The Sugarloaf Domino Affect Coop

By firmink · Jul 30, 2013 · Updated May 29, 2014 · ·
  1. firmink
    My wife and I began talking about chicken husbandry about a year ago and then attended a local seminar put on by our Extension Service this past February. Things just snowballed from there (with lots of reference to "BackyardChckens") as the final decision was made to jump into preparation, care, and maintenance of chickens.

    The main house is 8x8' and the run is coming in at about 8x16'. Referencing the many beautiful and ingenious coop plans here was critical in many of the design decisions we made with our coop.

    Here is the nearly completed coop, minus gutters, some paint, and a 12v electric fence on the run.

    The reason I call this the "Domino Affect" Coop is that we had a few projects all going on at once which affected each other. We were having our front walk and back ground level deck replaced with pavers. All the old concrete was to be used to fill my "pit" in the run area to cut down on gravel needed and provide a impervious barrier for digging critters. I was also using all the wood coming off the lower and upper deck to build the coop and run (gotta love recycling wood). The challenge was that due to all the rain this year, the landscapers fell 4 weeks behind schedule and thereby set my back in getting the house up and operational for the chicks that arrived on 18 June. When you all say chicks grow fast, we had no idea of how fast, fast was!!! Man do chicks grow fast!!! We finally got them out of our house on week 5 and that will never happen again!!!

    And now for the real story:

    Our odyssey began in March this year with a ground breaking for the foundation. Our property has a high clay content and does not perk well, so getting both a house and a run off the ground seemed to be a smart way forward. The challenge was digging, setting a footer, and laying block as a novice.

    My daughter even helped a little with the initial dig...

    Gravel arrives...

    Main house pit done, that was allot of dirt!

    Pit for the main house done, graveled and corner footings in place.

    Block arrives, ugh...

    And the back breaking work of laying block. I think once will be enough for me in my lifetime!

    And the finished product. No levels allowed!!!

    What have I learned so far?? Never to lay block again...

    I did buy some new wood for some critical parts of the coop.

    And paint to seal everything up.

    Wall #1 and some new siding (Smart Siding). Built the wall first with siding on it and then propped it up and nailed/screwed it down. Using all that recycled deck material.

    Wall #2

    And wall framing complete.

    Finished up the siding

    Roof framing

    And add the roof and porch overhang, can you see the "Snowball Affect" starting to take place?

    By golly, we have a shingled roof. I added a 5 foot roof vent along the right side.

    And I get back to digging for the run...

    I thought I said I would never lay block again? Well, I've said a lot of things...

    Daughter tempting me away from the build... Yes she is of age...

    Add trim, pop door, a deck, stairs, and a bit more paint. All that recycled wood looks pretty good with paint on it!

    And dig out what was now referred to as the "Alligator Pit."

    Guess who arrived on 18 June? They sure are cute little buttons.

    Framing the run roof, and start filling the "Alligator Pit" with all the concrete from our front walk and back concrete pad.

    And now it becomes the local "Snake Pit." Each of those rafter shadows is about 14" apart. This guy was no baby. We don't want him back anytime soon. I chased him off to the neighbor's where I think he ate one of her many cats...

    Added purlins for the upcoming new tin roof.

    Two weeks old and starting to kick up that fine dust!!!

    Tin roof is on. I was surprised how fast it went on once I had everything ready. I was sort of afraid to stand on it at first, but it held my weight with no problem (~170lb).


    I had some oak flooring sitting around from about 5 years ago when we put in wood floors in our house. The girls have a mini grand entrance with an oak french door. I also built a screen on the inside when we can leave both doors open.

    I added a solar array, after reading a few posts here. This house will be green. Lights, fans, electric fence, water heater in winter all powered by the sun.


    We're going with inside nest boxes since it gets pretty hot in the summer here. I kept reading about people's outside "Hot Boxes" and decided to go interior with another oak door to access the boxes from the outside. There is the upper roost with poop board and a lower roost. My wife had some "Chiffon" yellow paint left over from a previous project and decided on that for the inside walls of the coop. We also found and put a $12 piece of linoleum down on the floor. Up above the nest boxes is a storage cabinet that runs the length of the 8' wall.

    Three weeks old, they outgrew the low stock tank we had them in and we had to upgrade to a taller brooder enclosure. Can you say dust? My wife is now second guessing what we did, well only an little. But the sooner we can get these girls outside the better!!!

    Week 5 and the girls are in their own house, THANK GOD!

    The 1/2x1/2" hardware cloth is up on the run

    And time to let them out in the new run.

    This Barred Rock seems to be the leader.

    And they all seem pretty happy.

    And here's where I'm at. I still have gutters, electric fence, and some painting to do as well as add a post at the end of the steps. But things are winding down a bit.

    This was definitely an experience and took almost 6 months to get to this point. But I had fun and we're having more fun just watching these little clowns experience life.

    I do have plans that I created using AutoDesk AutoSketch 8, but I do not have permission to attach them here.

    I did add insulation to the walls of the house, mostly to keep main house from heating up. But I may also add some reflective faced foam insulation to the ceiling of the main coop this fall when things start cooling off. For now, the house is staying pretty cool, but we've not had any really hot weather since the girls went out. I still have some shelves to put up inside the coop for the 12v fans and a couple roosts to put up in the run.

    After reading all they good things here about sand, we ended up going with sand in both the main house and the run. So far, we love it!

    Once the electric fence goes in, I may need to upgrade from one to two 12v batteries to charge via the solar array, but I'll wait and see how much drain the electric fence actually put on the system.

    What would I do different? I'm not too sure yet, but once they start laying, I'm sure there will be something I'll need to change/adjust regarding the 4 interior nest boxes and outside access door.

    Thanks to everyone here for all the information and great pictures and ideas. I used many of them and grew from there.

    We have 8 hens (we hope at the moment), but I'm sure we are starting to see some rooster in a couple. We hope to round out/up to about 9-10 hens which this coop is more than capable of supporting... Yes, they will be spoiled rotten!!!

    ** UPDATE: 25 September 2013
    So, we've added the electric fence, windows, final coat of paint, some extra support posts and some landscaping to cut down on the mud paths. It turns out that one 12v gel battery being charged by the solar array runs the lights, fans, and electric fence just fine. I still have to experience the draw from the heater for the waterer and will try that out soon to make sure all is ready for coming cold weather. One last thing is to add gutters and some rain barrels. Our 8 hens all still seem to be hens at this point (15 weeks old) and we expect to see eggs sometime in November, right when egg production is supposed to start slowing down. So far we have not seen any wild critters hanging around, but our neighbor's dog did test out the electric fence for us and it is working just fine. We've only had to make small door/window adjustments so far as the structure begins to settle out. I kind of feel sorry for bugs that fly into the run when our pack of 8 wolves (oh, I mean hens) use their uncanny radar to locate and devour anything that makes it through the 1/2" hardware cloth. So we're just waiting for eggs and then the winter adjustments to our cleaning/feeding schedule. I'll make sure to take some winter pictures this year and report what adjustments we will surely have to make based on that new experience.

    And the windows are in to protect from those nasty drafts soon to come this fall. The chickies are getting big as well, put them on a grower blend and boy are they filling out...

    ** UPDATE: 11 November 2013

    Still waiting on eggs, chicks (Ok, Chickens) are now 22 weeks old, should be soon...

    Coop now has gutters installed and rain barrels ready for spring hookup.

    I think we are also ready for winter at this point, we'll see how everything goes.

    ** UPDATE: 1 December 2013

    Yay... The chicks are 25 weeks old and we received or first egg on Sunday from one of our Barred Rocks. My wife had just made some curtains for the nest boxes the day before, which the chickens seemed to really enjoy messing with. One of our Black Astralorps is now showing interest and trying the boxes out a well. We're still hoping for all hens, but it's hard to tell for us newbies. The curtains were made from a bunch of old jeans cutoffs. I'll try to get a pic with somebody in the next box.

    ** UPDATE: 23 December 2013
    Well, the chicken we thought was a rooster (RIR) laid an egg this week... We're now getting 5 eggs a day on average. Both Black Astralorps, at least one Barred Rock, the RIR, and maybe one Golden Laced Wynadotte are laying. They are all getting a bit noisy as I think they are finally establishing a pecking order. What bunch of clowns...

    ** UPDATE: 29 May 2014
    Almost coming up on a year now. Wow, we have eggs and all the neighbors and work mates are loving the stream of eggs. This Spring we decided that the 8x16 foot enclosed run (with sand base) was just not enough for our fine feathered friends. They do what chickens do best when bored and pull each others feathers out...
    So now they have an attached ~500sq/ft enclosed grass play area. We thought it was a lot of grass, but two weeks later, the grass does not seem to be able to keep up with the demand of 8 hens... But wow, what a difference in the egg yokes! Their egg yokes were dark yellow to begin with, but now they are almost orange. What a difference the addition of a few bugs and worms makes.
    Here's the latest shot with the attached play yard:
    The first 4' of wire is a heavy duty geometric galvanized net with 1' hinged bottom facing out in the yard. The top 5' is then regular chicken wire. We then strung some wires and ribbon over the top to keep the hawks out.
    The local fox population has been testing the fence and finding it a formidable barrier. And once I extend the electric fence totally around the outside perimeter, we should deter any prolonged attempts to get at the chickens. You can also see a small pop door that I installed on the inner run where they still spend those really rainy days.

    Share This Article

    SeaTexan likes this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. Nardo
    "Very nice coop and run"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Nov 2, 2018
    Super job building this fine coop and run. This will be here for quite a long time. Be good to have some detailed info about the inside of the coop itself.


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. Hogs and Horns
    Wow.....very impressive work. You sure made a beautiful chicken fortress. Thank you for sharing!
  2. aalissa
    Beautiful!!! I love everything from the use of recycled materials to you admitted lack of knowledge as a newbie. {like myself} Great job on the build.
  3. Hogs and Horns
    Your coop is an inspiration, definitely what I would like to have. Thank you for posting such great photos of the construction steps.
  4. acro1010
    You sure don't mess around. Super nice coop and run.
  5. Bostonbea
    I am swooning over your coop! I adore the little front porch. Maybe something needs to "accidentally" happen to my coop and show yours to my DH...
  6. lwiese58
    I really like everything about this coop. You did a first class job and I know you must feel so good about your girls being in there. Well done!
  7. chickwhispers
    Wow! Awesome job! Love it!
  8. Ms Jellybean
    Wow! What a great job. Want to come and help me build my coop and run? ;)
  9. applegal
    Gorgeous secure and I love the solar!
  10. Kernel Cluck
    OK, so you have ruined the bell curve for the rest of us.... Really nice coop. One of the better ones I have seen in a while.
  11. Madmat
    Thing of beauty! I thought I put a lot of work into my set up! WOW. Just wow
  12. 10xmama
    Fabulous coop! Love how tidy and clean it is.
  13. Alaskan
    I would love to own that coop! Gorgeous!
  14. blondizsmilz
    Awesome coop! You did an wonder job & then some! It is the best I think I've seen!
  15. pastryman
  16. Teena Marie
    Awesome! Great coop.
  17. foxmfan1
    Wow, I am so JEALOUS, your coop is GREAT!!!! I love how you made it "green", You house a flock of lucky ladies!!!!! Congrats on Coop of the WEEK, your deserve IT!!!!
  18. Darkangael
    amazing coop.
  19. firmink
    Hi Robinsong, we bought the 45w "Solar Panel Kit" from Harbor Freight. There are a few posts here and also on YouTube that got me thinking about it. It's pretty easy to hook up and is doing a great job with lights, fans, and the electric fence. Everything you need is in the kit (minus the battery). Now that i have plugged in the heater for the waterer though I may have to add a second battery. The coop sure was fun to build and I had plenty of materials to build it out...
  20. IamSamSam
    ok so im a little more than jealous ! fantastic coop and design
  21. Trefoil
    I love your coop. If you begin to have problems with bears, you may want to put an electric fence out away from your coop as well, giving you a buffer zone.
  22. TeaChick
    Impressive!!! Can I come live with your chickens? lol
    Great that you're using solar power and rain barrels!!! Way to recycle! =)
  23. Robinsong
    Wonderful job! We don't have ele. to our coop and am wondering about your solar system. Did you buy a kit or do you have plans? Love the rain barrel, too. Go Green!
  24. MamaDoodle
    Wow, Its beautiful!
  25. MamaDoodle
    Wow, Its beautiful!
  26. chickwhispers
    Very nice, very secure coop and run! Awesome job!
  27. Shabana
    Congratulations on a fabulously built coop. I bet your girls love it !!
  28. Iuvmychix
    WOW!!! good job!
  29. babyfoot
    WOW, that's nicer than my house. Some very lucky chickens there. I can just imagine sitting on the veranda there with a couple of chooks on my lap
  30. JesNflock
    Fabulous coop! I love the oak door very nice!
  31. The Chickeneer
    This is really an amazing coop. Great job!
  32. Studio2770
    Fantastic job! I wish I was a chicken sometimes hahaha. I can imagine the rush to get it done. We got down to business to get ours done because we had 6 chicks in a fish tank and they were getting quite big so it was a relief to get them in the coop so they could spread their wings!
  33. RangingChicks
    This is an awesome coop. Great job!
  34. ChickensAreSweet
    Your coop is one of the best I've seen! Beautiful work!
  35. Bogtown Chick
    That is one fine coop!
  36. ChickenCrazy8
    This is insane!!! Great coop :)
  37. firmink
    Nobody is squatting yet, but I'll keep a closer eye on them to see if they do. Thanks for the tip!
  38. chickenneighbor
    Can I live with your chickens?! A really spectacular coop! Wow!
  39. TCchickengirl
    the best coop I have ever seen
  40. teach1rusl
    You guys did an awesome job on your coop! Can't beat attractive AND predator proof...I'm betting you'll have eggs by Thanksgiving. Are any of them squatting when you go to touch them??
  41. TXchickmum
    Wow!!! Fabulous coop!!!
  42. MyPetNugget
    Congrats on coop of the week! Very nice job!
  43. 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
  44. joan1708
    It's plain to see that you care about your animals! Love it!
  45. firmink
    Hi Trefoil, yes we still lock them in the coop at night for extra security. We have a bear roaming around and also some coyotes which I do not trust to stay on the right side of the wire. We kept them in the main coop area for a week and they tend to run in there for extra security anyway.
  46. Trefoil
    Great coop. I have a question . With all the work you obviously put into making the coop and run secure, do you still lock the ladies in the coop at night?
  47. ChickenCrazy8
    Beautiful coop!! And welcome to BYC :)
  48. Stumpy
    This is one of the nicest, most secure coops I've ever seen. Fantastic job!!!!
  49. chickenpooplady
    Wow! Those are some lucky chickens!
  50. aoxa
    This is stunning! You did an awesome job!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: