DIY Outdoor Shower House
How to Build Your Own Outdoor Shower EnclosureFinally a post beyond simply "Getting Ready for Summer at the Cottage!"
When we first bought our cottage in 2008, I knew there was a lot of work we wanted to do, but the first thing on my list was an outdoor shower. I mean, how can you have a beach house without an outdoor shower? It was SO necessary, both in terms to charm and practicality. Husband agreed, and even hired the plumber to install. And I loved it. And we've used it every summer day for 5 straight years.
How can I explain how useful an outdoor shower is? I don't even think you need to live near a beach to need one, but because we do, it's really the only way we can feasibly hose down the children (and ourselves) without getting sand all over the house. And not only am I avoiding sand all over the place, it takes care of bathtime, too! It's perfect: we come home from the beach, jump into the shower, eat dinner, PJ's and playtime, and off to bed.
But although I had my outdoor shower, it was a little, well, exposed. You'd be trying to get clean (wearing your swimsuit) and people from the street behind us would be waltzing down to their beach and awkwardly wave hello to you. Neighbors would yell out, "Hi Guys!" as I was washing my hair. It was all a little... well, unfinished. And thus, my heart was yearning for a shower house (as our 7-year old neighbor calls them, a term I have come to love). I really wanted to be able to have some privacy to take full advantage of the outdoor shower, but, at the time, it wasn't in the budget.
But here we are, 5 years later, and in May, my amazing husband agreed to build it himself: (a) to save some money; contractors bid it out at $2500 and (b) because he was sick of hearing me complain about it. But regardless of the reasons, he did it: he built it! And it's my favorite part of the house. It has cedar shingles and a teak floor... it's downright luxurious! And I can't thank him enough. So to "pay it forward," I'm creating this how-to post for all those others DIYers out there who may also be desperately yearning for a shower house.
So here we have a special surprise here at A Thrifter in Disguise; an unprecedented event; the guest post of the century... my husband is going to chronicle his DIY Outdoor Shower House Experience.
DIY Outdoor Shower House: Part I (by Ben)Where to begin? Well, perhaps a little about my background. I'm not a carpenter nor do I have much in the way of carpentry experience. I'm pretty handy at assembling IKEA furniture (and will be tackling our now IKEA kitchen soon - stay tuned!); however, if you've read my wife's blog post on my car history, you'll know I'm a weekend mechanic. So, I do have some mechanical and problem solving skills. Since I am not a licensed contractor, enjoy this post for what it is - a homeowner trying to save some money and make his wife happy :)
The other important note here is why. Since we moved into our house, my wife wanted an outdoor shower. My first solution, which was quickly nixed, was to tap into the hose spigot and have a cold-water only shower. Two issues here - one, my wife would have to take cold showers. Second, it was in the wrong spot - halfway down our driveway in an alcove that faced the road. So after getting some estimates for the plumbing, we put it on our to-do wish list and waited patiently. The plumbing alone was quoted at $1100 to run the new hot and cold water lines to the right spot and the end corner of the house where our small outside deck is. We opted for time and materials, and we lucked out at under $900.
Next it was time to hire a contractor for the enclosure. In addition to a reasonably sized shower enclosure, we also wanted a small wooden enclosure built with a lift able top to store things like beach chairs, kids sand toys, etc. The estimate was staggering: $3500. Even with the other project, most of the cost was from the shower. We thought about using plastic fence panels instead if wood, and it would have saved some money, but it wasn't the look we were looking for at our beach home. Instead, I promised my wife it would be on the top of next year's to-do list, and is quickly forgot about it. I mean, the shower worked - did we really need an enclosure? My wife reminded me that the girls were okay running around in their birthday suits now, but those years don't last forever.
On our somewhat regular walks around our neighborhood, we took time to look at other shower enclosures, took pictures, made notes, and agreed on generalities. Still, we couldn't stomach - or afford - to spend thousands on this project. Instead, with my wife's encouragement - and promise that she would love my mistakes - I found the courage to take the plunge. I mapped out a plan in my head of what it would look like, sketched it out and showed my wife, made adjustments, and then took a preliminary trip to Home Depot to get some advice and price out some of the materials.
One of the biggest concerns I had was the footings. Since the plumbing was already installed where our deck is, it meant some work removing decking, boring holes, pouring concrete, and setting the posts. Those steps would take at least two days (and I only have weekends off from work) and involve renting some equipment. Then a few nights later while I was laying in bed, I had an idea that ended up cutting two full days off of the project, made the install much simpler and cheaper, with no need to rent equipment, and we ended up with a nice, large, cedar shake shower enclosure for less than $600.
And with that, he leaves us hanging, but promises to complete his post soon. Hang tight! In the meantime, email me if you're starting to embark on a similar project and have some questions.