Introduction: The Dog House Project 2.0
Autumn of last year (2019) we adopted a stray female dog. She’s an older golden retriever and doesn’t handle cold well. It was time to have another go at building an earth sheltered dog house.
The concept remained the same, except that there was no side wall to lean on. It had to be a full arch structure. I also made a couple of tweaks to the original concept along the way.
Here’s how it went.
Over the years the earth had settled and the initial dog house for the first dog looked like this (we had to cover it because of the turkeys).
I had to dig up the dirt to make room for another house, and to check the condition of the PE sheets underneath. They were in the same condition as the day I’ve put them.
I marked the shape of the entrance over the retaining wall with a marker and started by drilling a bunch of holes along the edge with a 20mm drill bit. It goes without saying, use sharp drill bits. It will save you a lot of time and effort.
After the drilling was done, I used a chisel extension for my drill and started to break away chunks of the wall. It went much faster with the pre drilled holes.
I’m still here in case you’re wondering (and no, I’m not tied up all the time).
With the entrance complete, I dug about 20cm of dirt below the surface to make room for the groundwork. I’ve laid some of the smaller wall pieces down for drainage and poured sand over them.
It immediately had to be checked out by the construction inspector.
Then came the bricks and iron bars for the arches. I used mostly the same materials as in the previous dog house build.
Some more inspection.
After the bricks were laid and the arches installed, I poured sand in between the bricks and laid a peace of PE sheet to prevent the moisture from coming up out of the ground.
The floorboard came next. Same insulation with Styrofoam beneath.
Next I’ve cut the planks to length and started to mount them onto the pipes.
The key difference here, and the thing that saved me a lot of grief and effort, was that I used perforated steel tape for my brackets instead of bending the flat iron bars into shape.
They’re easy to bend and are flexible, but also tough enough to hold the planks in place. I simply used sheet metal scissors to cut them to length and bent them into shape with pliers.
Since the surface of the wall wasn’t perfectly flush, some of the planks ended up protruding more than others, so I simply trimmed them with a hand saw.
The back planks were cut to width on the spot and the excess removed with a jigsaw.
Next came the PE sheet and insulation.
At this point I’ve installed the outer metal shell made out of old oil barrels (clean mind you) and the back plating from a peace of old water heater sheet. Same 10cm/6” nails were used to fix it into place.
The base of the wall was protruding out and stopping the barrel from coming against it all the way, hence there was about a 1/2” gap between the wall and the metal shell. This was somewhat useful for running the power cable for the heating through, but the insulation would come into contact with the soil, so I used expanding polyethylene foam to fill in that space. I also used the remaining foam to seal any gaps in between the metal sheets.
Once it hardened, I’ve put the first layer of PE foil over it and started laying some rocks around to keep it in place and reduce the amount of dirt needed for burial.
It was time to burry the house. I’ve rolled down the PE sheet for the first house and started piling on the dirt.
Once I filled in the gap between the two houses, I covered them both with a larger PE sheet and continued piling on the dirt.
Then came the heating inside. I used the same lightbulb / thermostat solution as in the previous build, except the lightbulb was now fixed to the back of the house, instead of the side.
Lastly, I drilled a few holes above the entrance and afixed a peace of carpet with a flat iron bar.
First test run was successful.
Once the final inspection was done, I could finaly rest my aking joints, with a sense of satisfaction that the project was complete. I also decided that having two dogs was quite enough of a challenge for me.
Few months later....