Cottage Playhouse Plastic Chicken Coop.

By bluema · Nov 20, 2015 · Updated Nov 24, 2015 · ·
  1. bluema

    It rains a lot here in east TN, so I decided on a waterproof poly construction structure to avoid water damage and red mites infestation typical with wooden coops. Situated on the east facing side of the house for sun/draft protection. Painted and decorated for maximum charm, with real thatch on top.


    The below is the original playhouse. It's called Naturally Playful Storybook Cottage.
    The structure is strong enough for kids to climb on top, and sized at at 5.35' x 4.58' x 4.2'
    My wooden coop with asphalt roofing started rotting within a year here at foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and my run was initially designed with flip top openings with a pretty canvas tarp on top.
    It was cute, but a disaster...

    The tarp constantly pooled with rain water and snow accumulations without any roof pitch. Later added a wooden frame for enough angled pitch, but even super heavy duty 16-Mil thick $$$ tarps had to be regularly replaced with significant shrinkage after only a few months. Lessons learned!

    Installed polycarbonate roofing (Tuftex) on the run with a pitch of 3" for every foot. Polycarbonate roofing came with a lifetime limited warranty while less expensive corrugated PVC panels are available without warranty.

    Automatic watering with poultry nipples with a timer and a float valve. A 200-watt birdbath de-icer is added inside the bucket during winter.

    The entire coop and run sit on top of 2 x 8 x 16" paving stones buried deep in the ground. The wood frame sits on the 2" side of the stones. This (along with hardware cloth) prevents mouse/rats digging into the run, helps to preserve the ground contact wood, and prevents water runoff into the run during hard rain. I didn't even know I had a rat issue until I saw one caught on my security camera night recordings, happily living off the chicken feed. The rat was too smart to get caught on traps.

    After the extended roof eaves and stones, I no longer have a muddy run nor rat problem.


    Double roosts and removable poop boards.
    Plastic nesting boxes are used to further aid in mite control. They're removable as well.

    The poop boards have glued vinyl sheet base, and they're made to be as lightweight as possible for easy handling, but as sturdy as possible so that they won't budge even if the hens step or jump on them.

    Larger windows are paneled with Lexan. The polycarbonate panels are much stronger, offers better thermal insulation, and stays clearer longer than Plexiglass/acrylic. The very top openings are left open for ventilation, which are needed for ammonia fumes to escape and avoid humidity buildup that can cause frostbites during cold weather. Security cameras and wireless humidity/thermometer are added for remote monitoring.

    Sweet PDZ (zeolite) on the poop boards with removable roosts for easy scooping. The limited space under the roost keeps the girls from taking dust bath or sleeping under the roost. It also allows for narrower poop boards with shorter angle on projectile poops. The accumulated poops must be scooped out regularly.

    Although it helps to neutralize ammonia fumes, I may later replace the sweet PDZ with simple vinyl cut sheets for poop scrape off since I'm noticing quite a bit of PDZ dust already, which is linked with mesothelioma. I currently wear organic vapor respirator mask while scooping, but I may get rid of poop boards altogether in the long run, depending on the pros/cons related to the maintenance frequency/ease.

    Although the roof thatch's initial purpose was decorative, it made an unexpected difference in the coop insulation even with ventilation. Before adding the thatch, the coop's inside temperature was only about 2-3 degrees higher than outside no matter what I did to close off draft gaps. After adding the thatch, the temperature difference shot up to double digits the very first night. My amazement led me to learn something about U-value.
    Bottom line - if you want to minimize heat loss, insulate the roof.

    The thatch is draped on top and secured around the chimney post since I didn't want to compromise the waterproof poly structure. I had to double layer the thatch because a single layer wasn't adequate.
    The natural palm (and not cheap) thatch will probably disintegrate sooner than I'd like, so I'm going to add thermal bubble foil insulation on the inside of the roof as a proactive measure.

    Update 11/23/2015: The insulation is now added. I've used Reflectix found at Lowes.

    Eggs are retrieved from outside through lift-up wood disk covers and push-in clear panels (shown below) so that eggs are visible and chickens can't push out from inside.
    View out of a nest box.

    Handmade functional windows can be opened during summer.
    View from the inside, with hardware cloth.

    All other windows are paneled for the Winter but can be opened during summer.
    The poly panel of the playhouse glows from inside during daylight.

    Large door gaps are completely sealed off to minimize draft. Lexan panel is used for the door window.

    Chicken Door placement below to make the new coop work with the existing run. Added double layers of thick shammy panels for now (green panels shown on the third pic above). Once the chickens get more comfortable using the new door, I will be adding a clear dog door flap. I have an automatic chicken coop door that I've paid hundreds for, but stopped using it because it wasn't reliable and my chickens kept getting stuck outside/inside. After over a year of keeping the door in manual half-closed mode on the wooden coop, I decided to not install it.

    Update 11/24/2015: The dog door flap made in clear vinyl gets pretty hard during
    freezing temperatures, so we're back to shammy layers.

    Vinyl flooring and ramp. The rungs are spaced 6" on center.
    The left end of the ramp simply lifts up for easy removal.

    Built-in cleaning access opening. A tarp can be hung with clamps for easy sweep out of dirty shavings.

    Added a large dog kennel pan before adding wood shavings for easy slide out cleaning.
    My girls are enjoying the new digs!

    The girls spend most of their time free-ranging out in the woods and hardly touch their organic feed.
    Could you spot them? Hawks can't.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. N F C
    "Playhouse Coop"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Dec 24, 2018
    One of the most attractive playhouse modifications I've seen...well thought out!
  2. PNW_Peepers
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 17, 2018


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  1. N F C
    Very pretty coop!
  2. bluema
    I do use deep litter method in the run, but not in the coop. I believe DLM works best when you have a space of at least 4 sq ft per chicken in the coop and could allow for 6-10" litter buildup for the girls to actively scratch through. My girls don't stay in the coop other than sleeping and egg laying, and I rather clean it out than letting the poopy mess buildup. DLM does work great in my run, and definitely the simplest to maintain when the girls do all the work for you.
  3. manicfarmer
    Great job, that is a phenomenal coop. I am in the process of building a new coop for my flock as well, it won't be that pretty though. :) Have you considered deep litter instead of drop boards? I relish the poop for compost. If I get a slight hint of ammonia it is time for more litter. The chickens do a pretty good job of turning it up but I do hit it with a rake from time to time to mix it up nicely.
  4. ChicKat
  5. chick-a- doodle
    Now I've got to see if my daughter still has her boys playhouse...can't remember if it was a castle or what, but, if they have outgrown it......
  6. karenerwin
    We have a plastic playhouse that we bought for cheap(it doesn't look as nice as yours) to make into a coop but so far it has not happened. Yours turned out amazing!
  7. chixinrox
    Wonderful! Happy Hens for sure!
  8. sunflour
    This is one of the cutest coops ever. Great job. Article is well presented. Thanks so much for sharing.
  9. Cheep N Peep
    Congratulations on the CC-POW! Your coop certainly is cute! :) I don't have old birds yet, so we'll see, but their step up is there when they need it.... it's just holding the waterer right now. I need to get those pics up. :/
  10. puffypoo
    So cute! I want to try something like that.
  11. chickwhispers
    What an adorable home for your girls! Both practicle and playful! Ingenious!
  12. Free as a Bird
    That is so cute and such a good idea! Thank you!
  13. bluema
    It's true, my girls mostly choose to lay in only one nest box, but when a girl gets broody it really distresses the others trying to lay and they start laying in the other nest box. The girls don't poop on the nest box - the poop boards catch them. When I experimented without a poop board on one side, I had a clear thin cutting board laid on top that I could simply scrape away and latch back on. There are definitely pro/cons of using poop boards.

    A few of my older girls are heavy larger breeds, and they're not so agile anymore and unfortunately need the ramp. I'm actually thinking about improving the ramp top platform for them after spying on the recorded cam video footage. My younger ones don't need the ramp, and they have no problem jumping around for sure.
  14. bluema
    What an unexpected honor to be chosen for the CC-POW!
  15. Er1710
    Cute idea to upcycle a playhouse! I imagine that they poop on their nesting boxes under the sleeping perches. I would suggest removing that nesting box. With so few hens, they can share one. My six hens share one box and do fine. Make one side for sleeping and the other for nesting and you won't have to scrape anymore. You could also get rid of the ramp, if the hens are pooping on it. Chickens are surprisingly athletic and can easily jump to that opening. My girls have to jump about 18 inches vertically to get to the first sleeping perch. They do it fine every night. It would also give them more room in the coop to move around. Just ideas. Good luck!
  16. Sabrit
    WOW! Great! cute! what an idea!
  17. chicken4prez
    Congrats on getting in the pic of the week! love it!
  18. sumi
    Congratulations, we've chosen one of your pics for the CC-POW. Thanks for posting your coop design & pictures to our "Chicken Coops" pages! You can find more info about the CC-POW here: CC-POW Process
  19. FeatherMtnFarms
    Very cool! Love the cottage design!
  20. N F C
    That's one of the cutest coops I've seen. I like the plastic it's made of, that will make it easier than wood to keep clean and for mite control. Love the fire place, door bell, thatch roof and window boxes!
  21. bluema
    LOL... yes I spent long time just staring at the playhouse to figure out what to do, and I improvised as I went along.

    The fire place sticker does make it look cozy in there doesn't it? : )
    I'll be adding a heat panel right in front of the fireplace when the temp drops in the negatives.
    I've used heat panel below freezing during past winters, but I want my girls to acclimate better to cold weather moving forward.
  22. Cheep N Peep
    Very nice! I like the fire place, but you shouldn't heat the coop before there is snow out. :p
  23. Gorman Farm
    Very nice a lot of thought went into that.....and adorable.

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