Introduction: Kid Sized Lego Haunted House
My overall goal was to recreate the Lego haunted house in a 1 inch equals 1 foot scale, and have it done in time to bring with me to a Halloween Campout at East Harbor State Park on October 4th, 2013. This meant, assemble the whole set, take measurements, calculate out the size of a Lego, and turn it into a giant kid sized version made of wood, foam, paint, and fasteners, and finish before October 1st. Balance that with a newborn son, and I was cutting it close.
Here is a video of the Lego Haunted House set up at East Harbor State Park for the Halloween Campout on October 4-6, 2013.
So without further delay, here is my journey.
Step 1: The Actual LEGO Model
Pictured here is the put together actual LEGO Haunted House. There were 2064 pieces to assemble to make the LEGO version.
When building the Kid sized version, I needed to reference off of the model for scale and details, but different from the model, I also had to make it able to be de-assembled and moved in sections, as it is a bit too big to pick up and move. I can't put the giant version in my front yard all year long, as it will only be there during October. It was built behind my home and will need to be de-assembled to move. So the engineering feat begins to make it not only look like the original, but also be modular.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
This is a fairly complicated build to get all of the pieces gathered, cut, assembled, painted, and sealed. Below is a fairly comprehensive list of what I used.
Circular Saw with Kreg Jig
Belt (handheld and mounted)
Sand paper and sanding sponges
16 ga Brad Nail Gun (Pneumatic)
Staple Gun (Pneumatic)
Saw horses and supports
Paint roller and pan
Ladders (6 foot and 8 foot)
Capspray HVLP paint gun
Hot glue gun
Safety Glasses or Goggles
Dust mask (for sanding foam)
3/16th underlayment board
1.5, 2, and 3 inch foam board, (Craigslist, Home Depot, Construction left overs)
1x4s ( CUL lumber from Home depot)
1x5s ( CUL lumber from Home depot)
1x6s ( CUL lumber from Home depot)
Great stuff foam
PL 300 Foam adhesive
Super 77 spray adhesive
ALEX plus caulk
Paint (Mistints, left overs from previous projects)
Screws: -- 2.5", drywall 1.25" drywall, 1.25" Hardibacker
3 1/2" 16 Penny nails
3/16th staples (staple gun - non pneumatic)
Magnets (for hidden door closure)
Skeletons - miniature sized
Craft foam board (1/8th inch)
Hinges (hidden door)
Black spray paint (to mark screws on the inside that needed removed when de-assembling)
Pool noodles (2.5" diameter)
Recycled Material collected over 8 months.
cardboard tubes from a D size printer - 3 3/8" x 36" Recycled from work
Plastic caps from printer tubes
Great stuff foam caps ( 24 from projects over the year)
Jiff peanut butter jars
1/2 inch PVC scrap ( left over from the fence build)
Clear plastic hard shell stuff (from the front covers of Christmas card boxes)
I tried to shop for damaged materials at reduced costs at Home Depot in their CUL lumber when possible. I also grabbed mistints from both Home Depot and Lowes for 5 dollars a gallon vs 30 to keep costs down.
The foam board came from multiple sources: some purchased full price because I needed it, others at reduced prices off Craigslist, and last - some free from a construction job I am on as it was being tossed at the end of the job.
Step 3: Determining the Scale and Size
One of the goals of this build was to scale the LEGO model up from an inch of LEGO equaling a foot of build material. That would make the house about 7 feet wide, 7 feet deep with porch and 14 feet tall.
A single LEGO block is 5/16th inches wide and 3/8th inches tall.
So transferring that into how many LEGO blocks fit in one inch and sizing it to one foot, you get an over sized LEGO block of 3 3/4 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches tall. This does not include the LEGO protrusion that locks the blocks into place. For the most part, I don't need those as this is held into place by screws and staples. But as I will need them at times, the protrusion is 3/4 inches tall and 2 1/4 inches across.
5/16th inch becomes 3 3/4"
3/8th inch becomes 4 1/2"
With the scale determined, the overall dimensions of the model is as follows
Base Width: # Blocks 18 From 5.625" To: 67.5" or 5' 7 1/2 "
Base Length: # Blocks 22 From: 6.875" To: 82.5" or 6 feet 10 1/2 "
Height of Main Roof: # Blocks 26 From: 9.75" To: 117" or 9' 9"
Height to top of high roof: # Blocks 36 From: 13.5" To: 162" or 13' 6"
This doesn't include the porch, the jut out upper floors, the kitchen entrance, or chimney, just the base dimensions......
Step 4: Support Posts and Beginning Facade
Although I need the building to be light weight, it also has to be structurally sound against winds and weather and kids leaning on it. It is not built to last for years as this is a display but still built to last a while.
2x4s along with 2x2s were screwed together (cheaper than a 2x6 and 2x4 and I had extra laying around) to make the corner posts.
Printer tubes were glued in place with Great stuff foam and held until dried with screws on the ends. This is for the visible posts on the corners of the build. After building the first set of 4, I chose to pre-paint the second set for the upper front jut out on the house. Painting this two colors after the fact was not fun.
The support post height was 7' 6 inches tall. Each opening for the tubes is 22.5 inches so the tubes were left long but positioned correctly.
The outside Facade pieces have windows at the same height. To help with ensuring they were all the same size and the right height, I clamped multiple pieces together and cut 4 at once. It is much easier to accurately cut out the windows and door openings while they are laying flat vs mounted to the structure. The Windows were cut out, as well as the opening to see the corner posts (Printer tubes). See pictures.
Step 5: Base Frame
The base of the whole haunted house is framed in. The 4 sides were screwed to the 4 posts 8 inches on center. These screws will come out when de-assembled to move it. ( As the project came together, several screws had to be moved as they were covered with permanent pieces on the outside.)
Once screwed together, 1x4s were cut to length and placed top and bottom of each panel for structural support. These were stapled in place with 3/4 inch staples and a lot of them. Other supports were also added as needed. These will be permanent but also allow the structure to be moved and stored.
Step 6: Foam Windows
There are 12 full windows on the Haunted house, and a few partials. I am not building the partials as those are still under construction when done as that is part of the theme. As the panels are going to be disassembled to move and store, I didn't want to permanently attach the windows to the panels. The foam would get damaged and the windows wouldn't hold up. So they were designed from the beginning to be removable. This meant gluing a 1x2 to the back of the side rails of the windows to be able to screw into.
The windows were built out of 1 1/2 inch foam, 2 inch foam, 1x2 boards, Foam glue, Caps from Great stuff foam, and some paint.
The Side rails had to be 3 3/4 inch wide and depth. Since they don't sell 1 3/4 foam, and I didn't want to glue together 1 inch, 2 inch, and 3/4 inch foam to make it work, I cut down a piece of 2 inch foam on the table saw to get he 1 3/4 needed. The 1/4 inch cut off then was used for the arched pieces of the porch supports.
The caps were counter sunk into the foam two ways. The top was cut in with an existing cap with a serrated edge. The bottom was drilled in with a drill press and glued. The problem became glue does not like to hold to the shiny plastic. Even roughed up, the glue came off when using Gorilla Glue, Great stuff foam, and PL300 in an attempt to get them to stick. Silicone finally did the trick to get them to hold.
The pieces were individually painted before assembled as the windows are a mix of grey and black.
The triangle toppers were cut at a later time as they matched the profile of the roof and would be made from the extra cut offs.
Step 7: Front Porch
The front porch is made up of a whole bunch of components, from posts, to rails, to floor board, to ceiling to support pieces, and an arched doorway facade. This was the first of many times I had to make larger than life individual LEGO blocks to attach.
The blocks were made out of 3/16th underlayment board, 1x4 CUL lumber from Home depot, 1 1/2 foam, PL 300 glue, and a ton of staplegun staples.
The blocks shaped like LEGO heads on top of the posts are actually Jiff Peanut butter jars. Unfortunately, the jars are about 2 inches too tall for what I wanted but the rest of the shape and size is perfect, meaning I needed to cut them. I found out that the jars do not hold up well when put through a chop saw or a band saw. Both split the jars and cracked them. Luckily I have extra, as I have collected them for 5 years and put screws in them in my shop.
So I decided to fill them with Great stuff foam. That didn't go as planned. The foam swelled up just fine, but sealed the opening as it expanded which, then left the inside of the jar air tight and would not allow the rest of the foam to cure. A day later, I cut into the side of each jar to allow it to breathe. I also took the top foam off as well. The foam cured against the cut and sealed again. The next day, I cut small grooves the the bottom. Same thing happened. Day 3 the foam had dried enough that I could cut further into the side with the chop saw. I put a half way slice into the side. This expanded some more foam and distorted the container.
After 5 days it finally all dried. I cut apart the jars, messed with gluing them back together, then drilled a hole through the center to insert a piece of PVC that I should have done to begin with. Not sure how I would do it next time but I won't be doing it the same again.
The jars were mounted to printer tubes, block frames stapled to the bottom, and the plastic tube ends stapled to the porch deck. The posts are then removable but hold in place. The PVC tip through the peanut butter jars held the post tops in place against the blocks mounted to the porch roof.
A large sheet of 1 1/2 inch foam was glued to the porch base and the porch roof for the depth needed according to the model. Technically it is 3/16th over the size because of the backer board but close enough for me and I was not going to trim down a giant piece of foam for 3/16th of an inch.
Step 8: Front Jut Out
The second and third floor jut out was built separately and lifted into place, attached with screws on the base frame and kept removable. This jut out is 7 1/2 feet tall, 30 inches wide and 11 1/4 inch deep at the base but 29 inches deep at the top.
It was designed to allow the upper roof (in another step) to set on the top but be fully supported. The side rails here were pre-painted before assembly. I learned after the first one was so difficult to paint. The rails were screwed together the same way as the whole base structure to ensure easy dis-assembly.
It definitely takes two people to lift the jut section up into place. This was the only time I had to have a hand moving a piece of the puzzle.
Once in place, it was attached through the base frame with 10 screws. It will be supported across the top of the base as well to ensure it doesn't flex and the roof pieces can be attached.
Step 9: Chimney
The chimney is 15 inches wide and 7 1/2 inches deep. In the model, it is used to hinge the model open to see the inside. I added hinges to the chimney as well but not for the same reason. After working for 3 weeks inside and out of the house going through the tiny 15x22 doors, I decided I had had enough. I cut the lower section of the chimney off, added a hinge plate and some hinges, reinforced the side of the wall, and cut in a 14 1/2 x 40 inch door opening. Now getting into the house is much easier to work on things. Plus I can now attach the porch leading to the kitchen (if there was one like in the model), as it is foam and would not support the weight of going in and out.
The chimney hinges closed and blocks the entire entryway from view. NeoDye magnets were used to latch it shut against some screw heads. Unless you know what you are looking for, it doesn't look conspicuous.
Step 10: Roof Supports
In order to get the roof pieces to stay in place, roof supports are going to be important. Unfortunately, the Model has 46 of them surrounding the roof. In order to make them support, they need to be wood, which means make a hollow box in a triangle shape 46 times. Each box uses 5 pieces. So 230 pieces to cut, 12 staples per block x 46 = 552 staples, and 2 hours to assemble. The total size of the support is 3 3/4 wide and 4 1/2 tall. All of the supports were stapled permanently to the base frame and front jut out.
Before attaching, they had to be painted first. To make it go quicker, I stacked them all up and sprayed them all at once. Then just turned them and lined them up to spray the the third side.The rest doesn't need painted as it will be covered
A line was drawn on the roof edge to ensure the blocks are correctly mounted at the proper height. This line was 4 1/2 inches from the top. Then 3 or 4 more staples per block to attach, while holding square, on a 6 foot ladder, inside the house, hoping I don't miss.......
Step 11: Lower Roof
The roof is basically 3 individual components (minus the framing to hold it together).
You have the Overhang surrounding the whole building, The Triangular piece which connects the roof to the overhang, and you have the black roof itself.
The Overhang is made of 3 inch foam x 7 1/2 inches deep. It is cut in individual pieces to surround the whole building. The front sections of the Overhang were glued together to make one bigger piece The rest of the sections were left unglued and were connected by pieces of 3/4 PVC pipe used as oversized dowels.
The triangular piece was constructed out of 2 pieces of 1 1/2 inch foam glued together. The height needed to be 3 inches and the base 3 1/2 inches. Once glued, the pieces were then cut from corner to corner with a band saw to get the triangular shape. From here they were cut to length painted, and then mounted to the overhang foam with PL300 glue.
The actual roof was also made from 3 inch foam and is 30 inches tall. The pieces were cut to length taking 7 1/2 inches off from top to bottom to create the angle needed (width of two blocks). The foam pieces were then run on a table saw set to 1/2 inch high blade 15 inches in, to create the groove needed to add dimension to the roof. A hand belt sander was then used to sand down the lower section of the roof panels at an angle to create the layered look.
The panels were painted then mounted to building using under supports made from 3/4 inch PVC. Sections were cut, holes were drilled, and it is basically like a large dowel rod through the sections of foam. each corner has 2 in it, and one or two per section below screwed into the base to hold it together.
Step 12: High Roof
The Mensard roof ( that is the taper design to the roof structure - Google is your friend here) was a bit of a challenge. The challenge was create a solid roof cap, tapered correctly, get the multi layer look needed, and mount it 11 feet in the air.
The dimensions are 30 x 29 at the base, and 15 x 14 at the top. The Height is 30 inches.
Great stuff foam was used hold the foam board together. The 3 inch thick foam was the material of choice, so it could be carved down with a belt sander.
The base Overhang was also made from the 3 inch foam. It was 45 x 44 inches. The Triangular sections connecting the two was made the same as the lower roof. An inside wooden frame was built to support the upper Mensard roof section.
Everything was pre-painted before being assembled. The Overhang and Triangular section were glued together with PL 300. The Mensard section sets on top and is not attached. A rope holds through the Mensard section down to the jut out to keep it tied down and safe from the weather.
Once installed, the model now stands at 13' 6"
Step 13: Details Details Details.....
Adding the LEGO protrusions that lock the blocks in place are important to complete the look. I cut foam noodles you would use in a pool into 3/4 inch discs. These were then glued in place with PL300, the centers filled with great stuff foam, cut smooth once dried, and painted the proper color.
I have approximately 100 of these discs painted and attached to the build.
The porch roof which is also a balcony deck sort of, had to be finished with the surrounding rail/spikes/things. With a bunch of foam cut, Electrical PVC, Foam Noodles, Printer tube caps, and Solo cups, they were put together to create the small pillars on the porch as well.
Step 14: Finishing Touches
The broken out plaster looking blocks had to be hand painted on. The broken foundation blocks were also hand painted in.
Broken steps were added to the front as well as the side by the kitchen porch door
The front and side doors were cut out and attached
Windows were added ( cut up plastic that covered Christmas card boxes)
Tar paper put up to block the view inside the windows.
The skeleton crew was added to show the house is still under construction. A sign added to the yard for the Construction crew
The Lego men were crafted out of foam board, pool noodles, some wood framing, and a 6 inches of foam carved for the head. Paper mache clay was made and used to create the hair and other elements. Probably need an instructable on those too but there are better built Lego mini figs out there :)
Step 15: Lessons Learned
Here are a few things I learned from this build, pieces of knowledge if you will that will help you out if you do something similar.
Contact Cement that says it is ok for foam is not. It eats it miserably and will ruin the pieces you put it on.
Super 77 spray holds great on foam for a short period of time. I assembled all windows with it and they have systematically fallen apart over 3 weeks. They are now all being re-glued with PL300 each time a piece falls off. When I took the windows down to bring the build to a campground for the weekend, gravity no longer helped the top of the windows and 5 more pieces fell off.
Super 77 sprayed on both sides of the foam, let dry, and then PL 300 put inbetween works great. The spray adhesive holds two pieces together long enough for the glue to dry, unless it is over 80 degrees. At that point it wants to slide apart in a sticky mess.
AKA don't dry it in the sun if you can help it.
Spray foam, Gorilla Glue, and PL300 will not stick for very long to a Great stuff foam cap, even if roughed up. Silicone caulk does though.
Don't fill a peanut butter jar with great stuff foam and expect it to dry. It will never cure properly without a ton of cuts into the jar.
Homemade paper clay is hard to work with your first time around. Don't work on a final project the first time. Trial something else first. As well, it likes to mold rather easily. I think I will add a mold inhibitor next time.
Step 16: Happy Halloween 2013
Hope you enjoy and have a safe Halloween Season this year.
Thanks for looking at my project. According to my wife, I am going to have to rebuild this in a few years with 1/2 plywood and real supports to make the ultimate playhouse for my son, with a true second floor he can climb into. So maybe in a few years, you will see a permanent playhouse version of this Haunted House. Who knows.
Until then, the Skeleton crew will just keep on building.
Step 17: Halloween Campout
We attended the Halloween Campout at East Harbor State Park. We set up the fence, lighting, sound, graveyard, and Lego Haunted House. We began set up at 10am and finished the wiring and lighting around 8pm. 10 hours to set up and about 5 hours to tear down Sunday Morning. I used the fence I created ( Instructable here- https://www.instructables.com/id/Halloween-Cemetery-Fence/ ) and my LED plug and play lighting (Instructable here- https://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Plug-and-Play-LED-Lighting/ )
Here are a few pictures from the event. It rained for 6 hours on Saturday and our campsite filled with water. It was 5 inches deep in the center and the Lego house had 3 inches of water inside of it. We somehow managed to get all of the wires, cables, safe from the water and kept sound and lighting and fog going.
The Actual Lego Haunted House was put in a glass case with color changing LEDs above it to show what the original was compared to the replica behind it. I had the oversized Dracula standing next to it for full scale reference.
The chimney had fog coming out of a dryer duct run up through it. It also had a red CFL bulb mounted toward the top which made it look like it was on fire when it fired off.
I knew there was a contest for decorating your campsite, but I didn't realize it actually had a prize. I figured I got a slushy and a pat on the back if we placed. We actually won first place and got 2 free nights of camping and a gift card to a local restaurant. Better than a slushy for sure :)