How to Build a Homestead: DIY Bucket Culvert & Installing it!

May 26, 2019


If you are new to this blog, or series of How to Build a Homestead, our family of four is building an off grid tiny house and self sufficient homestead in the Canadian wilderness and we are sharing our projects and what we learn along the way with others who want to do the same!

After doing some research on having a culvert installed on our property, and the math, we opted to make our own and install it ourselves. In our neck of the woods, a culvert costs around $500 and up depending on the size, having it delivered would have been around $150 and installation another $300. Basically, we would have to work off the homestead for about a week in order to pay for a Culvert to be installed by someone else so we decided to do it ourselves instead!


DIY 12 inch Culvert made from repurposed 5 gallon buckets


Can I make my own culvert?
Yes, you CAN make your own culvert and in this post I am going to share with you how we built and installed our own culvert using 5 gallon buckets and just a few screws. 

NOTE: If you are using this culvert at the entrance to your property, be sure to check your local by-laws, if any.

When we were searching for a property to buy for our off grid tiny house build and homestead we had a list of <<<LINK>>>things to consider, our wants, and must-haves to keep in mind while shopping. On the top of our list was that the property we purchased needed to be located in an area where we could get away with these kinds of things, and be able to build off grid and tiny! Ultimately, you need to do your research and know your by-laws, if any, before you dive into your making your own and installing a handmade culvert.

How we made our own culvert..

Because our ditch doesn’t have a large flow of water during heavy rainfall, we easily made a culvert out of 5 gallon food grade buckets to create a culvert 12 inches wide and 18 feet long. If you have a lot of water running through your ditch in heavy rainfall, this may not work for you and you may need to install a traditional culvert purchased from the Department of Transportation. But don’t let that discourage you! You can still install your culvert on your own to save money.

First you will need to find used 5 gallon buckets that have been used for food rather than chemicals, because we don’t want the chemicals to leach into our waterways, this is incredibly important! We searched the online classifieds for “used buckets for sale” and found a man who works in the food industry and sells the leftover buckets to earn an extra income. We took 70 buckets! You could also buy new food grade buckets but this will be much more expensive, and less environmentally friendly, than using recycled buckets.

Making holes for the jigsaw blade in buckets for a culvert!


Using a drill, we put a small hole in the bottom of each bucket to fit a jigsaw blade and used the jigsaw to cut the bottom of each bucket out, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of bucket bottom along the edges for extra strength rather than cutting off the whole bottom.



We stacked our buckets together, laying them along the side of the ditch to ensure the length of the buckets and culvert was long enough for our needs. We only used 60 buckets for an 18 foot long culvert. You may need more or less buckets depending on how well they stack together.

Once we had enough buckets, we attached them together just drilling 1inch screws on every third bucket then we were ready to install it in the ditch.

Attaching the buckets together for the culvert!

Installing the bucket culvert…

To prepare the ditch for the culvert, we simply used a shovel to create well, or groove along the bottom for the culvert to sit in and sloped it in the direction of natural water flow. We gently rolled the culvert into place and once we were satisfied on the location, we started to cover it up with earth and clay soil from a berm, or hill, we needed to remove to be able to lay down rock for a driveway. This berm was about three feet high, five feet deep and in our way so we used this to cover up the culvert but you could also use gravel to cover it if you didn’t already have materials available.


Make your own DIY Culvert! Step by Step how to with pictures!

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