After a lot of research and reading through hundreds of pages on the BYC forums, I began the construction of our first coop. With a great deal of help from my dad with construction and design, and some additional help from family members, I am quite please with the end result.
The total cost for all materials was about $1,200. The coop is 4' x 7' x 4', while the entire structure is 7' x 18'. The front is 82" (not including the the roof and support beams) and the back is 70".
The hardware cloth (2 rolls of 3'x100'), the metal roofing and the smart siding, were the most expensive parts.
Additionally, I got 1.25 tons of rock and 1.75 tons of sand. Screws, hinges, and paint ended up being a big add-on expense that I simply did not plan for originally (poor planning on my behalf). I did buy an air compressor and staple gun from Harbor Freight to make all the stapling of hardware cloth easy.
I began the project in late July. Working on the tree stump and digging in the clay to level the area ended up taking almost 3 weeks. My wife and I worked on this in our free time and over several full weekends. I then was able to get a day here and there over the next 6 months. The overall project took about 7 months. I did not log the hours, but it took a considerable amount of time between the prep, planning, design, construction, painting, etc. This was also my first time ever building something outside of simple projects when I was in the Boy Scouts.
I must give credit primarily to the Triple C for an overall design plan.
This was our 7' wide tree stump in the back corner of the yard. When I've stepped on it, pieces fell off. Being naive, I figured I could get rid of most of it with an 8 lb. splitting maul, pickaxe, and chainsaw. After 4 wheelbarrows full of wood, a week of manual labor, and sharpening the chainsaw chain every 2-3 minutes of cutting, I decided I would modify the coop size from 8' x 18' to 7' x 18'. It was just not worth the work and I did not want to wait for chemicals to make it rot. I could not burn it due to city codes and its proximity to our shed, and the best quote I got for grinding is $600 since our back yard is tiered and getting the grinder in was going to be a nightmare.
You can see part of our shed to the left. This area was previously fenced in for dogs, I removed 3 sides of the fencing and began the digging for the 4x4's.
I was fortunate enough to have some help with the digging from my wife and older brother. While they were working on that, I began painting all the 2x4's for the frame and roof. I purchased several cans of White Barn & Fence paint from a Lowe's outside the city. It was $14.99 per can, which is a great deal. We ended up using 4 cans for the entire project. All of the frame pieces received 2 coats, as well as the inside of the coop and the plywood roof and base.
After about two weeks of digging, we were finally able to get the 4x4's level. We used extra fireplace bricks to help level and support the wood. We had to dig down about 1.5 feet on the back side and add about 1/2 a foot on the front side to make things level.
We added 1/2 inch hardware cloth under the frame, using a staple gun to attach it on the outside of the frame. There is no way any creature could pull this out.
We used zip ties for the overlapping piece of hardware cloth in the middle since there was nothing to staple.
We added between 1& 2 inches of gravel. It cost about $33 for 1.25 tons. The worst part about this, is we had no easy way to get it up from the truck in our driveway since there are two sets of stairs. My wife and I ended up carrying it one load at a time in 5 gallon buckets (and it was too heavy filling the bucket all the way up).
I put a layer of black garden cloth over the rocks and stapled it to the frame. This way, the sand would not fill in the space of the rocks.
After, we hauled buckets of sand up and filled in. This was 1.75 tons of sand. It cost about $50 from a local mulch/sand place.
Here are 3 sides of the frame. As you can see in the picture below, we used put together a full side first. We used small metal corner braces from the roofing section at Lowes. These were fairly cheap at 58 cents each, but add up since we needed almost 100 for the entire project. We were able to put the frame pieces together with two people since they did not weigh much. Since the long sides were 18 feet, we used mending braces on the top and bottom, and on both sides. This was sturdy enough until we added the roof and bolted the frame into the 4x4's.
We got 7 metal roofing panels from the Metal Depot in Raleigh. This was the only local place that had lots of options in stock and would supply such a small order. Their pricing was very reasonable and their service was great. I was able to get about any color and chose this shade of grey so that it would be similar to the roof color of our house/shed. They were 36" x 12'. They cut them shorter for us (we only needed a bit over 10"). They gave me all the extra. The panels were about $20 each and they also provided metal roofing screws that matched the color.
Here's the entire frame put together.
You can see that most of the gaps already have hardware cloth installed. It was much easier to staple it on while on the ground. The empty areas are where the coop will go.
Here are the metal rafter ties used to support the 2x4's.
And with the 2x4's inserted and screwed in.
Now I attached the frame into the base 4x4's. I did not want to spend an absurd amount on carriage bolts or 6" screws, so I used a drill bit to remove some wood and then used 4" screws.
Added the cross beams to the roof. These are necessary to support the metal roofing.
Installing the roofing.
Filled in the screw holes with white silicon caulk with a 50 year life so that water would not get into the wood and rot.
I was having some issues with the sand getting fairly wet after a rain (even once roof was installed). Initially I thought it was due to the rain coming in at an angle, but realized that water was seeping in where the frame and 4x4's met. I used caulk along the base of the coop. This made a huge difference and I barely see any wet sand, even after a good storm.
I used some extra garden cloth to cover the area between the fence and the frame. That way, mud would not splash in or discolor the wood. Also, it made it much easier to clean out leaves during the fall.
I installed a gutter and drain for about $50. After having to clean leaves out of the gutter a number of times this fall, I used extra hardware cloth to act as a gutter guard. It worked wonderfully and I no longer had to empty the gutters.
I built the door using 1x4's (copied directly from the Triple C). I built one side of the door, put the hardware cloth in the middle (and used a manual staple gun with shorter staples). I then added the other side of the door and screwed them together.
Added the frame for the coop. The base is approximately 2 feet from the bottom and the frame is spaced 4' from top to bottom.
Not pictured here, but I had to use a belt sander to help the door fit. The frame area was not exactly square and therefore the bottom right corner of the doorway had a gap. I later added an extra piece of 1x4 to the bottom of the door to overlap the frame.
Began filling in the bottom and top (below and above the coop frame) with hardware cloth.
Filled in the gaps between the top of the frame and the roof.
Used tin snips to cut extra roofing pieces to close off the small gap at the top.
Added a downspout to the gutter and put our rain barrel underneath. The rain barrel would take forever to fill up when it was only collecting water from the top surface area. It looks like I may need to get/make a couple more rain barrels as this 55 gallon one was overflowing after a light rain. It is incredible how much water the roof collects.
Attached some more hardware cloth at the top of the frame. I was able to staple it down on three sides and bend it at the top. It is durable enough that no creatures should be able to get inside.
Added furring strips on the entire inside of the coop as additional support for the hardware cloth. I do not think, however, it would be possible for any creature to push out the staples from the gun I used. I mostly wanted the furring strips for the more pleasant aesthetic inside and I did not want anyone catching their clothes/skin on the ends of the metal. That stuff is sharp!
Things are still holding up well. Survived hurricane level winds and rain earlier this fall, and a snow before Christmas.
Finally got to adding the base and top of the coop. I am pretty sure I used 15/32 thickness. A 4x8 piece was around $13 at Lowes.
I chose to insert the siding between the frame bars instead of overlapping the entire side. This was both for a functional and aesthetic purpose. I used Smart Siding from Lowes. A 4x8 sheet was around $25. It is durable and comes with a primer coat on the outside. I was able to cover all the sides with 3 pieces and have some left over because of the nesting boxes and windows.
I was able to buy a 12' x 25' piece of flooring at Lowes for $10. It was a leftover scrap. I chose not to staple/glue it down so that it can be fairly easy to removed if I ever need to replace it.
Using 4 small hinges and 2 barrel bolts, I made the far right panel a door, so the coop could be accessed from the outside if needed and for easier cleaning/window opening. I drilled holes into the wood frame for the bolt to go into.
The front panels are on and the large inside door (for easy access and cleaning) are installed. I also began painting it yellow. It matches the color of our house and is similar to our shed color. We will be repainting our shed to match this spring.
I opted for a gate latch instead of a hasp due to the spacing needed for attaching them to the door/frame. Additionally, I think they are a bit easier to use and more durable in the long run.
Added a spring to the backside of the door so it will automatically close.
Installed 4 windows. Originally I planned on cutting holes and using extra hardware cloth and wood to DIY windows. However, I found a post around Christmas where shed-windows.com had 14'x21' windows for sale at $19.99 each. I thought this was too good to pass up since they would be much easier to install, would look better, and could slide open. They come with a screen and I was able to install hardware cloth between the frame and screen so that nothing could get in while they are open. It also came with matching install screws. I was extremely pleased with how they worked/looked even though it was an added expense. It was well worth it in my opinion.
Used furring strips to create the doorway for the chickens. I do not intend to use a door for the coop since the run is fully enclosed. I will see how things go once my first chickens move in and I can always change that fairly easily if I find a door is necessary.
Finally started adding nesting boxes. Due to the distance between the frame bars, we opted to make 2 nesting boxes. They are 14" tall, 16" deep, and approximately 21" wide. We had enough extra smart siding to use pieces for the outsides of the nesting boxes. I pre-built what you see and then screwed it into the 2x4's on the frame.
Added a poop board from an extra piece of wood and extra furring strips. It is approximately 17" deep and 78" long. I used 4, 2x4's as supports. These were screwed in from the outside. They have been fine at supporting the poop board so far, but I may go back later and added a L bracket underneath for additional support later.
Added the final window and outside siding.
Added hinged tops to the nesting boxes using some extra plywood. I used a file to help with the latches so that the top would lie flush with the rest of the nesting box.
I had some smaller scraps of flooring from our wash room in our house and cut it for the nesting box bottoms. I installed a 1x4 front cross bar to the nesting box. This easily slides out so that it can be brushed out into the general coop. There is about a 2" clearance from the bottom of the coop to the bottom of the nesting box.
I used extra metal roofing to cover the tops of the nesting boxes. The edges were extremely sharp, so I bought some Car Door Guard material to cover the edges. I then used some heavy duty glue to keep it from slipping off.
Added the ramp. It is 5' long. Used an extra piece of plywood and leftover furring strips. The door is 12" wide and 14" tall.
And the view from the back.
Added hooks to hang the water and food containers. I will probably have to adjust these for height later.
Added the roosting bar. It is located approximately 8" above the poop bar. I used extra corner braces to hold the 2x4 in place. It can easily be removed by just lifting it.
I used extra flooring to the top of the poop bar. I will fill it in with PDZ to help with smell/cleanliness once the chickens move in.
As a birthday present, my parents ordered a nice sign for the coop from someone on Etsy!
I was a little worried that the nesting boxes (especially due to their size) may become a hang out area and may get too much light which would discourage laying. I therefore added some curtains. I attached them using velcro with adhesive backing.
Being our first time as chicken owners, I am sure there will be a lot to learn and modifications will happen over time. For now, we plan on raising chicks in our shed in some cheap playpens. Eventually, we may add/create some new housing.
An update: July 21, 2017
- We successfully raised 20 chicks using the heating blanket method. This worked wonderfully and I highly encourage it to everyone who is looking to get chickens or wants to try it out.
- We had several big rains this spring and the sand was saturated. Water was seeping in from the bottom up. I ended up digging around the entire coop and added french drains. This has completely fixed the water problems and even though the sand can still get wet from a bad rain, it is dry by the next day.
- Also due to strong rain, I was getting water into the nesting boxes at the hinge joint and where the lid sealed. To fix this, I purchased some self-stick door sweep for cheap at the hardware store and cut it to overlap the hinge area. I then used some 1/2 inch wood strips underneath the lid to overlap the box and this has prevented water from seeping in the sides.