After much research, inspiration found on BYC, and four different variations on Sketch Up, we finally began building our coop on October 31st, after a week of snow and cold weather. Have we lost our minds? Yes, yes we have.

We decided to go with a 8' x 12' covered run, with an elevated 8' x 4' insulated coop. Our plan is to have 4 chickens, but I feel like chicken math may become a problem at some point....

Some things we needed to consider when designing:
- it's freaking cold here in the winter (-30C for a week or more is not uncommon)
- it can get hot in the summer (+30C for a week or more is also not uncommon)
- predators will be an issue (plenty of hawks, eagles, weasels, foxes, etc.)

Laying out 2x6, all nice and square and level.

Framing all done. The vertical supports were placed 2 feet apart, as well as the roof rafters. The front (south) side is 7.5 feet high, while the back is 6.5 feet. You can also see the beginnings of the floor support for the coop.

Working at night to finish the floor. Warmer weather was on the way, and I wanted to be laying in snow and not in mud when installing the 1/2" plywood underneath (to hold in insulation - overkill? Probably.) I forgot to take a picture, but the joists are 2' on center, and are hung on doubled up 2x4.

I had a day off, so began framing the coop. We decided to put the nest boxes in the run section to protect them from the weather.

Because of temperature fluctuations and condensation, we put a layer of vapour barrier on the rafters, followed by strapping, followed by reusing an old metal roof that was left by the previous home owners. Also, MUD! Mud everywhere.

We put vapour barrier and 1/4" underlay on the interior walls. The previous owners also left some windows and a bunch of siding. Score!
The triangular sections above the windows will remain open for coop ventilation.


We had ONE single day of hot weather on November 9, so the minute everyone got home, it was coop painting time! We painted the interior of the coop, and all the run in less than 2 hours! DH and I even went back out after supper and put a second coat on the interior of the coop and the vertical supports.

Two days later, kids had a snow day, so mommy was outside working on building the insulated nest boxes. There will be two at 12" x 12" x 12" at their smallest.

Another day off, another project I completed by myself: a 36" x 24" clean out door on the east side of the coop. As you can see, we also added a second pop door for future use, whether it be isolation or introducing new chicks. I'll be able to partition the coop in half so each side gets a nest box and a door.

Burying the hardware cloth, in the mud. Fun times. I should add, that the location itself is not muddy. It is simply a combination of having clay for "soil" and walking repeatedly over the area with snow that keeps falling and melting. Regardless, we will be putting down a gravel pathway for us to walk on, along with gutters and a rain barrel.

My mom and step-dad came over to help us finish what we could before winter truly set in. We were able to cover almost the entire run in hardware cloth and build and install the large people door and nest box door, as well as install the prefab run door.
The next day DH and I installed the door hardware, as well some soffit on the north side that we had found laying around.



I'm really pleased with the progress we made before winter and am very glad we got as much finished as we did. With the vegetable gardens taking up most of our time in spring, I'm very happy to not have the added pressure of completing this build. When we began, I really didn't think it would take as long, cost this much, or have us scratching our heads trying to figure things out.

All that will be left in the spring is:
- installing hardware cloth on one vertical section, the screen door and the south side eaves,
- completing the pop doors,
- installing the roosts,
- installing bermuda shudders over exposed coop ventilation,
- finishing touches such as trim.

It’s going to be a long winter.....

Update: July 2021

We received our hens on June 9 of this year. We ended up deciding on one each: Buff Orpington, Lavender Orpington, Silver Laced Wyandotte and a Majesty Maran. My coworker had also ordered 4 Red Sex-Link, but changed his mind, so we took them since we could.

I am so very happy that we started last fall for two reasons: time and cost! We were so busy with the gardens this year (expanding and creating new) and I'm so glad we didn't have to also worry about the chicken coop. We finished almost everything on our list way before the hens arrived, with no pressure. All that's left to finish is painting some of the exterior and making a bermuda shudder.

These are the current pictures of our coop. As you can see, we've also decided to expand the run into the "forest" (strip of trees/brush between properties). The chickens love it in there and spend the hot afternoons hiding in the shade.

Added some branches for them, but so far they are uninterested. Might be a different story this winter....

Happy happy chickens!


The front roosting bar is removable so I can easily climb in if needed. Have about 5" of pine shavings.

The (pretty much) completed Clucking Shack!