I would like to say I had a well thought out plan in the creation of my coop. A design that began with careful reading, thoughtful discussions with others who had done it before, and consideration. But I'd be lying. Because I am the definition of all over the place. Really, with most of my life! This coop was no different. Don't get me wrong - I didn't like randomly decide and say one day, "oh, I like chickens, and it'd be cool to have some". The decision may have been sudden and totally caught family and friends off guard. But once I did make the decision, I researched, and researched some more. I researched breeds, cold weather vs. hot, egg production, life expectancy, good with families, size, on and on and on. In the meantime of this obsessive research; finally settling on my Buff Orpington babies, is where my 'all over the place' self showed its not so pretty face in beginning the creation of my monster. I mean coop. This is how it happened and these are the lessons I learned:
1. Playhouses can make great coops. But have a plan. It's not just about the house.
My mother in law bought my 5-year-old a playhouse. Very nice, but I knew my daughter would go in once. Maybe twice. And there it would sit to store random yard toys, leafs, and provide a nice dry home for spiders. So, I decided that was going to be my coop. Mother-in-law thrilled? Eh, not so much.
2. Have a plan. Think it through.
I was able to put the kit together easily enough, but if I had a better plan, I could have reinforced as I went. Meaning adding the fencing, extra wood for thinner areas, etc. Instead, I had to backtrack; redoing work when it could have been done easily the first time. For instance: Enforcing the openings with hardware cloth, including the windows and doors before fully assembling the house. I would have saved tons of time doing this. Also, I started with generic chicken wire, but after learning how to predator proof, I had to take it all down and replace with a better material like hardware cloth. Ps, use the smaller gauge cloth. So much easier to cut.
3. PVC pipes seem like a great idea. If you know what you are doing.
Many coop designs I've seen look great using PVC as the structure. My thought was to use the playhouse as the main coop, with a PVC structure as the run. Why was this such an issue? I have no idea. Because it seemed so simple. The only thing I think was A. I am mathematically challenged. And B. Well, if you can't do math/measurements well, you are in trouble with pvc.
4. Recycle, recycle!
75% of the coop was used with recycled wood. I used the wood pallet the house was delivered on to create the floor. I removed the bottom pieces and switched them to the other side to create one solid floor. I could then use old wood fence postings as the four 'feet' creating a table-like structure. I used outdoor oil based paint to seal the base in. Nailed square plywood to make it a smooth even surface, and finally topped it with vinyl flooring.
Once the house was secure on top, I could add the finishing touches. Egg nest on one wall, a simple plywood door to go from the house to a ramp to the run.
My husband, who could have done this is a weekend, stood by and watched me flounder, redo, bleed, curse, maybe cry a little, and possibly kick a few things before it was all said and done. Why? His reasoning was to let me learn. Well, there. I learned AND I did it on my own. My babies are 8 weeks, and loving their little piece of land on South Carolina ground! Totally worth it.