Best construction method?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Wise Woman, May 11, 2011.

  1. Wise Woman

    Wise Woman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    The Enchanted Forest
    I am going to start purchasing the materials for my new coop this weekend, however, there is some debate and indecision around our house and neighborhood as to the best way to build the new coop. It will be a raised 6x6 coop with an attached run and have a wooden roof with shingles over the whole thing.

    I have been researching here until my eyes blurred. I have noticed several different types of construction methods on these types of coops. One is to sink 4x4's into the ground and attach the framing onto the 4x4s. Others lay a foundation of cement blocks or pavers and build the frame onto that without sinking the 4x4s and yet others just build a frame from 2x4's and set it directly onto the ground. My neighbor up the street, who builds things to withstand tornados I think, says we should put down a base of railroad ties and build it on top of that. I do trust his judgement as he built a shed onto our house prior to it being our house and has built things for many other people around the neighborhood. He built himself a shed using this railroad tie method.

    I am not sure which way we should go. I want to do it right and I want it secure and sturdy. So hubby, who isn't real construction saavy, says we can lay down the railroad ties and then sink the 4x4's into the ground at each corner and at 3 ft intervals along the ties and then use 2x4's for the frame, which will sit onto of the railroad ties and be attached tot he 2x4's.

    Any construction people have any thoughts on any of these methods? I am kind of the brains of the outfit here and he will build it if I can give him specific instructions on what to do. However, he may be taking on a second job, in which case I would have to build it myself or hire someone to do it for me. In either case, I need to know exactly what I want and how I want it done.

    I do like the railroad tie idea as it would make a nice frame around the whole coop/run area and help keep stuff inside the pen, inside. We have railroad ties in other parts of our yard, so that would tie the coop into the yard as well. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Thanks so much.
    Last edited: May 11, 2011
  2. capebird

    capebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2011
    Cape Cod
    I am in the process of building my first coop and run.
    for the run I used pressure treated 4x4s for the basic frame work.
    I sunk the 4 corners into the ground about 30 inches.
    Used timberlok screws to do most of the fastening and used
    lap joints where it made sense. 1/2 x 1/2 hardware cloth and buried
    around the perimeter about 12 inches down.
    some photos attached. I'm almost done.... I'll post
    more complete set of photos when finished. Hope that helps.

  3. Wise Woman

    Wise Woman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    The Enchanted Forest
    Wow, that looks great. Thank you for sharing that with me. I think it the end it probably doesn't really matter, but it seems like a big decision because we don't want to have to ever do this again. Our first coop, my husband poured a cement floor, but this coop is going to be raised so I don't have to bend and stoop as much, so we can't do it that way again. Somehow, sinking the posts seems sturdier to me. If it wouldn't cost me double, I would hire my neighbor up the street to do it! LOL!!! Then it would be a chicken fort! Maybe he will come down and consult with us. He comes into my work and tells me what we should do, but I don't always understand what he is talking about. Thanks again.
  4. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    My two cents...

    How permanently and large do you want to build it?

    If this is to be large, last a long time and part of improvement on the property, you might want to install a permanent foundation. Check the frost line and sink the footing below the frost line so the coop can be as large and heavy as you like. Just check the permit requirement in your town.

    For a hobbyist like me and my friends, the coop is like a small shed and on-grade foundation is enough. Much easier to build and relocate when necessary. The freeze and thaw cycles do settle the foundation slightly out of level. The chickens don't mind and I can always shim it back to level.
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I don't think there's any "best" way of doing it - I think most folks do what works for them and their situation. Both of our coops sit on leveled blocks sunk into the ground (on gravel). Our main run however, was framed over buried posts sunk into concrete. What I do like about your railroad tie idea is that 1) if you end up using sand in the run, it'll be great about keeping it in, and 2) it'll be a decent digging predator deterrant (that's a long way to tunnel). We have a RR tie retaining wall, so I rather like their rustic look. But unless you have "tied" the RR ties to the ground w/rebar or something along those lines, I'm not sure that it would be any sturdier than just sinking your posts and doing the rest of what you mentioned, so maybe it's overkill???
  6. jamband

    jamband Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2011
    you def do not need to do the ties and the sunken 4x4's thats way overkill. The other thing I would be concerned about it the stuff they soak RR ties in if the chickens could be pecking at it. For the coop either or would be fine but if you plan on making a permanent run like the one posted by capebird that is going to need a strong support as well since it will have a decent amount of weight on it plus winter snow if that applies. Blocks wont work so well since you need it to be closed on the bottom. Depending how big your run will be look up pole building construction methods. Set the corners in the ground maybe a few additional depending on size and go from there. Alternatively I guess you could frame the whole bottom in railroad ties set on gravel beds and frame on top of that?

    Be sure to know about your local building codes......if you start pouring concrete its considered permanent in many cases
  7. georgiagail

    georgiagail Chillin' With My Peeps

    I live with a structural engineer.

    Ours (4 by 8 feet) started out with 4x4's sunk in concrete, a frame of 2x6 boards:




    Plywood (not OSB) for flooring and sides, primed and then painted, both inside and out:


    Trusses, hardware cloth:


    Roof (front and back plywood not put on yet in this picture):


    Overkill? Perhaps. But that coop doesn't move!

  8. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Georgiagail did it right
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:No, EITHER have it sitting on something (rr tie foundation, blocks, the ground) OR have it pole-built, not both.

    It depends a whole lot on where you live. a) Do you live somewhere that the ground freezes in the winter? If so, how deep? and b) What is your soil like -- sandy, clayey, mucky, rock-filled? Is the soil at the coop site all pretty homogeneous or are different parts different (some previously dug, or previously was a path, or previously some patio some lawn, or like that)


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