Dustin Bajer, Bat Box Plans, View of the bottom of a bat box

Animal House Plans: A Birdhouse, Bat Box, and Bee Hotel In One

One Design Modified For Three Animals

I’ve been wanting to attract more animals to my backyard and was researching different ways to go about it. Besides being a joy to watch, animals provide critical ecological functions such as pest control and pollination. A birdhouse was an obvious place to start, but I realized I could modify the design to attract beneficial insects and bats. Here’s a look at my animal house plans, thought process, and the final results.

Dustin Bajer, Animal House Plants, Bird House, Bee Hotel, and Bat Box
One modified design for three animals. Bird House, Bee Hotel, and Bat Box

Birdhouse Design

While researching birdhouses, I found an article on NestWatch.org called “Features of a Good Birdhouse.” NestWatch’s website can tell you how to attract specific species by adjusting the entrance and cavity sizes. I’m a bad of our native chickadee, which only required modifying the size of the entrance hole, and this became my base design.

Dustin Bajer, Birdhouse Plans, Birdhouse with a hold sized os a chickadee
Birdhouse with a hold sized os a chickadee

Three Animal House Plans With One Design

I pulled articles on native bee hotels, ladybug boxes, and bat houses and sat down with SketchUp to play with my original birdhouse design. I had three goals in mind:

  1. Function – The birdhouse contains design elements that benefit each animal: ventilation, a sloped roof, and gutters to shed rain. But for the animal house design to be truly successful, it must work, with modifications, for all three animals.
  2. Convenience & Economics – All three designs are similar and easy to build. Modifying the same plan three times means many pieces are the same. Since I’m in the woodshop anyway, why not come out with three animal houses instead of one? Built from the same one-by-eight lumber, I only need to make one trip to the lumber yard, and very little scrap lumber is left on the shop woodshop floor.
  3. Aesthetics – I plan on installing a few urban animal houses along my espalier fences. I like the idea of each box referencing a standard shape and style for visual consistency – they should look like they belong together.
Dustin Bajer, Animal House Plans, Parts Cut List and Layout for a Bird House, Bee Boxes, Ladybug House, and Baat Box
Parts Cut List and Layout for a Bird House, Bee Boxes, Ladybug House, and Bat Box

Bug Hotel Modification

Ladybugs are fantastic to have in the garden as they’re ferocious consumers of pests such as aphids. Ladybugs crawl into piles of wood, mulch, and small cracks and crevices and go dormant each fall. The Bug Hotel design provides a variety of small places for these beneficial animals.

Though honeybees aren’t native to North America, hundreds of other species are. Unlike honeybees, many native species are solitary and build their homes in small holes. Species such as mason bees fill cavities with eggs and pollen. The mother bee dies each winter, but her offspring emerge the following spring and consume the pollen she left them. Solitary bee species are stingless, better pollinators than honeybees, and have symbiotic relationships with native plants.

A typical bug hotel consists of a block of wood with holes drilled in it or a series of tubes that provide living space for various beneficial insects. The two beneficial bugs I’m after are ladybugs and native solitary bees. The bug hotel is achieved by removing the side wall of the birdhouse, adding a diagonal piece for support, and filling the void with sticks and debris.

Dustin Bajer, Bee Hotel and Ladybug House Plans, Lengths of bamboo for native bees
Lengths of bamboo for native bees

Bat House Modification

If you’ve seen bat houses before, you’ve probably seen flat structures with an extended bottom entrance. This modified birdhouse design is similar but folded in on two sides – the result is a more compact bat house around a central roost. Bat boxes with multiple roosts provide varying internal environments for the bats. This design is sometimes referred to as a rocket-box bat house.

The rocket box bat house required the most modifications as bats need a roosting space away from the wind and other elements. This involved increasing the height of the birdhouse, moving the bottom, and inserting a central column for roosting and access. The central column inside the bat box is textured to make it easier for the bats to grip. Entrance gaps of 3/4 to 1 inch accommodate my local bat species.

Dustin Bajer, Bat Box Plans, View of the bottom of a bat box
View of the bottom of a bat box

Free Animal House Plans


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