We started the build in late March and finished on Memorial day. The landscaping was done during the 2 days afterwards.
The small town we live in allows us to have 4 hens. At first I was just entertaining the idea, not thinking that we could actually do this. But after some online research and talking with my husband about it we agreed to go ahead and do it.
I made so many mistakes last time we had chickens. There was nowhere near the amount of information available online as there is now. I bought one book, that’s it. This time, aside of reading Raising Chickens For Dummies, there are hundreds of people online who I can ask any question that comes up.
Today we went to Lowe’s and bought a bunch of lumber and started to build our coop. I bought building plans for a coop online just so I could have a printout to look at and make changes on. You can find it here. Just click through the 14 pages to see the details, or if you want your own printout then email me and I’ll send you a copy for free. (FYI, the actual printout is 65 pages!)
We couldn’t find exactly what we wanted for chicken coop plans and decided to use two different plans and sort of combine them. The second coop we like is this one. I’ll post photos and updates as we go.
This is the floor frame, longer part is the front. The box is 4′ x 4′, plus 12″ extra for where the nesting boxes will be. The 2 x 4’s on the frame and legs are all pressure treated.
A little extra support for the nesting box frame.
Mike screwing in the floor. We cut 3/4″ plywood as one big piece.
When we first started using screws the wood on the edge started to split, so I pre-drilled holes while Mike put in the screws.
This is so heavy already! The treated wood was very wet which added to the weight. We set it upside-down on sea- (I mean saw) horses so it’s at a comfortable height to add the 4×4 legs.
First we (ahem, Mike) cut the 8 foot 4×4 into 4 equal lengths. Then screwed those into each corner of the floor base. Then came time to drill holes for the carriage bolts. Except for the the drill bit we had was about an inch too short. After a trip to Lowe’s he brought home a bit that looks about a foot long. But since I wont be using it myself then it’s all good. (I didn’t get any pics of this part)
We then added insulation and covered the bottom of the floor with a flexible fiberglass shower liner.
The reason for the shower liner is because we couldn’t find any treated plywood that was 1/4″ or less and we wanted something that wouldn’t add much weight to the coop.
We tried using 2 different types of kitchen scissors to cut out the notches. when those didn’t work we used garden shears. Those worked a little but it was still pretty hard. Then I remembered that we bought a very useful tool called a Dremel! Mike was able to cut through the material pretty easily while I held a shop vac hose to suck up the mess. And yes, this makes a huge mess if you don’t have another pair of hands to hold a vac.
Mike put Liquid Nails all around the parts that the fiberglass will be touching to make it waterproof. We then used self drilling flat bottom screws to attach it to the bottom of the floor. We had these on hand luckily. I found them AFTER I had gone to Lowe’s to buy some. They’re a #6 thickness and I think about an inch long, though 3/4″ would have worked too. It’s important to have flat bottom screws so they don’t go through the fiberglass.
Putting up the walls
Framed walls with 2×4’s, made openings for 2 windows, chicken door, and the cleanout door. The side you’re looking at here is where the run is going to be attached. I forgot to get a photo of the framing on the nest box side. We added some framing to make an 8x8 window opening.
Here we started the sheeting and insulation. Note: the walls with the cleanout door and chicken door were not screwed in until the insulation was put up and stapled on the other two walls, otherwise there was nowhere to staple it to.
The thing with having a husband who is a precision mechanic is that everything on this coop is measured 4+ times, squared just right, cut and screwed in to within a 1/32 of an inch. This chicken coop is going to be a precision masterpiece built better than our house!
The outside sheeting is all done. We cut this side as one large piece then Mike used a jigsaw to cut out the window and chicken door openings. To keep the splinters from flying everywhere I held a shop vac right next to the blade to suck up all the chips and dust.
The openings were cut after the mdf board was on. The chicken door is about 12x12 and the window is 14x14.
Insulation on the inside. Some of the pieces had to be squeezed in a bit. We used all but a few inches of one roll of 15″ wide insulation. (I can’t remember how long it was) I really liked that it was covered in plastic, made it so much easier to handle.
I wanted to show that all the nooks and crannies were insulated before the sheeting went up.
We used a jig saw to cut this piece, it was all done on the saw horses before we put it up, then cut out the window
I had primed and painted everything white inside. The floor will have linoleum on it to keep it waterproof.
A thin strip of wood was added to the inside of the door opening to act as the door stop and weather stop.
Mike found out how to build the roof online by Googling “gambrel roof.” It asks you how big the house is and then gives you all the dimensions you need to make the cuts. It was a little tricky figuring out how to attach the trusses though, we’ve never built a roof before!
But we found these brackets at Lowes and bent them slightly for the 4 corners. Then he used a 3.5″ screw to give it more support.
We then took the 3 support pieces off the front and back so the sheeting would lay flat and added more 2×4’s for support. The ones going horizontally make the roof extremely stable! And I can use them to hang the food and water.
After we put the sheeting up on the sides of the roof we wrapped the whole house in tar paper. It was $17 for a 100ft roll. I had also bought the standard house wrap, but decided to just use the tar paper and return the other stuff instead.
I cut the paper so it would wrap slightly over the trusses on each side, just for a little extra water protection.
Here the siding went up. We measured from top bottom of the coop and how long we wanted it, then cut the sheet to make it smaller and easier to handle, then clamped it to the front/back of the coop. It had to be centered just right, then I traced around the top where it needed to be cut for the roof, then the doors and window.
I even got locked inside the coop!
We didn’t realize this until later, that when we put sheeting over the frame the width of the coop would be wider on the outside. The sheets are only 4 feet wide! I supposed we could have cut the sheets using the wider side, but I really wanted the beading to be vertical. I’ll be putting up trim everywhere anyways so the small gap will get covered and sealed.
Cutting and putting up trim is a pain in the neck! (and back, and knees, and fingers) I cleaned out Lowe’s of 3/8×3″x3′ pine boards and I still need more. I couldn’t find anyone to ask when they’d get more in stock. I also painted it red! The paint is Pittsburgh Ultra satin exterior, the cheapest one at Menards. The red color was very nice and smooth, but the white was very thick. Don't know why because both cans were exactly the same paint with tint added in.
This is the chicken entryway. I used the 1×3 for this. Sorry it's so dark.
This is the window cover on the chicken door side. This thing took me forever! I used thin PVC trim because I thought it would be easier to work with. Well it’s not! Nails wouldn’t hold it in so i had to add small screws. Then I had issues with attaching it. I swear i wanted to rip my hair out along with all the trim on this thing. I had to cut the trim off the top part, then add a spacer piece for it to hold the hinges and open/close properly. I wish I was more creative when it came to building stuff. I’ll need to touch up the red paint in a few places =)
The red board is cut to fit the opening and I wanted the trim to go around it to keep out rain during storms.
I know there’s an overkill of trim on this thing, but I really had no idea how else to do it.
I guess the gap can’t be avoided. It will be under the cover of the run at least. But the other window won’t have any cover and I don’t know what to do about it. Make it the same or figure out something different.
I found these neat little closures (I forget what they’re called) and they’ll work perfectly to latch the windows and nesting box.
I thought I had the bottom one in low enough when I started to screw it in, but it ended up a little high.
I was up till one am last night working on this stuff! Cutting, painting, repeat.
Today everything got nailed and some more paint went on over the nails.
Yay, the roof is on! 1st was the tar paper, then 1″x3″s under the eaves on 2 sides, then a drip edge on all 4 sides.
You know what happens when you put a roof on a coop? It gets super dark inside!
After screwing around with the windows for so long I changed my mind on the style completely and made new ones using plexiglass.
By the time I wake up the sun is already up, and my husband may not remember to open up the coop and windows before work. I thought the ladies should probably have some light as soon as it comes up. So here is what I came up with…
I bought a small plexiglass sheet, .100 thick, 18″24″ for $10 and a very helpful plastic cutter. Then cut and painted (on all sides) some 3/8″x2″ wood for the frames. Then I used a plastic glue/sealer on all the edges and screwed the plexiglass in with self drilling 3/4″ screws. Most of them stripped because they’re meant for metal i think and not wood. But they still help hold everything together, especially with the sealant. I did this while the sealant was still wet.
The smaller window wouldn’t stay closed all the way so after I took this pic I had sanded some parts down and now it closes well. I spray painted some hooks black and will put those on to keep the windows latched.
I sealed the drip edge (which was a bit too short) before we put the shingles on. Well, all the hammering made it crack so I had to redo it all again after the roof was all done.
This is how Mike cut the pieces for the ridge cap, which I completely forgot to get a picture of when it was done.
Instead of nailing the shingles on the roof edges we used some tar sealant and a heat gun to activate the tar that was already on there.
We did the shingling during a cloudy day. I learned that the reason you’re supposed to shingle a roof on a hot sunny day is so that the sun can make the tar sticky and seal the shingles to each other. Since we didn’t have any sun, we used the heat gun to go allover the shingles and made sure everything was sealed tight. Heat also makes the shingles more pliable and easier to work with.
The trouble with the nest box. When we framed it, we didnt think about how the lid would sit on it. It ended up having a ledge, which only got bigger with the siding and trim. I had to attach more trim and wood parts to make it come to a point. It was such a hassle!
The hinge screws were a bit too long and went through. I used a sander to get them flat. I had no idea you could even do that! My husband showed me =)
After building and attaching the lid, with 2 3″ hinges, I stapled on some tar paper, then a rubber strip on top to keep out the rain. The rubber was actually a piece of base trim that they use in clinics and hospitals. I cut off the lip part and turned the backside to face out.
To attach the shingles onto the 1/2″ thick lid we used 3/4″ screws with washers so the screws wouldn’t go all the way through. It worked out perfectly! I put weather stripping all around the underside of the lid, but it got stuck onto the nest box so i’ll be removing it and using a different kind. The edge of the lid doesn’t have anything covering the part that sticks out, i’m still figuring out how i’ll seal it so rain doesn’t get it. I have some ideas though.
Side view of the lid. This thing was probably the most frustrating thing we’ve worked on so far! It’s a tight fit. We even cut it to be bigger on all sides and made sure everything was squared off (lid and nesting box), and it WAS perfectly square! But did it go on squarely? NO! There was a lot of swearing and sanding inside the lid going on before we got it to sit right. But now there is a gap on the sides of it in some spots. Ohh well.
This is the cleanout door. I wanted to use foam unsulation in it because there was nothing to staple regular insulation to and it would have slid down inside. I paid $20 for a 4×8 sheet and we used less than a 30″ square of it. They didn’t have any scraps
Got the chicken door put on as well as the vents. (I put in a small hook above the door to keep it open)
Boot tray for the poo and a ladder for the roost. We made the ladder so it can be moved from side to side.
The third ladder rung kinda works as a shelf. I read from someone that her birds liked to sit on a shelf, so this kinda works out well.
I bought another strip of rubber base moulding and cut a new/wider piece to replace the too short one above the nesting boxes then used the leftover piece as an awning over the window!
98% done with the door. I’m going to put another piece pf white trim at the top when I can get more wood. I’d like to put a white X on it eventually.
Time to make it roll! 2×4’s were screwed all around the base. Mike used 4 3″ screws on the sides the wheels went on.I bought 4 10″ pneumatic tires. The holes were 1/2″ so I got 1/2″ x 7″ long bolts to put inside them, but hey were too tight, so Mike took the pieces from the inside of the wheels to work and made the holes a bit wider. It went on like this: 7″ bolt, washer, wheel, slide into 2×4, washer, nut, tighten. We used 3 chunks of 2×4’s and lifted one side of the coop while I slid them under. Once the wheels were on on one side we had to lift the other side together because it was too heavy for Mike to do on his own.
We had a neighbor help us move it to the back yard. Since the wheels only turned one way it had to be pushed to get around corners and that still worked out well. I took this photo from the very back corner of the yard.
Google+ put a few pics together and came out with this panorama.
We framed the two sides of the run in the garage so I could paint in there. The rest of the building was done out back. The ground wasn’t level enough so we had to do a little digging to make the run sit right. It’s attached to the coop with 4 corner brackets.
We’ve never built this kind of a roof before so we kinda made things up as we went along. (with a bit of help from Google and BYC)While Mike was busy working at the new fire station Saturday, I had put the hardware cloth around the base of the coop and the rest of the run, then painted the framing for the door and the 2×4’s across the run. I forgot to paint the entrance to the run before attaching the hardware cloth and it was too much of a hassle using a paintbrush so I bought spray paint instead. Got all the screws and washers done too. Oh, and I made the door. It was in the garage drying at this point.
This was the start of putting up the hardware cloth (also known as the Devil’s Cloth). Now I know why people call it that, it is such a pain to work with!
99% done! I didn’t get any photos of the roof building since we needed to use all of our hands. It was relatively painless. We rented some panel shears from Menards for $24/4rhs to cut the roofing sheets. It wen’t much quicker this way. Though it was hard to get them all cut perfectly. The panels would move a bit while being cut even with me holding them down. When putting the panels up we just made the bottom edges straight while the top was uneven. The ridge cap covered that part so it's not noticeable. Note: we did not use any foam spacers for the roof. People usually use them to make it waterproof and we didn't feel that it was necessary to do that here. The ridge cap was attached to the ridges of the panels only, not the wood of the roof (using 3/4" sheet metal screws). And the panels were screwed into the 2 2x4's going across the roof with 1" screws.
Mike says the part under the roof looks bad not painted, I guess I’ll be doing that when the weather dries up.
I bought a nipple waterer at Theisen’s. Too busy to make one, but so far I haven't seen the chicks use it. There's a small waterer in the coop as well. I did make 2 pvc feeders though, not entirely the way they should have been made but we made one of them work inside the coop. I might need to cut and redo the second one so it can be outside.
Here they are settled in! I changed the layout of the interior a bit to make it easier to clean.
This is Buffy. She was the most curious one. Mike took her out and put her in the run on the other side. She seemed to really like it. The other girls took quite a while to come down the ramp.
1. Look around the local hardware stores at the materials available before committing to a design and plan. We didnt need to put mdf sheeting on the outside and siding over it. While looking for something to use as siding we found some that would have worked perfectly all on its own.
2. Might have to make current vents bigger or add another window for better air flow and possibly insulate the ceiling. Not sure yet.
3. Make it bigger! Our town only allows 4 hens, but it's possible that will change to 6. Also, when insulating a 4x4 coop you lose almost 5 square feet of space on the inside! In our heads we were thinking that 4x4=16sf, 4 per chicken. But in reality it turned out to be 3'4"x3'4" = just over 11sf.
It will be a little hard to expand the coop in the future if we choose to do so. I already have a plan on how to expand the run and that won't be hard.
Feel free to ask any questions!