The real estate market isn’t the only home-related business that is currently exploding. With the pet industry nearing 50 billion dollars, homeowners are always looking for a way to make their pets more comfortable. For their part, dog owners are willing to go the extra mile to protect man’s best friend from the backyard’s outdoor elements. As a result, the market for expertly-crafted dog houses continues to increase with each passing year and in rural areas demand is on the rise. For the building-inclined, dog houses might be the perfect way to fill a niche while turning a small profit.
Steps to consider
While it may seem like a business with a relatively easy point of entry, there are still a few steps one should follow if they decide to become a doghouse entrepreneur. Before you even begin to sell your K-9 abodes, you must first obtain the proper license by checking in with your county’s business division. Building permits shouldn’t apply to structures like dog houses, however it always helps to double-check for any local ordinances or size requirements. Like many business ventures, it is important to do some market research and assess the competition in the area. According to an article from Biz Fluent you should, “Assess the competition by researching the dog-house market in your area as if you were a customer interested in buying a dog house. Identify what is available, in what price range, with what special features. Make note of what segment of the dog-house market has not yet been adequately addressed in your area.”
After you’ve completed the appropriate research and identified the most profitable sectors in your area, design a few plans for different types of potential dog houses. It may help to even consult with a local veterinarian to ensure the plans you’ve created are in fact safe for dogs. Much in the way those who build prefabricated homes or tiny houses show off their work at shows or events, it may be beneficial to take a few sample dog houses to local conventions in order to show potential customers the quality or unique craftsmanship of your product. Our area is lucky to be home to several community-oriented animal shelters including the Dutchess County SPCA and the Little Guild in Connecticut. For the potential doggy home architect, it might do wonders for brand recognition to donate a few homes to these local shelters. Dog houses are doing inherently humane work for our beloved pets, so getting involved in the local community might be a great way to reinforce the sheltering service you are providing.
Growing your business
One of the attractive aspects of getting into the dog house real estate market is that it might be a profitable venture that you can take on part time. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to expand your business. Dog homes are not the only construction being done in the pet supply industry. In addition to the homes themselves, consider adding accessory products to enhance your dog house business, such as dog-proof yard fencing, dog beds, attached feed, and even water bowls. Offering a delivery could be profitable if the costs are manageable. If the majority of your customers are local, consider implementing an installation service for those located within a reasonable distance. Track demand and manage inventory carefully so that you will be able to provide quick turn around on orders.
While adding more service options for customers can absolutely grow your business, keep in mind that generally the gross margins for your dog house business are typically around 65%, which can make it more challenging to incur new expenses and maintain profitability. Naturally, depending upon how much time you are able to dedicate to your new construction business, this will affect the stability of your income. Dog houses are fairly simple projects and can usually be completed by someone with just basic building skills. They’ll take anywhere from half a day to a few days to complete and can easily be done for under $100. Conversely, a professionally-built dog house costs $310 on average. Costs could run as low as $70 for a simpler installation or hiring a handyman to assemble a prefab kit. On the higher end of the price spectrum, you could pay up to $8,340 or more for a high-end, custom model or “dog mansion.”
Pet homes have become such a part of the homeowning lifestyle, that short-term rental company Vrbo says it has seen a 40% increase in demand for pet-friendly vacation homes on its platform. Recently, the company has even launched vacation homes designed specifically for dogs. According to Realtor Magazine, “Vrbo commissioned five limited-edition doghouses inspired by the platform’s most popular rental types. The doghouses include a luxury chalet with a cozy fireplace for naps; a beach cottage with a rooftop checkerboard; a trendy rustic A-frame; a modern ranch house with a water and food station; and a mid-century bungalow with a dog pool and garden.”
The pandemic has accelerated the transformation of homeowners into pet owners. According to the same report, “43% of pet owners say they’d be willing to move to accommodate their pet, according to the National Association of REALTORS. What’s more, 68% of pet owners surveyed by realtor.com say they would pass on the perfect home if it didn’t meet their pet’s needs. Unmarried couples, single women, and millennials have shown to be the most willing to move for their pets, according to NAR’s data.”
There’s a market for everything
Dipping your toe into the doggy real estate market, though evolving, could prove to be a profitable venture for the right kind of contractor. You can put as much time into the business as you’d like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own. Additionally, you’re performing an understated community service for homeowners everywhere. Even for the intermediate carpenter who might be looking for a way to create in their spare time, dog houses could be a great way to earn some passive income while helping to shelter our furry friends.