Can You Fit A Toilet in a Shepherds Hut?
Updated: Jan 7
We were one of the first hut builders to start building huts with ensuite facilities, mainly because no matter how nice and cosy a classic and traditional style Shepherds hut might look, a frequent question from people when stepping in was "Where's the toilet?".
As a result, we began to offer toilets, sinks and showers into our huts and we can honestly say that they are some of the nicest bathrooms you'll ever find! They are so popular that about 90% of our huts tend to be fitted with ensuite facilities.
The next question some customers ask is "Where does the waste go?". The short answer is "somewhere"! If you have a flushing toilet in your hut, the waste has to go somewhere. Fortunately there are a few options for this, and if none are achievable then there are alternatives.
In order to fit a flush toilet, your hut needs to connect to a suitable waste system. This could either be a mains sewer, package treatment plant or a septic tank/cesspit. Ideally there would already be one within a convenient distance of where the hut is being sited, but if there isn't you may be able to invest in a pumping station or even installing a new system. It is worth consulting a waste management expert, who can recommend the most economical method of achieving this, as well as keeping it environmentally appropriate. If it's possible for you to connect your huts to a suitable waste system, this is by far the best option.
What Are The Alternatives?
There may be various reasons why you can't connect to a waste system. It may be that the site is too remote, the cost is prohibitive or you want to take the off-grid or eco friendly approach. There are a few alternatives, although there are certain considerations (some would call them trade-offs) to be aware of. These are listed in order of luxuriousness.
These are common in houseboats and work by churning up the solid waste, using significantly less water than a traditional flush toilet. For the user, they look similar to normal toilets, although they make a loud grinding noise when flushed. They still require a water supply and electricity to work, but the volume of waste produced is smaller and more manageable. That said, it still needs to go somewhere. Depending on the volume of users (and therefore volume of waste), it is possible to fit the Shepherds Hut with a built in waste tank or "cassette", much like you'd find in a caravan, to be regularly emptied- At least every couple of days of use. To aid this, grey water from the sink and shower are diverted and disposed of separately- This should be done safely and in a manner appropriate to your local environmental laws.
Alternatively, if you want to go longer between emptying, you could also invest in something like a Tuff Tank, which is a more substantially sized aboveground storage tank that can sit behind or below the hut. It would need to be emptied by a waste pumping companied similar to how a septic tank might be, albeit much more frequently as there is no leeching of water.
This option is more costly than a standard flush loo and requires a bit more hands on work, but offers a good compromise of comfort and practicality when off the beaten path.
Chemical cassette toilets are common in caravans and motorhome and essentially store the waste with a splatter of disinfectant to manage (in theory) the odours. The sealed cassette needs to be manually removed and emptied, and typically requires frequent emptying, making it a less commercially viable option. Some may even have traumatic childhood memories involving a hellish caravan park in Bognor Regis, and the sight of a hungover old man trundling his waste caddy across the main drive one morning, unaware that it was leaking and leaving a trail of chemical sludge back towards his caravan. Needless to say, we don't tend to advise them. They aren't particularly effective, affordable or practical.
Using the power of sawdust or shredded paper and fresh-ish air, a compost toilet essentially works by separating the liquid and solid components of your business and letting the solids dry out in the collection bucket so that they don't smell so much. They can then be stored safely, left to decompose for at least couple of years as they break down into relatively harmless compost.
With careful use and management, this can in theory be a viable method, but unfortunately due to the laws of chaos it is rarely the case in practice. Not only do the contents require constant airflow to dry out, it also requires every user to sit down, a concept that many chaps tend to struggle with. The biggest flaw in the design is that it is somebody's job to empty it!
It is for the reason of airflow that we actually refuse to fit composting toilets inside our Shepherd Huts- The ensuite bathroom is naturally an enclosed and humid space due to the proximity to the shower, and the waste is never going to dry out fast enough to prevent odours- Bearing in mind that a toilet are often mere feet away from the bed and the kitchen. Although it's not illegal to fit a composting loo inside an enclosed building, we think that it should be! Although there are some more specialised systems out there featuring fans, astronaut style collection bags and even mini- incinerators these are often quite expensive and the technology is still a few years behind where it needs to be in our opinion.
But Don't Disregard Compost Loos Entirely
It's not all doom and gloom for the humble composting loo, which absolutely has its place among glamping sites that favour off-grid cleanliness in the great outdoors. When placed in a partially open outhouse with plenty of air-flow, they are a perfectly practical and budget-friendly option. That's why our sister-company The Shower Shack offers stylish waterless composting toilets as part of their outdoor bathroom range, which complement the simpler huts from our Classic Range. Click on the image below to see their product range.
Ensuite facilities in 21st Shepherd Huts have become the norm and holidaymakers will always prefer a good bathroom offering- In fact, the vast majority of online feedback to campsites in the UK makes at least some reference to the toilet facilities. Increasing the cleanliness and availability of this offering will likely help improve your customer ratings. Guests are also willing to pay more to stay in accommodation with good bathroom facilities.
We will always recommend investing in the infrastructure for a flushing toilet- To recap, that's either connecting to or installing a package treatment plant, septic tank or a connection to the mains drain. Not only is it more comfortable and hygienic, it's also the least hands-on approach for the host. If you're making a 5 year business plan for a new glamping site, eliminating extra toilet waste management tasks from your overheads is worth the investment in our opinion!