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OK, So I got this for $30 and......


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#1 DisasterDJ

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:16 PM

Ok, here's the condensed version of the story.... I buy at Auctions and other live sales and then sell the items on eBay or Craigslist. This is something I have been doing for the past year out of necessity since the economic downturn killed my industry and I was forced to close my electrical contracting business.

It has been starting to pay off and things are finally begining to look up, so while at one of my usual Auctions yesterday I came across a Brand New, Never opened Dura Craft Miniature Doll house (Model CT 575 Chateau).... Since I have been working so much lately trying to keep our heads above water I thought this would be a great thing to do with my kids so I proudly bid (and eventually won for $30.00) this doll house, which I had intended to build with my 11yr old son....For my 3 1/2 yer old daughter..... and even let her "Help" the way only a 3 1/2 yr old can!! Believe me she Wants to help daddy all the time.... And I make sure she thinks she does, but anyone with children or grand children know that a toddlers 'Help' is similar to the characteristics of say... A Tornado.....(Often times they appear with little or no warning, Can be Very devistating and usually leaves a path of destruction in their wake!) But being the creative Daddy I am I usually can catch her in time, give her some scrap pieces of whatever I'm working on, a blowtorch, power saw and nail gun and she's content! (Just Kidding!)

Anyway....While proudly walking into the house last night, excited to tell the family and more importantly my little girl about this new dollhouse we were going to whip together, my wife started laughing at me! Apparently her Grandmother has built a few dollhouses in her time and my wife began to inform me that this will not take a few days as I had anticipated, but instead a few years!! Now.... Believe me, I like a good challenge, and as I said, am in the construction field and certainly have all the tools I'll need to do this ..... With that said...... A FEW YEARS TO BUILD?? REALLY?

I couldn't find much in this dollhouse and just wanted to turn to the experts and see what you guys think? Plus if anyone has or can find any links to this particular model that would be great as well.....

Basically, what am I in for with this dollhouse? It seemed like a good buy (and idea) at the time but now... I'm second guessing the whole thing.... I STILL have not opened the box, just in case I decide to sell it instead....I want to do this with my kids but don't know if I have the patients or attention span to put a few years or even 6 months into it.

Any input is greatly appricieated!!

Thank you in advance,
DJ

#2 LindaC

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

keep in mind furniture collections say they are for older children. I think 14 years old for safety reasons. you might want to put this one away for now and get a bulky one with bulky furniture. your son would probably prefer a barn and stable or a war type layout.

I was given a shell of a house 15 years ago because an 11 and 14 year old were mistreating it. Same with another a few years later but I passed that one on to another senior. When I finally decided what I wanted to do with my shell (additions to each end) it was a year and a half ago. I do deal with health issues and life issues as well but yes to do mine would be considered years.

wishing you well.

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#3 Contrary Housewife

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 04:14 PM

Congrats on finding a nice kit at a bargain price. My experience with house kits large and small is that unless you have all day every day for a week it is going to take a while to get the shell built. Between sanding, trimming pieces, sanding, doing dry-fit, sanding and waiting for glue to dry it just takes time to assemble it properly. If you're working on it in your spare time between scraping together a living and looking for work, I'd say give yourself a week or three to do the basic assembly.

Now, many of us like to paint the walls, put wallpaper in, stain the floors, etc as we go because many times it is easier to do that in and unfinished house where you have access to all the surfaces. This adds time to your assembly process, measuring, fitting, trimming and letting things dry properly. I'd say if you're doing this part time/spare time basis you should allow yourself a month or two to get to the point where the house is assembled and the interior is stained/painted/papered.

After that you're looking at finishing the exterior, which can be a simple paint job, or it can be as ornate as you desire. I can tell you that shingles look great, but take time to put down on the roof. You can probably bang through the roof of your house in a day or two.

I'll venture a guess and say it probably took Grandmother a few years to completely furnish her house, because that is where a lot of the fun is, in picking out the perfect accessories and furnishings for each room. For most of us, the house is never really finished, we just stop working on them.

There are people here who start a house and have it furnished and finished in a couple months, maybe less. Then there are people like me who started a house in 1984, took it apart, started it again in 1995, ignored it for years, and are still trying to finish it in 2012. It just depends on how much energy you want to put into it.

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#4 CourtofGypsies

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 04:55 PM

I've never built a Duracraft house so I can't tell you how much prep work there might be but don't be discouraged. It shouldn't take years if you are building a simple house without bells and whistles and crystal chandeliers. If this particular kit is huge and or has a bunch of turrets and spires and who knows what else (I tried to find a photo of it online but couldn't) you might want to sell it and then buy something a little simpler like the Primrose or heck, buy the Greenleaf Spring Fling kit, build it with your kiddos and enter it in the contest so we can all see what you did together! :) This is a wonderful forum with lots of helpful, sharing folks.
If this is something you want to do with your kids, I think it's great and don't worry about how long (shame on your wife*grin*) it might take. It really shouldn't take that long. You sound like a wonderful and patient dad :D
I do agree that a kit of this type probably isn't going to build a three year old proof toy...but if the building of the house together with your kids is the most important part...go for it :D
I have my own tornado, she's four and a total terror...whoever made up that phrase "terrible twos" just hadn't made it to year three yet.
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#5 havanaholly

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:46 PM

I have built two Dura-Craft kits, the San Franciscan (the SF555 version) and the Cambridge, and I have a Newberg still in the box. The first one took me 3 1/2 years because it was my first-ever kit and I knew NOTHING whatsoever about building a dollhouse; also, I was attending Nursing School full time earning my RN and working part time. The second kit took me a year because I was decorating as I went along and also working full time, so in no parrticular hurry. I would wait until your peewee daughter is at least 8 or 9. Or you can send it to me and I'll build it one of these days (if I live to be 142; I have about 15 unbuilt kits waiting, plus got caught 1/4 way thorough rehabbing/ rebuilding a Pierce by our moving ourselves to a new house in another state and now stymied whilst waiting to have a workshop built.
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#6 DisasterDJ

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:47 PM

LindaC, Contrary Housewife & CourtOfGypsies .... First of all thank you for your responses, second of all... Crystal Chandeliers? Wall Paper? Stained Floors? WOW! I honestly had NO idea there was so much involved! I mean I guess I've never really thought about it as this is my first attempt at even considering building one... I guess I just assumed wall paper came installed and shingles were all together on a sheet!

I Now envision the following... Me chasing my 3 1/2 yr old through the house 🏃as she tries to eat one of the shingles...Cause it looks like a piece of chocolate..... while doing so my 11 year old inadvertently glues the one of the windows to his own finger and my wife sitting in the living room with a grin on her face! 😂SOUNDS FUN!

Seriously though, it does sound pretty neat and I am acctually considering attempting it.... As a long term project though..but prob will do it with my son over time and in the mean time just get another (more suitable) one for my daughter to play with.... Maybe it can be something that my wife and daughter can continue in a few years as far as the furnishings.

Two questions:
1)What material/Tools do I need to make this project go as smooth as possible.
2)Can these (or any) doll house be wired for electricity? I am, after all an electrician, so naturally I have already thought about trying to wire in some lights.

Thanks again!
DJ

#7 KathieB

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:08 PM

Good luck, DJ! With your attitude, sounds like you'll have a good time. :)

Tools --
  • eXacto knives, utility knife, very sharp!
  • a small handsaw and miter box (eXacto makes one; there are others)
  • a rotary tool, like a Dremel, is good to have for sanding, drilling, etc., but not essential
  • Sandpaper (emery boards are good for sanding small pieces)
  • Wood glue or white glue for construction
  • Lots of masking tape and painter's tape to use to hold pieces in place while glue is drying. Small clamps are also good to have on hand.
  • Paint, stain ... All surfaces to be painted need to be primed so the acids in the wood don't leach through and cause brown spots sometime down the road. Stained parts should not be primes. You can paint over stain but you can't stain over paint.
As for electrifying, the sky's the limit ... go to Cir-Kit Concepts to check out the components and give a look at Hobby Builders Supply for additional light fixtures.

#8 DisasterDJ

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:58 PM

Havanaholy.... Sounds reasonable.... 142 years.... let's go ahead and schedule it and since I don't actually Know the names of my Great, Great, Great Grand Children at this time, Let's just address it From Great Great Great Grandpa with Love 👴



#9 DisasterDJ

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 07:05 PM

KathieB..... Thanks for the detailed tool list and links, I am just floored at how big of a hobby this is and how that such a small house can be such a big project! It's a hobby that I didn't even know existed until this morning so I have alot to learn if I'm going to accomplish this.

I almost feel like I need to pull a building permit first thing Monday morning!😄

Thanks again for the info!

#10 havanaholly

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 09:40 PM

This probably won't be your only house. I built the first kit for the eldest granddaughter and the second one for me (it has since gone to one of the neighbors' granddaughter who kept eyeing it longingly whenever she came over), I've sold about a half dozen or so of the ones I've built andfor myself right now I have a pub that started out a Glencroft, a Magnolia that's a Florida Cracker house, a 1:24 Mexican hacienda and a 1:24 Bar harbor summer cottage (two Fairfields). and a white plastic version of the Orchid I use for a Christmas decoration. I'm rehabbing a Pierce that will go to another granddaughter, if things with her parents ever settle down; otherwise I'll keep it to play with. The other kits I have and build will either go to other children or get sold if I get buyers. In the course of building I got the bug to make furniture and dolls and accessories to fill the houses, since I have the tools anyway...
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#11 rodentraiser

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:24 PM

Hmmm..as I remember, Duracraft houses go together fairly fast because of how they are structured. I think the kit you have is fairly old, so I don't know if this is how it's put together but here's how most Duracraft houses are built: You have channels that go in vertically on the edges of the base. Then there are pieces that are smooth on one side and milled on the other side to look like several pieces of siding together. These pieces are about an inch or two wide and the lengths are varied and they will slide down between the wood channels you will glue into your base. These are the walls inside and out. So you build your walls by sliding these pieces down on one another, and using shorter pieces to leave gaps for windows and doors.

This makes for a fast build - I think you can get the house together in a couple days if not in one day if you just do that - but there are a few other things that could be a problem. The channels stick out slightly from the wall and that makes Duracraft a unique challenge for decorating. Because the channels make the corners of the house, from the inside it will look like in every corner you have a post. This makes it difficult to do interior baseboard and cove molding in a continuous run around the insides of the walls. If you are planning to run tape or round wire around the inside of your house, that could be difficult because of this too. There are a lot of people here who have built Duracraft houses, so I'm sure they can give you some good tips. I have a solution for this particular problem, but it takes a lot of time and work. It's not difficult, it's just that you may not want to do it because it is so time consuming. Of course, if you just have large flat walls that just glue or nail in, then none of this applies.

Otherwise, I don't think there is a great deal of sanding on the Duracraft houses. I don't think the siding needs to be sanded, maybe just the interior walls. The glue will have to dry, but I think you can continue to stack walls while they're drying and if you want to put an entire wall together (they'll go together like real modular homes) and let it dry, then you can be putting together and/or painting windows while waiting on it.

The plus side with your house is that everything is there. You won't have to buy any additional windows or doors if you don't want to replace what comes in the kit, and I wouldn't recommend that for your first house. Same with the stairs, Build your first house as it was meant to be built and decide how you would upgrade with the second. Yes, if you get addicted, there will be a second, and a third...etc.

I personally decorate after the house is together, but I do paint and stain floors, windows and staircases before they go in. Just my preference. I don't like making templates for the wallpaper in my houses (too impatient), so I got a metal right angle ruler and a sharp exacto knife and learned to measure accurately, then I overcut a wee bit and trim to size by eye. Most of the time I'm successful.

Did you say your house is for your small daughter?? Because if it is, they will be happy with just a coat of paint on the walls and nothing else. Instead of putting down individual strips of wood on the floors that need to have three coats of stain and finish, you can buy a wallpaper that looks like a wood floor and glue it on far cheaper and faster - things like that. Some small children are very careful with their dollhouses, but most of them at 3 1/2 can be pretty destructive too. Not saying yours is, but you don't want to put a lot of work into a house that will be color crayoned on the walls or have the plastic poked out of the windows. You know her best, so you have to make that decision. Most of the people here make houses for themselves. Myself, if anyone under the age of 18 touched my house, I'd probably break their arms. LOL But if you look at the gallery and see all the work and time spent on some of the houses, you'd probably understand why you wouldn't want to get that fancy with what for now is essentially a child's toy. What you can do is make this dollhouse for her and then plan on giving her a beautiful, more superior dollhouse when she's 12 or so (although that's a nice house on its own). If you start that now, it can be finished the way you want by the time she's that age.

Anyway, have fun and if you have any questions, just ask. Everyone here will help and some people here are very, very knowledgeable about dollhouses and can give you all the tips and tricks you need.

I will look around for a pic of the house and if I find one, I will post it here.

#12 MiniCrazy

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:49 PM

Posted ImageNice find! Looks like a large house. I'm currently working on the Dura Craft 600 Victorian, also a large house. If it is the "Real wood" type listed on the description it is tounge and groove walls. They go together like tounge and groove flooring except they make walls supported in the corners by channeled corner posts. I see this post started awhile back so you have probably made your decision by now but my opinion is this house is a little fragile for a young child but it will take awhile to build so... anyway have fun with it.
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#13 havanaholly

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:20 PM

My first-ever kit was a DC SF555 I built for the eldest granddaughter, and seeing what her mom let her younger cousins do to it taught me to reinforce the glue bonds with nails or heavy duty steel staples.
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#14 Starfire

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 12:55 PM

Hum.....This maybe better as a "staged" project, that is you do the basic put together but leaving off the windows and doors for the first stage (little hands tend to reach in). Paint it and decorate it with very basic plastic furniture. Not sure what the current "miniature" character toys are for her age group but I am sure she has some favorites. Young ones at that age don't appreciate accurate decorating details and just use it as a very basic play structure. I have found the houses with "crayon" drawings, bathroom and kitchen stuff in odd places, windows bashed in, used as stable for animals etc. The next stage would be when she is a few years older and and you could "remodel" the house with windows and better more recognizable furniture.

Holly , Linda and Ct of Gypsies are correct, a smaller simple build that is strong enough to take a lot of hard play may be best at this point, but at $30 you would not be badly off financially if you bit the bullet and built it.

And you are correct this is a very large hobby and there is a big difference in the "play" dollhouse and the "adult collector" version.

In any event welcome to the group and let us know what you decide and we are great at helping out too. We are willing"enablers"!

#15 havanaholly

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 02:30 PM

I'm with Beverly! Go with something simple & sturdy (I'm REALLY partial to the sturdy wooden open designs likme Melissa & Doug make, for very small children. Especially if you're going to fight with the DC kit's issues you want to wait until she's older to turn her loose on it.
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#16 Starfire

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 04:03 PM

Doug and Melissa builds are great for kids. I have done three for various relations and all have stood up well to little tykes. It looks like I may be remodeling one I dit seven years ago for a cousin's little girl.

#17 doc

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 12:06 PM

Each one of my 4 kids got a dollhouse in the sub-5 year old neighborhood. The boys got lighthouses and barns, the girls got regular dollhouses. The most successful was a playscale house, but tho one universal thing that each of them did was to break something - just to see if it could break, I think. And each of them then got to help with the fixing.
I always let them help, but 7 was really the age where the 'help' helped.

Look at www.dollhouseworkshop.net/electrical/wiring.html to see about wiring your house.

My preferred method is to stain the floors, roller-paint everything one coat, sand with a palm sander, then assemble. You could have a shell up without windows and doors in a couple of weekends.

Edited by doc, 07 September 2012 - 12:07 PM.


#18 Selkie

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 12:51 PM

Speaking of windows ... for smaller kiddos it is sometimes advisable to leave the "glass" part out and add it when they are older. Mine, anyhow, love to poke, poke, poke at anything and everything and then "uh-oh - gram, the window is broken, can you fix it?" It is really made from an acrylic or plastic type product that scratches and breaks quite easily. Also some glues can make it cloudy looking so select carefully.

For kids, I say the "screw and glue" (but NO hot glue) method is the most secure - like you would in your construction world. Go for strength.

Decorations, furniture, appliances, etc. can be handmade until someone wants to spend the time and money on the fancy $$$$ stuff. We make a lot of our things out of craft wood, trims from lumber yards and scraps and we use an EZ-cutter with a angle plate (similar to what you might call a handheld mitre box with angle capabilities.) Lots of "pretties" can be made from old costume jewelry and beading supplies. Floors can be made with Popsicle sticks or skinny sticks and then stained or painted. Same goes for wainscoting and crown moldings. Super cheap and sturdy for little fingers.
Good luck and remember to lower your expectations. It is more fun when you don't expect perfection !! :xmas_groucho: Ask me how I know that ...... :tomato:

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