Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Taj-Mahal of dog kennels

The dogs have needed a new kennel for some time. The old one was a leaky home and with only a layer of thin 3-ply plywood between the inside and the elements, it was cold in winter and baking hot in summer. It did get insulated at one point but that home improvement was reduced to atoms by you-know-who.

Recent house renovations yielded some leftover gib-board, some insulation and some roofing iron. When the builder said "why don't you use the iron to make a kennel?", a summer project was born.

Except this wasn't to be any old kennel: this was to be the Taj Mahal of kennels, albeit one made almost entirely from leftover and recycled material.

To start, we needed some timber for the framing and some screws. Luckily, in a fit of pre-Christmas generosity, the local hardward didn't charge for cutting the framing (el cheapo fence railings) and gave me a trade discount on the framing and the screws. Thanks, guys, and a happy new year to you.

The frame was made (one that needed some additions and modifications to the original design as it transpired) and the leftover gib was used to line the inside. By the way - when a builder says cutting gib is easy, the bit left unstated is "if you have had practice and know to cut through it in one go."

Not having made a kennel - or anything else substantive for that matter - before, some things were likely to be forgotten, and indeed they were. Namely the kennel roof and floor (doh!). Fortunately these could be cut from the outside of the old kennel. The problem with the old kennel is that it was built by the dogs' Grandad, and in the manner of Kiwi Dads and Grandads was massively overbuilt for what it actually needed to do. It eventually had to be dismantled with a three pound hammer, although we managed to unscrew the little eve over the entrance and reuse that.  We also managed to reuse the original kennel floor.

Anyway, the roof and floor were put in and, because I wasn't nearly as competent as I thought, some other scraps were used to put in the corners to cover the gaps and help keep the gib in place. Then, insulation. 

The back yard faces north so gets very hot in summer. However, we're also in a frost pocket so it gets very cold in winter. So insulation is required to keep the boys with their thin terrier coats warm in winter. There was enough insulation left over to do the roof and the upper part of the exterior. 

So having done all this, then came the REALLY hard part: cutting roofing iron to size and screwing it to the outside of the frame. We only have a pair of old tin snips, a tool equivalent in sophistication to a cold chisel or a club. In the meantime we'd given up on the cordless drill and bought an electric one. Tip for young players: if you're doing something repetitive and difficult just get an electric drill. 

The recycled roof iron looks cool in a rustic sort of way. We didn't bother to repaint it so it has the patchy unevenness of the iron and its paint over the years. 

About this point it dawned on me that this thing was heavy and was probably going to need to be craned into the back yard. It didn't in the end but now that it has its roof on it sure won't be going anywhere in a hurry.

Last job was cutting the roof to size and screwing it on, and landscaping the small area behind the kennel. Not because I think dogs need landscaping but because the plants give shelter and cool everything down in summer. So here in pictures:

Kennel lined, inside painted, being inspected by passing chooks.

The roof gets its insulation

Front, partly clad with roofing iron, showing insulation.

Getting there...in place with roof and recycled eave from previous kennel, now painted and looking way sharp.

And showing plants. (My guess is that these will be destroyed by the idiot dogs before they have a chance to get established.)