Let me start by saying:
#1 - I have very few carpentry skills, tools and/or building knowledge.
#2 - I already have built one coop....not pretty, not fancy, but it works and it keeps predators out. (It was built in a rush, my chickens lived in my downstairs bathroom WAYY too long)
#3 - This is basically going to be a detailed write-up for myself as well as anyone out there who is nervous about building their first coop. Initially I was very intimidated with the thought of building with enough ventilation, but not too drafty, warm for the winter, cool for the summer, predator proof on EVERY level etc. etc. It can be a bit overwhelming.....
#4 - I'm going to apologize now, my grammar/spelling is atrocious (I'm a physicist....numbers not words!!!) My stories are usually way too long and detailed and I get side tracked quite a bit…
My wife and I have decided to expand our flock (if you consider 2 buff orpingtons a flock) and pick up 2 or 3 buff brahma bantams (looking for a local breeder). This means that my 2'x4' coop will be obsolete very shortly.
Now, YES we love our chickens, but NO we can’t spend $1000 on a coop, or even $300 on a coop…we decided to salvage as MUCH material as possible to keep the cost low, which will allow us to pay a little more for the important things to keep our girls safe.
Step 1 - Size.....that was easy.....4 chickens at 4 sqft, that is 16sqft….well maybe 5…yea, 5 chickens at 4 sqft….wait…well, what if we get 6….no, we said 4 or maybe 5…….
Yea…like I said, “the easy part” What?!?!.…chickens are surprisingly addicting. I used to say “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand”….well, now that my jeep is gone…. “It’s a chicken thing, you wouldn’t understand”
Anyway, back to the decision on size (see #4 above). I settled for a 4ftx6ft coop. That gives me 24sqft, which will be plenty when they’re in for the cold New York winters….
Part of the decision for the size was to build in increments of 2ft. This will hopefully give me minimal waste material since most lumber (salvaged or purchased) will be 8ft long. (I realize 4x4 might have made more sense, but that limits me to 4 chickens…again, they’re addicting)
Step 2 – Figure out a design…..3 dozen sketches, 14 hours on BYC, 8 pots of coffee, and 3 beers later….NOTHING…..
I’m guessing like quite a few of you, step 2 is VERY difficult.
So I do things a little backwards (if you’re as indecisive as I am, maybe try my method)….I go to the salvage store, find some cool stuff on the cheap, then design the coop AROUND your stuff…for me, it was these old window sashes…..
At $3 each at the local salvage store, why not.…..yea, they’re glass, but a little 1/4 inch hardware cloth behind them will keep the chickens from getting to the glass as well as protect them in case a predator trys to go through the glass.
I also found these cedar planks (not in the greatest shape, but with a little light sanding they'll make a great floor.....10 inches wide, 1/2 inch thick and 8 feet long....at $2 each....that gives me a coop floor for about $8. I'm $14 into the coop.....so far so good....
Now I also found some 2x3s at the salvage store, so I'm going to be building with 2x3s. I figure that it will be small enough that it doesn't need 2x4s and I can always add 1 or 2 extra supports if I need to and still save quite a bit of money (again, no building expertise here)
Now I can handle Step 2….design……2 windows, one on the long wall next to a door, one on a short wall. DONE…..
Step 3 – Stick to design. (Haha, what a joke)
My wife can attest for this….I absolutely CAN NOT, stick with a decision I made!!! I have a few more days off before the fall teaching semester begins. I sit at home and design/build the coop while my wife is at work…the poor girl…. I must have called her 8 or 9 times a day asking her what she thinks of my “new plan” convincing her every time I called: “I’m definitely going to do it this way…it makes the most sense…” Only to call her 20 minutes later with new BETTER ideas!!!
My solution to my step 3 predicament…….start cutting wood and building and see where the coop takes you.
I believe it was Michelangelo who said “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”
Well, “Every pile of wood has a coop inside of it, it is up to ME to figure out how the heck it all goes together”
I at least got the “floor” done. Just used my father’s shop saw and some screws to rip out a ~ 4’x6’ platform….
Edited by JeepDVL45 - 8/22/13 at 8:58am