Three weeks after the chicks arrived, I've nearly completed their home. Thanks to BackyardChickens.com the details of our coop are thorough.
After review of the coops on BYC, I chose a walk-in height run area with a raised coop for the hens. Construction began without too much deliberation and proceeded step by step, or piece by piece - as I salvaged many building materials from my storage shed.
The aesthetic idea was to have the coop resemble the main house:
I have published the step-by-step process online and an overview with final photos.
Thanks to coop plans posted on this site, I was able to incorporate many design advantages in the construction of our bird's new home. The first step was to properly grade the area, laying concrete block below grade. Later the Hardware Cloth was buried 12"-16" below the bottom plate to ward off digging predators.
As I labored in the backyard on this coop after work, the evening hours fell upon me - darkness usually declaring an end to each evening's production. Throughout construction, I had several ominous visitors observing my methods: The first was a Red Fox who showed up the very first day, walking within 20' until spotted by our Labrador. Shortly after the fox, overhead screeched a Red-Tailed Hawk.
The next evening a raccoon was seen tearing across the lawn after a failed attempt to enter our garbage can triggered the attention of outdoor spotlights. A skunk, a rat, several birds of prey - including an owl, and most recently the coyote barking their familiar yip within 100 yards. I knew before I started that I'm planting these chickens at the edge of a field where all these creatures live. In fact, to date - the south side, of our coop isn't finished. I planned to put another large window along the back but haven't decided if this is advisable or not. If it's there, the wildlife will be able to feast their eyes upon the chickens in their roost which may inspire them to be more tenacious in getting at them!
Some of the features of this coop begin with the well-built foundation. Method followed proper technique for quality residential construction. LOL, it's a darn nice 'chicken coop' with about the only thing missing being some rake trim, cornice and crown molding - which seemed extravagant. Many people, including myself, only wish their own homes were built with such care.
An idea I incorporated from BackyardChicken visitors is a wire floor in the coop. I installed a smooth kitchen panel for 2/3 of the floor but finished the space under the roosts with Hardware cloth. (I'd like to note: hardware cloth is one of those words, new to me, that kept resounding in my head as I worked with it. It's vicious stuff yet I remained unscathed as I fastened the uncloth-like wire to studs with a pneumatic stapler.) I'd say nailing on that "cloth" lol, the wire, was the most amazing, fun and clean-looking stage of building. The compressor driven brad gun with galvanized 1" staples was a god-send! I fastened the wire with lots of staples, considering local pests.
Some of the elegant details include full corner returns with copper caps, half-round vent windows, tempered glass operable windows with mahogany frames and a door system utilizing a rope and pulley.
The rope for the chicken's door can be seen in the photo above. By making a heavy door and attaching it to a rope and pulley, operation from outside the coop is simple - pull rope, hook on peg and the hen's are free.
I will update this page with some more detailed photos when I've completed the two remaining sides.
Here's a picture of the hand-painted plaque my daughter made for the nesting box portico.
2010-05-04 08:37:22 Thanks BYC members! I had no idea what a Chicken coop was, other than a shed with a door. Now we are the proud owners of a cute little house for our hens that utilizing the freely available user submitted coop plans on backyardchickens.com is well-designed, practical and safe for our chicks. Utilizing my own resourcefulness and creativity, I was able to fabricate the entire structure from basic raw materials with an aesthetic that suits the property. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, and one that is just beginning. I'm pretty sure I can be contacted via my website or article if you have any questions.
* The total area is approx. 5' x 10' - the coop is 4' x 5' and is expected to house 4 hens.
The approximate material costs are derived from estimating the cost of materials salvaged and materials purchased in total exceed $1,000. Labor is estimated to have exceeded 40 hours... but a lot of that was staring and wondering what to do next. I posted step by step and itemized all materials in the above mentioned article.