Loft Construction Ideas

By: Johnnie Johnson -Park River, ND

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In today's world of raising pigeons as a hobby Loft Construction holds a very important role for our fancy pigeons. Many neighborhoods are now not only zoned for pets but also zoned for looks. So it is very important to your hobby and mine to do the best that we can to make a good impression on our neighbors, not only with our pigeon hobby but also with our pigeon lofts as well. Hopefully these suggestions and ideas will help keep guiding us in doing just that.
It doesn't seem to matter where you live, in town or out in the country, a pigeon loft should always look attractive, meaning that it should look as though it belongs there and adds value to the property. Such as matching the house, surrounding buildings and terrain in your own back yard.

Landscaping is always a very good way to dress up any building or area of the yard. Flowers and shrubbery around the loft can and will do wonders. If you are one of the fortunate people that can let your pigeons out for some free flight time in the yard you will soon find out that pigeons do like a certain amount of greens in there diet. Which I might add is very healthy for them. I have found two flowers in particular that my pigeons really go for. They are Mums and Moss Roses. If I don't allow these plants enough time to have a real good start in the spring growing season my pigeons will eat all the blossoms off the mums and the moss roses right down to the ground. So you may want to take some care in selecting the flowers that you plant. All depending on your likes of not feeding or feeding your pigeons greens.

Loft Location and Direction in the yard 

Sometimes a person is limited as to what direction you can face your loft. The best direction is to face it to the south. This will allow you to capture as much of the sunlight as you can in the winter months and when the sun moves north in the summer, you will have the cool shade back again. This will also allow you to keep the backside of your loft to the cold north winds. 

The second best direction for the front of the loft would be to the east, for the warm morning sun and even more importantly this would leave your insulated backside to the late hot afternoon summer sun. One more thing to keep in mind is that I like to sit in the house and still be able to keep tabs on all of the activity that goes on around the pigeon loft, like from a dining room table or an easy chair in the living room. During the times when you can't be out there it's nice to at least be able to still keep an eye on things. 
If these two directions will not work for you then you may have to consider using some taller shrubbery and trees to give your pigeons the protection and shade that they need. 
But don't block the view from your house, only the view from the neighbor's houses. 

Rough in Steps 

1) Location -Always build your (width or depth as big as your property, or finances allows, leaving extra footage in the back and front or the two sides of the loft for expansion depending upon how you run your roofline. This way you will not have to change the roofline when you add on and your loft can still maintain that one building look. Plus remodeling this way will cost you less money and as we all know that if you're even a halfway serious pigeon person you will eventually add on, we all seem to. 
2) Footings -Set three rows of cement blocks flush with the ground approximately 6 to 8 feet apart all at the same height. Lay treated 4 x 4 posts on these the depth or length of the loft. These can be cut off after the floor is framed in. 
3) Floor -2 x 6 or 2 x 8 joists, 16 inches on center. Flooring can be 5/ 8 or 3/4 -Tongue and grove plywood depending on how much weight you plan to put on it. Box this floor in with 1/2 inch treated plywood buried 6 inches in the ground so that nothing can make its home under the loft. See Building options #2. 
4) Walls -2 x 4 studs 16 inches on center. Ceiling height need not be more than seven feet high. You do not need your pigeons flying over your head. But not any lower than seven feet or your door(s) will not have sufficient headroom for installation. 
5) Rafters - 4-12 pitch, 2 x 4 material, two feet on center. Make your own or buy pre-built ones. 
6) Outside wall and roof rough covering inch plywood. 

Finishing the exterior 
1) Roofing material -motel gutter apron on bottom edge, D-style metal on gable ends, 15# felt on roof, shingle starter and shingles too match the house or surrounding area. 
2) Outside walls -siding needs to match the house, out buildings or blend in with the surrounding area.
3) Doors -your best buy is to pick up a 36-inch insulated metal embossed door with a 22 x 36 inch window at one of your local discount stores. I have a 36-inch door on the back of my loft as well as on the front. When I'm around after work and can leave these two doors open it gives such great ventilation for working in the loft or just plain enjoying the pigeons that much more. 
4) Windows -same thing here, your best buy is to pick up 30 to 36 x 16 inch (One Glass Size) double-hung Vinyl coated windows. The width will depend upon the amount of wall space that you have. The height will be OK unless you have the larger breeds of fancy pigeons then you may want to go to 18 inches for height. As you can guess by now I use the windows to let the pigeons in and out to the fly pen area. This has been the best working pigeon door (or window) that I have ever had. 

Build a 7-inch platform to slip over the bottom frame of the windows and wall. This will be the pigeons landing board and protect the window bottom from the pigeon' s feet. Having an outward slant on this surface will also keep all rain water running outwardly. Leave any extra landing board surface to the outside. Always close the windows at night for safety and open them in the day for ventilation and to let the pigeons enter the fly pen area for sunshine and exercise. 

Insulation -Floor, Walls and Ceiling 

It doesn't matter where you live all lofts should be insulated against the elements of heat or the cold. 
1) Floor -builders option, doesn't really need this insulation especially in warmer climates.
2) Walls -with 2 x 4 studs you will need 31/2 x 16 inch fiber glass bats for an insulation value of R-ll. 
3) Ceiling -put in at least 12 inches for an insulation value of R-40. Blow-in works best in these small areas. I just fill the attic full. Use gable end vents, ridgeline vents or both for moisture to travel out. 

Inside Finishing 
1) Cover in side ceiling and walls with a number 4 mil poly as a moisture barrier. 
2) Inside ceiling finish material. I have had success using 4 x 8 sheets of 1/4 inch hemlock plywood; it is lightweight and the least expensive. You can go with a heavier material if you feel that you need more strength.
3)Walls -the least expensive material for the walls is 4 x 8 paneling and it will look the best too. My wife said it looked so good in my loft that I should install a bathroom in it also. So she can rent the loft out as an apartment when I'm long gone? Hum? Wood paneling is much stronger but is far more expensive; 1/4 inch Masonite is the next best bet for your money. The problem with Masonite is that it will expand on you in humid weather, so don't fit it tightly, gap it an eighth of an inch or more for expansion. I used a very light (maybe- cream) colored paneling with a light brown grain look that shows the pigeon dust very little and has been easy to keep clean. Do not use any particleboard or chipboard material, as this stuff will not stand up to anything. 

Fly Pens

1) Use all treated lumber, galvanized screws and 1 inch or less galvanized wire. Use 2 x 4's for the two perches in the fly pen one at 12 and the other 26 inches from the far end of the fly pen and at a height of 15 and 22 inches from the top wire. (Note drawing) 
2) Use a layer of heavy poly on the ground and cover with 2 to 3 inches of gravel.
3) Use 18 inch screen door springs to keep fly pen doors closed. Outside latch should be with a closed hook or in some cases a padlock. 
4) If you have two sections of fly pens side by side as I do, use bar room hinges on the center door so that it can swing in both directions. Center door needs no latch.
5) Put a 16 inch section of plywood up across the entrance of the open loft (#2) to keep all the bedding from blowing into the fly pen. Cut two 1 x 2s 16 inches from each side and slide the 1/2 inch plywood down to the floor between these. A 2 x 2 can also be used at the top to strengthen the plywood. The pigeons will also use this to perch on. 

Building Options 

The drawings of this loft plan are food for thought to help bring out your ideas, and your needs and to offer you some direction as to putting them into motion at your place. 

1) If you feel that you need a larger loft, just expand the dimensions of the print to a four compartment one. Or if you need a smaller one reduce it to a one-compartment loft. 
2) For those who live in a warmer climate and desire a more open loft raise it up two blocks and try a wire floor and or leave out the wall that is connected to the fly pen. Note plan number 2. 
3) Another cost cutter is to leave the insulation out on two of the walls and not finishing that part of the inside. But please! At least keep the ceiling and the west wall insulated to protect your pigeon's and loft from getting too warm from that hot summer sun. 
4) You can always go to a one way slanted roof with one wall at six feet and the opposite one at seven feet. I don't particularly like this look because it reminds me of the old chicken coop and I believe our lofts need to look better than that. Also your door would then have to go on the seven-foot side unless you build your own door. 

In my many years of pigeon travels I have always enjoyed visiting and collecting photos of lofts from all over the country and the world and I find it to be rare to see any two lofts actually looking alike. Even though they all serve the same basic purpose, a dry, warm and safe haven for our favorite pigeons to raise their young. 

We all have different needs; desires, ambitions, finances, breeds and we are all of different ages in our time of life. So remember that the loft you build today is going to be the best loft you have today, enjoy it. For tomorrow when the sun comes up that may all change, this pigeon gene in you, that we all have may just start telling you once again, Ya! You know what! I think today we ought-a start building a better one.