Formulating plan for city coop--will this work for 3 hens? (with pics)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by hyzenthlay, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    399
    30
    181
    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    Ok, I know you guys want to answer basic newbie questions for the zillionth time, right? [​IMG]

    We have an available area in the yard that will accomodate a coop/run that is approximately 8'x5'. The plan is to do something like these two coops:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=3300-FF-EMTs_Coop
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=3812

    So, obviously, the run would be 8'x5', and I was thinking that the suspended coop would be 4'x5', suspended about 3' off the ground. My FIRST question is, would 3 hens be sane/happy enough in that space? I know it exceeds the minimum requirements (40sf of run, 20sf of coop), but am I likely to have problems anyway? The hens most likely would spend all their time in the run/coop--we have a 4' fence around our yard, and I'd love for them to run around in there, but my understanding is that they could probably escape the 4' fence even with clipped wings--right?

    SECOND question--we plan to build it up against our brick garage--will that be ok? Here are some pics to clarify the setting:
    This shows our back yard, and the garage in question, and the garage in relation to our house. The coop would go to the left of that big bush, with one long side against the garage. (FYI, these pics are a couple years old, and don't show the fence.)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here is a dead-on shot of that wall of the garage (please excuse the junk and the dreariness--it was a "before" shot taken shortly after we moved in and began building the garden). All that concrete will be ripped out, and the compost bin will be moved elsewhere, but the bush stays. So, from the left of the bush to the end of the garage is about 8 feet. At that spot, the garage is 7' tall. All that grassy area to the left of the garage belongs to the neighbors.
    [​IMG]

    This is a more recent pic showing the 4' fence (and my industrious DH)
    [​IMG]

    The coop would be about 6" from the garage, and I plan on having ventilation on 4 sides--a window on the left side facing the neighbors, window and egg door facing away from the garage, vent and pop door on the right side, and a vent on the garage side. We would probably also leave ventilation under the eaves on both sides. We would access the run through a human door facing the house, and have the entire coop wall inside the run swing open for access to clean, feed, water, etc.

    Does this seem workable? I'd love to be able to clean, feed, and water without going into the run, but it seems to me that if we make the wall facing the house swing open, the hens would escape unless I somehow herded them out into the run and shut the pop door behind them before opening the wall, and that seems like more trouble than just going into the run. Right?

    And a practicality vs. aesthetics question--I want a nice, steep roof for appearance's sake, and I'd also like a 6' tall human door for functionality--but if I have say an 8/12 roof pitch with a 6' door on the front side, that will put the peak at about 8.5'ish, and will that look weird next to a 7' tall garage? Do you have any opinions, or other suggestions given the space constraints (and keeping in mind that DH is crafty, but not an expert carpenter)? Should I give up on the 6' door and make the whole thing shorter?

    Chickens are not specifically permitted in our city, but they're not forbidden, either. The neighbors are generally cool, but my goal is to build an attractive small structure that will cause as few complaints as possible.

    Ok, thanks for reading all the way through! Look forward to hearing your thoughts![​IMG]
     
  2. Iceblink

    Iceblink Chillin' With My Peeps

    Your yard is beautiful and I am terribly envious. I am having a hard time picturing your plan, so I'm not sure I can be of much help with all of it.

    Wether your hens will fly out depends a lot on the breeds you choose. I had three heavy breed hens that never even flew up to their roosts, never mind trying to go over my 3' fence. But your fence is not solid, so.....they may be able to get through the bars, or they may really like what they see on the other side and find a way to get over there.

    Your space should be adequate for your girls, mine had about the same area and they did well, but their coop was moveable. I found they were much quieter when they got to roam around the whole yard. They ate my whole garden though.....

    Good luck with your plans, please continue to post pics of your coop progress, I would love to see how it goes.
     
  3. Omran

    Omran Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    Yes why not if you build the same coop ( like the one in picture) it will work perfect.

    Good luck.

    Omran
     
  4. rufus

    rufus Overrun With Chickens

    3,216
    127
    254
    May 17, 2007
    You have a beautiful yard. The chickens will do a job on it.

    It has been my experience that you really don't want to be too obvious what you are doing if there is any question of legality.

    You really don't want to attract the attention of a nosy building inspector or a compliance officer. They are all nuts in my opinion. Remember, the BTK killer was a compliance officer.

    Make the chicken coop look like a tool shed or a garden shed. These are seen as non permanent structures.

    Good Luck,

    Rufus
     
  5. rufus

    rufus Overrun With Chickens

    3,216
    127
    254
    May 17, 2007
    deleting double post.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2009
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    85
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Lovely yard! [​IMG]

    Spacewise I think you are in good shape. There is never any guarantee you won't have social problems with chickens but that setup seems to me to be stacking things pretty well in your favor [​IMG]

    I would suggest putting more than 6" between coop and garage, if at all possible, because there may well come a time that you need to get in there to fix something (on coop or on garage), retrieve something, etc. If you do go with 6" make sure the coop remains moveable if it should ever be required e.g. to repoint bricks.

    I would be a little bit leery of making the peak of the coop 8.5' high, on the grounds of tippability and waste of materials; whether it would look weird is so totally a matter of personal preference that I can see it both ways [​IMG]

    You wouldn't consider a shed roof instead of peaked? Or, what about leaving the design with the peaked roof, but make it only like 6.5-7' tall at the peak and have the door be asymmetrically pointy at the top (you would obviously have to *make* the door rather than buy one, but that is easy). Meaning, it would use the entire half-short-end of the coop; you would have to remember not to tip your head to the wrong side when entering [​IMG] and the same thing would be true when you were in the run. Some people don't like this, some don't mind it, dunno how you might feel so I'm tossing it out [​IMG]

    Does this seem workable? I'd love to be able to clean, feed, and water without going into the run, but it seems to me that if we make the wall facing the house swing open, the hens would escape unless I somehow herded them out into the run and shut the pop door behind them before opening the wall, and that seems like more trouble than just going into the run. Right?

    Well, I have a tractor that's accessed that way, and i've not had any escapes or serious threats of it while I'm tending the chickens. OTOH it certainly gives you less margin of error and requires more paying attention. One option might be to put a (well latched, predator-proof) door on that side too, not the entire side but just a portion thereof, so you *can* reach in and do stuff without getting pooey shoes, for those times when you need to do a last egg check or whatever before swanning off to the opera, type thing [​IMG] You may use it a lot, you may use it a little, but it'd be *there*.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  7. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,719
    12
    171
    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    4x5 is fine for 3 chickens. My coop is about twice that size, for 4, and it was difficult to keep warm this winter, but I never felt guilty when I had to leave them inside for a couple of days because of harsh temperatures. They had plenty of room to play and get away from each other.

    I wouldn't make it taller than your garage - that might look odd. I have an asymetrical door on my run. Works just fine. Also, I put a stepping stone between the human door and the pop door. No more messy shoes - I'm often in heels in the morning when I let them out.

    Your chickies can really trash that beautiful yard. You'd be better off to build a sizable run, with shade and sun both, and try to keep them inside unless you are outside to supervise.

    Think about water control, especially if you're going to build next to the garage. I see a gutter...

    There are a TON of really lovely coops on this site to get ideas from. Have fun and don't over think it. Enjoy the process.

    And welcome!
     
  8. thekla

    thekla Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here is one that might work - and the site had a lot of info about legalities - if I only planned for a few chickens I'd go for this one in a minute... check it out http://www.catawbacoops.com/
     
  9. hyzenthlay

    hyzenthlay Chillin' With My Peeps

    399
    30
    181
    Feb 26, 2009
    SW PA
    Hi again--thanks for the thoughtful replies. I know there are no guarantees, but I'm glad to hear that it sounds like the space we have will be enough for a few hens.

    About the yard--well, they *definitely* wouldn't be out there unsupervised (too many neighborhood cats and such, plus I don't relish the idea of chasing escapees all over the neighborhood), and I thought there was a good chance they wouldn't be able to go out there at all. All we have is that 4' fence, and I thought that even with clipped wings, a lot of hens could clear that. Isn't that true? Plus, the bars are just a little less than 4" apart--is there any way a standard hen could get through there? As much as I would like to have the hens out to play in the yard for awhile each day, under supervision, I thought they were pretty much going to have to spend 100% of their time in the 8'x5' coop/run we are building for them. Am I wrong?

    Also, thekla, we considered buying or building a coop like the pretty one you linked to, but there might be a couple problems. First, since the hens will pretty much have to spend all their time in there, I thought they might rather have more height that our plan affords--whether we build it 8'6" at peak, or just high enough for us to walk in, it will still be roomier than an A frame tractor, I think. I know chickens tend to like to go to high places, so I was planning on putting roosts and/or ladders in the run so they could co all the way to the top and hang out if they wanted. Also, living on a little lot like we do, and having most of it covered in garden boxes, we wouldn't really have anywhere to move the tractor TO--you know? So the whole benefit of having a mobile unit is kinda lost.

    CityChook--good point about the gutter and water. I actually had to run out and check to see where that drains to, and it goes straight into the ground--and from there, into the city sewer system, maybe??? I've never noticed particular wetness in that spot, so hopefully that won't be a problem. Since the chickens will always be in that little 5x8 spot, our plan is to dig down and put gravel in there for drainage, then maybe sand or bluestone over that. We haven't figured out yet if we'll put an organic layer back on top of the run (soil? mulch? straw?), but I don't have any delusions about being able to keep grass growing in their run, unfortunately.

    On the height issue.... Ok, it sounds like some of you share my concern that it will look funny if it's taller than the garage. I wouldn't mind having a pointy door (we're planning to build the door anyway, and that would be cute), but the pointy ends (under the current plan) are going to be facing the fence on one side and the big bush on the other, and the space will be too tight on those ends to squeeze in every day without getting super irritated. If we face the pointy ends towards the house and garage, the roof will have to be even higher, because it will be peaking over the 8' span, not the 5' span. Does that make sense to anyone? So, I'm trying to talk my husband into building something like this-- http://www.dixcotlocations.com/en.php/location_list/sc.6;si.145 . Not the whole thing, lol, although that would be great--what I'm talking about is the triangular projection coming out of the main peak roof (don't you love my vast knowledge of architectural terms, lol?)--that would provide the height we needed on the front to have at least a 6' door without making the roof higher than the garage. My husband, however, thinks that might be beyond his carpentry skills. Hmph. [​IMG] Sooo, I don't know. I am pretty stuck on the peak roof, for aesthetic reasons--I just can't imagine a shed roof or other (doable) roof that would look as nice--EXCEPT maybe the A frame tractor idea, if I give up on having a walk-in run altogether.

    Sooo, yeah, I don't know. Any additional thoughts? I really appreciate your input. Hubby is too busy to build until early May, so I have some time to get this planned out right.

    Thanks!
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    85
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Could you trim the bush back a little, just to allow free swing of the door? It could be hinged along the middle (tall pointy) side so it opens towards the yard, if that makes any sense?

    what I'm talking about is the triangular projection coming out of the main peak roof (don't you love my vast knowledge of architectural terms, lol?)--that would provide the height we needed on the front to have at least a 6' door without making the roof higher than the garage. My husband, however, thinks that might be beyond his carpentry skills.

    Well, it can certainly be done, but it would definitely be a significant additional challenge. Depends how much your DH wants a significant additional challenge [​IMG]

    The only other alternative I can think of is the following (but note that it decreases your total run area) make the end of the run furthest from the chicken house L-shaped as if it had a bite taken out of it. Then you can set the door into what would otherwise be the middle of the run, where the roof is highest. Giving you plenty of clearance. If the run is going to be 8x5 (with 4' of the end taken up by chicken house) you would have to go wiht a door only 2' wide, which is narrower than doors usually are but is doable unless you are wider than people usually are yourself [​IMG] This will lose 2x2.5=5 sq ft of the run, and leave you with only 2' clearance between the chicken house and the half-side of the run (which could be a bit tight and awkward) but it does let you have that full-height door.

    Or, of course, use your plan but have a lower-pitch roof.

    Sorry, can't think of anything else.

    Good luck,

    Pat​
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by