Saturday, August 4, 2012

DIY Mini Ranch Style Doghouse

Allen Lau (aka my handy husband) finally agreed to write a post for the nifty nest. Maybe he'll build us a log cabin next!

A mini ranch style doghouse made of . . .


a pile of scrap wood!
It's been a couple of years since I demolished and removed a built-in storage chest from our bedroom. Because I'm somewhat obsessive-compulsive about not wasting, I hung on to quite a pile of wooden planks and mini posts and beams. This stockpile of wood sat in the garage for a while and then finally found a place in the narrow alley of the side yard near the trash bin, where it has taken on many season's worth of rain and dirt. Reptiles and snails have even made a home for themselves under this pile of wood. The day finally came when I put this wood to good use! I knew my hoarding ways would pay off. We recently adopted a new puppy, and I thought it would be great to build her a little shelter from the elements when she goes outside to play. I did a quick search and found a nice and simple plan from Sunset for a mini ranch style doghouse. Limited by my raw materials and whatever else I scraped up in the house, the following is my adaptation of the Sunset design:

Create a solid foundation by laying some 2 x 4s (in this case 1-1/2 x 2s) as the base, cut planks to desired length, lay the planks perpendicular, and screw down planks to form a stable platform. My dimensions were around a 3' x 3'  square.
I made some quick calculations using high school math to figure out the heights of the front and back vertical support beams so that we end up with a roof line that has about a 15° slope from the front to back.


On one side, add the vertical beams and anchor to the platform with some right-angle braces for reinforced strength. The braces are not required, as the side walls attach to the platform, and the vertical beams give the structure enough rigidity. Nail or screw in planks on the outside of the platform and support beams, working your way up from the bottom. Do the same thing for the other side of the doghouse.
For the front of the house, add a rectangular frame for the doorway. Here I made the opening 12" x 18". 
Cut planks to length and screw or nail to front of the house, working your way up from bottom and around the entryway. Notice the 2-inch gap just below the very top plank at the top. I intentionally left this open for ventilation and to allow a bit of light to come through. Also, because I didn't have a table saw and didn't want the trouble of ripping a narrow strip of wood to fit this gap, I decided to let the gap remain.
Create the removable roof. I thought having a removable roof was a great idea from the Sunset plans. The removable roof allows for easy access for any future cleanup. Basically do the same thing as the platform in the first step. Here take care to ensure the support beams that hold together the planks fit around the four vertical support beams. I saved the worst wood pieces for the roof, as they will be topped off by roof shingles anyway.

The completed doghouse! Yay!

Add a coat of primer, then a coat of desired color paint. Enlist the help of your kids. I just found some old interior wall paint  in the garage. I would suggest using exterior wall paint if you have any lying around. 

Add a swing door that doubles as an awning when opened. I wanted a door so that we can close up the house at night to prevent any unwanted animals from making themselves at home. I was very proud of myself for recovering two old hinges from a broken screen door that's also been collecting dust in our side yard alleyway. Add roof shingles to the roof for weatherproofing.

Luna checks out her new digs.

Note:
I did end up having to go to the hardware store to pick up a few items: shingles, roofing nails, galvanized steel deck screws, galvanized nails for outdoors, some right-angled braces. The total cost was about $50 and about 20 hours of sweat and labor.

Tips:
  • Instead of buying tools for one-off jobs, borrow from friends and neighbors. 
  • Before screwing in planks, especially near the ends of planks or board pieces, pre-drill starter holes that are slightly smaller than the size of the screws; this will prevent any of the wood from splitting.
  • Use the good clean sides of the wood for the inside of the house so that your precious pet will not get injured by splinters. Try to remove any dirt and mold that accumulates on the wood. Remove any finishes from old paint or stains so that your pet doesn't ingest them.
  • Use screws and nails that are long enough for the material but not so long that they protrude into the interior where your pet may get scraped and injured by the sharp tips.