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Building a Shed Style Doghouse with Air Conditioning

Updated on April 10, 2017
Papillon man profile image

Working with wood has been a pleasant diversion from Dale's computer career, and is an interest he learned from his father, a cabinet maker.

Serves as storage shed or doghouse

Finished shed/doghouse with air conditioner.
Finished shed/doghouse with air conditioner.

Introduction

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the design and construction of an insulated and air-conditioned building suitable for use as a doghouse, storage shed, music practice room, or a children's playhouse. The article is based upon my experience designing and building such a structure.

It would be a straightforward modification for a reader to drop the roof height a couple of feet and convert the front two feet of the building into a covered porch, thus giving a more traditional doghouse appearance. I built knowing that long-term, my building might be used more for storage than as a doghouse.

After reading this overview and viewing the project photos, if the reader has an interest in learning more, he or she can go to one or more related hubs (see the section, Other Hubs With Details for Various Parts of This Project, below) for more details, photos, tips, and lessons learned (so you can learn from my mistakes). These hubs will show and describe:

How to frame the floor, walls, and roof

How to frame the back wall for installing a window air conditioner

How to install T1-11 siding on the roof and walls

How to install insulation in the walls, floor, and roof and install a drop ceiling of expanded polystyrene

How to build an insulated people door with a large dog door installed in its lower part

How to install a thin utility plywood inside to protect dogs and insulation from each other

How to protect the building from the elements by using treated lumber and spar varnish in the appropriate places

For long term use of an air conditioner, television, computer, or possibly a space heater, additional expenditures should be made to have a licensed electrician provide a suitable electrical outlet in the building before it is finished. After a few months of use as a doghouse last summer, we are now using the building for storage.


More photos of finished shed/doghouse

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Close up of front with door open.  Corner trim still unvarnished.  T1-11 was stained before applying varnish.Close up of inside through door.Another view through door.Close up of front.Mr. Beagles in front.View from a back corner looking down.View from a back corner.One of the shelf supports.  A gap was left behind the shelf for air conditioner electrical cord.Shelf above air conditioner
Close up of front with door open.  Corner trim still unvarnished.  T1-11 was stained before applying varnish.
Close up of front with door open. Corner trim still unvarnished. T1-11 was stained before applying varnish.
Close up of inside through door.
Close up of inside through door.
Another view through door.
Another view through door.
Close up of front.
Close up of front.
Mr. Beagles in front.
Mr. Beagles in front.
View from a back corner looking down.
View from a back corner looking down.
View from a back corner.
View from a back corner.
One of the shelf supports.  A gap was left behind the shelf for air conditioner electrical cord.
One of the shelf supports. A gap was left behind the shelf for air conditioner electrical cord.
Shelf above air conditioner
Shelf above air conditioner

Motivation for building

We had three dogs, Riley, Mr. Beagles, and Bella, who had free access to our den/kitchen via a dog door. We had two old recliners that they would climb all over (Bella, our Papillon, would sleep on the very top of one). Then one day the recliners were replaced by an expensive and very nice love seat. The dog door was then blocked off and the dogs were only allowed inside when they could be directly supervised.

At about the same time, my son-in-law, who is in the Air Force, was given orders to transfer from Nebraska to Japan. My daughter and three grandsons were to go, too. But my daughter asked her mother and I to keep their new Chocolate Lab, Maggie, at our home in Las Vegas until all the requirements for international dog travel could be met. This can take months. Having lived with us in Vegas several years, and knowing that our dogs were now spending most of their time outside (and that our dog door was too small for a Lab anyway), our daughter asked if we could find a way between us to provide an air conditioned doghouse in time for the Las Vegas summer that was fast approaching. We said yes.

The doghouse was built and in use by the time it got really hot (you know, when you feel like your eyelashes are being seared off). Maggie was safely delivered to Japan a few months later. The expensive love seat has since been moved to a safe room, and Bella and Mr. Beagles are again able to use the dog door in the den/kitchen area of our home, at least for now. Sadly, though, Riley died while the doghouse was under construction. He was 15 years old.

Evaluating the options

We looked at four options.

First, buy an air-conditioned doghouse. Feasible at about $1000, but not big enough for four dogs. *Please see the note below added in November, 2014, concerning a less expensive option I was not able to find on the internet a few years ago when I did this research.

Second, buy a manufactured shed and install an air-conditioner. Feasible at about $1000, plus another $200 - $300 or more for an air-conditioner, extra framing to support the air conditioner, insulation, and interior paneling. The smallest sheds available were too big to fit anywhere in our yard that we would want it.

Third, build a large typical doghouse and install an air-conditioner. Cost estimate around $500, plus another $100 for an air-conditioner. The smallest room air-conditioner might freeze out the dogs in such a small space, and protecting the air-conditioner from the dogs (and vice versa) would be difficult.

Fourth, build a custom doghouse/small shed and install an air-conditioner. Cost estimate was over $1000, but by designing the building to be modular and movable (built on 4x4 skids, not on footings), we can take it with us when we move. My wife and I can stand up fully in the doghouse (we are both under 5'9”) and spend time with the dogs there. Cleanup is a matter of walking in with a broom, and shelves can be added for additional storage out of the dogs' reach. And it was certainly big enough for our four dogs.

We chose the fourth option.

*The link below is being added in November, 2014. Had I found this option a few years ago, I would have probably chosen it, and not built a custom doghouse. They use the same concept of a small room air conditioner inserted through the back wall. When the weather is really hot, and with a thermostat controlled air conditioner, there should be no worries about freezing out the dogs. The doghouses described in the website linked to below have a smaller height and therefore less volume to cool, so insulation may not make that much difference. Because zoning restrictions should not affect a doghouse, it can be placed on a patio close to an existing outdoor AC outlet, which is a big advantage. The cost is lower, and the work required is a whole lot less than what I put into my doghouse. The shingled roof is another plus.

Other design considerations

We wanted a structure that would look nice and be sturdy. We also wanted the look of natural wood. By staining the T1-11 siding but not the pine trim we achieved a nice two-tone look. If you use Oriented Strand Board (OSB), paint, and shingles instead of 5/8 inch T1-11 siding, stain, and varnish, you can save some money and still build a shed that looks good.

Another cost and labor saver would be to decrease both the height and length of the house by two feet as described in the introduction. Another option would be to scale down the height of one of the walls to four feet and to build a true shed roof instead of gabled. Placement of the air conditioner would probably change to the top of the higher wall and the drop ceiling would then need to be modified or eliminated.

Of course you could also scale up and build a very nice 8x8x8 foot shed with two or three more 4x8 sheets of T1-11 siding and one more 4x8 sheet of floor sheathing plus some more 2x3's and insulation, and another air conditioner. But in that case, option two, buying a manufactured shed and adding to it, may become more attractive.

If I had it to do over, I would think about using R-13 or better insulation for all but the drop ceiling and under the roof and floor. But even though it is not as good an insulator, the expanded polystyrene does provide an extra moisture barrier, so the decision might depend on the climate.

Before building this design, I did a lot of research on the internet, and combined ideas from a number of sources. Perhaps you will find a useful idea in this hub. But if you want more detailed explanation of how some part of this building was constructed, just refer to the appropriate related hub found in the section, Other Hubs with Details for Various Parts of This Project, below.

Some photos taken during construction

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bella and Maggie in doghouse under constructionBack wall after insulation installedA side wall partially filled with insulationView of ceiling showing concept of double insulation.  Used scraps of insulation to seal off attic so air conditioner could be used while installing insulation in walls.Trim over roof joint.  Note that there was a large plastic sheet draped over the rafters prior to installation of the roof sectionsFront just before installing the front sidingTo install heavy T1-11 siding by yourself you have to prepare a little support structure from which a short pry bar can be stepped on to ease the piece into positionA vinyl drop cloth was draped over the rafters to direct any leakage to the outside wallMaggie staked out her claim earlyAll seven rafters in placeInstalling the rafter assembly containing 5 of the 7 raftersRafter assembly just before it was lifted up to set on top of wall framesAll four walls framed and in placeVerifying that the frames for the back and side walls fit properlyVerifying that the air conditioner fits into the area framed for it in the back wallRiley and Bella come to check out the frame for the first wallInsulation installed under the floorFloor assembly prior to installing insulationPlywood floor sheathing attached to floor joistsFloor joists and bands attached to 4x4 skids, all pressure treated lumber
Bella and Maggie in doghouse under construction
Bella and Maggie in doghouse under construction
Back wall after insulation installed
Back wall after insulation installed
A side wall partially filled with insulation
A side wall partially filled with insulation
View of ceiling showing concept of double insulation.  Used scraps of insulation to seal off attic so air conditioner could be used while installing insulation in walls.
View of ceiling showing concept of double insulation. Used scraps of insulation to seal off attic so air conditioner could be used while installing insulation in walls.
Trim over roof joint.  Note that there was a large plastic sheet draped over the rafters prior to installation of the roof sections
Trim over roof joint. Note that there was a large plastic sheet draped over the rafters prior to installation of the roof sections
Front just before installing the front siding
Front just before installing the front siding
To install heavy T1-11 siding by yourself you have to prepare a little support structure from which a short pry bar can be stepped on to ease the piece into position
To install heavy T1-11 siding by yourself you have to prepare a little support structure from which a short pry bar can be stepped on to ease the piece into position
A vinyl drop cloth was draped over the rafters to direct any leakage to the outside wall
A vinyl drop cloth was draped over the rafters to direct any leakage to the outside wall
Maggie staked out her claim early
Maggie staked out her claim early
All seven rafters in place
All seven rafters in place
Installing the rafter assembly containing 5 of the 7 rafters
Installing the rafter assembly containing 5 of the 7 rafters
Rafter assembly just before it was lifted up to set on top of wall frames
Rafter assembly just before it was lifted up to set on top of wall frames
All four walls framed and in place
All four walls framed and in place
Verifying that the frames for the back and side walls fit properly
Verifying that the frames for the back and side walls fit properly
Verifying that the air conditioner fits into the area framed for it in the back wall
Verifying that the air conditioner fits into the area framed for it in the back wall
Riley and Bella come to check out the frame for the first wall
Riley and Bella come to check out the frame for the first wall
Insulation installed under the floor
Insulation installed under the floor
Floor assembly prior to installing insulation
Floor assembly prior to installing insulation
Plywood floor sheathing attached to floor joists
Plywood floor sheathing attached to floor joists
Floor joists and bands attached to 4x4 skids, all pressure treated lumber
Floor joists and bands attached to 4x4 skids, all pressure treated lumber

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    • Papillon man profile image
      Author

      Dale Tinklepaugh 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thanks, glad you like it, and thanks for commenting. You remind me that I have an unfinished Hub on finishing the roof, and two or three more Hubs to write about finishing the walls, in case anyone is interested in the construction details.

    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

      Haha this is a crazy idea! I love it, my dogs would love to have this little hut in our backyard.

    • Papillon man profile image
      Author

      Dale Tinklepaugh 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      jabelufiroz, thank you very much. I will soon begin working on a hub describing how I framed the walls.

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 4 years ago from India

      Good work. Keep sharing. Voted up.