How to make toilets fly – a simple idea

April 20th, 2014

Here is a simple idea for architects, building designers and interior designers who specify toilets.

How many toilets does your practice specify in a year? No idea? Well use the back of an envelope and do a quick count….tote up the total number of toilets specified to be built into you projects – office buildings, factories, homes, apartment blocks, schools or sports facilities.

Now lets look at two toilets taken from current, on-line catalogues … we will call them Type A to Type B to protect the manufacturers, as we think both toilets can do a great job of collecting human waste and then taking the waste away when the buttons are pushed. The removal part is not included in the pictures or the costs set out below… and of course assumes that both toilets will be connected to a working water and waste system. 

The two toilets below look similar and have similar specifications…you pick the difference.

Type A 

Details: Ceramic, dual flush, water efficient, soft close lid, white. COST = $1,700 Australian dollars

1700 Toilet Suite

Type B

Details: Ceramic, dual flush, water efficient, soft close lid, white. COST = $149 Australian dollars

149 Toilet

So let’s go back to your practice and the toilets you have specified and make some assumptions and simple calculations:

– we guess your practice specified at least 50 toilets in the last year, 

– we also guess you specified more toilets that are closer in price to Type A than Type B,

Imagine if you changed the specification of those 50 toilets from Type A to Type B, with the full support of your clients who will still get a working toilet that look like the pictures above, you could have saved around (50 toilets x $1,500) $75,000. 

Type C

With $75,000 in the bank, this leads us to think about making the Type C toilet. This toilet includes not just the pan, but all the building and plumbing works needed to dispose of human waste safely, store water and wash hands.This toilet is the type that has been built in Nepal for a total cost of around $1500 per unit.


The money saved on each toilet re-specified in Australia could build one complete toilet and waste wastewater disposal system for a family in Nepal ….the toilet package includes:

– a ceramic toilet pan with all associated plumbing

– an inside toilet tap for dip flushing and an external tap for hand washing

– a 500 litre rainwater storage tank with associated roof, guttering and first flush rainwater diverter

– a septic tank or bio-gas system to safely treat the human waste 

– a toilet building with metal roof, gutter and door, brick walls, clothes hooks, toilet brush and insect meshed ventilation,

– the bio-gas system that combines human and animal waste to give 4 hours of free cooking fuel a day per family 

– training, employment and wages for a local Nepali construction team.

So by simply changing the toilet specification on an Australian project, we can invest the saved money into building a complete toilet and waste water treatment system where it is needed.

Your change in specification could mean 50 toilets built in Nepal. Your clients will still have working toilets in Australia and if you want to offer more choice, invest in facilities being built and improved in Bangladesh or the poorest parts of Johannesburg in South Africa.

This is a simple way to redistribute some resources from those of us lucky enough to  have options and choice to those who need toilets and the health benefits that follow.

Is there any firm of architects, building designers, builders, developers willing to try this for 1 year?  Even a $250 per toilet saving would be great contribution to those who have no toilets.

If you are tempted to give this a try, click here, and Healthabitat will provide all the back up information for you and your clients to consider the shift. 

With your help ….toilets can be made to fly to many different parts of the world!!!