Insulation/Drywall/Paint, Costs, Electrical, Geothermal, Water Heat, Insulation, Landscaping, Roof, Windows, Deck

    2012,   2011,   2010,   2009,   2008,   2007,   2006,   2005

Here's what's on this page:

  • It took longer to finish the dog house than I expected
  • Here are the final dog house pictures and even a "puppy cam" video
  • The most elaborate dog house in the world
    • wall to wall carpet
    • triple pane windows
    • solar lighting
    • but mostly it is to stop air leakage...
  • Repairs to basement after leaking foundation
  • Draftstopping under porch
  • Draftstopping in loft closet spaces
  • Blown-in insulation on main floor of house
  • Drywall repairs after elecrical cables etc
  • Paint


The doghouse is actually part of our insulation and draft stopping. This house uses three pet flaps and an insulated house to create a dog access door that can be open down to -30C. This section outlines the final finishing that went into the house. Who says that energy efficiency can't be fun!

The roof of the house is removable. The practical side of this is that taking the roof off gives access for repairs and cleaning. The fun side was to make the roof decorative. Here I am gluing on decorative trim. I used embossed wood trim and coated it with three coats of spar varnish for durability. To simulate wood siding I used some wainscotting material that was embossed with vertical lines. I used it horizontally on the house and vertically on the gable end. You can see the section on the gable here on the roof section.

Then to shingle the roof. One of the products we make at work is a plastic liner that is in a terra cotta red colour. The plastic is 35 mil thick and comes in sheets 12 ft wide and 750 ft long. I got a bit of scrap and cut them up into shingles. The shingles are about 2 inches wide and about 9 inches long. You can see the little stack of shingles on the workbench to the right of the roof. The top row of shingles is just being finished in this picture. The shingles turned out really well.

For the trim around the windows I used some small wood picture frames that I got from a craft store. These were painted with the purple and blue paint that was left over from painting our front steps. The flower pots are also from the craft store with a bit of foam and some fabric flowers for fun. They are just held on with a bit of coat hanger wire and a wood screw.

The wainscotting material shows up well in this picture. Here the embossing is horizontal. I used wood angle strips to cover up the corners and painted them blue.

So here is how the final dog house works. This picture shows the entrance into the main house. There are two dog flaps here, one on the inside finish and one on the outside finish separated by about 4 inches of space. Lucy comes out of the house on to the platform that is covered with artificial grass.

That platform is on the upper right in this picture. Then she goes down the spiral staircase and exits through the third dog flap that is under the platform.

You can see the wires for the solar light in this picture. The solar light is just to the left of the wire bundle. It is an LED light set. The other thing you can see are the pictures on the walls. In every stately home there should be pictures of your ancestors on the grand staircase - these are historical pictures of poodles (and one of Lucy!).

And here is Lucy with her finished dog house. The entrance is right behind her with a solar light under the brown oblong cover to light her way at night. The roof overhang prevents the entrance from being blocked with snow.

Finally here is a tour of the house courtesy of Lucy and her
"Puppy Cam"!


One of the things we struggled with was a dog flap for our dog Lucy. We like to leave the dog flap open when we are away are work but it was letting too much cold air into the house in the winter. I tried a couple of things including adding a second weather flap on the inside. The dog door actually goes through the side of the house and I put two flaps on each side of the wall. Not enough, we were still getting cold air in the winter. The cold air was also tumbling into the basement and it was making the basement cold. Since our bedroom is in the basement this had to get fixed.

The second thing that happened was that our dog blew her knee. She broke a ligment and needed to stop jumping. Her dog door went out onto a platform that was about 18" high. I built her a ramp temporarily while she was healing but we would have to eliminate the jump from her door.

So I set out to eliminate the drafts from the dog door and to give my little dog a ramp that she could use even if it was snowing.

The basic design is to start at the height of the dog flap and then build steps down to deck level. In order to do this in the smallest space possible I built a sort of spiral staircase out of scraps of 2x10 boards. The platform on the right is where the dog enters the house. She then goes down the stairs to the left and circles around so that she exits underneath the platform. The platform is 18" high and I have a 16" high dog so it all works out.

Want to have some fun? Go to Home Depot to the carpet department and say you want some outdoor carpet. Then ask them for 1 lineal foot of carpet. It comes on rolls 12 ft wide. Getting a 1 foot piece is ridiculous. It took about 20 minutes to find the roll, get it on the winder, cut the piece and then wind it back up. For all that they charged me $6. It's hard to find better amusement than that!

So our dog house has wall-to-wall carpeting!

One of the main purposes of this little dog house is to stop the drafts. This strip of weather stripping stops air from bypassing the dog house. The dog house is actually screwed to the wall of the house so that this weather stripping makes a tight seal. Note how the top piece of weather stripping is angled to shed water.

Here is the dog house box in place. The large hole at the bottom right is the outside door. This door will have its own dog flap (that's three dog flaps on this house now). Since the exterior exit is 18" below the house entrance there is also a natural barrier to cold air. You can also see the windows that I added. The windows provide light so my dog and see in the day time. These windows are acrylic plastic panels glued to the wood with polyurethane glue. At this point these are double-pane windows as there is an acrylic panel glued to the inside and the outside of the wood.

Then I added insulation. I added 1" of R5 insulation to all exterior walls of the doghouse. Here you can see the tape used to hold the insulation in place while the construction adhesive was drying. Heated air from our house will be escaping into the dog house and insulating will help prevent heat loss. The real purpose of the dog house is to provide a heat gradient with warm air at the top and cold air at the bottom. This prevents cold air from coming into our house. Note that the windows are getting another layer of acrylic glued to the outside of the insulation (held in place by black tape). These are now triple pane windows.

Here is the dog house substantially complete. The roof is insulated with 2" thick R5 insulation for an R10 rating. Since the walls in our house are only R13 this is a pretty good barrier to heat loss (for a dog house!). I used a gabled roof to hold more warm air in the top to help form a better heat gradient. You can see two of the triple glazed windows and the exit dog flap at deck level. I extended the roof over the exit so that snow will not accumulate. It worked really well in the first winter with no snow within 1 ft of the door. At this point I ran out of time before winter set in so I stapled a piece of garbage bag plastic to the roof to keep everything dry.

Soon after we trained the dog how to use her dog house she would bug us to let her out at night (we trained her to ring a bell when she wants to go out - but that's another story). She would use the house during the day but not at night. So I figured she needed some lights. I had a couple of solar landscape light sets that I had found on sale for $10 so I set about adapting them to her house. In the picture you can see the black battery pack in the middle right foreground and one of the LED lights in the upper right corner (in the white oval). There are two sets of lights in the dog house. The original set was for 4 lights but by using only 2 the lights almost always run through the entire night. Now our dog uses her house day and night and can go into the yard whenever she wants.

So here is the dog house after its first coat of paint. It's been through one winter and the results have been excellent. There is almost no detectable draft until we get winds higher than about 60 kmh on a cold day. Then we can feel some air seeping in around the inside dog flap. Otherwise there is no detectable cold air seeping in. Even at -30C we did not feel the cascade of cold air that used to come into the basement previously. Our little dog's knee has healed up and she doesn't need to jump to get in and out of the house anymore.


Although I got off to a good start in 2006 on draftstopping a basement leak sidetracked me for most of the summer. After tearing out drywall, getting the cracks in the basement wall filled with epoxy, and redoing the basement floor, I had pretty much used up the summer. It looks like I lost most of the pictures I took from this period (I had my laptop stolen last year). Anyway the basement floor got finished which was in the plans.

I eventually did get all the draftstopping done that I had planned. Aside from a few electrical outlets in exterior walls the main air leaks were from the closets in the loft and the hole under the back porch. I knew about both of those areas and set out to get them fixed.

Finally paint. We got the house trim and the garage painted in 2006. We got our back door painted yellow, repainted the front door purple, and got the basement room painted where all the work had taken place this year and last.

The last thing we got done in 2006 was to repaint all the exterior on the house trim and the garage. We hired some student painters who did a pretty good job. They had a bit of difficulty with the details on the doors but the house and garage paint went very well. Note the purple paint on the door and steps. It's makes for a very nice entrance now. This picture is from the summer of 2007.

The most difficult job physically was to seal up the space under the back porch. I had done the front porch years ago when we had mice coming into the front rooms of the house. I found that the joists for these porches ran across the top of the concrete basement wall and that there was no insulation or barrier between the proch space and the interior of the house (an old construction technique that wasn't very effective). I was sure most of my air leakage in the house was coming from this big hole - about 8" high by 7 ft long.After cleaning out the mess under this porch (found stuff from 60 years ago) I crawled in to fix it up. In this picture you can see where I ran the speaker wires out for the new deck.

To seal this area I first stapled vapour barrier into the space between the joists and sealed it with vapor barrier tape and sealant. Then I put 8" of rock wool insulation into the joist space and held that in place with strips of housewrap. Then I completely covered the area with housewrap and sealed it with tape. Finally I held everything up with wire hardware cloth. I took a lot of time with the hardware cloth wire as this is how I'm keeping the mice out of the house. Since I did this there have been no mice in our house (formerly an annual event). Note in this picture the telepost holding up the corner of the porch. I added two teleposts under the porch to help support the structure.

During the blower door test in the initial Energuide audit I found that the upstairs structure was very leaky. It was especially apparent in the little closets. The vapor barrier had not been sealed in any of this construction. I decided to use peel-and-stick membrane to seal up these areas. I crawled into these little closets and covered the entire interior with membrane. Since the closets were lined with plywood I was able to use a staple gun to secure the membrane around the edges. In our final blower door test these closets were air tight.

This closet was the smallest of three. It also showed up another problem. Just inside the door frame to the left in a small gap in the plywood I found the uninsulated chimney from the living room gas fire place. The previous builder had just run the pipe up next to the plywood in the closet instead of building a proper box to protect the wood frame from the heat of the chimney. Since we are getting rid of gas to the house the gas fire in the living room will never be used again. It also let me seal up this chimney which was another significant air leakage point.

I actually had bigger plans for 2006 but a water leak in the basement early in the summer shut down my plans. One of my underground plastic pipes burst in the back yard and water ran against the foundation for 7 or 8 hours. It found leaks in the basement wall. A week later we could see mould coming through the drywall. We called in a restoration company to tear out the mouldy drywall and get everything dried out. Fortunately the damage was confined to the basement wall that we could get at without tearing out all the basement rooms. I fixed the drywall, then changed the floor to laminate flooring. There used to be carpet here. I had planned to put down laminate in this basement room and had already purchased the laminate material. This just moved my timetable up a bit. After the floor and drywall were in I repainted the whole area which took care of all the holes we had punched in the ceiling for running electrical wires.


Part of our investigations for geothermal heating showed us that our main floor had no insulation. The loft had been insulated with 6" of insulation on all the walls and ceilings, and the basement was insulated when it was rennovated but the main floor was not. The main floor had original plaster walls and just an empty space in the walls. In order to reduce the amount of geothermal heating we needed to install we decided to insulate the main floor walls. We chose to have cellulose fibre insulation blown into the walls from the inside of the house. That way we could repair the walls with a drywall repair. To insert the insulation from the outside would require putting holes in the old stucco which no-one seems to be able to repair.

Another part of getting the insulation done was to paint. We had planned to paint the dining room and the bathroom this year and it was time for some fun paint.

The first step was to abandon the main floor and move all the furniture to the other floors or cover it in plastic. The insulator came in and drilled holes every 16" around the perimeter of the house. Then they blew in the cellulose fibre. This creates a spectacular mess. Dust everywhere. This is the living room.

So while we have the dust everywhere it's time to fix some drywall. We got a drywall contractor in to repair the holes from the insulator and to drywall the dining room and bathroom ceilings. These ceilings had been damaged by overheating from the roof kneewall spaces in the summer. With the new roof going on this was a good time to make these repairs. This is the dining room with the new drywall ceiling and the perimeter holes repaired.

This is the bathroom with the new drywall ceiling and holes in the exterior wall repaired.

Since we've got drywall on the go upstairs we might as well get right into it. Here are the holes in the basement ceiling where we ran the new wiring for the geothermal heater.

And here is the basement ceiling with the holes all repaired. The doors hide the old electrical panel.

Then on to painting. The living room and the north bedroom (music room) had been painted last year so they just needed touch ups where the insulation holes had been patched. The kitchen had been insulated during a previous rennovation so it didn't need a lot of work. Here we are painting the hallway on the main floor which got a complete new paint job.

On the weekend we had set aside to paint the drywall contractor didn't show up to make the repairs he said he would. That left me to finish sanding the drywall. It took me the better part of a day to sand while everyone else painted.

Meanwhile Karen got started on her fun colour schemes. Here she is painting a coffee colour in the dining room.

Here's the bathroom painted up. The name of the colour is "Thoughtful Spot" which is very appropriate for a bathroom.

And finally, here is the dining room painted up. I described the colours as coffee; one cream for the walls, and coffee; two creams for the ceiling. The east wall is brilliant red. That red colour took five coats of paint. That's it for the painting this year. We'll finish painting the basement next summer, but for now it's been primed and the primer pretty much matches the white paint that was there so we'll just leave it., Costs, Electrical, Geothermal, Water Heat, Insulation, Landscaping, Roof, Windows, Deck