Cost for Building Your Own Outdoor Night Box

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,477
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I just finished building another new box for my star tortoises, and I built a box for some friends who lost everything in the fires a few months ago. Many people have asked me to build them a box and what it would cost. I thought it might be helpful to list everything out to help people decide what they want to do.

To make a 4'x8'x24" I use:
7 sheets of plywood at about $20 each: $140
4 sheets of insulation at about $25 each: $100
20 2x4s at about $3 each: $60
Asst. other lumber: $25
6-7 tubes of silicone I caulking at $6 each: $42
Loads of "Deck Screws": $30-40
Door flaps: $10-20
Paint and primer for outside only, plush rollers, paint pan liners, brushes: $20 + $40-50 = $75
Coating for inside, if needed is about: $100 for Pond Shield
Hinges for top and doors, plus door latches: $44
Weather stripping: $25

Total for building materials = Approximately $655, but by the time I'm done adding stuff, lets just call it $700.

Then the electrics:
Heavy gauge extension cord: $50
Plastic box with clips on the lid to contain cords and thermostat: $10
Oil-filled mini radiant heater: $50 with tax and shipping.
Computer fan with speed controller: $20
Thermostat: $30
Cup holders, zip ties, and screws to manage cords and keep them secure: $10
Incandescent fixtures, bulbs and timers, if needed: $20 + $20 + $15 = $55

Total for heating stuff= Approx $215

It takes me approximately 30 hours to get one done, including painting.

So… $650-700 + $215 + labor...

Cost of lumber and building materials would be about half for a 4'x4'x24" box, but labor and the cost of the heating and electrics would be about the same.

Some people might want to factor in time and gas to drive to the hardware store several times to get all the needed stuff (Because you never get everything right the first time…), and any unforeseen problems that might pop up. Several hundred or thousand in tools will also be needed.

People have asked me to build boxes for them, and I really enjoy building them, but I'd have to sell a finished box for $2000-2500 just to make any money and be able to pay a few bills. I wish it were cheaper, but it just isn't. I can remember my first boxes costing a lot less than this, but the cost of materials keeps going up and up. Plywood used to run $13 a sheet. Now its closer to $20. 2x4s were $1.20 each, and now they are over $3 each.

This is also the reason why I won't be building any indoor boxes anymore. Animal Plastics charges only $500-750 for their larger cages. That is a bargain because I spend zero time building, it looks very professional, and it will outlast anything I make myself from wood. I wish they made insulated outdoor boxes because I would never build another box again!

I hope someone finds this info useful in some way or other.
 

daniellenc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2017
Messages
2,097
Location (City and/or State)
Maryland
This is why I am buying an AP cage for indoors, lol. Figure after all is said and done I wouldn't be saving much money as it is and I do not have your carpentry skills.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,477
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
This is why I am buying an AP cage for indoors, lol. Figure after all is said and done I wouldn't be saving much money as it is and I do not have your carpentry skills.
I think the cost of materials is just about the same as buying an AP cage. This is not even counting the 30 hours of your time to build and the hundreds or thousands of dollars in tools that are needed.
 

Beasty_Artemis

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2016
Messages
614
Location (City and/or State)
Oregon Coast
Wow. Looks really well made! Good job. I would say that your baby has a wonderful new home when they arrive!
 

Pearly

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2015
Messages
5,294
Location (City and/or State)
Central Texas, Austin area
I think the cost of materials is just about the same as buying an AP cage. This is not even counting the 30 hours of your time to build and the hundreds or thousands of dollars in tools that are needed.

Tom, how about bricks for the walls? Have you ever tried to build one that way?
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,477
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Tom, how about bricks for the walls? Have you ever tried to build one that way?
No for several reasons. Brick is too abrasive, so I'd have to insulate and cover the inside walls. Brick conducts heat fairly well. I'd have to build it in place and I wouldn't be able to move it.
 

Team Gomberg

IXOYE
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
7,678
Location (City and/or State)
Southern Oregon
This sounds right. It's great how you really spelled it out.

I spent about $350 on supplies (not counting tools, screws or hardware I already had) when I re built my tortoise a 3x4x2 night box. I used the same heating and electrical from his first house, so no added costs there.

If only money came in as quickly as it went out!
 

Julia1982

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
19
I think the cost of materials is just about the same as buying an AP cage. This is not even counting the 30 hours of your time to build and the hundreds or thousands of dollars in tools that are needed.

Tom- what thickness of the plywood do you use? My FIL is building me a night box and he is asking the thickness.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,477
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Tom- what thickness of the plywood do you use? My FIL is building me a night box and he is asking the thickness.
I live in the SoCal desert. We get down into the high 20s at night on occasion here, but winter days usually warm up into at least the 60s. I use the 11/32 plywood to keep the box weight down and because the insulation and caulking does the job here, but if you live in a colder area, thicker plywood might be helpful.
 

Julia1982

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2017
Messages
19
I live in the SoCal desert. We get down into the high 20s at night on occasion here, but winter days usually warm up into at least the 60s. I use the 11/32 plywood to keep the box weight down and because the insulation and caulking does the job here, but if you live in a colder area, thicker plywood might be helpful.

Thanks Tom. I’m in central CA (Fresno area) so it’s about the same.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
54,477
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I use this insulated dog house for my tortoises. Just gotta build a little ramp and fill with some substrate.
What do you heat it with? Does it hold a warm steady temp on a freezing night? Is there actual insulation inside, or did they make it with thick walls and call it "insulated"?

I've never found a dog house that works.
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
4,422
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)

vladimir

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 18, 2017
Messages
1,321
Location (City and/or State)
Pennsylvania
Yeah....thanks. I don't need 150' worth though. Maybe 20' at the very most.
The eBay seller I got it from did orders by the foot, cut in the size requested. I spent about $20 total

Edit: Oops, it looks like they no longer offer that :( too bad
 

TriciaStringer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2018
Messages
1,184
Location (City and/or State)
Louisiana
Yeah....thanks. I don't need 150' worth though. Maybe 20' at the very most.
I bought a vinyl roll that is designed for shelf lining for $9.99. It is thick. I was able to do two layers and had enough for two doorways. I had a little left over which I’ll use to do my Russian’s doorway.

It’s similar to this at Home Depot. I just found it cheaper at Stine.
 

Attachments

  • 8599B9FE-2781-4534-A00F-B7C8254614CD.jpeg
    8599B9FE-2781-4534-A00F-B7C8254614CD.jpeg
    3.2 MB · Views: 55
  • C564C883-C37E-4BED-B16D-DB778B970569.png
    C564C883-C37E-4BED-B16D-DB778B970569.png
    204.4 KB · Views: 52
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top