Step 1

Organize Your Materials

The material list for this particular design isn’t overwhelming, and while designed to mimic my family’s play set, I did make some adjustments to make it more pet- and pet-owner friendly. Most notably, three things:

(1) I chose to use 2×3 studs instead of common 2x4s to make the finished piece a little bit lighter for when we need to move it in the yard.

(2) I chose an opaque dark brown roof to completely block out the sun from the dog house and help keep it cool (for the play set we built in the backyard, I used a transparent roofing to let the sun in, but for the dog, it could get too hot to be comfortable… potential oven!)

(3) No floor. This is because I know our dog likes sleeping on the cool bare earth more than on a wooden platform. I wouldn’t be putting a dog bed in this finished piece, so I tried to make it as comfortable as possible for him. I also figure having no platform beneath will reduce the chance of other little nature critters making a home beneath the dog house.

Step 2

Cut List

Start by cutting your wood for your dog house frame to size. You’ll need:

  • (12) – 21″ 2×3 boards (vertical studs for back and sides)
  • (4) – 48″ 2×3 boards (horizontal top and bottom on side walls)
  • (2) – 36″ 2×3 boards (horizontal top and bottom on back wall)
  • (4) – 31″ 2×3 boards (tall front wall “studs”)
  • (4) – 6″ 2×3 boards (for the top and bottom of the tall front wall studs)
  • (2) – 3″ 2×3 boards (horizontal reinforcement for tall front walls)
  • (2) – 48″ 2×4 pressure treated boards (for beneath side wall sill plates)
  • (2) – 6″ 2×4 pressure treated boards (for beneath front wall sill plates)
  • (1) – 41″ 2×4 pressure treated board (for beneath back wall sill plate)
  • (3) – 72″ 2×3 boards (for roof joists – skip down to better understand the purpose of these boards)
  • (4) – 46″ furring strips (for roof joists) 

Step 3

Build the Walls

You can make it easy on yourself and assemble the dog house with screws (they would be plenty sturdy, and they are definitely easier to work with if you make a mistake), or nails. I used a pneumatic framing nailer to make the process go quickly. Match up the boards for each wall, and build each section individually. For more tips on building walls, check out this article on DIYNetwork.com.

Step 4

Raise the Walls to Create the Structure

When you’re ready to raise the walls, the easiest way to pin together the walls of a structure like this is to nail them together by lap jointing the corners, pinning from the inside of one frame through into the other.

Unlike a traditional wall, for which you’d be attaching the sill plate (the bottom of the wall) to the subfloor, I designed this dog house to have a second sill of pressure treated wood. The extra pressure treated layer is important only because it will be sitting directly on the ground in the yard, and I nailed the walls directly to it, planning and measuring to have it extend outward an extra 1/2″ so that the siding dropped down to be flush with it.

Raise all of the walls together, checking for squareness with your trusty speed square as you go.

You’ll be surprised just how fast your pile of precut boards turns into a real-life structure (so fast that your dog will be very confused). And, well, if there were ever a time that I nervously considered that this dog house for my Bernese Mountain Dog would be too small for his lumbering form, I was very wrong. (Accidental guest house!)

Step 5

Measure Boards for the Roof

You’re going to have to be a little more patient through this part of the construction because it requires some attention to detail from a finishing perspective. Because the roof on the doghouse is going to be slanted, you’ll have to create a strong framework, fixed at that angle.

Rely on the speed square again for this part. You’ll need to notch out a birdsmouth for the roof joists, and the easiest way I’ve found to do it is to measure a 1/2″ up, and mark a short line with a pencil. Level the speed square horizontally, and continue the pencil line over to the right edge of the board.

You’ll be left with a small triangle that, when removed, will allow the board to sit directly on the header board above the doorway. Do this same thing to the other end of the board too for added stability (otherwise, it’s OK to leave that end as-is and toenail it into place from either side of the board).

Step 6

Cut and Install the Roof Boards

You can use a handsaw, or a bandsaw, but I used a circular saw to make these gentle cuts, and I followed up with a wood chisel to make a cleaner, smoother finish.

Once you have one roof joist created, you can go ahead and use it as a template for the other two. As an extra touch, trim both ends of each board to be straight vertical, or mimic the detail work on your favorite pergola joists. When you’re ready to install all three, you will be able to nail straight down through the top of the joist into the header. 

Finish off the roof framing by adding the four 46″ furring strips perpendicularly to the roof joists. Screw them into place. These extra pieces of wood will help prevent the corrugated roof from sagging unevenly. Also, this is a good time to move the dog house to its final, intended location. The framing itself was easy enough for my husband and me to lift and move together, but the siding and roof add serious poundage.

Step 7

Cut and Stain the Siding

Measure and cut the pieces of T1-11 siding into rectangles to fit the walls of your doghouse. I had to buy two sheets for the size of this house because of the four taller panels in the front, but if you were doing something smaller in scale, keep in mind that you might be able to get away with just one sheet and save $30. I like to cut all of the pieces of siding first, and also take the time to stain them using a heavy-duty exterior protectant before they’re attached using a roller and a brush. If you’re following me precisely, I cut two 24″ x 48″ pieces, a 24″ x 41″ piece, two 7″ x 36″and two 2-1/2″ x 36″ panels. We didn't apply paint to both sides of the T1-11, but wish we had to help protect the wood from the elements.

Step 8

Stain the Framework

While the stain’s out and before the siding’s on, take a moment to also stain any areas on the framework that may be susceptible to heavy weather; for me, this was the exterior because I thought most of the interior would be fine, but in hindsight, it would look better if it were stained evenly in and out.

If you want to completely stain the inside, those 2x3s are going to be tedious with a brush, so you might consider diluting the stain and using a sprayer to help speed up the process and coat better than a brush in all of the framed corners.

Step 9

Install the T1-11 Siding

Once the stain dries, hang the T1-11 sheet by sheet, attaching it to the top and bottom of each wall frame using exterior 2″ screws (I used deck screws). A screw should be installed in each gap in the siding.

Step 10

Cut and Attach the Roofing

From here, all that’s left to do is screw on the roof and trim it to size. Even out the corrugated sheet on the roof supports you created, and install a screw every 3-4 ridges into the cross braces using special hex nut screw with a built-in neoprene washer that compresses when tightened to form a watertight seal. Note: I think that Ondura’s a great alternative to other corrugated roofing products, since it’s environmentally preferred and 50% recycled content.