Framing the Walls for a Shed Style Dog House with Air Conditioning
By placing the dog door in the bottom of the human door, I was able to avoid framing for two doors when laying out the walls. If your largest dog is much smaller than a lab, then you could easily put the dog door between two studs on either side wall.
The back wall has an opening for the air conditioner with extra studs (technically referred to as "cripples" in official framing nomenclature) underneath to support the weight. The side and end wall frames were designed to interlock with each other and with the roof frame.
Each wall was framed using nails, but the walls were connected to the floor and to each other with either lag screws or with exterior screws. So the building can be disassembled in a modular fashion without having to pry out nails.
Another option would be to drop the height of the walls by a couple of feet or so. This would reduce the amount of materials and therefore the cost, and would also reduce the amount of effort to build. The interior would be cozier and more efficient to air condition. The trade-off would be that you would not be able to stand up inside unless you are under four feet tall. If you are not and still want to reduce the height, then you might consider insulating and finishing the walls inside before adding the roof. Just make sure you secure a waterproof tarp or something over the walls when not working, in case it rains before you finish.
Photos showing framing of the back wallClick thumbnail to view full-size
Framing the back wall
The photos above show different views of the back wall frame. The diagram that I used was scanned and is shown below. There are two notable features in this design. One is the window-like opening for the air conditioner, and the other is the provision for the overlapping of the single top plate of the back wall over the lower board of the double top plates of the side walls. The upper board of the top plate of the side wall will actually be part of the roof frame assembly.
The air conditioner is a very small one, and will eventually need to be replaced. If this model is no longer available, the replacement could easily be bigger. One thing I did not want to have to do is to completely take apart, reframe, and rebuild the back wall just because a replacement air conditioner is to big to fit the opening.
For this reason, a 2 x 4 collar has been included around all sides of the window. Any or all of the boards of the collar can be unscrewed and removed if needed to make room for installing a larger replacement. I originally planned to have a 2 x 3 under the 2x4 collar, but decided to use another 2x4 there in case the lower 2 x 4 of the collar needs to be removed. This gives a little wider base to support the weight of a possible larger replacement air conditioner. This collar was attached later, just before the air conditioner was installed, and so does not show up in many of the photos. In my mind, the collar is not part of the wall frame, but is part of the air conditioner installation.
The dimensions of the air conditioner are 12 inches high by 16 inches wide. I chose to plan the stud locations such that the width of the opening would be 16 1/4 inches. I did this because even though I tried to pick really straight 2x3 boards for these studs, there was a possibility that the studs could be a little crooked, and I would rather have a little too much room than not enough. One can always add a little of the insulating material that came with the air conditioner to fill a gap.
The depth of the air conditioner is 13 inches, with about 10 inches going through the front of the opening before the unit catches and stops on the edge. You can see on my sketch of the back wall another little drawing (not meant to be part of the same sketch) where I had originally planned to build a little support structure for the protruding part of the air conditioner. This proved unnecessary because only about six inches protruded beyond the 2x4 collar, and the unit was designed so that its center of gravity would be located over the windowsill. It is very important to make sure that the air conditioner is installed sloping downward away from the wall so that condensation will flow out and drip on the ground, not into the building.
Drawing of back wall frame
Photos showing framing of the side wallsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Framing the side walls
Both side walls are basic and simple: 8 feet long with studs on 16 inch centers. The only complication is the interlocking relationship with the back wall and eventually with the front wall. The studs will be 1 1/2 inch shorter than those of the back wall to allow room for the lower top plate. In my case the studs for the back wall were 5 feet 9 inches high, and those for the side walls were 5 feet 7 1/2 inches.
The weight of the roof is resting entirely on the side walls, so a single top plate is sufficient for the front and back walls. In addition to being supported by a double top plate on the side walls, the rafters are going to be lined up perfectly with the studs in the walls beneath.
Photos of raising and anchoring the first three wallsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Raising and anchoring the first three walls
As a computer programmer, I have found it best to develop a program in an incremental fashion, making sure that each piece works and that it integrates properly with what has been developed before. This is as opposed to the approach where you develop everything first and then try to figure out all the reasons why it doesn't work. I have always been annoyed by people who say you should develop a computer program the same way you build a house, namely by developing a complete design first, and then building exactly what is specified in the design.
So, in an ironic twist, I decided to build the house (albeit a doghouse) the same way I develop computer programs, namely building it a little at a time, and then making sure it all fits and works together as I go. So I raised the three walls that were framed so far, and then took measurements based on the partial structure so that the front wall frame would match reality, and not some theoretical design. The bottom plates were secured to the floor structure using lag screws and washers. Holes were pre-drilled just before each screw was driven in
I would have raised just two walls to begin with, but two walls, even perpendicular ones, would be too unstable. Temporarily bracing the two walls would make it more stable, but I thought it made sense to build the third wall and be done with it. Just a note: it is surprising how much play there is in the three walls even after they are anchored to the floor and interconnected, as a strong wind will cause the whole structure to lean over noticeably. But as soon as siding is installed on the rear wall, that play stops. The siding adds a diagonal bracing effect. One just needs to make sure everything is square before securing the second screw in the siding.
I did make one little mistake that resulted in my having to do several more calculations later for the roof. For some reason, the side walls ended up being half an inch further apart at the front than at the back. It was already too late to do anything about it when I noticed, but I remember thinking it just meant I had a little more space inside than I had planned. But it also meant that the rafters had to be a little bit longer for the front part of the roof than for the back, and therefore that the front part of the roof would be slightly higher than the back, although not noticeably so to the casual observer.
If I had it to do over, I would have laid out some 2 x 3's on the floor to simulate the wall placement, and then moved them around until I had them perfectly square and either flush with or protruding slightly over the plywood and 2 x 4 floor structure (so the siding can extend down below the floor plywood in order to protect it from water). Then I would have traced the inside of the footprint on the plywood to use as a guide when attaching the wall frames to the floor. By this method the walls would be perfectly square, and all the rafters could be cut the same length using one set of trigonometric calculations.
Another lesson learned is that the big lag screws that I used to attach the overlapping top plates of the back and rear walls may split the wood, even if holes are pre-drilled. So for the front wall, I used a couple of exterior screws instead of a single lag screw. I should have pre-drilled the holes for the exterior screws because I still had some splitting, as you can see in the next, and final, section.
Photos of framing and anchoring the front wallClick thumbnail to view full-size
Framing and anchoring the front wall
The front wall was framed to contain a human door 24 inches wide. The walls on either side of the door are about 1 foot wide (the front wall has an extra half inch in it somewhere that shouldn't be there in theory). Each section of the wall is anchored to the floor by a lag screw and washer, for which holes were pre-drilled to reduce likelihood of splitting. No bottom plate was placed under the door itself, in order to facilitate cleaning. The siding on the door will extend down below the floor level to keep rainwater out. See the photos above. The overlapping top plates were connected with exterior screws instead of lag screws. Pre-drilling holes for the exterior screws would probably have prevented the splitting that you can see in the one photo.
And that concludes the wall framing section of this project. This has been a long hub, but presumably if you are reading it you are interested in some or all of the details presented here.
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- Framing the Roof for a Shed Style Dog House with Air Conditioning
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