Building a Shed Style Doghouse with Air Conditioning
Serves as storage shed or doghouse
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/doghouseClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
This looked like an excellent option in 2014. The link was updated in 2017.
- A commercially available air conditioned dog house
This package includes a painted interior and exterior, painted trim, shingled roof, a dog door, vinyl tile flooring, removable walls, interior drain holes, an interior light and of course A/C.
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 constructionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Is the information presented in this hubpage presented in a clear manner?
Other Hubs With Details for Various Parts of This Project
- Building an Insulated Floor for an Air Conditioned Dog House
Article with photos showing construction of a 4 x 8 foot insulated floor for an air conditioned doghouse or shed.
- Framing the Walls for a Shed Style Dog House with Air Conditioning
Article with photos showing how to frame the walls for a 4 x 8 foot insulated and air conditioned shed for use as a dog house, storage unit, playhouse, or music practice room.
- Framing the Roof for a Shed Style Dog House with Air Conditioning
Article with photos showing how to frame the roof for a 4 x 8 foot insulated and air conditioned shed for use as a dog house, storage unit, playhouse, or music practice room.
- Decking and Insulating the Roof of an Air Conditioned Dog House
Article with photos showing how to install T1-11 siding on the roof of a doghouse or shed, and how to install expanded polystyrene insulation between the rafters.
- Installing T1-11 Siding on the Walls of an Air Conditioned Dog House
Article with photos showing how to install T1-11 siding on the walls of an air conditioned dog house or shed.
- Installing a Drop Ceiling and Insulation in an Air Conditioned Dog House
Article with photos showing how to install outside trim, install a drop-in ceiling cut from a sheet of polystyrene insulation, how to insulate the walls, panel the interior, and install a shelf.
A very informative website for shed construction
I found the webpage linked to above to be the most useful.