Building a freestanding bathroom on septic?

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Old 03-10-18, 09:37 AM
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Question Building a freestanding bathroom on septic?

We recently bought 15 acres and want to have a toilet and shower put in to make it more usable for extended periods of time. We have a large, freestanding shed on the property which is on concrete blocks rather than a slab foundation. Unfortunately, the county will not allow us to either dig an outhouse or use a composting toilet, so our only choice is to have a septic tank installed. We are definitely going to have that professionally done. We will also be hooking into the county water lines.
I am wondering if it would be prudent to either build a freestanding bathroom facility or add one inside the shed. I don't even know if it is possible to do the latter since the drainage and water pipes would both be at least partially exposed, and we would need to figure out a way to winterize them. I also do not know where to begin on what this would cost.
My other half wants to purchase a trailer so that all of the work is taken care of and we will only have to hook into the water supply and septic lines. I'd rather not clutter up the place with a trailer, especially since we already have a shed, but I guess that it would make it more livable for someone attached to creature comforts.
Any thoughts or suggestions?
 
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Old 03-10-18, 09:45 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

I'd rather not clutter up the place with a trailer, especially since we already have a shed,
A single shed on 15 acres of property ?

If there is nothing on the property what is a bathroom needed for ?
Where will the water come from ?
Where will the power come from ?

What is the goal with your property ?
 
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Old 03-10-18, 10:09 AM
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Thanks for the reply.
The shed is pretty large, 40 x 14, with a nice sleeping loft and windows. We are able to sleep in there when it is cold or rainy. At this point, the property is a glorified campground. The kids can fish, explore in the woods, hunt, and shoot their bows and arrows. Eventually (probably 5+ years), we will build a house on the property, which is why we are definitely planning on a septic system and county water. We will be planting some fruit trees this year and will also need the water for irrigation, especially when the trees are just starting out.
For the present we are using a kerosene heater during the winter. We plan on a propane heater for the water. We don't need electric for right now but plan on accessing it when we build the house.
A freestanding bathroom could be useful even after we build the house because the kids will be able to clean up there instead of tracking muck into the house after playing in the pond. If we do the trailer option, we would end up selling it once the house is built.
 
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Old 03-10-18, 05:33 PM
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You have not said where you are located but you should contact your Zoning and Building Inspection Departments. You are saying a lot of "we just want to..." and using a lot of creative terms like calling your building a "shed". I was recently involved in a similar case in my county and the activity like yours and did not end well for those trying to slip under the radar.

Our county does not permit trailers, RV's or mobile homes to be temporarily or permanently occupied on land that does not have a permanent residence. Here you could not simply bring in a trailer or tiny house and live in it on a piece of land. Homeowners can have an RV or camper and people can sleep in it for up to two weeks a year. So, so trailers unless there is already a home on the property that has potable water and a septic/sewer system.

Living in a non approved residence is also not permitted. So, you can't spend the night or live in a shed, hunt camp, tiny house, pool house, boat dock or any other building no matter what you call it. If you want to live or even spend one night it must be inspected and approved as a residence. This is all rooted in that it is not safe for people to live where there is not a supply of potable water and sewage infrastructure for the waste.

In the case I was involved in the county was somewhat accommodating but because this person had tried sneaking by the county required them to meet everything... all zoning requirements, building codes and on and on. Almost exactly like your situation they just wanted to "stay" here and they eventually wanted to do this and that. Since they had been caught trying to go on the down low they imposed a strict time limit for them to complete their "construction" and obtain a traditional certificate of occupancy. If the work is not completed in the required time then they basically lose everything.

So, I would contact your local officials and find out what is permitted in your area. Just living in a "shed" may sound simple but it may not be accepted in all areas.
 
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Old 03-11-18, 11:31 PM
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Pilot Dane,
Thank you for the feedback. It never occurred to me to question whether or not we are allowed to sleep on our own land, in the shed/building when necessary to protect from inclement weather. The amount of time we are spending there has been pretty limited due to the need to run to the local gas station for bathroom facilities, as we understand that digging a hole for such purposes is not allowed (although we do not hesitate to water the trees, as I am sure any hunter would understand).
***My question is really more about the feasability of building a freestanding bathroom on septic. Have you ever seen it done, and how?***
We have met with a professional about installing a septic system with a couple of hydrants for water and sewer access until the house is built. He has been working in the county for years and knows which permissions are needed. We're not planning on breaking laws, flying in under radar, or doing anything nefarious. It just seems to me that before I go through the trouble of asking the county if I can build, I should have a very good idea of what I plan on constructing. When we put in our shed/building, we had to get permissions ahead of time, telling dimensions, foundation plans, etc. So I really need to figure out beforehand if this is going to be possible before I try to petition the county about it. We would have preferred to do an outhouse and a water spigot but already know that this is not an option in our county.
 
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Old 03-12-18, 05:41 AM
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The construction is easily done and is no different than what's done when building a house. The difficult part is getting the appropriate permits. If you are moving in the direction of building a house then I would start with figuring out roughly where your house will be located and how many bedrooms it will have. Then go get your permits based on that.
 
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Old 03-12-18, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by el7vazquez
". . . My other half wants to purchase a trailer so that all of the work is taken care of and we will only have to hook into the water supply and septic lines . . ."
That makes it sound like Water and Sewer is already present On-Site ?

If not, most jurisdictions will require that you perform a Percolation Test first to make sure that the soils are able to absorb any effluent from your living quarters and Septic System, and that any proposed water well be sufficiently isolated from that absorption field, so that your potable water supply (or your Neighbor's drinking water) is not contaminated by it.

What State or Province are you located in.
 
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Old 03-12-18, 06:05 PM
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We are having the percolation test done over the next couple of weeks, although I do not foresee a problem. Everyone in the area is on septic. As soon as that is done, we can have the tank put in. We know where we want to build the house and where to locate the septic tank (assuming that the percolation test shows that we can locate it where we had intended). Why are septic systems based on the number of bedrooms rather than the number of bathrooms?

The construction is easily done and is no different than what's done when building a house.
So, just do a plumbing rough-in, gravel, and then a slab foundation? What would you do for the walls? If we just do boards on a frame, it wouldn't be well insulated, but we also wouldn't have to worry about moisture as much.

Thanks again for the advice. I'm pretty ignorant about the whole process, and numerous internet searches have yielded little. I have seen plans for luxury pool houses with spa-like bathrooms, showers that are attached to the outside of buildings, and ideas about how to live off the grid with a waterless bathroom or gravity-fed water system. That's not an option where we live in Iowa; the county doesn't allow composting toilets. That's why I'm searching for alternatives that would work with our soon-to-be-installed septic system.
 
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Old 03-13-18, 06:48 AM
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The number of bedrooms is a better indicator of how many people might be living in the house. A hundred years ago you might of had a house with three bedrooms and only one bath. These days it's more common to see two or three bathrooms in a three bedroom house.

What you described is for slab construction. If that's the way you want to go then it is an option. But, I would not bother building just a bathroom unless you put it inside your "shed" so it can be used in the shed in the future.
 
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Old 03-13-18, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by el7vazquez
". . . We know where we want to build the house and where to locate the septic tank (assuming that the percolation test shows that we can locate it where we had intended) . . ."
For a variety of reasons, the location of the Septic Tank is typically just 10 -15' from the foundation of the house; it's the absorption field or leach field which is dependent upon the type and condition of the underlying soils and which dictate where it can be placed.

Originally Posted by el7vazquez
". . . Why are septic systems based on the number of bedrooms rather than the number of bathrooms? . . ."
That's a good question, and as a Real Estate Broker, it's one that I've heard many times, because it seems to go against logic.; but when you think about it, it becomes clear that bathrooms and toilets don't create waste . . . . human beings do that.

A house with 5 Bathrooms and Three Occupants will likely create less waste than a house with 1 Bathroom and Five Occupants . . . . but that isn't always going to be true. Obviously, there are many instances where crowded conditions may cause 15 people to share one bathroom, and that dwelling will probably generate 15 times the waste of one person (who's going to measure their output deposits ?).

As a result, and there may be exceptions; but the powers that be in the drafting of Waste Water or Sanitary Regulations appear to be fairly unified in thinking that the Number of Bedrooms is a better predictor of the load that will be placed on a waste water disposal system than the number of baths.
 
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