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Are building permits needed to construct a run? Please let me know

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Carolyn252, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    DH and I built a very nice run in our backyard. It's nine feet by fifteen feet, and six feet high. Uprights are 2x4's every three feet on the sides and overhead. We placed a square floor tile under each upright to provide a level solid surface for the upright board to sit on. Horizontals at the bottom just three inches above ground, and horizontals again at six feet from the ground. Wherever the lumber meets another board, we used glue and screws and secure metal connectors. It's all very solid and immovable.

    The run is covered in heavy gauge wire mesh between the uprights and the entire ceiling is open to the air but is covered with that same wire mesh between the rafters. Clear hard plastic corrugated panels placed over the entire structure, tilted slightly to allow rain and snow to run off at the back of the run.

    Those panels are raised up above the wire ceiling, so the entire structure is open air and is the same temperature as outside the run year round. Mesh is buried ten inches into the ground and then goes out horizontally for another two feet underground.

    There is no floor covering. The floor of the entire run and the coop is the hard packed earth, covered in softwood shavings.

    Here's my question: Do I have to worry about the Village codes concerning the building of such a structure?

    I'm allowed two hens, and that's all I've got. But if I ever invite anyone from the Village administration (Mayor, building inspector, etc.) to see my ChickArena, am I asking for trouble?

    Can they ask me to dismantle it because I didn't get a permit to build it? Do animal pens require permits? There's no floor, no roof, no windows, so does it qualify as a "building?"

    I'm about to ask the Village for a variance so I can be allowed a few more chickens, and my request letter invites them to come see my beautiful setup. [​IMG] The coop itself is a pretty little plastic playhouse that we converted into a coop by adding a roosting board and a nest box. The coop is freestanding inside the run and is not attached to the run in any way. The chickens can enter and leave the coop whenever they want, so I don't ever have to wake up early to let them out or to lock them up at night.

    For the winter, we cover all the walls of the run with clear plastic shower curtains, tacked down on all sides, and that keeps the wind out. Here's a photo of the ChickArena today, with the winter curtains installed: [​IMG]

    We leave the ceiling open to the air. Our two hens have lived there for a year and a half now, and are healthy and happy. We let them free range outside of the run during the day in our big grassy backyard. At dusk, I lock the door to the run and that keeps the hens safe inside from our local raccoons. We don't have any other predators in this neighborhood of Long Island, N.Y.









    If anyone is interested in seeing how we converted the grandkids' playhouse into a chicken coop, here are some photos that I took today:

    This is the back of the coop. We covered the big opening with an old storm window that we had. It sits in a track slit and is held in place by two little prongs at the top. I can rotate the prongs out of the way, and remove the window to Windex it clean every now and then. I keep the window slid to the right to allow a one inch space for air flow all summer:


    Here's an outside view of the back of the coop showing the picture window, and the left side of the coop which is the side with the roosting boards:


    Here's the view from the front door. You can see the roost boards on the left, the picture window in the back, and the nest box on the right:


    This is the view from the little window that's next to the front door. You can see the picture window at the back, with the ladder to the nest box, and the bridge walk from the nest box to the roost boards. You can also see the little chicken door on the bottom of the back wall under the picture window. I keep it covered year round with wide strips of clear plastic loosely hanging down over it, and the chickens just walk right into it to get in and out of the coop:


    Here's a view through the picture window of the ladder to the nest box and the bridge walk to the roosting boards:


    Looking into the nest box from inside the coop:


    I opened the drop down backdoor of the nest box and took this view of the inside of the nest box. That's a wooden decoy egg in the nest box. You can see the roosting boards across the coop:


    And here's an old photo of the outside of the nesting box, before we painted it white. You can see how the back of it opens and drops down via the hinges we installed at the bottom. It makes egg collection real easy, and is just the right height for the grandkids to collect the eggs:


    I've searched the online codes for the Village, trying to find any reference to permit requirements for this sort of structure, but can't find anything. Here's the link to the Village Codes, can anyone find anything relevant about needing a permit? http://www.ecode360.com/?custId=FR0651

    If anyone is interested in seeing the variance-request letter that I've drafted to send to the Village, I'm going to post it as a separate message in the BYC message board called Local Chicken Laws and Ordinances. I think it's a good letter, but I'm worried about whether I should keep or delete the sentence where I invite them to come see my ChickArena coop and run and also whether to keep or delete the photo of it.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010

  2. mcostas

    mcostas Chirping

    Aug 2, 2010
    I think building permits vary according to area. Your pen is beautiful though! Nice pics, I like threads with lots of pics!
  3. xenorph

    xenorph In the Brooder

    Jun 27, 2010
    You really need to consult your local ordinances to see whether a building permit would be necessary for that run. I would say that it wouldn't be necessary being that you can usually get away with calling something like that a temporary free standing structure. As long as it doesn't connect to the house and doesn't have a foundation you're usually ok.
  4. knjinnm

    knjinnm Songster

    Oct 5, 2010
    Sandia Park, NM
    First Never ... NEVER ... NEVER INVITE an official from the city, county to visit you chicken coop. Do your neighbors object? Flies and crowing will be their main objection so keep your coop five to six feet away from the fence, clean, share eggs and invite your immediate neighbors to meet the girls.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Honestly there is so much variation between municipalities that nothing anyone here can say is relevant to your situation (unless someone chimes in who happens to live in your municipality, with same zoning, *and* happens to CORRECTLY know the relevant bylaws -- all of which is pretty unlikely)

    I would suggest that you need to actually find out what code sez. You can probably walk in there anonymously (unless you are already well-known there LOL) and ask over the desk, in general terms, about the following commonly-legislated items:

    --what restrictions are there on building fences within your yard, in terms of location, solidity and/or height?

    --sheds and other buildings are probably regulated, but are non-solid-walled roofless structures (just mesh on top, "like for instance a chainlink dog run with a chainlink top on it, for example", you might say to them) regulated by bylaws, and if so, what are the rules?

    --what are the exact and full regulations about how close chickens can be kept (to property lines, to your own dwelling, or to neighboring dwellings)?

    If you can get answers to the above items -- heck, if you're really paranoid, find a payphone or something like that to call from, and just say you're interested b/c you're considering buying a home in the area, or something like that, they'll probably figure you're fibbing but tell you anyway [​IMG] -- then I think that is likely to pretty much cover the potential bylaw "traps".

    Then of course it is up to you what to do if it turns out you are contravening some rules there [​IMG]

    Best of luck,

  6. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    I agree that no one here can answer those questions. You need to call your local Building codes office and see if you can get a copy of all relevant codes. I wouldnt rely on what anyone tells you; get a copy of the codes themselves relevant to you.

    Really nice job, by the way!!!!
  7. BWKatz

    BWKatz Songster

    May 22, 2010
    I read thru ur codes. Their definition of building is h any enclosure or area with electricity. I didn't see any lites or plumbing in ur set up, so it would just be considered fencing which urs are in compliance with. I researched also Poultry& permits. I could not find any requirement for a bldg permit. That said I am not a lawyer, It's just my opinion that u are doing everything required. If by some chance we have missed something, they should consider that everything was done in good faith, give u a variance and possibly a small fine. It would be worth it to me to have them come out, ease my mind and hopefully get more chickens. Wishing u the best . [​IMG] [​IMG] BTW I love ur pen and hope to copy it.

  8. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Quote:Thanks; My posting included a link to the local ordinances so that some BYC members could double check me and see if any relevant wording is there:
  9. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

  10. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Quote:Thank you so much. You and I seem to think alike. Like you, I prefer that they come out and tell me that it's all just fine. I just don't like being stealthy or unlawful. I've only got two neighbors, and they've both been given eggs and they all think it's just fine that I have chickens. They've all said that they'd be happy to sign a petition if I'd like. I've given them and their families a tour of the coup in the heat of the summer and they were impressed with how clean and neat it was, and that there was NO odor at all, and NO flies.

    I use the deep litter method, with lots of food-grade diatomaceous earth in the wood shavings to keep it all odor-free. For fly prevention, I use two water-filled fly traps hidden behind two big trees behind the ChickArena and I keep two or three vanilla-scented, yellow, air-fresheners hanging in the run. (They cost about one dollar and are shaped like a little christmas tree; they're usually in the automotive section of the supermarket or hardware store.) I learned that trick from BYC.com and it really does keep flies away.

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