The Chicken 'Mansion'
After a couple years with our existing coop and getting a few more chicks, we decided it was time to upgrade and get something bigger, easier to clean, more durable, more waterproof and just better all around. I did a lot of research and a lot of budgeting to try and build the perfect chicken coop but ultimately what it came down to what my wife telling me what coop she wanted. She found some pictures of a coop online, unfortunately the person who built it didn't really include a lot of measurements aside from saying it was a 4’x6’ coop. He did however provide a lot of great pictures throughout his building process. I consider myself pretty handy so I sat down with all of the pictures and drafted up my own blueprints. I really have to thank the guy that originally built this coop (Trevor athttp://onetreephotography.com/jpthome/trevorsprojects/?p=94). Despite not providing a lot of measurements he took a lot of great pictures that really helped me piece my plans together. Last night I went to the store to buy some supplies to get started. I had a few Lowes coupons so I had to budget out my trips to maximize my coupons. Also my garage is kind of a mess so I apologize for that.
Here is a list of all the supplies I purchased.
· 30 2x4x8 Studs
· 15 1x2x8 strips
· 5 1x4x8 board
· 7 4’x8’ sheets of ½” OSB
· 1 5lb box of 2 ½” Wood Screws
· 1 5lb box of 8D 2 ½” Nails (*Note* a 1lb box would have been plenty)
· A new 60 tooth 10” Diablo blade for my saw
· A gallon of paint
· A roll of Roof Felt
· 3 things of OSI caulk
· One thing or Liquid Nails
· Old cedar fence boards
· 5 gallon Black Jack Rubberizer
· 2 four inch strap hinges
· 100ct box of roofing screws
· Roof ridge roll cap
· 3 corrugated steel roof panels
· 3 roof drip edges
· Roof closure strip
36 shutter T-hinges
I had originally planned on using 5 sheets of OSB and then 2 sheets of nicer sheathing plywood for the nesting boxes, but after looking at the sheathing plywood the OSB seemed like it was higher quality and wouldn’t chip as much, plus it was half the price so I just went with 7 of those. I want it to be sturdy but didn't want to spend $40/sheet for plywood. I’m going to be wrapping the whole thing in tar paper, putting some siding on it and using Black Jack rubberizer to waterproof the floor anyway so I figured it’s not that big of a deal. Here was my first trip to store for supplies.
I started framing out the floor last night. I cut two 2x4s at 72” and five 2x4s at 45”. I wanted to make the coop exactly 4’X6’. The five 2x4s that measured 45” fit inside the two 6’ long 2x4s. After I had screwed it all together I cut and attached the legs. I used some leftover pressure treated 4x4s from my brother-in-laws fence. I cut those at 24” long so once attached the coop will sit just about 2 feet off the ground. This will give nice clearance so critters don’t burrow underneath and the chickens have a nice shady place to hang out. (*Note* Make sure you secure the legs properly, when finished the coop is very heavy)
After framing out the floor I cut 2 feet off of a sheet of OSB (Save the 2’x4’ piece for later). After securing the floor I could start on framing the coop. I ended up using a combination of screws and nails to secure the flooring to the floor frame. The nails had slightly larger heads and I thought this would help hold the floor in place.
Since my 2x2s weren’t square (1.5"x1.75" instead) when putting the frame together I ended up laying them so the slightly wider part faced the interior of the coop. Basically I tried to make everything on the outside flush with each other so sheathing and siding would fit properly.
Inside of the coop:
Well the nesting boxes were slightly more complicated than I had expected. The 2x2 that sits on top of them wasn’t perfectly level so I had to cut the dividers to slightly different heights. Since I was only using ½” OSB I couldn’t really use any large nails or screws so I used liquid nails and a small nail gun to secure all of the pieces together. Chickens don’t weigh a lot and it seems pretty solid.
Putting up the sheathing was actually pretty easy and now the coop is really starting to take shape. I was going to frame the roof and put up the sheathing for the upper part of the walls/roof in the front and back but since I’m building this in my garage I thankfully realized that if I put the roof on, it will be too tall to get out of my garage, so the roof is going to have to wait until later.
There were slight gaps on the corners where the sheathing should have probably met together but I couldn't quite figure it out. I’m going to put up trim, siding and caulk everything, and it’s a chicken coop so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Also, I'm building this from pictures and it's the first big thing I've built so I wasn't going for perfection.
Here it is all framed and sheathed:
I was able to get all of the tar paper on all of the walls tonight. I was also able to get the back door on. It was especially difficult because I couldn't get the door to stay flush with the walls then I couldn't get the screws in without screwing the door closed. I finally had to notch out a couple of spaces in the 2x4 frame so the door would close properly. It took me longer than I expected to wrap it all in tar paper but at least this way it will be nice and waterproof. I just used a simple staple gun to secure all of the tar paper. Now onto the trim, siding and roof!
You can kind of see the two notches just underneath the blocks of wood. The blocks of wood are for the screws from the hinges on the other side.
Here is the door closed. This door fits pretty snug so I didn't need a latch at the bottom. It's great for cleaning, I can open it up, prop it open then just get a rake or shovel and scoop everything out.
Moving the coop outside
The time came to finally move the coop outside. Before doing so I built the roof eaves. That was by far the hardest thing I've had to do yet. It probably would have been a lot easier to do a lean-to roof as apposed to a gable roof, but now that the roof is done I'm really glad I was able to figure it out. I used 2x4s and did a little research online of how to build a gable roof. There are plenty of Youtube videos on how to do a gable roof, just try and get your measurements right.
I also added the trim around the windows and doors. I just used simple 1x2s painted white. I secured them with a nail gun.
Since it rains a lot here in Washtington I wanted to make sure I finished the roof the same day I moved it outside. Cutting the corrugated steel into the correct lengths took awhile and thankfully I didn't cut myself in the process and I was able to get it all up on the roof. I started using my dremel to cut the steel sheets but was wearing through bits way too fast so I switched to steel cutters. Again it took a while but it turned out.
I used the roofing screws to secure the roof. I still need to screw down the roof cap at the very top but other than that the roof is done and is going to be VERY waterproof (hopefully). I need to finish the trim around the bottom and on the corners, finish roofing the nesting boxes, then put the siding on.
Friday I went with my sister-in-law to pickup some new chickens! I was only going to get 2 but they twisted my arm into getting a 3rd. So I came home with 3 new chickens that all lay different colored eggs. The wife and the kids got home Saturday and quickly named our 3 new chickens.
Sharkie, Cinnamon and Marshmallow.
They fit right in with the other 2 we have. Our dog Glory however was going crazy and really wanted to hang out with the new chickens.
When I went to put the chickens away that night and make sure they were all safe in their coop (old coop, the new one still needs some work), 2 of the new ones were missing. It took me a few minutes before I found them perching on top of the fence. I was able to grab one but the other jumped into the tree. After attempting to poke her out of the tree with a broom only have her continually jump higher I ended up having to climb the tree to get her down. I promptly clipped all their wings so I shouldn't have to worry about tree climbing chickens anymore.
Roof, trim and siding!
This project is taking me longer than I had originally anticipated but it's coming along nicely. I spent more time than I wanted to on the roof of the nesting boxes but I really wanted to make sure they were waterproof so in the end it will be worth it. I think I'm still going to put some trim around the top of the nesting box lids to make it look nicer but that a small cosmetic addition that I can do at a later date. For now I think it's just fine the way it is. I still need to finish the roof cap but I've temporarily nailed it in place to keep it from blowing off again.
I got tired of all the roofing and wanted to start the siding. I really struggled with choosing material for siding. It was either going to be really expensive or be a pain to cut and hang with all the windows etc. Plus the coop was starting to get really heavy and I still needed to move it go it's final resting spot. I finally settled on using old cedar fence boards compliments to my in-laws for those. They are still pretty sturdy, are pretty light, I'm going to paint them, and they were free of charge. They also won't be too hard to replace or too expensive if they start to wear our or break down. The weather should be decent this week so I'm hoping to make more headway on the siding.
We finished our new fence so we were able to move the coop to a better location, probably the permanent location, at least for the foreseeable future. The coop weighs a lot so it isn't really easy to move. I had to have 2 other guys help me and once the coop is done I'm pretty sure I'll need at least 3 other guys to help if I ever need to move it again. I don't really like the way the cinder blocks look on the ground but I wanted to protect the wood posts so they won't rot in a year. I'll have to try and come up with a better looking solution later on but for now it works.
We got all the hinges (ordered on ebay) so I was able to finish the doors and put them on. For the small door I built it out of 1x2s (*Note* leave small gaps for the wood to expand, I didn't and have had to replace my door already). The large door was built out of 1x4s. I cut them all to fit since my measurements weren't exact and I didn't have any plans to follow. Lots of measuring and cutting but I got them in.
This is when I also rubberized/waterproofed the floor. I used the BlackJack rubberizer and it worked pretty well. I had to mix the stuff up for about 20 minutes then I used an old paint brush to brush on a thick coat. I ended up putting two coats on and it seems pretty good. I caulked some of the windows and siding as well with the OSI caulk. Next up will be to finish the siding (hopefully this week) and then add some paint.
Getting Close to Being Done
I finally finished all the siding. I finished making the feeders, finished the nesting boxes, finished waterproofing the floor, finished the doors, I'm getting close to being done. I just need to finish caulking the cracks, paint and build the shutters. I'm hoping to get it all painted this weekend. For the feeders I bought some 4" PVC pipe with some elbow joints and I just hang them to the walls inside the coop.
Pretty Much Done!
I've finally finished all of the important stuff. The coop is now in it's final resting place (I'm not moving it again, mostly because it weighs a ton). It's all painted, the doors and shutters are in place and working, the inside is all completed and the chickens are happy. Only 4 of our hens are laying now but the other 4 should start laying in the next couple of weeks then we should be getting around 6 eggs every day .
Overall I'm pretty happy with the result. I can't remember the exact cost but I think it was around $550. The 36 hinges for the doors and windows were really the only thing that wasn't very budget friendly (about $70) but at $2 per hinge that's still a pretty good price. There are a few more things I'd like to do to spruce it up a bit and I'm still trying to figure out a few other things (roof ridge roll cap) but I think it's a great coop, and the chickens love it! We've also got room for another 4-6 chickens if we decide we want more.
I still need to finish the roofing ridge cap. As of right now it's just hanging out a few feet, but it's under a tree and I'm still trying to figure out how to finish the edge. I also need to paint the entrance walkway for the chickens. Aside from that it's pretty much done. It's been quite a project and I think it turned out pretty good.
Here is the back access door, I just use a spare piece of wood to prop it open. The tubes hanging down are my feeders and I keep the food in a sealed bucket in the coop for easy access to refill the tubes.
Here was the inside of the coop. I had hay down on the floor but I decided I didn't like hay so as you can see in the next picture I replaced the hay with pine shavings. (I'm still not sure I like the pine shavings, I might try sand). You can see the two nesting boxes on the right are boarded up and I just use them for storage. I had to build longer roosting bars as all my chickens would try and cram on the top one together.
*Notes on what went well and what I would have changed*
- Framing - I think it would have been easier to work with 2x2s instead of ripping 2x4s. The ripped 2x4s worked but the personally drafted blue prints I made quickly became 'pretty pictures' as all the measurements I had planned out no longer worked. I guess I forgot that a ripped 2x4 wasn't the same as a 2x2.
- Roofing - I'm glad I went with the metal roof. I was worried it would be loud but it isn't at all and it's sturdy and won't really ever wear out. The only problem is the ridge roll cap. It's still hanging off a few feet in the front and I'm still not sure what to do with it. And despite the gable roof being a pain, I'm glad I built it that way it looks great. It's also very waterproof. It's been more than 6 months and it's been a wet winter and no water inside so far.
- Windows/shutters - My wife wanted working shutters and wanted pretty hinges so I had to splurge and buy 36 nice hinges. I've never hung shutters before and if you don't get them right they won't shut all the way. They are really nice as well because when it's pouring rain we can leave them closed for a few days then open them all when it's sunny to air the coop out.
- Doors - If you make the doors out of slats like I did (1x4s or 1x2s) make sure you leave gaps for the wood to expand. I didn't and i've had to replace the coop door once and the main access door is stuck until the weather dries out then I'll need to rebuild that door.
-Back hatch door - I'm so glad I did this, it makes it so much easier to clean. Also since my main access door has swelled and is stuck shut, I have to use this door to get in and out of the coop to fill up their food.
-Trim - I still need to put some trim around the top of the nesting boxes. The nesting box lid was tough too, I put the vinyl plastic underneath but I had to go back and put a second layer because water was getting stuck underneath. Water doesn't get inside anymore unless I left the lid after or during the rain, but it's usually just a few drops and if it's raining I can't do much about that.
- Weight - I wish I could have made it lighter in case I wanted to move it but if you build a big coop, it's going to weight a lot.
- Siding - I'm VERY glad I used the cedar. It wasn't too hard to work with, it was easy to nail on using a nail gun and it was free. People are always replacing their fences so picking up used fence boards is pretty easy, or I could just buy a new board from the store, a replacement 6' board is only about $2.50 here.
- Ramp - I've actually had to replace the ramp. The original ramp as you can see from the earlier pictures was sagging quite a bit. I've built it out of a more solid piece of plywood and put some 2x4s running along the bottom for strength, I've also painted it to red to match the doors and shutters.