At the end of August I was given a structure that was essentially a 4’ x 4’ x 8’ box with 2 doors on each side - on the narrow sides one door opened upwards and one downwards and on the long sides both doors opened out. It was left on a property by the previous owner and I think it was going to be used as a rabbit hutch. It was totally clean inside.
A friend kindly offered to help and we spent many hours (more than I thought it would take) to modify it for chickens. After getting it home the first task was to put it on legs. There is a divider wall across the middle which we left – we made one 4' x 4' side for layers and the other 4' x 4' side might be used as an infirmary or for broody hens or teenage grow-outs. At one end we replaced an upward opening door with a vent I picked up at a garage sale and below it we installed a nest box.
On one long side we left the two small opening doors but added a landing and ramp for each.
At the other end, we put in an opening louvered trailer window and closed in the downward opening door (easily opened up in the future to add external nest boxes).
On the other long side we added disassembled louvered trailer windows and mounted one vertically in each door for light and so I can see in. The floors are covered with lino.
The whole project was complicated because I rescued a flock of chickens before we were finished. We hurried to put in a roost bar and finish the nest boxes after they arrived. I had to paint and built a permanent pen around them.
My original coop is situated within a 30’ x 40’ pen. This coop is located behind that enclosure and we used the back end of the first pen as one side of the new 16’ x 30’ pen (I couldn’t build out further because of the trees).
We challenged ourselves to do the reno on a budget. I went to building sites and asked for plywood and dimensional lumber off-cuts and posted on FB groups for free materials. I used paint and hardware that I had or salvaged from the original coop. My total cost was less than $40: 4 cinderblocks purchased at a garage sale, one tube of caulking, a handful of screws, 1 litre of paint and a couple of pieces of 1” x 6”.
The coop is sitting under a 10’x20’ car shelter which I got in the free pile at a garage sale. The two farm gates were $5 each at the local recycling centre. One gate was 32" and I had a 43" opening so I mounted it between two cedar panels so it fits. The pen cost far more than I expected considering I only need four 9’ cedar posts (I had 3 T-posts), 50’ wire and cement.
I’m happy with the way it has turned out. I wish the original builders had done a shed or peaked roof – more for the aesthetics than anything. We toyed with changing the roof but it is well built (I’ve walked around up there) and is clad in metal roofing so that seemed like more work than was worthwhile.
We barely got it finished before the rainy season (I had to paint the gate in my livingroom) but I plan on installing a 30" x 10" horizontal window on the nest box end to the left of the opening door. I'll also probably install another nest box under the louvered window at the grow-out end. I have an automatic chicken door in my original coop and they're on the list for this coop as well.
UPDATE: July 2018 It quickly became apparently that if you build it they will come. With the additional space I ended up with more layers and not enough nest boxes so we converted the other end to a layer coop, with external nest boxes, as well. The small opening doors to the coop were a pain because the birds use them as a stepping stone to getting on the roof and sometimes they knocked the doors closed. We made them into guillotine style doors (and now the birds are older they still get on the roof!)