Build-A-Building: The all-in-one doghouse, chicken coop, playhouse, shed

Imagine a backyard building system that was so easy to put together and take apart that a 5th grader could do it.  Imagine instructions you could download free online that were as accurate and easy to follow as IKEA or Lego kits.  Imagine not having to get rid of the dog house, the shed, the chicken coop, the play house when you were done with it…. but instead be able to re-form the components from the old building you no longer use, into a new building you CAN use?

Wouldn’t it be great if you had re-usable, interchangeable building pieces that you could reconfigure as your needs changed?  Let’s say you’re a kid living with mom and dad, and you get a family dog. Your parents order a doghouse build-a-building kit, download the free instructions, and the family easily puts it together.

Years later the dog dies, you get married, buy a house, and decide you need a storage shed for your garden tools.  You take the pieces from your build-a-building dog house kit (which have been stored flat at mom and dad’s to save space), go online and download the free shed plans and order any additional panels/components to create a garden shed.

You have kids.  You want a playhouse for them.  So you take apart the shed, go online to download the free playhouse instructions, purchase any needed additional components, and reconfigure/create a child’s playhouse.

Your kids leave home and you’re ready to raise backyard chickens (or rabbits). You go online and download the chicken coop plans, order any additional components, and easily build your chicken coop.

Components you’re not using store flat in your garage (or in the build-a-building shed you make).

The build-a-building design would be so easy that an upper grade schooler could put it together.  The components would be lightweight and easy to work with for people of all ages, re-usable, and recyclable at the end of their life cycle. It would be a lot cheaper to add components that purchase whole new buildings every time your needs change.  (And avoid the hassle of getting rid of the buildings after you are through with them.)

To create a prototype, we’d need engineers who understand fastenings, physics, materials, and more.  Since Lego bricks are already patented, we can’t use that.  My vision sees possibly 2 ft square panels in several interchangeable styles which would include: framed with sturdy small square wire, framed with stationary solid inner panel.  Framed with hinged/door solid inner panel.  This way the sturdy wire panel could be used for the floor of a rabbit coop, it could be used as the side of a chicken coop, or used as a window.  The framed with stationary solid inner panel could be used as a sturdy wall piece or a sturdy floor piece.  The framed with hinged/door solid inner panel could be a door (in the case of a playhouse, it would end up being one of those 2 piece doors where the bottom can be closed and the top can open – see how versatile a 2 foot configuration would be?).  How to fasten the frames together is where we’d need some engineer type thinkers.  Would the frames be hollow so they could slip through poles stuck into the ground?  Would the hollow frames also have holes in the corners perpendicular to slip poles horizontally for chicken house or rabbit coop support?  Or would the frames lock together with built in fasteners on each frame?  Or another idea?  It would have to be easy to put together and take apart repeatedly, so hammer and nails won’t work.  It would have to be sturdy enough to house small animals possibly in the ‘upper’ areas, so there would need to be a weight limit involved as well (i.e. you wouldn’t be using this system to hold the weight of an adult human male – any human activity would be on the ground level, not upper levels).

I think this idea has a lot of promise.  With so many kids that enjoy Lego building/engineering, and so many adults putting together IKEA products, this do-it-yourself type of creating and reusing building components makes so much sense.  And how much fun would it be to say ‘let’s go in the backyard and build something?” and in a few hours have a completed and usable product…that could be re-configured to your hearts content?

People could send instructions/ideas of things they’ve built from scratch to the website.  If the company engineers try out the ideas and they work, the contributor would be awarded with a coupon for a free component of their choice, and their name and city given credit under the plan.

I think my idea has a lot of potential to be a creative and productive new product!  I’d love to be a part of a design team putting something like this together…and I want one for my own house when it’s ready.

Original idea by Barb Hughes

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