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The BIGGER Luxury Frankie Condo

To accommodate Frankie's 80+ pound increasing size and weight we decided to go really, really big with the hopes this may be the last installment of Frankie houses.

Goals:  Fit the growing Frankie, handle the brief but cold coast temperatures, have an area that has the comfort and security of a cave, and keep him happier outside all winter long.  I wanted Frankie to be "in the light" during the day so he isn't so miserable during cold spells, and when the temperatures are good Frankie can get outside without help.  Our solution is a green house.

We decided on a Sunglo Greenhouse Kit, the Lean-To 5X7X7  (actual 5' 1.5" x 7' 6" x 7' &"), priced at just over $2,600 (his last cost just over $1,000 and lasted about five years).  This was an investment and, hey, we can grow winter veggies.

The Sunglo included fan, thermostat and shutters.  Greg planned customizing the basic model for Frankie.

The one big add on:  radiant floor heating.  We believe this will make the Frankie shelter a 100% suitable for year round habitation.

I may move in with him. The greenhouse has electricity and WIFI.

Here is the installation

Footings as required by greenhouse specifications. Can't say much except Greg and I are doing all the work ourselves....mostly Greg.  I make the sandwiches.

Once the footings were down and cured it was time to set up and install the radiant floor heat.  Insulation was set on the bare ground.
Insulation is placed in preparation for the 120 volt heating cables.
   Greg picked up the parts for the radiant heat floor from a company called WarmlyYours.  He assembled everything himself.  Greg set the heating cables evenly on a metal grid and attached electrics in preparation for the cement pour.   
Grid with the heating cables are set on spacers on the insulation.    

Once everything was in place the cement was poured and left to cure.

A week later the cement was cured enough to start the build.  Frankie did a test walk to make sure.

Foundation brackets were drilled into the cement. 
Drilling into cement was about the hardest part of the whole installation.  Picking up the right tools and bits helped but it was still difficult.  That and keeping Frankie out.

I joined in sliding the double panels.  The outside panel is flat but the inside panels were ribbed.
Installing the acrylic panels required two people.  Glad I was already hanging out.  It took a day to get the frame up and the second day to get all the panels in place.

Installing the door, ventilation system, the thermostat, remote temperature control and cleaning up mess took a few more days.

Top left, exhaust fan.  Left to right, electrical outlet, integrated thermostat control (fan & exhaust), wireless temperature sensor, and radiant floor thermostat control. Bottom, Kane heat pad thermostat.
Once everything was installed it was time to clean the floor and put down a very thick coat of epoxy paint.  Nothing fancy on the's gonna have hay, water, poop and pee all over it very soon.

Epoxy paint for garage floors.
Door installed with wood overhead door flap, water diverter and plastic weather flaps. Got more work to do on the door but we are ready for the rain due tonight.

Inside, Frankie's box is raised so it doesn't sit directly on the heated floor.

The outside door cover updated for better wind and cold weather protection.  Cement paves placed in front help reduce mud tracking into Frankie's house.


  1. Cindy IversonDecember 06, 2015

    Bravo! So inspiring and helpful to see. We may have to do something similar for Elliot in the near future.

  2. What a project!!! A tortoise room addition to the house! Frankie must burst with pride to have the most talented parents ever who are able to build this for him. Congrats to this project, it is fabulous.

  3. That is great! Frankie is blessed with such parents. It is great to see the step by step because I had thought of a greenhouse, but was not sure about the floor. Now I see the perfect set up. Thank you!

  4. Very nice home for him.

  5. So nice, and Greg did a great job. Thanks for sharing these pictures with us. Loved the story too.

  6. We converted a wooden tool shed for Zola (3 years old now) with an outside entrance and a small indoor heat pad covered with coir mixed with dirt because she likes to cover herself when resting. There's also a ramp to an upper level where the heat lamp is so she can go exactly where she wants to get the temperature she wants. We live in Lemon Grove, California so the weather's not too extreme. Thanks so much for the pictures and detail to this marvelous mansion for Frankie. You are both inspiring people!

  7. Great job! could you please explain how Frankie's box is put together? What size is it? What did you use for the interior coating? Thank you!

    1. Frankie's box's interior black coating is a truck bed coating. Can't remember the brand but the paint had to cure for nearly three weeks before it no longer put off strong fumes. We had to balance durability vs toxicity. However Greg put that box together it is nearly indestructible. As for size, it was made to fit in his Rubbermaid house. I cut it in half and used the big box for his greenhouse.