PLAY STRUCTURE TURNED CHICKEN COOP.
This is our Hen House. It began it's life as our children's play structure...
Late last year my wife and I decided that we would like to raise some chickens. Our coop was to be built in the area of our yard where the kid's play structure was located. So we figured we would have to sell the play structure to make room for the coop. We were sad to see the play structure go as it was such a symbol of our kids's childhood. Then we came up with the idea to use the play structure and convert it in a chicken coop. That way we would still have the play house in our yard even though it would look a little different. Some of the guys I work with have chickens and when I started asking questions, I was introduced to Backyard Chickens website. I learned so much and got so many good ideas from all of the knowledgeable people on this site. Many of the coops I looked at seemed so professionally built. I am definitely not a builder. I just used the ideas that I saw and copied the parts that I liked as best as I could. I am so appreciative of the time others took to post their designs on here so I thought I would put some pictures of our coop too. Maybe someone else may use an idea or two from my project. Most significant may be the idea to use an old play structure as I did. It sure saved me a lot of money in material and I think it looks kind of cool too.
Our kids are grown and no longer used the play structure so we decided to convert it to a coop.
First was the easy part, dismantling the play structure...
Now the hard work began. First I dug out the area where the foundation would be placed.
I did this by hand with a pick and a shovel. It was a lot of work. I am no landscaper either and leveling the area was not easy. In fact it isn't level. I never quite got it there which is why my coop is also not level. This is something my wife points out to me often, but I just maintain that I did it for drainage when I want to clean the coop (she isn't buying that though).
After the area was dug out the building began. First was the foundation...
I built the foundation in my garage because the floor is level. The main part of the play structure was 5' x 5' and I wanted to build an attached 9' x 7' run, so I laid out the foundation to accomplish this. I used 2 x 6 boards for the run foundation and 4 x 6 for the coop foundation. I used the 2 x 4 diagonals to brace the foundation so that it could be carried to the backyard without getting tweaked.
Next I decided to affix hardware cloth to the underside of the foundation. I struggled with this and researched a lot on BYC to help me decide. I read both opinions and in the end wanted the coop/run as predator proof as possible, hence the hardware cloth underneath. Thanks to my son for doing all of that work on his knees instead of me.
Next I doubled up on the 4 x 6s on the coop side to raise it up a bit. I wanted to provide enough space underneath the coop so the chickens can hang out there and for me to get under there to clean. I used Simpson ties on the corners to prep for installing the pay structure onto the foundation.
Installing the play structure onto the foundation was pretty easy because I kept the walls intact when I dismantled it. The challenge was going to be closing up all of the gaps and wholes to make the coop secure.
I decided to build the door to the coop next. I actually used the floor of the right side of the old play structure for the door of the coop.
I used a jig saw to cut the window out of the door and I affixed hardware cloth to secure the window opening. Now I had to figure out how to install this very huge and very heavy door onto my coop. Luckily I found a coop design on BYC that taught me a cool way for a guy who probably couldn't build something square if his life depended on it (me). See below...
I used furring strips around the perimeter of the door opening to maintain a gap between the door frame and the door itself. Then I cut 2x4s to length for the opening and clamped them in place against the frame of the opening.
Next I cut the top and bottom 2x4s. I used L brackets to attach the 2x4s together.
Here you can see the first hinge on the bottom. I ended up using 5 hinges because the door was going to be so heavy (don't even know if that as necessary but it made sense to me).
Once all of the hinges were on I screwed the huge door onto the frame using a ton of screws.
Meanwhile, our chicks were arriving in a few days so it was time to build the brooder. We built a 4x2 foot box using plywood with 2x4 braces. We lined the inside with left over linoleum to make cleaning easier. The light was put on a 2x4 "L" that we could adjust up and down to control temperature. We kept the chicks in this brooder for 6 weeks which is when we moved them out into the coop.
And here they are on the day they arrived.
So cute but only 6 weeks left so time to get back to work!
In these next few pics you can see how I used extra scrap pieces of wood from the play structure to close the gaps in the walls. I also bought some cheap redwood fence boards to close up one wall.
I also framed some windows and bought some plexiglass sheets that I can slide in or out depending on the season of the year.
Next we put the roof on. If you look back at the play structure roof it was just wood boards. Before we installed it back on the structure we put tar paper and shingles on the roof. Here's a money saving tip. I couldn't find a small roll of tar paper at the store, and as you can see, the roof is small and definitely would not take a full roll. So I drove around town and found some new homes being built that were being roofed. There were left over rolls of tar paper all over the place that were going to be thrown away and the workers let me have one. It was the perfect amount for my coop. Free tar paper, NICE ! After the tar paper and shingles were on we picked up the roof and bolted it back on to the top of the 4x4 posts.
In the following pics you will see the run build. As I mentioned, I have no true building skills so I coerced a few guys from my firehouse to come over for a chicken coop build day. These two guys have skills as you will see below. We used 2x4s to frame out the run. It's pretty self explanatory from the pics. They did an amazing job. We sloped the run roof to the left and over my fence so rain will run off into the culvert they exists on the other side if the fence.
The end of run build day. All that's left is the run roof, the egg boxes, the run door and the hardware cloth to fence it all in.
I got a little lazy with the picture taking here. This is the run roof. It's a product that Home Depot sells. The panels are 26" wide and they come in different lengths. You overlap them by a couple of inches and screw down with screws with rubber gaskets.
The egg boxes were made of plywood and built to fit the existing opening on that side of the coop. I put linoleum on the floor of the egg boxes to make cleaning easier.
I put a piece of wood across the bottom of the egg box opening to keep the shavings in the box.
Next I screened in the run using hardware cloth affixed with fender washers and screws.
I used redwood 1x4s on the hardware cloth seams to strengthen the seam and make the run more secure.
Here is the ramp into the coop. I used a 1x12 screwed into 2x4 boards.
Here is the inside of the coop. I put self adhesive linoleum on the floor to make clean up easier. I also put in two 2x4s for roosts. There is also a board at the door threshold to keep the wood shavings in the coop.
So that's it. Here is one more pic of the finished coop with the garden going in in front of it.
I had a great time building it and used a lot of what I learned from many other coop designs here on BYC. Thanks for all of the ideas and I hope you picked something up from my coop too.
The chicks are 8 weeks old here and doing great. They seem to love the coop. They have figured out going in and out at night and in the morning. They have also figured out how to get on the upper roost in the coop.
Thanks for checkin it out.
Here are some recent photos. The hens are 19 weeks old now, 3 of them are laying, the two red stars and the third is a mystery. The garden in front of the coop has become more established and we added our sign on the coop.