What is a Doghouse in Construction? Understanding Bulkhead Entrances

June 12, 2024

When it comes to home architecture, the term 'doghouse' often conjures images of a small structure for pets or a metaphorical reference in relationships. However, another lesser-known 'doghouse' pertains to home entrances, specifically known as a doghouse bulkhead.

"Doghouse" by sidstamm is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/.

Doghouse as a Bulkhead Entrance

This type of 'doghouse' serves as an entrance to a home's basement and is often referred to as a 'bulkhead entrance.' Unlike traditional bulkheads, which are typically straightforward ground-level structures made of steel or fiberglass with double doors or hatches, a doghouse bulkhead is a more elaborate and aesthetic structure.

Components of a Bulkhead

A doghouse bulkhead includes several key components:

  • Stairs: These lead from the exterior directly into the basement.
  • Buildout Protection: Covering above the stairs provides security and weather protection.

Differences in Construction

Doghouse bulkheads differ significantly from traditional bulkheads in several ways:

  • Traditional vs. Doghouse Bulkhead: Traditional bulkheads are simpler and are typically positioned at ground level, while doghouse bulkheads are more intricate and often complement the house’s aesthetic.
  • Integration with Home Design: They often integrate design elements such as roofing, siding that matches the house, and a standard entry door, unlike the basic doors of traditional bulkheads.

Challenges in Construction

Building and installing a doghouse bulkhead is more complex due to additional elements such as roofing, siding, and painting. Constructing a doghouse bulkhead as a post-construction addition can pose additional challenges, particularly if the aim is to make it blend seamlessly with the existing home aesthetics.

Benefits of Doghouse Bulkheads

Despite the added complexity, doghouse bulkheads offer several advantages:

  • Ease of Access: Unlike traditional bulkhead doors that can be heavy and cumbersome, doghouse bulkheads offer straightforward access without needing to bend or lift heavy doors.
  • Storage: The interior walls within the doghouse bulkhead can provide additional storage space.
  • Comfort: They offer a more comfortable and visually pleasing way to access the basement.

Though not the most common association with the term ‘doghouse,’ for many homeowners, having a doghouse bulkhead is a practical and appreciated feature, enhancing both functionality and the exterior appeal of the house.

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