The Bella Coop

By jeremyhodges · Apr 17, 2014 · ·
  1. jeremyhodges
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    I thought I would upload my chicken coop and run construction photos. I am a first time chicken owner with 5 pullets. We quickly grew out of the pre-fab coop and run that we had purchased, so knew that we needed to come up with something larger and with a little room for growth. We are in suburban San Diego, so were a little tight on space. I've never done any construction, so I decided to buy plans from MyPetChicken. We purchased plans for the "Bella Coop" ( for $34.95. I really liked these plans because they were very detailed and designed for someone without a lot of experience in building. They reminded me of lego instructions from when I was a kid! They would explain a step and then have a color-coded image of what it looks like. We've had to make several adjustments and renovations, and I'm sure it will be a constant work in progress.

    Our new coop and run is on a sloped area of our yard, so the first thing we did was use rocks we had around our property to create a level terrace. You can see the pier blocks that are set in the location of the new coop. The cut tree you see will grow back to give the chickens some greens in their run.
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    The first step is to use pressure treated wood as the four corner support beams of the coop. We had to use a level to make sure everything was leveled off, which was difficult to do with our sloped area. You can see how the pier blocks had to be really dug down on the upper area. I like that the floor of the coop is raised up, allowing the food and water to be placed under the coop and be protected from the elements.

    The next step was framing out the walls. For the framing I bought the cheapest 2x4s that Home Depot had. It was at this point that I realized that these coop designs were really REALLY solidly built. Probably more for a place like Kansas with a hundred degree swing in weather between winter and summer and tornados in between rather than San Diego, where it's mild and temperate at all times. I'm sure I could have left out some of the 2x4s that make up the framing…but being someone with very little construction experience, it was much easier to just follow the plans to the letter rather than trying to extrapolate out what I wouldn't need.
    [​IMG] In this photo you can see the small chick door framed below and the window up above.
    [​IMG]This back wall shows the large door that I use to clean the coop.

    Once the framing was done, I used plywood 4x8 sheets as sheathing materials on the walls, roof, and floor.
    [​IMG]Here, you can see the small chicken door with the window above it and one of the two nest boxes framed out on the side.

    [​IMG]This is building out a nest box with the hole for the back door visible.

    [​IMG]One of two nest boxes. Both nest boxes are divided in half, so the coop has 4.

    Here is a profile view, with the nest box facing you. Notice the hinges on the nest box roof.

    This is the back of the coop with host nest boxes on the side.

    At this point we had a company come and install a 6 foot high chain link fence for the chicken run. It has one gate located on the side of the coop. It's nice because the gate opens right up to the main nest box that my girls use, so you can just open the gate and reach right in to collect eggs. I know that chain link is in no way predator proof, but our plan was to allow the chickens to free range during the day and then lock them up every night. We don't have any predators we're worried about during the day, so we just wanted our coop to be like Fort Knox and not worry about the security of the run. In the picture below you can also see that we installed a window. Originally we were going to make a window out of pieces of plexiglass, but we found a 2'x2' window at Home Depot for $35, which was cheaper than the plexiglass was going to be so we went with that. We also primed the coop to prep it for getting painted. At this point, the coop was move-in ready for the chickens!
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    Here is our blue Ameraucana standing in the doorway of the coop. Notice the ramp that we built going down to the left. We painted the coop with paint leftover from our house.

    The roof is shingled with shingles leftover from our house as well.

    View of the back of our coop with the roof and both nest boxes shingled. Notice how large the back door is, which is great for cleaning. We bought hinges that were more decorative for the back door. We added a metal drip edge at the top of the roof to keep out water.

    We spent a few months weighing options for what to do with the corners of the plywood sheathing to make it complete. The coop plans called for using small furring strips, but we found those difficult to work with because they are so cheap that they all seemed warped and hard to match.
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    Here's a shot of underneath the coop, where we had the feeder hanging and the waterer mounted on blocks.

    Our coop was kept at the point of the above pictures for a few months before we decided to make some changes to the run. Remember how we started out on a slope with one terrace added for the coop? Well we wanted to try to make more terraces so that we would get less runoff during rain and so that we could put a substrate down. For the few months that the run was just dirt, EVERYTHING near the coop was covered in dust from the chickens constant scratching. We wanted to put either rocks or sand down in the run, so we started with trying to make another terrace ourselves out of more rock. We also used a few pavers to make paths. We kept this setup for a few weeks to see if it was stable and if we could level off the areas in between the terraces.
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    We put a dummy egg (the large white egg showing) in the nest box to show the girls where to lay. As you can see, they quickly figured it out and we were getting a nice variety of colors.

    Here is our Ameraucana trying her best to reach the re-growing foliage from that cut tree. Below her you can see a perch I added to give the chickens more options in their run.

    Our white Easter Egger is enjoying the tree's leaves!

    After several weeks of the homemade rock terraces and dirt, we decided it still wasn't working out all that well. We were in the process of having a landscaping company add some brick terraces to our yard, so we decided to just go ahead and have them terrace the chicken run as well. That way everything matches and we can have a professional job. We decided to go with 1/4" pea gravel for the run.

    There are two terraces above the coop:
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    And one terrace below the coop.

    I still put a paver down below the coop to have for the feeder and waterer.

    We also finally added the finishing touches to the coop. We found a great corner material that was pre-made at Lowes. This was much easier than the furring strips. We painted the edges the same color as the edging on our house, so the whole coop matches really well.
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    Now let's take a look at the inside! Here is a view from the back with the large back door opened. You can see the smaller chicken door closed below the window. In the photo below, you can see the openings for the two divided nest boxes on either side.

    Here you can easily see the divided nest boxes on either side.
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    Here is a little Cream Legbar chick that one of my broody silkies hatched out in this coop! Notice that board in the doorway right underneath the chick? That board is an addition we recently made that helps keep the shavings inside the coop! When the hens are going in to lay, they were scratching all of the shavings out the open door.

    The two little Cream Legbar chicks go from the front door into one of the nest boxes.

    This is one of my favorite features of the Bella coop plans. It is the roosting bar. It is a completely removable tray that collects almost all of the poop from the chickens while they're sleeping. It really cuts down on cleaning and the amount of shavings I have to use. I can just remove the roosting bar tray and clean it. Instead of the roosting bar made out of purchased wood that the plans called for, you can see here that I used a sanded stick.

    Here's the roosting tray where it sits inside the coop on brackets we put on either side. It's easy to take in and out.

    And here is what you see if you open the back door at night!

    My black silkie is the one with the Cream Legbar chicks, but lately her splash silkie sister has been sleeping with them inside one of the nest boxes!

    And here's a view of my Ameraucana going in to lay.

    This view of the Ameraucana coming in to lay is from the open nest box roof.
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    And finally, here's a shot of my two Cream Legbar chicks getting above the fray on that perch I added to the tree!

    So that's my coop! Its still a work in progress..there are always more things I like to tweak here and there. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Recent User Reviews

  1. CCUK
    "Very good build"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 15, 2018
  2. Nardo
    "Urban multi-terraced run"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 2, 2018
    Great job with the crazy piece of land you had to deal with! Great pictures and explanations and a super cool finished product!


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  1. purplepassion
    love the coop and the roosting bar is just wonderful!
  2. Brookliner
    Really nice coop. You did a great job. I am sure your girls are happy.
  3. Brookliner
    You might want to try sweet PDZ in your roost tray (poop tray) it absorbes ammonia so there would be no smell and you can scoop it like kitty litter. It is a natural mineral zoelyte and is not harmful if the chickens eat it. It is sold as stall fresh at tractor supply. It is mainly used for horses.
  4. sueblack
    Nice! Good instructions too.
  5. windnleavesfarm
  6. mimiywan
    The roost bar and removable tray is genius!
  7. jeremyhodges
    Sorry…meant to include that in my post! For just the coop itself, we probably spent between $500 and $600. We could have cut down on costs a bit if we cared less about aesthetics, but since it is a large part of our yard we wanted it to be nice looking.
  8. teneyck farms
    awsome coop
    do you have a rough estimate for the coop build that you can share
    i would like to build one of these for some more bantams
  9. MichelleVA
    I Love It!

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