Can't manage to build my own, can't manage to find a decent one for sale

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Kutschka, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. Kutschka

    Kutschka In the Brooder

    Oct 28, 2014
    Hello, all.

    I don't yet have chickens. I've read lots of books, and lots of threads here, hoping to raise my first flock this spring.

    I'd hoped to build my own coop, but it's just not happening. I'm on my own, without building experience, and months of intention and effort haven't gotten me very far. Every time I think it would be best to give up on building, and just buy one, the reviews scare me away. There are lots of positive reviews of coops for sale, but those are mostly from people who've just gotten them set up, and don't yet know how they'll hold up. People who've had prefab coops for more than a few months generally seem to be disappointed and frustrated with them. The plastic ones seem to have serious design flaws, and the wooden ones all seem to be made of materials of terrible quality.

    Money is an issue; I can't afford to throw hundreds of dollars at something that won't last for a few years at least. And I don't want to invest in a coop that's going to cause a lot of heartache, frustration, or troubleshooting due to poor design or materials. I really want chickens, and I'm willing to spend good money for a good coop, but I just haven't seen any that didn't have very mixed reviews (again, not counting the stars-in-their-eyes people who've had their prefab coops only a short time).

    I've thought of hiring someone to build a coop for me, using good quality materials, from one of the designs available online. But I don't know anyone that I have reason to believe would do good work.

    I'd like to have a dozen chickens, straight-run, and harvest the boys, leaving me with about six layers. They'd be outside most of the time, free ranging. I'm thinking of a coop about 3x5.

    I'm in WV, and, while you might think living in a rural area would mean having lots of options with this sort of thing, there doesn't seem to be much of a backyard chickens community here.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Leads?

  2. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I would recommend that you look into backyard sheds. They can easily be converted into chicken coops. You just need to add a pop door and make sure there is more ventilation than they originally come with. Be careful about planning to limit the size of your coop to just a few chickens. If you end up with a small coop and decided you need a few extra birds later, you might end up with overcrowding.

    There's also Craig's list. Sometimes folks who get out of chickens for some reason have coops for sale nearby. People have used old playhouses and converted them quite successfully too.

    Good luck! Keep us updated with what you end up with for a coop! Pictures of setups are always nice to see!
  3. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Enabler

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    One place to look would be Home Depot or Lowes. They sometimes have regular sheds at discounted demo model prices. Usually in the spring when a model is being discontinued.
    It is my opinion that a 3x5 is rather small. If they are going to be inclined to stay in when the weather is bad.
    Lumber comes in 4x8 sheets so I am thinking a 4x8 would be much easier for someone to build and would waste much less lumber with odd cuts. Just my experience talking there.

    I did build mine but then I have that kind of background and tools to go with it. I had some cull lumber and had built a coop to match the size of it. It was about 3x5 and I could only fit 3 bantams in it without fighting happening.

    If you can go bigger they will not mind. If you go to small it invites problems.

    Not sure of exactly where you are but Blooie's suggestion of Craigs got me curious and this looks pretty good.
    Needs more vents and maybe a window but still just a quick search found it.

    or this one
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  4. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Crowing

    Jul 30, 2012
    Sherwood, OR
    My Coop
    What you'll need for a coop depends so much on where you live. I only know what works in my area, where it is mild but we do get rain and some snow and a week or more of frozen water in the winter.

    The simplest/cheapest/fastest one we've built was made from cattle panels, chicken wire, metal t-posts, plastic or tarps (greenhouse plastic is nice as it lets in light, if you can source it). These are also called "hoop coops," though with this version you don't build a wooden frame, and it isn't "portable."

    You could also use 1/2 " hardware cloth for better security than poultry wire provides ... depends on your predators.


    Roosts can be made from two sturdy piles of cement blocks and 2 x 4s -- Home Depot cuts wood to lengths. Nesting boxes can be just about anything (we've used cardboard boxes from Costco with success).

    Bedding goes directly on the dirt, and is self-composting if you use the Deep Litter Method. Select your site carefully so water doesn't flow into & through the coop if it rains.

    Lately we've been converting old kiddie pools (the super cheap plastic kind) into dust baths. The birds like that. Fill with sand and peat moss, keep it dry.

    Maybe if I was looking for something pre-made that I would then "tweak," I might look for a rabbit hutch instead of a chicken coop? I agree that the pre-made chicken coops seem super tiny & flimsy. But something built to a human scale is nice so you can be inside their area with them.
  5. Kutschka

    Kutschka In the Brooder

    Oct 28, 2014
    Thanks, everybody.

    I would love to have a bigger coop, but as I tried to build my own and my limitations became more apparent, I shrank my hopes to 3x5. You're right, though, 21hens: Outside all day won't be an option every day, and I should plan space accordingly. I definitely don't want overcrowded chickens.

    I like the idea of a shed, but I seem to run into similar problems: limitations of skill, strength, transportation, and general courage to tackle a long series of challenges. That last applies also to devising a hoop coop, especially with temperature and predator concerns. I'm overchallenged by life in general (I hope actually having chickens is as easy as people say!), and even creativity and resourcefulness are in short supply.

    Thanks for the links, 21hens; the one in Princeton, I've learned, has a local distributor; I ought to be able to see one of theirs pretty easily.

    Meanwhile: I hadn't had good luck with craigslist before, but y'all spurred me to try again, and I may have found my answer. A sort-of-local woman (40 miles away) has a 4x8 coop and 9 birds to sell, and it looks promising. The woman was very nice on the phone. There are three roosters, which is a concern, since I have neighbors; if I go this route, I may resort to those crow-squelching collars. I wouldn't do that by choice, but it may be my best option in this case. The lady says the roosters all get along great, so at least infighting wouldn't be an issue.

    If I don't buy this lady's flock, I'll check out the local distributor of the Princeton prefab.

    Thanks again!
  6. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller

    @Kutschka Welcome to BYC [​IMG] from San Diego.

    Also Look on Craigslist... an Old lawn shed, a Packing crate, a childrens play house....Or swing set Even the little Tykes kind... All can be converted to chciken coops. Paruse the free category too.

    I have seen many coops made of free pallets. all you need is a hammer a crowbar and some fresh nails... Maybe a two by four or two.

    I am in a walker and I built my last huge coop by myself with materials I had on hand. You can do it just dont get overwhelmed before you start. I already had dog kennel panels. I used those and a tarp for a roof.

    Home Depot will happily cut any wood you need... usually the first cut is free... but every time I tell them i am building a chicken coop I get all my cuts free. Just cant be too concerned about exact lenght they can do them +- the thickness of the saw...

    If you have a couple of friends Have a building party and feed them.... Tell them to bring tools.

    There is one thing you will have to invest in for building your own.... Hardware cloth. Galvanized wire screening the kind with the square holes. Some comes with .25 inch square openings some comes with .5 inch square openings.... It will save your birds. Chicken wire these days is NOT very strong... a determined dog or Raccoon will chew their way right through it.

    Take a look at the coop pages for ideas... I have seen a very decent coop made out of a plain steel swing set. You can screw right into the legs with self drilling screws and a drill. Swing set for the bones attach wood to the bones where you want it and now you can hammer and nail and staple the rest.

  7. debbieore

    debbieore In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2014
    Some ideas I have used are old childrens playhouses, dog houses, and things along those lines. The best money I spent on something already made was a rubbermaid storage shed, one of the small ones that arent big enough for a person, but have the two doors on the front and roof that is on a hinge and can open up. They are not too expensive and will last forever, use milk crates inside as next boxes and it is easy to set up a roost inside.
  8. Kutschka

    Kutschka In the Brooder

    Oct 28, 2014
    Thanks for your ideas, perchie.girl and debbieore.

    perchie.girl, you sound like quite a trooper. I may have some physical mobility that you lack, but you sure have a lot of gumption that I don't! I admire you and want to be like you, but, for now at least, my creativity and resourcefulness are pretty much spent -- I've had too many challenges lately, and my courage is low. I'm still hoping for a simple solution, something with relatively few steps, something that doesn't require much in the way of adaptation or construction.

    debbieore, I'm intrigued by your idea of the small rubbermaid storage containers; I'd pondered over those, but dismissed the idea because of seeming lack of ventilation. How do you handle that?

    I still have hope for the coop cum birds being sold by the craigslist lady. Moving it will be a booger; it's too big to lift, she says, and I have terribly inconvenient terrain -- irregular hill, pocked by retaining walls and other stuff -- so getting it into the backyard is a daunting prospect, even once I get it loaded and 40 miles up the road. I might have asked the right person for help, though; he should have an answer for me in a few days, once he recovers from a bad bout of flu.

    Thanks again!
  9. kmartinez

    kmartinez Chirping

    Jan 9, 2015
    I am using pallets. Pallets are easy to join. I drilling holes in them and attaching them together with bolts. for the floor I built a subfloor basicly a square with slats ever feet. Layed pallets on top of that screwed them down and then screwed plywood on top now i am ready to start on the walls. Pallets r easy. I am not in anyway a builder so i chose pallets seems the easiest way to get nice and strong structure
  10. Kutschka

    Kutschka In the Brooder

    Oct 28, 2014
    @kmartinez, I'm intrigued by your idea. I've tried pulling apart pallets for the free wood, but finally gave up on that. I hadn't thought of putting them together whole. But I'm having trouble picturing what you describe; can you upload some photos?


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