A Cubby house ( Play house )

I was asked to build a cubby house for my grandchildren and along the way came across a few things that may be of interest to those contemplating a similar project. This has become my most viewed page and I did skimp on details when I wrote it so if you have any questions just click on the BACK TO MY INDEX link at the bottom of the page and look for the email link. I would be happy to hear from you.

Determining Sizes


Flooring ply is available in sheets slightly longer the usual 2400 for normal ply at 2700 mm, so if a 1200 X 2700 sheet is cut in half and joined at the tongue and grove it will give a depth of 1350mm and length of 2400mm. The cubby floor length was set at 1600mm so that enough ply would be left for the doors and a standard 1800mm length of ridge capping would suit.


The wall height was determined after measuring the kids and the siding that I was going to use. The aim was to make the height match the siding so there would be no trimming and waste. The coverage and the overlap was laid out remembering to allow overlap at the bottom. The top and bottom of the windows and shop was then made to match where the siding would end. There are 5 strips of siding in the side walls which ended up 1390mm high.

The width of the door 420mm (1250mm height) would enable me to enter and the window width was set to 200mm.


An overhang of 100mm all around seemed OK. The slope was determined by the height of 1 extra length of siding that would be required at each end.


The base was made using 100 X 50 hardwood that was mitred at the corners. It was attached by nailing into it through the edge of the floor. 4 gang nails were hammered across the hardwood mitres underneath. A batten was glued and screwed across the floor join to stop it opening and pinching little feet.

Non structural 70 x 35 mm pine was to be used for the frame and a solid mitre box was made up to ensure the many cuts were square.

One of the aims was to make the cubby portable in knocked down form. The roof if it was in one piece would be a bit big so it was made in 2 parts using a 19 x 140 mm ridge beam for each side.

The floor makes a perfect table to lay out the roof rafters. You lay out the rafters after marking the centre line. The only thing not to forget is that the distance to be spanned is slightly wider than the floor by the thickness of the siding. The height to the point is what your siding will cover. You end up with a full sized plan of the rafter including where it is notched to sit on the top plate. Dead simple. Mark out the the centre extension where the ridge beams will slot in while you still have your drawing board. This extension is made out of timber nailed together and will be screwed to the centre of each end frame.

The long frames go right to the edge 1600mm and the sides fit inside these so they are 2 X 70mm shorter than the width. The shop front is framed with verticals at each side but the windows have short vertical sides that connect to horizontals at top and bottom. The other end has 1 vertical in the centre and the back wall 2. Leave the front lower horizontal in one piece as it makes moving easier and you can cut it off across the door when you have finished assembly in the final location. You can now make up a cutting list.

The framing timber will have some twisted, curved, or knotted bits and this is after you checked it out at the timber yard so select the best for critical areas and use the next best for the shorts and be prepared to scrap some.

Make up the side frames using 75mm nails.

Assembling the walls

Stand them up and screw them to the base and each other. A power screwdriver and phillips head screws is the way to go. One trick I found was to use the big (you haven't cut it yet) left over bit of plywood to keep the walls square as you screw them together. You can nail through it to hold one side square then with a temporary brace you can join 2 sides. The aim is to get all the walls square. Do plenty of measuring across the diagonals.

The Roof

I marked out where the rafters would connect to a ridge beams and attached them by screwing through the beam into each rafter. Then I screwed both ridge beams in position . When doing this make sure you can unscrew the beams when the roof is on so drive the screws in at an upwards angle. Next I proceeded to screw up through the top horizontal into each rafter, do not forget that you allowed for a gap for the siding to slip under where the rafter is notched. Maintaining this gap will take any bow out of the frame. The battens were then screwed to the top of the rafters.

The numbered parts stay together on disassembly. Note the split ridge beam.

The red arrows show the screws that permanently hold the end post to the end frame (3)s.

Cladding and finishing off

I used building foil to cover the frame with 2 layers under the tin which could burn little hands in our sun. I screwed the cladding on then cut out the bit at the top of the door. The pointy parts at each end will have to come off for transportation so you can separate the roof so definitely use screws.

The trim used was 50 x 50 mm plastic angle. A 75mm plastic down-pipe was cut in half for the gutter. Plastic sheet was used for the glazing.


They are small and delicate so some thought went into preserving them.

The stable doors were placed about 30mm apart and the gap covered by rubber.

Strap type hinges were bent and fastened as shown. The bend near the end of the finger is to allow the door to open flat back against the siding. The circled bend allows the door to shut flat and it will bend and not badly hurt if the door is closed upon a finger. The penalty for using this set-up of hinges is that after a while the doors will need to be realigned but no tools are required, just a bit of shoving. If there is another way to prevent doors hurting fingers please let me know as every other way I thought of had a problem somewhere. Of course if a finger is between the door and the wall and the door is pushed then the force will be on the finger but the leverage effect where the force is multiplied is limited by the hinge bending.

Top Of Page