A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Building the WC

Earlier this week I mentioned that we finally started building our WC — not a Water Closet, as a flush toilet was originally called (and what bathrooms are still called today in German), but a Waste Corral to house our garbage, recycling and compost bins. Still housing waste, but a much less icky kind.

We had a couple of ideas for this setup. One idea was more of a square format with the garbage and recycling side-by-side and facing the alley, and the compost bin on the back side of the structure facing the garden. This seemed like a more compact way to go, however the garbage and recycling bins are supposed to be spaced 4 feet apart on pick-up day, so this plan would require us to drag them apart each week.

Our other idea was to span the width of our side lot with the garbage and recycling on either end, where the bins would just have to be rolled forward on pick-up day, and the compost in the middle. This is the plan we’re going with.


We thought that this would act as a little privacy fence off the alley as well, and it would make it convenient to move the compost into the future vegetable garden. Since we use our recycling bin most of all, it’s located closest to the garage.

In our previous house, we had a single compost bin, which was fine for the most part. Since waste matter is constantly accumulating, though, you either have to dig deep down to get to the good stuff or hold off on tossing the waste until you’re ready to start a new pile. One way around this is to build a double (or even triple) bin: one for new waste while the other is left to simmer.

Our double bin will have screening to separate the two but still allow air to flow between. The rest of the structure will be made with cedar planks with gaps to allow for airflow.

So here is where we are today. First we had to move the gravel that was dumped for our paths, as well as move the additional dirt we dumped there from digging out the patio and paths. We hauled the gravel to the north side of our garage. I’m confident there won’t be any weeds growing through that!


Next we dug holes for the posts. We’re using 2×2 cedar posts and setting them about 6″ deep. We felt it was unnecessary to go any deeper for this project, nor did we think we needed to set the posts in concrete. Instead we are using our gravel as a base and mixing it with Gator Dust, the polymeric jointing sand that we had left over from our patio. The Gator Dust is doing a decent job of securing the posts in place.


Of course as Pete started to dig the last hole he came upon a HUGE chunk of concrete buried in the dirt. It was so big that he couldn’t find the edges, and we have no idea what it could be from. We know the original brick garage was in the same location as the new one, so it’s not foundation.

It doesn’t really matter since we won’t be planting a garden there, but it meant that he had to chisel enough out so that we (okay, he) could install the final post. (I have the very important job of measuring, checking the level and holding things in place —— hey, I moved more than my share of gravel and dirt, so don’t think he’s doing all of the manual labor!)


The rest of the project should go much faster. The cedar planks will completely surround the garbage and recycling bins on three sides (open to the alley). We may either leave the front of the compost bin open, or we will create a channel where the cedar planks can be added or removed as needed for easier access. We’ll see how it looks.


  1. Mom on July 11, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Wow! a new addition that I’ll have to check out. See you tomorrow???

  2. denise on July 12, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Oh my gosh! A comment from my mother!! Yes, see you tomorrow.

Leave a Comment