In late January of 2018 we acquired 9 fertilized barnyard mix eggs from a co-worker and we also borrowed his incubator. Just like a lot of you, we put the cart before the horse.. we thought we would have time to build our dream coop in the 3 weeks it took to incubate and also the 8-10 weeks it took for the 9 baby chicks to outgrow their cardboard brooder box, which was approximately 2'x3'x2'. Now, I am sure all of you chicken veterans are snickering a bit. And in hindsight I wonder how I ever thought that timeline made sense. But for all the research you do and all the preparation you take part in, you never really know until you're there in the moment.
*This was my original sketch to Ryan, it morphed quite a few times and I am sure you can tell from the final pictures that we compromised on a few things here and there. It is one thing to sketch it out but another to actually get it to the finished product.*
These are my not to scale plans. I was having the worst time trying to figure out how to make specific sizes on Google Sketch Up, so I made basic ideas and then used Paint to color coordinate and drop in text boxes for dimensions.
On Jan. 24th we set the eggs and just like all our fellow weekend warrior's, we set out building the base and the first two walls.
Base Materials Used-
(1) 8ft 4x4
(4) 8ft 2x4
36 Deck Screws
1/4" Plywood Sheet (*We do recommend using 1/2")
Nails To Sink Plywood To Base (Could Also Do Screws)
North and East Wall Materials Used-
(8) 8ft 2x4
Scrap of A Cut 2x4
Nails For Assembling Walls and Sinking Walls To Base (Could Also Do Screws)
Pocket Jig Drill Bit
*DO NOTE- WE FLIPPED THE SIDES IN THE VIDEO- WE DID END UP CHANGING IT*
The cut list ends up being:
8ft 4x4 marked and cut at 12", 24", 36" - 3 cuts equal 4 legs
(2) 2x4 marked and cut at 6' 5"
(1) 2x4 marked and cut at 6' 8.5"
(1) 2x4 marked and cut at 3' and 6'
(Assemble To Avoid Confusion)
(1) 4x8 sheet of plywood marked and cut to 3' x 7'
(Assemble To Avoid Confusion)
(5) 2x4 marked and cut at 38.5" (Measure 38.5" from each board end, it's much easier. Need 10.)
(1) Scrap Piece of 2x4 marked and cut to 12"
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After cutting all of your first batch of wood, you now need to use the pocket jig to place two pocket holes in each side of each end, on all of the 2x4's EXCEPT the one that measures 6' 8.5". That one will be the brace connecting the East and West sides, and will be screwed in from the outside.
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Once all pocket holes are made, you will now sink the screws. Remember to put the 2x4 flush with the "top" of 4x4 both length wise and width wise, as pictured. Also, I will add, we decided on pocket holes and anchoring into the 4x4 from the ends of the 2x4 for aesthetic and practical reasons. We didn't plan on putting any siding up so we needed the plywood walls to apron over the base. We wanted a tight seal to the base and this application makes that possible by making everything as flush as possible. No screw heads in the way.
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Time to put in the 6' 8.5" center brace. Now, you probably do not need this piece in such a skinny coop but we figured it would prolong the life of the coop by preventing any sagging that may occur over time. Better safe than sorry. This piece is attached just simply by centering it from both outsides at 18". Two screws, sunk just a little into the wood so the screw head is just past flush, as pictured below.
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*You can also see our reclaimed lumber in this picture. We are using what we have first.*
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Now it's time to attach the flooring! Line up the piece of plywood with two of the sides on the base. Use two clamps to hold down the plywood. Use the drywall T to make a cut line for both sides that are overhanging. This coop base is 3x7 and a sheet of plywood is 4x8. You can always shave off a bit if you have to once the majority is cut off, but you really need it to be cut flush with the base. Nail the flooring into the base and voila! The finished base!
*We learned during this process instead of cutting and then nailing, we should of nailed and then cut. It still turned out the same and nothing moved but just for efficiency we would most likely switch those two. I guess do whichever makes you more comfortable.*
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If you haven't already, cut the remaining pieces of 2x4s to the correct lengths. After they are cut, you are going to assemble the small wall first. This will eventually be the door that the birds will use to go in and out of the coop. Mark the two 3' boards at 12" and 24". Place the stud that is going at the 12" mark, to the LEFT of the mark. Place the stud that is going at the 24" mark to the right of the mark. The two center studs will be 12" from each other. Now, as you can see in the plans of the East Wall, you have to cut a 12" beam from the left over scrap and place it at the 13".
*Note if plan on having an automatic door, you NEED to make sure this opening is the proper size. We were gifted a door after framing and after we put on the walls, so we had to improvise and make our own door that blocked the hole afterwards. Our fix was quite simple, we just had to cut a new piece of metal door that fit in the slide rails. That could not be the case with other door systems though.
This is the point where we will make the large back wall. Mark both the 38.5" pieces of 2x4 every 16" and then place the studs on center. Once you have them lined up to where they are going to go, you can then nail them together. If you prefer you can always screw them in but we had 3" nails at the time so it saved us time and money. These studs are placed equally a long this section simply because we have a fence a long this side where the final product will be located.
Now is the time to nail the first two walls into place. We placed the east wall on first, lined it up, and dry fitted the north wall, then made sure with a scrap piece of 2x4 that they would all fit. It did, so it was made correctly! Haha. It's the small wins I guess. But then we nailed the short wall into place. We then made sure the north wall was flush with the base and nailed it in. For an extra stability measure, we did nail the two walls together. You could use metal braces if you feel inclined, but I really suggest some sort of connection between the two.
Materials List For West and South Walls:
Nails for assembling
(7) 10ft 2x4
(3 boards, 3 per board of the 38.5")
(1 board, 2- 36" and 1- 17.75")
(1 Board, 2- 36" and 1- 20")
(2 boards, 1- 77" and 1- 36" per board)
Cut List For West and South Walls:
*Note: I would strongly suggest labeling what the different lengths, just for ease of use later.*
(9) 2x4 38.5"
(6) 2x4 36"
(1) 2x4 17.75"
(2) 2x4 77"
(1) 2x4 20"
I couldn't find any more video for the following steps but I will try to illustrate with the pictures that I do have and any drawn plans I can make quickly. Naturally, the next two steps will be to make the next two walls. The west wall and the south wall, both that have openings, so that is why we saved them for last.
First though we will make the west wall. This wall includes a human door for cleaning. We placed the door on the left side because on the right we have a very large tree we wanted to butt up to as close as possible for, at the time, maximum run space. (We ended up not having a run at all.)
Once, all of the pieces are cut, the pieces you need for the West wall are:
(3) 2x4 38.5"
(4) 2x4 36"
(1) 2x4 17.75"
You will assemble the basic frame first with the (2) 36" pieces and the (3) 38.5". On the 36" pieces you will need to measure 16" from the right side and nail that stud in on center. Then nail the other 38.5" pieces, on top of and flush with the edge of the 36" piece. Then line up the other 36" piece on top of the already assembled section. Nail it into place. Then you will need the two 36" and the one 17.75" piece(s) to make the frame for the door. This is important especially if you will be adding any sort of heavy items to your door, decorative or otherwise. For our little plywood door, it was over kill, I will admit. Set the 36" pieces against the studs in the larger opening. The last piece will rest on top of these. You can see what I mean in the picture above. You may need to knock it will some force or even shave some off depending how straight your wood is, to make it fit. Then nail these pieces to the assembled section.
Building the South Wall. As you can see in the plans there is a cleaning door we will be framing in. Also, you can see the studs are all placed at irregular distances. This is because we wanted 3 different sized nesting boxes that will eventually come to life in the first 3 openings on the left. So you're going to mark both 77" pieces at 11", 23", 36", and 57". The studs will go to the RIGHT of the mark and of course the two outer studs with go on top and flush to the edge. Nail all the studs in and also line up the top with their corresponding studs and nail those in too. This will be the main frame for the south wall. Next, we will put in the framing for the door. Place one of the 36" pieces to the left of the second stud from the right and the other 36" piece to the right of the third stud from the right. Then you will place the 20" board on top of the 36" pieces. Again, you may need to use some force or shave this board down a bit depending on if your boards are wonky like ours. After they are in the right spot you will nail it all in.
You will now attach these two walls to the base. We suggest dry fitting them to make sure everything lines up how its supposed to. Nail the south wall in first and then the west wall. Then nail all the walls together or brace them somehow for stability. Your choice.
Framing The Roof/ Adding Roof Plywood
Roof Materials List:
(2) 10ft 2x4
(1) 8ft 2x4
(1) 4x8 sheet plywood
3" Nails or Screws
Roof Cut List:
(1- 10ft board, 3- 39.5")
(1- 10ft board, 1- 39.5" and 3- 23.3")
(1- 8ft board, 1 cut 7' and beveled at a 45)
(Scraps- 4- 2x4 cut to 4.75" with 45 bevel)
(plywood cut to 3x7)
So for making the roof, it is pretty easy but it's a lot of random fits instead of building a typical frame. We first mark the top of the South wall at 28.5" and 55.5" then screw the two 4.75" pieces into the top of the South wall ON CENTER with the marks and screw the other two on top of the ends, flush with the edges, the bevel will be facing toward the North wall. These are the baby blue colored things in the South/ East/ West wall plans. Next we will mark the top of the north wall at 28.5" and 55.5". (Do not flip the measurements from the South wall. The 28.5" on the South wall should line up with the 28.5" on the North wall.) Place the 39.5" pieces on top of the 4.75" and on it's corresponding mark on the North wall. They will be balancing there so please be careful. These piece are going to be flush with the North wall. There should be an over hang on the front of the South wall. Next we are going to rough in the 23.3" in between the roof beams, sitting on the back wall. These are shown in brown on the plan above. If everything fits snug you are good to go nailing the loose pieces into place. Now, we are not putting the beam spacers in on the South wall because we are putting lots of ventilation holes in the empty space. It would be difficult to do this if there were spacers there. Next comes the 7' piece of 2x4 that we are going to nail into the over hang. In the plans above, this piece is dark gray. The beveled section will be placed on the bottom, front. My husband is tall, so it was important for me to not put anymore dangerous edges at head level than there needed to be. Finally we can put the plywood on to the roof. Set it on top, make sure it is flush with all the edges and nail into place.
Roughing In The Plywood Walls/ Cutting the Doors/ Final Plywood Wall Attach/ Roost
Wall Material List:
3 Sheets Of Plywood
Nails and/or Screws
2 latch locks
Wall Cut List:
In a perfect world the walls will be exact dimensions and maybe you have really straight wood, but we didn't, so there are no pre-cuts for this section.
For roughing in the walls, you want to have two people on duty so one can hold the board in place and the other can screw the board in. Starting with the South wall, We roughed in our walls by lining up the board with the right edge and butted up to the 2x4 of the over hang. We screwed one screw into the top right corner of the plywood and the top left of the plywood where it meets the last stud. Now, the length of the whole thing should be 7', that should be an easy one to mark. But when it comes to the length, you need to 1. take into account the overhang 2x4's and you want some apron to the bottom where the South wall connects to the base. You could even take it down to the bottom of the 2x4 that joins the two legs of the base. That is up to you and whether you want to have storage space under there or let the birds hang out down there. Either way you need to measure and mark the over hang 2x4's, so you can make notches in the plywood that correspond to those 2x4's. You want it as tight as possible so dont be generous with your measurements. I'd rather you have to fix it 4 times then try to caulk it for years to come cause it has a gap. Then, I would take the plywood board down, cut your extra length off the left side and cut your notches out for the 2x4's. Then screw the wood back into place, this time with the 2x4's in the notches. Now you need to decide what length you want it. Mark and measure if necessary, and before you take it back off the wall, crawl into the structure and mark the hole where the door will be. You just have to trace that whole rectangle that is framed in. Next, your gonna crawl back out, and take the wall down and not only cut the extra length off the bottom, but you're also going to cut the door out. Place your hinges on whichever side you prefer, just remember this build has the laying boxes on the left of the door so I made the door swing out to the right. Connect two hinges and one latch onto the door and the wall, in their respective places. Next You will final install the wall. This will take two people, of course. While one person is lifting, the other person needs to make sure the fit is good and also nail the top two corners first. Step back, make sure it is flush, and continue nailing the wall in so it is secure. We did approximately 4 in each stud, 4 along the length of the floor, 4 across the top, and two above the door. Next you do the exact same thing for the North wall. There aren't any doors on that side or anything, so it should be quick and easy. Then with the remaining piece of plywood, you are going to measure and cut the board in half, lengthwise. You should have a (2) 4x4 pieces when you are done. You are going to take your first piece and screw it to the East wall frame just like you have been doing. You are going to create that top angle by using a square. After you find the angle, you are going to remove the board from the wall and cut this piece off and reconnect in the correct spot. Mark any extra length on the sides and bottom, and crawl inside to trace the hole for the chicken door. Take the plywood down, cut off any extra and cut the door hole. If you do not have an automatic door you will attach, you will need two hinges and a latch for this small door also, which can go on now, then re-attach plywood in the final position. If you have an automatic door, just re-attach the plywood in the final position. Then do that same thing on the West wall. The human door on this side will have two hinges and a latch attached before the plywood is mounted to its final position.
As for the roost we went with one single 2x4 stretching the length of the coop. The ladies don't seem to have a problem with it and it keeps them from fighting over who gets the highest perch. Its about 5" over the chicken door header. It gives them enough space to walk around and get into the lay boxes without ducking. It also is more toward one side so the heavier girls don't have to worry about hitting the walls on the way up or down. All 9 of them fit with extra room in between if they want it. The length is just shy of the full 7' since you have to account for the walls.
Assembling Laying Boxes/ Attaching Laying Boxes
Lay Box Material List:
1 Sheet Plywood
Nails or Screws
Lock That Fits Your Needs
Lay Box Cut List:
(1) 10" x 35.5" (Back Wall)
(1) 12" x 37.75" (Roof)
(1) 13" x 35.5" (Bottom)
(4) 12.5" x 13"* (2 Side Walls and 2 Dividers)
*These boards will also need the beveled cut as seen the the following picture.*
We did not do this right away. We let them become teenagers and got them outside before we even thought about the lay boxes. Ryn got the urge to knock this part of the project out in one weekend and so they were installed a few months before our ladies started to lay. When it came to cutting and assembling the lay boxes, what we really wanted was a few different sizes. We knew our ladies would grow up to have different needs since some where more hefty than others so we really tried from the beginning to give them options. Obviously we were limited in height variations, since we wanted the lay box door to be one piece and not look irregular. So we kept with a general 12.5" height and then sloped it down to a 10" height at the rear wall.
After cutting it's really just assemble and attach. I would recommend attaching directly to the coop. Starting with the floor and side walls. The side walls will sit on top of the floor board as seen in the picture below.
You can see that the slope starts on just the other side of the outside wall. The floor board will sit on the coop floor by about 4.25". The floor board will also need two notches where the two middle 2x4's are located.
You will want to attach the flooring to the coop floor. Then attach the side walls to the floor board with enough space in the back for the back wall to be flush with the floor board. The side walls will also be attached to their designated 2x4. After the floor board and side walls are in you can now put the middle dividers in, making sure to leave that extra bit in the back for the back wall. These will be attached the same as the side walls. Next will be the back wall. Screw or nail it into the side walls and dividers and then into the floor board. *If any of your nails pierce the sides, especially in the boxes, be sure to grind off any sharp bits that could hurt your ladies.*
Next comes the Roof!
You will need to have your hinges ready to fit the door properly. We put only two hinges on our door and they work great even with the weight of the shingles. The hinges were placed on center at 6" from either side of the roof. I would suggest putting the hinge onto the roof piece first and then attach it to the coop wall. The roof should over hang each side of the lay box by approximately 1.125". After the roof is attached this would be the time you would want to attach any latch or lock you want to use. We have been very lucky as to not have any predators other than feral cats in our neighborhood. And the cats don't bother to try and get into our coop so we have yet to put a lock on our lay box.
Paint Inside and Out
We really wanted to use Black Jack 55 on the interior floor and up the walls a bit but we couldn't justify the cost. What we ended up doing was using spray on plasti-dip and for the 7 cans it took to have a light layer we really should of just bought the Black Jack. The upside of what we used is that it hasn't scratched odd at all and the ladies are not able to peck it off the walls which is a plus cause we all know they like to eat things they shouldn't. As for the outside walls, I painted the entire outside in KILZ white latex primer. I then found an adorable chicken stencil on Amazon and cut the words out by hand and then pinned it all up and spray painted the stencils matte black. I had to go in with a detail brush and white paint to fix any excess spray. In Hindsight I would of leveled out everything and really got everything straight but I thought I could do it by just eyeballing it, hence why it is a little off. I also spray painted the hardware the same matte black color.
(1) Pack of Shingles
Leftover Shingle Paper
When it comes to roofing, we had no clue what we were doing. So after a quick tutorial by a friend who actually does roofing on the side, we borrowed some helpful equipment and got all the correct materials. We started off by stapling the roofing paper down. Then we started with the shingles, stair stepping them in the proper way, nailing them down, and double stacking them at the ends for proper run off. The we did the same thing on the lay box roof. We also got the weather strip for "peak" of our coop roof. In the picture of the final product its that black strip covering the wood piece, its just supposed to help with water runoff so your roof lasts longer. I did spray paint it that matte black color, it was a galvanized metal color before.
The automatic door did take some time and patience. It was meant to be attached to the outside of the coop but it just looks so much better on the inside. I am not going to go into detail over this one because there are so many different kinds of automatic doors but you can see the basic idea and setup in the pictures. We are in the process of switching it to solar.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE-
1. While we were building we determined it made no sense to cut a 4x8 to a 3x7, so we would of changed that in a heart beat since we have the extra space.
2. I am short but even so, we buried the legs of the coop a good amount making it level, and so cleaning it out is fairly tough on the back. I would highly recommend making the legs longer if you plan on setting the legs at all.
3. We live in California and barely have any rain so if you do have rain in your area, make sure you waterproof/caulk any place that water could sink in. I see this being a problem on all our corners and door cracks. You might even extend the over hang or the whole roof by a solid foot in all directions.
4. A Latch or Hook of some sort to keep the box open while collecting eggs.
5. MORE VENTILATION. This one I cannot stress enough. Even though our girls only sleep and lay in our coop, when I went to lock the door at around 8:30PM in the heat of summer, it was still 90+ degrees in the coop WITH THE DOORS OPEN. I felt terrible having to shut them in. This next spring I will be making door inserts that are made out of some sort of small square cattle panel(not sure of the correct name for it).
WHAT IS LEFT ON THE LIST-
1. Repainting the entire inside of the coop with some sort of Black Jack 55. We haven't had any issues using the plasti-dip spray but I really feel like we would get a better layer with the black Jack. We were trying to be cost effective but as you can see, cheaper isn't always better. Spring for the Black Jack 55.
2. Creating the door inserts for summer weather.
3. Moving over to solar power for the automatic chicken door.
4. Latch for keeping the lay box open for collecting and cleaning.