My FIRST coop building experience ...
I. The beginning
A. Goals of my coop
I needed a coop to house 6-8 chickens. I read through tons and tons of coop building posts prior to starting to ensure I had
a 'clue' what was mandatory in a coop and what was 'nice to have'. Based on what I read I knew I must include a lot of ventilation[/FONT] [FONT=arial,helvetica,sans-serif]and a draft free solid
structure. The coop would also have to be predator proof from coons, mice, dogs, ect .. I also knew after reading from all the other BYC chick owners that having
a coop that is easy to clean is HIGHLY important.
I would liked to have built the coop on the cheap , but we just didn't have that much scrap wood around. I was happy I found a Habitat for humanity in the next town over
as they had nice glass windows for $2.00 each and I picked up some vinyl squares for the floor for $5.00 a box. The rest of the supplies and lumber were all new and very costly
I might add. A coop such as mine will easily run you $500-600 before your through. But I know this coop will last for many years and structurally it is sound.
B. Materials needed
It is very important to gather all your tools and materials together first. Some must have's are - cordless drills, heavy hammers, miter saw, skill saw, deck screws,
wood screws, level,tape measure,clamps,poultry staples, flat metal braces (for trusses), square, pencil and at least a rough 'plan' drawn out. There are other tools you may need but these are mandatory.
Lots of hardware is needed, such as door hinges and latches with locks.
Aside from money constraints some other real constraints I had to overcome included; building the coop in the winter (harsh cold and snowy winter of 2010), I choose to do some pre-building frame work while waiting for a decent day to do the outside building. Also, I was building on a slooped foundation (side of a mountain), needed the coop to be attractive (opposed to an eyesore) as we live in a nice mountain subdivision. I was building the coop 90% by myself, with zero carpentry skills.
A. [scan in 'rough' plans]
My coop is 4x6 for a total of 24 square feet and 4.5 feet high. If each chick get 3-4 sq feet of space I should be able to fit 6-8 chicks. I chose a standard triangle shaped roof for attractiveness, and used singles mainly because they were relatively cheap and easy to work with. Plus we have another new shed with black shingles and wanted the coop to basically match it.
Based on my goals (stated above) my plan was to use hardware cloth around the bottom of the coop and run, dug down into a 1 foot trench under fountation line (to ward off digging predators). I would include two windows with hardware cloth used as the screen. I would also include two large doors for easy access to change food/water and cleaning. I would include a poop board under the roost bars and vinyl flooring to make cleaning easy. My nest boxes would be attached on the exterior wall so as not to consume my interior space. The nest boxes would be two feet off the coop floor. The roost bars would be positioned higher then the nests.
I started the building of the coop in February 2010 with over 5 inches of snow on the ground and temperatures under 30 every day - brrrrr. So I decided to do the base and wall framing in Jason's shed so I could get a head start on building. This may have been another reason why I choose the 4X6 size, because I was building in pieces and didn't want it to heavy when the time came to move to the actual construction site over 100 feet away. Also, I couldn't build it so big that I wouldn't be able to get it out of the shed once finished.
I actually build the nest box before I bought the baby chicks. I kinda wanted to 'prove' to myself that I was committed to keeping chicks and I was going to follow through and finish this nest,coop and run. Each nest is 12inches wide, 12 inches deep but only 10 inches high, as I had read somewhere that you want to discourage walking around in the nest to prevent eating eggs. We'll see if this works then. The nest box was the only part of the coop that I actually got to build for 'free' , I found enough scraps laying around Jason's shed to come up with four nest boxes. There are two egg collector doors off the back so I don't have to go inside the coop to collect the eggs each day.
The beginning of the coop building , it was trying sometimes to build in the cold. I only worked a few hours a day. But It was such a sense of peacefulness when building it, knowing my chicks would have a great home soon. I found that having clamps and a 2x4 down to direct the skill saw was very important for straight cuts. Here I am making the first cut for a 4x6 floor base treated plywood - 1/2 inch).
Built a strong base, the base will be put on top of four 4x4 that will be secured into the outside foundation. When the time comes two people can pick this base up and put on top of the pre-cut and secured 4x4's and screw to secure. Better make sure the base is square as this is your foundation. Used 2x4's to frame it.
Building the wall frames, I built my coop based on rough plans I came up with on my own.
So I kind of just made the cut out for doors and windows where I logically thought they should go.
The truss angles are 40 degrees at the pitch. I highly recommend trusses when you pre-build like this and if your high off the ground like we are, because it just makes it easier to slap the trusses onto of your framed walls and throw on the flat OSB wood for the roof. Jason 'made' the braces you see in the picture and these trusses are very secure with them. Just find randow scraps to use and cut them to size, works great. Or you can use metal, Jason used both. Note- it is critical to build good trusses as it could throw your walls off if they aren't correct.
Creating the cutouts and tools needed. For each area such as doors and windows I built 2x4 frames around the area and then took a drill bit to poke holes through the wall board so I would know where to cut when I flip the board over. This worked real well. A steady hand and the skill saw and the cutouts are done. Here you don't have to completely worry about perfection in your cuts, because you can install trim boards on the outside later to cover imperfections.
Coop framing top view - three walls finished so far. Having every thing pre-built like this was very helpful. As it kept all the wood dry while I waited for a nice sunny day to finally start the outside construction. It is important to note that my framed walls are build 4 foot high but with the base size that makes my actually walls bigger then 4 feet (so as to cover the base). You can say then that my INSIDE dimensions are 4 feet wide, 6 feet long and 4 feet high, though the outside dimensions will measure bigger. (how's that for a beginners carpentry skills ... bet I make a lot of real capenters cringe). As long as you MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE before cutting you will be fine. My walls, frames base all came out great in the end. The fit was tight and level. NOTE: these are all pre-built peices none of the walls or floor base is actually attached at this point , as we still need to carry these pieces to the outside build site later.
I installed two large windows for air and ventilation but knew I also needed predatory proof screening. I have the hardware cloth 'screwed' on from the inside and then a trim board is screwed on top of that to protect the chicks from the rough edges of the hardware cloth . I love my screens! Note the framing for the windows, this is important so you can install hinges for your windows securely.
Coop build on site - finally a sunny day on March 19th. We have our 4x6 foundation ready (with the trenches for the hardware cloth dug 12 inches deep) and we dug 24 inches deep to place the pressure treated 4x4's in to hold the base. After leveling the 4x4's (using the other 2x4 wood as braces to get the leveling right) Jason used a chainsaw to cut the 4x4's so the coop will be 2 feet off the ground at the lowest stop. Again, thinking about predators and wanting to keep the coop off the ground for rain drainage and mice (which like to hide/burrow under a coop on the ground)
Hardware cloth is down 1 foot and should be up to the base of the coop, you don't want the racoons to be able to pry your screening off. I am very paranoid of predators and therefore chose what was highly recommneded by BYC'ers 'hardward cloth' installed 1 foot under the ground. I now know hardware cloth is a pain to work with , but the peice of mind is priceless.
Caulking - I really took it to heart when the other BYC'ers said to do anything you could for 'ease of cleaning' . So I figured using silicon caulking EVERYONE would prevent poop and dirt getting into the cracks and crevices. There house is going to be more bug proof then mine *smile*. I know I will not regret spending the time and materials to put the silicon caulking down. This picture doesn't show it but I caulked every single edge bottom,top and side in this coop. I think I will pass a NIPA inspection!
Shingling - installing the shingling wasn't to bad, my son Trace and I did this in about 4 hours.
And here we are on March 23rd 2010 waiting for another nice day to finish our coop and run.
Finally got some beautiful sunny days at the beginning of April and finished up the coop.
Painted the interior with Kiltz oil base white paint interior, mainly for easy cleaning. Also, placed the roost bar along the back of coop where the double doors are. It should be easy cleaning with the double doors on the back.
green interior paint
rafter ventilation/wood finish
The run is finally finished, with a 4x8 roof on one side. Seems the morning sun is quite bright. The run turned out to be 8X8, plus the 4X6 area under the coop. I love the screened door Jason built for me, it works great.
IV. Finished Coop
Finally finished the coop and run on Easter April 04, 2010.
V. What you want to change / add to your completed coop
I thought it would be a nice touch to use locus logs for the run , to match the garden fence we made last year. However, this made it very hard to keep a level run. Next time I would just use regular 2x4's for the run.
I am very glad I included two doors and two windows because it actually gets very hot in the coop when the sun is shining bright. The first sunny days in April 2010 I found the temperature inside the coop to get up to 90 degrees by 9am when all the doors and windows were closed.
Building the coop on a uneven mountain hill side can be quite a challenge, I found out after putting the coop off the ground 2 feet on one side actually made it more like 4 feet off the ground on the sloped side. So now it's hard to get into the side door.
I also build this coop based on ideas from other BYC coops I seen. But the problem is I had no hard core plans, just rough drafts. So I found myself at the hardware store A LOT. As I never had a clue as to just how many supplies I needed at one time. Next time I will think it out more and try to buy all the materials at once. Believe it or not but I know we spent no less then $700 on this coop and run, and made no less then 7 trips to the hardware store.
I don't think there is much we could have changed about this but we needed A LOT of hardware for each door and window including locks for each, basically because I am worried over the thought of a raccoon breaking in. This includes two locks for two doors, two more locks for the two windows, a lock for the pop door, two locks for each of the two nest doors. That's seven locks , wow that a lot of locks to keep track of.