The Nest Egg

By jlholm · Dec 25, 2013 · ·
  1. jlholm

    We started this project with significant disagreement regarding “how big” & “how many”. She wanted 10 chickens with room for more and I wanted 4 in a 3’x4’ hut on 4x4 posts. After months of research and review of dozens of designs we came to the finite conclusion that we still disagreed. There are many good designs available, but none quite fit her space and accoutrement requirement.
    In the end, as is typical, I lost.
    For several weeks we scratched floor plans on note paper and relied upon my past experience remodeling and building furniture to pull it all together. In the end, we built a 6’ x 10’ stick-framed structure with a 96” eave.
    During construction of a post & frame storage building, we had an additional slab poured that measured 6’ x 15’ and had a single 20a circuit run under it in conduit. This would be the home for our coop. On July 31, 2013 we began framing.

    [​IMG]The foundation is a rectangle of treated 2x6, lying flat, attached to the 5” thick slab with ½” concrete wedge anchors placed 24” on center, with extra anchors at each end of the framing members.
    2x4 joists were placed 24” o.c. and the base was leveled and squared. To provide for some level of insulation in the floor, we added 2” rigid foam insulation sheets between the floor joists, providing an R-10 barrier. This was covered with ¾” T&G plywood that was glued and secured with ring-shank flooring nails.

    [​IMG]The walls are typical of stud-wall building construction: 92 5/8 studs with a sole plate and top plate, which when erected and secured with a second top plate, provide for an 8 foot ceiling. As we constructed the walls (framed on the ground and erected as units) we made rough openings for 5 – 24” x 24” Pella sliding windows (available at your local Big Box retailer), a Pullet-Shut automatic chicken door, a gable vent (with a thermostatic attic ventilation fan) and a 32” Dutch-Door (she was absolutely dead set on a Dutch-Door). Because the 10’ front wall houses 2-24” windows and a 32” door, it incorporates a 2x10 laminated header, constructed on-site.


    The walls were erected, leveled and squared, sitting flush with the edge of the floor. Once squared (measuring corner-to-corner), we braced them.
    On one end of the coop (left as you are seeing it), we framed openings that would later accept 2 nesting boxes that measure 41” long, 14” tall x 15 ½” deep. These are divided into 3 nest boxes per unit via ½” plywood dividers and are access from the outside of the coop.


    As I built this alone, on evenings and weekends, it wasn’t feasible to stick-frame the roof structure. As an alternative, I shop-built roof trusses out of 2x4’s and reinforced the joints with ¾” CDX, secured with construction adhesive and 2” exterior ring-shank nails.
    These I could set alone and I installed them 24” O.C. along the top plate, securing them with 20P galvanized nails and hurricane straps. The trusses have a 12” overhang (or eave) and each end truss incorporates a “ladder soffit”, creating a 12” overhang around the entire circumference of the structure.

    [​IMG]The roof is sheathed with 5/8 CDX and topped with Owens Corning architectural shingles and capped with a ridge vent to allow for proper ventilation of the insulation attic space. The fascia board is rough-sawn cedar, for durability and to match the cedar board and batten siding we applied later.

    [​IMG]With the roof on, we sheathed the building with ½” CDX and wrapped the structure in house-wrap (can’t have drafts on her babies).

    Next we installed the door and windows, installed 1x3 nailers 16” O.C. and furred out the door and window jambs in preparation for Western Red Cedar board & batten siding to come.
    [​IMG][​IMG]On rainy days we constructed the egg boxes. These were installed from the outside, so the construction incorporates 2x2 flanges or nailers, set 4 ½ inches from the inside edge (3 ½” wall, plus ½” plywood on both sides of the wall). We primed and painted them prior to installation.

    [​IMG]A second nailer was attached to the nest box,10” from the first to allow for the addition of 2” rigid foam insulation, providing for some insulation (R10) on that portion of the nest box that is outside of the coop wall.

    [​IMG]The boxes were set in the exterior wall, supported with 2x4 braces and

    [​IMG]Leveled, squared and secured.


    Doors for the egg boxes were fabricated on-site using sandwich panels, with 1” x ¾” hardwood frames, ½” exterior panels, ¼” interior panels and 1” of rigid foam insulation inside. These are mounted on 3” “no mortise” hinges and close against vinyl clad foam door weather strip that is secured in ¾” x ¾” stock. The stock has a saw kerf in it that accepts the weather strip, creating a seal similar to that on a refrigerator door or a commercial pre-hung exterior door. The exterior of the doors were then covered in Western Red Cedar to match the exterior of the coop.

    [​IMG]The unit was trimmed with red cedar. The open doors are supported by red cedar slats attached to self-closing gate hinges procured locally. When the doors are closed, the hinge “stores” the support, flush against the face of the nest boxes. A roof was added to the assembly, with “Rafters” fabricated from tapered 2x12, ¾” CDX and the same shingles used on the building roof. Deadbolts and gate hasps with carabiner clips secure the closed door against unwelcome intruders.
    The exterior was covered with 1 x 12 Western Red Cedar boards, the soffit treated with ½” plywood and the soffit boxes fabricated from cedar as well. Soffit vents were added for ventilation. The window trim, door trim & soffit trim are also 1” red cedar. Hardware cloth was applied over the window trim, and then covered with additional cedar trim.

    [​IMG]We built a small portico over the chicken door to protect it from the weather, installed a soffit vent for the ventilation fan and then proceeded to address the run. 4” x 6” treated posts were sunk in the ground 4’ (below the New York frost line) and bedded in concrete. The posts are square to the building and form the supporting structure for a 6’ wide, 7’ tall by 20’ long run.
    [​IMG]The posts were plumbed and squared with bracing. [​IMG]
    Double 2 x 6’s form the support for more roof trusses, placed 24” O.C. and secured with 20P nails and hurricane straps. The 2 x 6's were secured to the posts with galvanized 1/2" carriage bolts. When all was level, plumb & secure, the tops of the posts were trimmed off.

    [​IMG]The trusses on each end of the run are completely covered with ½” CDX to prevent unwanted guests from entering the run through the trusses. We thought this was a better option that trying to attach hardware cloth to part of the run.

    [​IMG]The fascia and roof construction are the same as the main building, though lower by design. You can see the posts for the soon to be garden in the background. The door on the back (by the silver ladder) will allow us to let the girls out into the garden as Jody sees fit.

    [​IMG]2x4 bracing was added between the posts to accept hardware cloth, which runs continuously from the back of the fascia board to below ground level. A 12” trench was dug around the run in order to bury the hardware cloth and deter critters that would try to dig under the perimeter wall. Treated 2x8’s were layered over the hardware cloth at grade and secured to the 2x4 bracing and the posts. Hardware cloth and treated members span the distance between the building and the run, completely enclosing the structure from below grade to the roof line. We purchased 48” x 50’ rolls of ½” hardware cloth. Starting at the backside of the fascia trim, we stapled hardware cloth onto the rafters, back to the roof headers and down walls, ending 12" below grade. A pneumatic stapler and stainless steel staples made a huge difference. I can’t imagine fastening this much hardware cloth with a hand stapler or screws and washers.

    [​IMG]Doors for the run were fabricated on-site from 1” treated decking, with ¾” exterior plywood gussets. Ripping the edges from the decking, left 1” x 5” stock that was relatively flat and straight. A Kreg jig, exterior screws and construction adhesive bind it together. The doors are covered with hardware cloth and supported by stainless steel, self-closing gate hinges procured very reasonably from “Hinge & Latch”. (Note that these hinges are adjustable to account for movement over time. The doors are secured against unwelcome visitors with gate latches and carabiner clips. The door handle was fabricated for us from steel, at a modest cost.

    We added a bench across the end posts of the run, so that Mom would have a perch as well.

    A roost, a waterer and some straw finish off the run.

    The finishing touch to the whole project might be the look in a grandchild’s eyes as she communes with Aggie for the first time.
    The inside is insulated with R-19 walls, R-30 in the ceiling and sheathed with ½” plywood. We chose to cover the floor with very inexpensive, self-adhesive tiles to facilitate easy cleaning. The “poop” board, shown here below the roost, is covered with stainless steel sheet procured locally (Lowes) and provides for very easy cleaning.
    We added trim boards to the front of the nest boxes to give the girls an easy way in an out.

    Gusset supports fabricated from scrap 2x4 & ¾” CDX are screwed to the wall studs and support both the roost and “poop board”. In the background, above the chick door, is the ceramic heater.

    The artist in the family adorned the interior with wildflowers and grasses to break-up all of white and give the coop the right feel.

    [​IMG]The interior is kept warm with a ceramic heater that only draws 3 amps, but has maintained temperatures in the mid 40’s when the ambient dropped below zero. This is a 24” square ceramic plate with a thermostat which is designed to be wall mounted. For summer ventilation we installed a thermostatic attic soffit fan high on the end wall above the “pullet door”, venting though a soffit louver. We covered and protected this with a framework of hardwood covered with hardware cloth.
    [​IMG]When winter approached, we elected to wrap the run in 6 mil plastic and secure it with battens. This has been very effective at protecting the “girls” from the harsh winds and blowing snow we experience here.

    All of the research and reading we did before we started allowed us to catalog the comments of other coop builders and learn from their mistakes Page after page of things they wished they had done, features they wished they had incorporated and the key elements of several designs allowed us an advantage. The Nest Egg is warm in the winter, cool in the summer, opens to the garden as needed and is predator proof (so far).



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  1. Drother
    I love that it's overbuilt. Will stand a long time without repairs. Great planning and execution.
  2. Mewzikl
    WOW! That is beautiful :love
  3. N F C
    What a beautiful coop! The Dutch door is great and I love how the end product was decorated. Thanks for sharing your coop build with everyone!
  4. MrsChickens
    Super set up...mind if I snatch a few of your ideas? I have three Eng Springer Spaniels (upland bird hunters) that have bird stamped on their brains. They get along with our Mrs Chickens but there's always a wire screen separating them! Once that screen is not there, all hell would break loose. They'd think they're flushing fowl, grab one by the neck, give it a good shake and retrieve back to me. My Emily already demonstrated with a pullet that flew over a 4ft pen. How did you get your labs (wetland hunters) to leave the chickens alone?
  5. IamRainey
    That is just wonderful! Love the people bench and the painted greenery. So well thought out and constructed.

    I hope it gives you all endless enjoyment!
  6. RginaC
  7. jlholm
    I really couldn't say how much the actual cost was. Some matierials we had on hand or made available to us. I'm sure we spent more than we needed to for the purpose, lol! Size wise, the coop is 6x10 and the run is 6x20. We now have 12 girls and one roo and they are not crowded. we may add more run space in the future, but they have free roam of the yard when we're home with them.
  8. I Love Layers
    If it is fine with you, how much did it cost to build the coop? I am going to start building a cochin coop, and they need to have at least 4 sq feet per bird, and I am hoping to fit 12 birds with room to spare, I looked at the medium coops but they were all to small, yours is about the right size though.
  9. featherweightmn
    Nice coop! Love the seating inside the run!
  10. Reesling
    What spoiled chickens! I'm jealous!
  11. Latestarter
    Nicely done and very well documented as well :) Love your comment above: "And of course,the one thing I wish we had done differently?...... Make it bigger!" As I recall at the very beginning, you "lost" your battle to make it SMALLER! LOL Chicken math, gotta love it :) Thanks for sharing!
  12. cstronks
    I'm currently building a new coop, and I have decided that this is how I would like to side the thing! Look excellent with the boards and accent pieces!!!
  13. WindStep
    I love the disin of this coop I'm looking at lots of coops to get desin ideas!
  14. jlholm
    Thank you! I need to add a new photo now that it's completely finished with shutters and being lived in!
  15. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, we've chosen one of your pics for the Chicken Coop Picture of the Week. Thanks for posting your coop design & pictures to our "Chicken Coops" pages! You can find more info about the CC-POW here: CC-POW Process
      hempsteadjb likes this.
  16. wendy44
    I love it! We are finishing up the exterior of our coop now. I got some good ideas for the inside form your photos. Also, looking at how you built your run is helpful too.
  17. MyLittleRedCoop
    What a fantastic coop! I love the split door and the portico over the pop door! And my compliments to the family artist who made the inside look so springy! :)
  18. DesigningLife
    WOW this is amazing! I love the "roost" for "her" (lol) and the interior decor ;) Looks like something I would try to do. Very nice!
  19. ShawnRich
    Built better than many houses, I am sure! Nice job.
  20. jlholm
    And of course,the one thing I wish we had done differently?...... Make it bigger! Spring is coming and chick days at the farm store is so hard to resist!
  21. theawesomechick
    That's nicer than my people house LOL
  22. jlholm
    One change we made after a few days of use, slightly visible in the picture of the exhaust fan, is the hinged window covers on the interior of the coop. The girls all wanted to roost in the deep window sills, so we made a simple frame, also covered in hardware cloth and set on hinges over the windows. Now the girls can not get onto the sills but we can still access and open the windows for them without hindering the airflow.
  23. judyki2004
    Gorgeous! i can live there! lol So cute & well designed!
  24. One Chick Two
    You did a terrific job on your coop! It's beautiful, but so well thought out AND fully practical. Good thing your wife suggested the larger coop- when chicken math strikes, we can think...we only want 4 chickens... but end up with 10 (in our case it was one just doesn't have a chance against chicken math. lol) The look shared between your granddaughter and Aggie is priceless. The chicken taking a ride on your dog is precious as well- the dog is so comfortable being with it's chickens. : )
  25. Amerauchick17
    Gorgeous coop! Those are some lucky chickens
  26. jlholm
    Thank you! This is our first foray into the world of chickens and we did a lot of stalking on this site and others and read everything we could before we began building and before the purchase of our 10 chicks. I'm totally obsessed and in love with these girls! Two Delawares, two Easter Eggers, two Buff Orpingtons, two Barred Plymoth Rocks, and two Golden Buffs.
  27. Brookliner
    Gorgeous!! You thought of everything.
  28. TwoCrows
    WOW.....I am jealous! LOL Great job!
  29. ChemicalchiCkns
    Woot design for cycens

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