

    AKAALLICE, i have one of those luggable loos and it is fantastic! my adult daughter lived for one entire winter in our tents in a CA campground and that was what we used at night and once in a while during the daylight too. it was a long walk to the only bath house that the campground had.

    DEBORAH, good list, but for me i would have to add ‘rare steak’ and chinese food’ to that list! there is no time to waste in doing a leisurely stroll or even a mad scramble to the outdoor facilities.

    can do without a lot of things but an indoor toilet/bucket/pot is not one of them!!! 😛

  42. Oh c’mon people! Do you think you are the only ones who are trying to downsize a bathroom so it won’t take much room? There are all kinds of ideas out there. There is something called a Vertebra, which is a whole bathroom on a pole – just slide the units here and there to get to the one you want. A shorter and even more futuristic one can be swiveled like the Vertebra to create a toilet/sink/shelf. You would have to tell guests what it was or they’ll think it’s a space pod. They’ll be looking around for ET. You could try the Julien Bench Toilet, where you just slide the wooden portion of the bench over, and a similar one, the Villeroy & Boch City Life Smart Bench Toilet. Marie Antoinette had one hidden in a bench – I suppose for a DIY you could tuck the toilet under a lid in a built-in bench in the “great room”. Plop your seating cushion on top and no-one is the wiser. That would reduce the bathroom to sink and shower (or just shower if you use the kitchen sink). Of course, the one in the seating bench could be awkward if there is more than one person around. I’ve also seen a vanity with a vessel sink, which sits on top instead of being recessed, and that eliminates much of the plumbing underneath which allows you to have a top drawer to store things. The bottom “drawer” pulls out and surprise! – it’s the loo. I’ve seen toilets disguised as hassocks (look at the Matroshka furniture, which has lots of hassocks – theirs are for storage, but hey, why not a toilet in one? Just make sure you know which one in the middle of the night!) There are some old-t nightstands that disguised toilets – or large chamber pots as they were then. There is the Iota Folding Toilet, and a whole modular bathroom that pulls out of several cabinets in a wall. There is even a bathtub that pulls down from the wall like a Murphy bed!

    As for cat litter boxes – I saw some tiny house designs in a competition where people sent in their ideas. These were drawings on SketchUp mostly. One had a little cat door tucked somewhere under a cabinet that led down to a compartment on the outside of the house, but screened and tucked into a corner. That was where the litter box was. The cat couldn’t escape, the air took care of the smell, and you accessed the compartment from the outside to clean it. I wish I could remember where that article was.

    All you need is a good imagination. I like to visit a site called dornob that has all kinds of neat and unusual design ideas. It gives me all kinds of ideas.

    • Now, isn’t that vertebrae toilet just a work of art. Google it folks, too neat not to know about. Thanks Size O.

      • So I was curious. I googled “vertebra bathroom” and yes it’s a really neat idea. Unfortunately it would most likely not fit into a “tiny house” also it would only work for someone who had a few hundred thousand to sink into their tiny home. Lets come up with some practical ideas folks!

      • OMG, RALPH SLY!!!!! Where in the heck have you been?????????

        I’ve missed you and your comments so very much

        • How nice to hear from you Cahow and as always with feed my ego complements. Missing you to friend. I have been hiding out in Bingolaland. Yep, been going to do a ton of things, start a blog, finish my book, the shack, yep. A ton of things that are just going to have to wait. HOWEVER, I did embark on a lifestyle I laid out in a comment on living, travelling and working from a Van. Latest streach has been 11 months now and managed the Canada winter pretty good until the old furnace packed in this month so I took room and feel very spoiled. HOWEVER, it is very doable and I can’t wait to get back at it. I am in the appropriately named area of Cold Lake Alberta. Yep, I’m no sissy and sure know how to pick em uh. Tons of funny stories and, yes, many of the genera labled the lu. LOL… Still looking for love in all the wrong places; but always the optimus. Suffered a terrible flue while in the van and my lord kept my around to torment another day, wasn’t sure for a bit but all is well now
          Anyway, I drop by now and again but am in computer scares country and just using my phone to the delight of many I’m sure. LOL Love ya girl (I suppose hubbys health is still good) LOL.

          • Phew! I can finally breath a ~sigh~ of relief that you are alive and (almost) well; hope the flu bug travels far-far away from your van!

            I had to do a bit of a giggle when I read that you were living in a van; did you ever see the Saturday Night Live skit with Chris Farley? He played a “motivational speaker (NOT!)” and this was his most famous cautionary tale line: “”35 years old, eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!” I hope your diet consists of more than ‘government cheese!’

            Fascinating hearing what you’re all about these days; how active is your blog? Enough to warrant my subscribing? And “Yes”, hubby is Fit As A Fiddle as I type.

            All the best to you, dear friend. Your wit and wisdom is sorely missed at Alex’s site. 😀

  43. Cahow, LOL You always put a smile on my face. No, been going to do the blog but haven’t gotten around to that yet and I am pretty sure you and Dock keep the subjects lively I dont get to read them much because I get the post and if there’s no commenting going on I generally just pass on taking the time and don’t get to be too involved. Got a kick out of the government cheese thing. My diet has changed considering the lifestyle, I eat more fruit, became a tortillas wrap master in lu of bread (they last forever) eat lots of sprouts and other greens, tons of raisins, nuts, and of course peanut butter. Paper plates and a knife in the kitchen 1’x1′ lots of vegetables. I feel better, (have some elasticity back in my skin, my 3 chins are hanging well above my naval now) and of course the cod oil and other supplements of the vitamin variety seem be doing more good than harm so who knows, I might just get a little more time on this decrepit chassis afterall. Good hearing from you and love the new comments.

  44. Why not just buy a small RV with a shower, flush toilet and the equipment to dispose of the waste? For about $60K new (on sale) or $30K used in great shape, you’ve got a self-propelled tiny house…that you can actually resell.

  45. I use a Thetford tucked into a tiny cubby next to the bed for #1. For #2, I put a plastic bag with tissues inside the bowl; tie it up tightly and toss in rubbish bin. Shower with bamboo enclosure and laundry stand with galvanized tubs and hand crank wringer are outside. I have an on-demand hot water heater outside that I use for dishes, laundry and shower. Toilet is emptied at nearby rest area. Grey water goes to water shrubbery using sump pump and hose. I live in 140 sq ft. converted back yard shed downtown. Very comfy cozy home.

  46. I’m finding that with the designing and planning of tiny houses, permaculture and other minimalistic practices the deciding factor is always climatic. For an outside bathroom you want to be in the tropics, but if your in Norway inside may be better. Pick your own path.

  47. My TH, built by Incredible Tiny Homes, was custom designed by me. I am 70 and needed to keep the aging process in mind. I designed a bathroom area that by TH standards is large. Especially since my TH is 200sq. ft. The bat5hroom is 5’x8′. It contains the Natures Head composting toilet, a full sized 36×36 shower, my Meadea combo washer/dryer, my pantry, my linen closet and my “throne” reading library. It has one 2’x2′ single hung window and a wall mounted bathroom exhaust fan. It is separated from the rest of the TH by a rolling barn-type door. If you would like to see the bathroom(and rest of the TH)go to click on the Gallery button and look for “southern Draw”. That is my designed house. ITH liked the design so much they included it in their open house.

  48. Your site must be using hidden words that are not really in the article: our search in a web browser using a phrase in quotes brings up your site, on this page, but this page doesn’t have those words.

    Not an honest thing for you to be doing!

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