Outhouse Builder Finds Plenty Of Business

Gerald Young was looking for a way to earn a little extra cash when his son-in-law noted that nobody built outhouses any more. Apparently, it was a good idea because in March Young built his 59th outhouse.
"It?s my legacy," says the 74-year-old, who has been featured on television and in magazines and newspapers. Though affectionately referred to as "Hillbilly Outhouses," there is nothing haphazard about the quality of work and time he puts into each outhouse. 
"I won't build junk," Young says, noting he wants his work to last for generations. He "signs" each outhouse with a plaque that includes his name, when it was built, and the number of the outhouse. 
He starts with rough-sawn lumber purchased from an Amish sawmill. Most of his outhouses are made of pine or poplar, but customers willing to pay more opt for cedar. Young patterns them after outhouses he remembers from his childhood. They are 50 by 50-in. and 8 ft. tall with a 6 by 6 1/2-ft. steel roof with an overhang. A wooden hinged seat is centered over a 5-gal. bucket that can be easily removed (and follows guidelines Young received from Tennessee's Department of Health). Depending on where they live, some customers remove the bucket, cut a hole in the floor and set the outhouse over a hole or barrel.
The outhouse is built on treated 4 by 4 runners and has extra bracing so it can be transported. Young includes the traditional half-moon in the door and antique-looking black hinges with a wooden latch he makes himself. 
Customers request a variety of options from a urinal, to shelves, to finishing the wood with linseed oil or urethane. Some are basic and ordered for practical reasons - for trail rides, hunting camps and cemeteries, for example.
But many are purchased for the nostalgia value by doctors, lawyers and even contractors.
"One guy had a barn with a bar and wanted an outhouse inside the barn," Young says. Other customers have used them for sheds for kids waiting for the bus, to hold garbage cans, and as a dog house with double Dutch doors for the dog below and storage on top. 
Young enjoys having fun with decor - an old-style crank phone on the wall, a jar with corncobs, an old catalog or plaques with funny little sayings such as "Ladies Please Remain Seated."
Located near a busy highway, Young sold his first outhouses to people passing by. After getting some media attention, he has now sold to customers across the state. Young makes picking up the finished outhouse a happy occasion for himself and his customers by taking photos with them and getting to know them over a burger at a local cafe.
"I meet so many nice people, and I like to visit with customers," Young says.