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2018 21’ fish house build

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Figured I would post me and my brothers build on here since this is where I got most of the information from. Thanks to lipripper for posting his builds and answering questions. I pretty much based the house off of his with a couple of my own tweaks. Im not sure how pictures are posted on this it’s looking like they will all be at the end of my post so maybe I’ll start with one post then keep adding to it so the pictures stay in some order ( I was bad at taking pictures so I probably missed some stuff) So here we go...


The frame is a Berkon 21’ with a 4’ V galvanized. We called berkon and the guy said they had one frame left and it was $700 cheaper than normal price since they were changing something for ice castle so we put money down to hold it then he called and said ice castle needed it but they were going to make us a new one (this was the start of our struggles). Which actually worked out nice since we could move some bracing around and move the hydraulic pump to a different spot. We had them move the back center brace so we could have 3 holes between our couches similar to papabear. We  thought about doing aluminum but the guy at berkon said the weight savings would only be about 700 lbs and I personally don’t like how aluminum seems to get brittle in the cold. 

Prior to getting the frame I tried to order as much stuff as I could think of like others have said to do but since this was our first fish house I wasn’t 100% sure on everything. I used google sketch to layout the studs and the windows. Hoping everything would work out as planned. 










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Next up was cutting all the 2”x1” tubing. My brother picked up this little bandsaw off hsolist that worked pretty well. Using sketch up was great, everything could be laid out and you knew exactly what length to cut everything. 



Once everything was cut we started welding it up. Built each wall on saw horses and once we got to the last wall we finally had a system down, go figure. 




once we got all the walls made we leveled out the frame. Had to add a bunch of weight to the back to try and get it flat. This is where I wish we had a flat driveway. After we got everything good and level we started welding the walls to the frame and to each other. 





The next day was the roof. From looking at other builds I thought people were just running one piece of tubing across and just attaching to the two sides but as we found out that does not work. We tried that and the top of each side wall had way to much of a wavy look. Closer look at other builds looks like people made the roof the same as the walls on some saw horses so everything was square and then set it in between all the outer walls. We ended up doing something similar but we turned the inside roof length piece on its side so it was more of a strong back which minimized any waviness of the tubing. 



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Next up was prepping the studs for the VHB tape. I scratched up each stud with a fine wire wheel attached to a drill then wiped clean with isopropyl. We went with 1/2” VHB tape since we got it for next to nothing. Around the windows and some other areas we did two strips of tape to cover the whole stud but most of the studs that were just getting sheeting we did one strip. I would recommend the 1” though it would be a lot faster. 29778E4D-5474-4364-A0CD-1179170CAA02.thumb.jpeg.94e602e05f4083b3470d7af8c14b29f8.jpeg


people are not kidding when they say there are no second chance. The corner piece that is sitting inside had to be kicked off and we never even pressed on it. Good thing we had one extra sheet but no more mistakes could happen after that. The place we were working at had a bender we could use to get our corner bends which worked out great. 

The windows are from menards. I custom ordered them which turned out to be cheaper than buying the stock jeldwen ones which didn’t come in the sizes we wanted. The first shipment of windows came in and when I went to pick them up two of the 4 had cracked glass and the guy working goes “so you don’t want these?” I was like no I don’t want a broken window. So we had to go and re order new ones. Two weeks go by and I realized I never got an email confirming my order so I went back in to check on the status of my order and the guy said they never got reordered. At this point I almost lost hope in all of humanity but tried to stay calm. Finally got all the windows installed and the siding put on. A9B0DABD-F84F-4342-ADFA-E512C9A9C0FD.thumb.jpeg.cd1bcb52435156b8503ff697a08a6d17.jpegF1142730-2887-4F63-AFE1-D0801E667E6B.thumb.jpeg.dfe22b308da5fb427d1b876bf46c567e.jpegB241AFC2-FA31-4680-B3C5-CF84B0F97E5C.thumb.jpeg.dc2472a9ad6ed6d1d15fff4053429713.jpeg

We wanted to try and do rounded wheel well so the picture above is prior to trimming the edges. 


We tried using the 1/4” HDPE plastic sheets which looked pretty good. The next day when the sun hit that wheel well it expanded out about 3”. I wanted to screw it down and see if that helped control where it expanded but my brother wanted to scrap that idea. We ended up just using some steel sheeting and welded it up. All the corners and seems where water could get in was welded and then the whole wheel well was welded to the wall studs and a little bit of the frame. 21DB45A1-15E1-4D11-B47F-D9972472BEBC.thumb.jpeg.ed52b17f1b6848e35f0c3052c2fd5326.jpeg8B4B98B3-E470-4056-AA67-D73D084C4228.thumb.jpeg.58ef60960963877709211e7b4355f9eb.jpeg


Since the wheel well sees a lot of snow and salt we wanted it to be durable. The Berliner stuff you can buy usually doesn’t hold up so we brought it to a guy and had it sprayed. He said it should last forever and if we ever have any issues just bring it in and they will fix if. 37210145-425E-4697-9F85-F22D178F22C6.thumb.jpeg.11e32fef8388710f8afe94e5fb1c9b0f.jpeg


I think they turned out pretty good and I think the rounded look is just something different than the traditional square wheel well. 



Our door came from FishnStyle in shakopee, they sell firebrand so this is the same door they use. It’s made by a company called challenger doors.


312FAB33-1AE8-45F9-8608-BF308CAB0DE7.thumb.jpeg.fc7652d043b361e6b0d756ea4f46f6bd.jpegWe cut a piece of aluminum sheeting so it would fit perfectly over the white color it came with. We used the thin VHB seam tape to attach the aluminum sheet to the white aluminum skin of the door. Only other thing we had to do was cut our a small hole so the door handle could go through. The whole door is held on by VHB tape and I also threw in a couple of stainless self tappers since the door came with pre-drilled holes. 



For the roof we did a one piece aluminum roof held on by VHB tape. I guess I didn’t take a picture of that but we got it from a local semi trailer repair company in Blaine for a couple hundred bucks 

The roof trim is 3”x1/4” aluminum flat stock and the trailer lights are mounted to that. 

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We are still going to put a piece along the bottom but I’m not a fan of diamond plate so we are going to try some annondized aluminum. 


We were going to get some decals for the side but I was starting to like the plain look so we just went with some small things for now. 


I think that about wraps up the outside and I think I have to quit for the night people weren’t kidding when they say writing these up takes awhile. I’ll post the inside stuff tomorrow. 

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Next up was installing the floor. We went with 3/4” marine grade plywood. I also coated both sides and all edges with a water sealer just to be sure. 



After installing the plywood floor we put the furring strips in and ran the wiring. 




Each wire goes back the front wall where I made a little panel. The front wall has an opening for a 55” TV that sits flush in the wall. The little squares above and below the tv opening are for in wall speakers. 


This is half of the wires the other side of the panel has the other half. 


This is all the positive wires coming through the front wall and behind the panel. I forgot to take a picture of the back of the panel after I cleaned it up and put the negative wires through. 


Here is a picture of the front of the panel while I was booking everything up. All the positive wires on the left and negative on the right. My wiring is a lot different than most shacks. I’ve never made a panel like this before so I didn’t really know what to order. The terminals that the wires go into are called din rail terminal blocks the snap onto a little piece of aluminum called a din rail.  Later I found stackable ones that would have saved space but I like how it turned out. Each terminal block has a slot in it where you can put a jumper. So everything that was going to be on one switch would be jumpered together. Things on a different switch would be jumpered and so on. The terminal blocks have a hole on the top where one wire comes in and gets screwed down to hold it and there is the same on the bottom. So once the terminal blocks are jumpered to things you want on the same switch you only need one wire out the bottom. Things that were ran off of the switch went out the bottom and over to the relay board. You do the same for each thing you want to run off a different switch just run a wire to a different relay. The long green rectangle thing on the right is a relay board. Our house has 12 light switches not all of them are used yet but they can be so I bought a relay board with 12 spdt relays. The green square on the left is an arduino which is basically like a mini computer chip that you can program. I’ll explain more once I get to what our switches look like. The bottom right of the panel is for the trailer lights and brakes and all the stuff that hooks up to the truck.  I eventually replaced these normal terminal blocks with the din rail style. 


Here is the wiring panel all finished up. 


The reason for using all the relays and arduino was so I could use this light switch and eventually be able to control everything from a smart phone. In the fish house we have 2 of these switches which each have 6 buttons on them. Each switch has a set of cat 5 cable running to it. One set is connected to the atduino board and sends a signal saying the button was pressed. 


The other cat 5 wire is to send a signal to turn on and off a little light next to the button when it is pressed



Here is the back of the switch. So basically how it works is the arduino has pins on it that can send or receive signals it also has pins that can send 5 vdc or 3vdc. So one wire from the arduinos 5 v pin hooks up to the back of the switch where it says sc (switch common 5v coming in). A different wire connects a different arduino 5 v pin to the terminal that says pc (pilot common which is just the little lights next to the buttons). So when a button is pressed a brief 5 v signal is sent from the arduino to the switch which goes through board on the switch and to the wire terminal that is for that button the signal is then sent back to a digital pin (receiving pin) of the arduino on a digital pin. The arduino has to be programmed to receive different signals on the pins you want. Once the arduino sees that a button was pressed it sends a signal over to the relay board saying a button was pressed close the relay that corresponds to that button. When the relay closes it allows the 12v to go to whatever you want to turn on. The nice thing about how this system works is everything can be changed in a matter of minutes. Say I wanted to have the ceiling lights be on button 4 instead of 1 you just have to change a couple of numbers in the code and plug the arduino into your computer and upload the updated code. I’m sure I lost most people right away and I’m not sure if anyone else would even want to do something similar but If so you can message me and I can try and explain it better. Before this I’ve never done anything like this so I had to learn all of this online and how to write little bits of code and do all that which was fun but also frustrating at times since I didn’t have anyone to go to with my questions. 


Not sure If this video will work or not. 



Edited by Trick1441

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That looks GREAT! You did right on the wheel wells, diamond plate is horrible to keep up. Mine is getting either POR 15 or bedliner this fall.Keep going, ice comes pretty fast when your trying to finish a build. Plus it's a lot nicer working conditions than Late November. Very good pictures, these build are fun to watch. 

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The house is done I’m just slowly putting pictures up and describing it. 


Next thing we did was have it spray foamed. Which was a nightmare we went with the cheaper guy which was a mistake. I would not recommend American Spray foam which is who we used. After it was spray foamed we started the in floor heat similar to liprippers 2017 build. We put down 2 layers of 3/4” 250 pink foam board. In the top layer we used a router to make a groove where we wanted our pex to go worked out pretty slick. Next we put down as many heat transfer plates as we could. We used these little pex clips that got screwed into the plywood to hold the pex down around bends and a few straight places. Next we Pushed the pex into the heat transfer plates and the clips. We did ours with one zone that was around 120’ of pex. 


I took a bunch of pictures of where all the pex ran with the tape measure showing how far away each line was from walls and stuff so We didn’t screw into it accidentally 





We then put a layer of aluminum over all the pex. 




We then stained all our pine tongue and groove. We used Jacobean then went over it with grey for a little different look. I think it turned out pretty good. For the trim pieces and cabinets we used special walnut. After the pine was stained we started nailing it to the furring strips. DFFE389B-6988-48ED-88BC-15BD28321AD0.thumb.jpeg.7e98864502d73c41ea8fc68245720096.jpeg

For the window casings we used cedar in case there was any condensation. For the window trim we used pine. Once we got to this point I was a little nervous thinking our stain looked like something you’d see in your grandparents house but we kept going. 78724730-0BCD-4DFD-8B17-6D5179B16D24.thumb.jpeg.59d13b2e1f12648b88c519006d87af6d.jpeg

All these wires are for the lights and speakers we put in the lift bed. 


We kind of installed lights and other things as we went. 


Soms of the tongue and groove pine looked really cool and unique when we were staining and we set those aside and used them on the front wall. We thought about doing some fake stone looking stuff  but we were feeling the time crunch. 


Next we started making some upper cabinets and finishing the window casings and trim. We’ve never done any of this so we were just kind of learning as we went. 




Once we got the upper cabinets made we screwed them in place. 



next we put up the backer for the tv. We used 3/4” pine I think they were 10” wide. Wasn’t exactly sure which tv we were getting and they all vary a bit in size so we stained it in case you could see behind it. Oh I forgot we also put the rubber coin floor down. We purchased it from garage floor LLC. The first roll they sent took like a month to get and it was the wrong floor but after I told them I needed the right floor right away they had the new roll on the doorstep the next day which was surprising. The floor got screwed down under cabinets and where the hole covers went. But by the time we got to the floor it was cold already and new we would have to figure something out in the summer when it got hot and expanded. So this summer when it was good and hot we pulled the edges of the floor tight and used some left over VHB tape which actually worked to keep it tight. F06252CB-5C7D-4987-AE53-AC166BFFA514.thumb.jpeg.a9386c99360a159acfc32ccad5c07be8.jpeg

After the floor was done we started piping the in floor heat. We accidentally broke the  insulation around the water heater which is why it’s taped. We put some unions off of the pump in case it fails. We use the furnace to get the house up to temp while the floor is heating up but once everything is up and running the furnace never kicks on. I was trying to figure out how I wanted to control the system and was trying to ask lipripper questions but he has a patent on his so he couldn’t really answer. 


What I ended up doing was running 5v from the arduino board to the thermostat. I then ran a wire from the thermostat to my relay board. The relay board I am using  closes the circuit when it gets 5 volts. So when the thermostat calls for heat 5 volts is allowed to pass through the thermostat back to the relay board closing the circuit that I have wired to the hydronic pump. You could use any relay for this just have to pick the voltages that you have available in your fish house. So I’m not really sure how lipripper did his but that is how I did mine and it works. F7A626A3-7349-4585-81D2-1359ADC81322.thumb.jpeg.3d408534a6b39082dc334fd6debb7411.jpeg

The whole in floor heat system fits under the front couch. I call this the mechanical room since all the moving parts are under this couch. We have the hydronic system, the hydraulic pump to raise and lower the fish house and our batteries. Only have the one battery in this picture but we have one battery for our hydraulics and two 6v gold cart batteries wires in series for everything else. The two 6v batteries are charged by the converter and the single battery is charged by a one bank minnkota  on board charger. 





Edited by Trick1441
Wrong picture

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Next we made the back benches that our couches sit on. These things are very comfortable. The couches are the same ones they use in the firebrand fish houses. Matt from fish n style ordered them for us.  



Both fold out to be beds. We also bought a 4” thick piece of foam that can go over the whole thing to make one bed when it’s used for camping. 


Under each couch we made drawers. I figured it would be a pain to have to lay on the ground and open some doors to get something. They actually can hold a ton of stuff. 


Both rear couches have the drawers. 




Next we started working on our cabinets above the wheel wells. The two inside openings have doors and the outer two are soft close drawers. 





We then made some countertops. They were actually really easy to make. 


For our our upper bunk in the back we wanted it to be a lift bed. We did similar to what lip ripper did without the strut trolly things. We used some plastic that just keeps the bed within the strut. For our unistrut we found some super light aluminum strut that worked great. We are going to make a black cover to go over the foam.A7260157-BD3B-4197-AB49-4B29B84EE74F.thumb.jpeg.d571f74f37321844c8007730f4e34538.jpeg


inside the bed looks like this. 





We have two motors inside the bed. One motor runs one side and the other runs the other. So basically the motor is in the middle and two cables come off of the wheel going opposite directions. Each cable goes around a pulley so now they are both heading for the wall. Once they get to the edge of the bed there is another pulley that directs the cable up towards the ceiling. On top of the strut we have a bolt that the cable is connected to. Each side does this. And the motors are wired together and are ran by a switch. We have holes drilled at different heights on the strut for pins to go through and the bed then rests on the pins. The motors were kind of pulling the bed up at different speeds so we contacted the motor company and they said thar getting two motors to go exactly the same speed without spending a ton of money is very hard to do. So we are going to try and either find one motor to somehow control all four sides or somehow connect the two motors with a shaft. But it does go up and down just one side ends up being about an inch higher once you get to the top. 


Next up finished pictures. 












Edited by Trick1441

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Alright here’s the finished product. I think it turned out pretty nice. Still need a stove/ range but working on it. 



Underneath the lift bed there are 7 lights and two speakers. There are 4 lights above the lift bed. The 3 middle lights underneath are on one button the outer 4 are on a different button and above are on a separate button. 


55” smart tv recessed into to wall. The speakers really kick out some sound in this thing though. The tv sound comes out of the 5 speakers in the house which are all ran through the stereo and an amp. 






Hole lights 


Single light above the stove area 


This door is for the satellite receiver. The black center piece is tinted acrylic so you can still use the remote with the door shut. The hole just below the tv is also so you can use the tv remote. 


Battery monitor 


Supply and return water temperatures for the in floor heat. I was actually really surprised I got my 20 degree delta t I calculated for. 


Lights above lift bed. Lift bed in lowest position. Could go lower but that’s just where we put the lowest at. 


Different height if people are sleeping below. 


Folding table. 


These are the cabinets inside the bathroom wall. These are only about 9” deep but I think they will be deep enough for a little more storage. The converter is in here as well it is just above the wiring panel. And the large center square is a false front so you can access the tv wires. I think we are going to go with the dry flush toilet. I put a little 12 v outlet in there so it can br ran off the house batteries.  



The only other thing I did that i don’t know if others have done is I wired the rear porch light to the reverse wire of the trailer plug. So when you put the truck in revers that porch light comes on and lights everything up. 


I think that’s everything. Feel free to ask any questions if you have any. And thanks again to lipripper and others for posting their builds the information was a ton of help and sorry if I copied too much of your design. 



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Thanks for taking the time to do a write up and post all the pics! That alone is a big undertaking in itself. Nice work.


any idea what finished weight is for the entire house? 


And just a ballpark figure are you willing to share what it costs in material to build something like this?


I can’t imagine how many hours of your own labor you got into this build. I think it turned out amazing.

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Just now, rundrave said:

Thanks for taking the time to do a write up and post all the pics! That alone is a big undertaking in itself. Nice work.


any idea what finished weight is for the entire house? 


And just a ballpark figure are you willing to share what it costs in material to build something like this?


I can’t imagine how many hours of your own labor you got into this build. 


It weighed in over what I thought which was disappointing. It was right around 7000 lbs with full propane tanks and some other stuff in it. We actually weighed it just after getting spray foamed and it was already at like 5000 lbs I’m not sure how others that did the same style steel stud house have a finished weight around 5500 lbs. 


The cost in materials was above 20K but below 25 still too scared to finish adding the receipts. We really tried to use the best materials we could find and not cut any corners. When I was pricing stuff out before we started my ballpark was 19K but I forgot to add a tv screws wire and little stuff like that. 


Yeah it took a lot of time but I enjoyed it for the most part. I’m actually getting kind of bored now and don’t know what to do with all the free time. 

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Trick - you made this look too easy - just saying!!!!  Nicely done.  Enjoy!!!

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On 7/20/2018 at 7:03 PM, Duffman said:

Nice work, that looks incredible. And I'm a big fan of the grey motif.


Thanks for the show and write up.

Thanks! We weren’t sure about any of the colors but I think it turned out pretty close to what we had envisioned. 


On 7/24/2018 at 12:55 PM, Hoey said:

Trick - you made this look too easy - just saying!!!!  Nicely done.  Enjoy!!!


Thank you! I wouldn’t say it was easy, but for the most part it wasn’t too bad. It just felt like it was taking longer than we thought but we would have rather had that than not like something once we were done. 


On 7/24/2018 at 2:24 PM, pikestabber said:

No doubt in my mind--that's the nicest fish house I've ever seen. Just incredible work! Kudos!


Thank you, couldn’t have done it without people like lipripper and others posting their builds and answering questions. 



3 hours ago, nofishfisherman said:

Great looking house.  My only concern is that you may not have gone big enough for the TV. 


I honestly would have went bigger if we could have. That was the only spot we could think of where you could see the tv from every spot, and that’s about as big of a tv as we could fit there. I always like seeing how other fish houses are laid out, most of them are not that great and I haven’t seen any new layouts that would work better. 



4 hours ago, Lip_Ripper Guy said:

Nice work!  I think that many (most) of use who have done these higher end builds end up being too scared to tally up the receipts at the end :)


Thank you, your builds were a ton of help and an inspiration. All the materials add up quick but in the end I think it’s worth it. 

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WOW! That's some solid work there, man! Great job! 


I took on a boat rebuild this spring and, while no where near the level of this, I am very familiar with the trials and tribulations of trying to accomplish a task like this. Cheers to you! 


Going over your time and money budgets is a give-in on these projects. 


Enjoy your new toy! 

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Top Notch!! Every time our furnace runs I like the idea of in floor heat more and more.

I used this motor to lift our bed:




Looks like its not available at amazon anymore but you could probably track one down with a little googling. Has been working really well.

Really nice job and thanks for sharing!!

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