Sunday, August 5, 2012

Building a better bat house

My conscience wouldn't let me displace 100 bats when we replaced the roof on our house without trying to provide them with a new home.  We like having bats around as we never have a mosquito problem, but having them in our roof just doesn't work.  At night it can be hard to sleep with hundreds of bats coming and going.  And speaking of "going" bat guano isn't something you really want in your life.   

So once the roof was replaced, I went on line to find a bat house.  My choice was to order one for a minimum of $50 (for a small bat house, not including tax and shipping), hope it was in stock, wait for it to be delivered, etc. etc.  Since I hadn't had my "craft vaccine" lately, my eye immediately went to the "Build your own bat house" title.  

The instructions were from National Wildlife Federation, and looked pretty simple.  I was pretty sure I could find all the materials in our life long collection of building materials in the garage.  I printed out the National Wildlife Federation Instructions, and headed for the garage.

No problem finding the plywood and 1x2 pine, the main parts.  My plywood was 27" wide instead of the 24" it called out, but rather than rip a 4' piece of plywood by myself (Ron was busy)
Tony and Jesse helped put in the last of the uprights for the carport, but there was a ton of work still to do taking down the bracing, cleaning up debris, removing the woodshed walls.  There was no way I could tear Ron away from that to help me build a bat house.

I decided to adjust the size to make it 3" longer (we have LOTS of bats after all, so bigger would be better), and I couldn't see myself ripping 3" off the side of the plywood I found.

Next step:  "Cut into 3 pieces"  Oh great - what size?  I actually read all the instructions, and nowhere did it mention the size the pieces should be.  Back to the computer where in the fine print it said "First I printed the plan from the Bat Foundation site."  Okay - I can do this - Here are more detailed instructions from there (at least it told the sizes for the pieces - the pictures of how it went together were a lot less helpful.) Detailed Instructions

Now the fun began:
It suggested making 1/32" to 1/16" cuts every inch in the back piece or put a big mesh screen on the piece for the bats to use for footholds.  The only saw I really understand is the radial arm saw, and since the plywood was wider than the saw would reach, it was hard enough making the plywood into the three proper size pieces.

I found some window screen, but it is pretty fine mesh.  Nevertheless, I cut it to cover the back and stapled it down. I thought the bats might like something better to roost on, but any boards I found were as wide as the space where the bats could roost.

So I looked around our building supply collection and found an old plastic crate.  
I used the radial arm saw to cut off the sides and stapled the grid on top of the screen.
As I was putting it all together, Ron came by to check on me and couldn't resist helping finish.
Now we will see if the bats move in.  It is only a few feet away from their old home.

If they do, we will build a couple more houses for them.  And, for all you construction critics out there, "It ain't a piano, it's a bat house."