Need advice constructing support for a higher pitched roof (Very long story, with eight photos.)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Carolyn252, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Need advice on retrofitting a sloped roof over my existing ChickArena.

    The sloped roof that we’ve used for the past five years is not at a-large-enough pitch for rain and snow to readily run off.

    We need to replace it or somehow redesign and build and install it so that it has a much greater slant.

    We can easily remove the plastic roof panels, exposing the supporting “lath” lumber with their scalloped top edges:
    PHOTO # 1

    Problem is, we can’t climb up there to do any of the work. We’ll have to work down on the ground or on the patio worktable to build whatever’s needed. And then somehow the two of us will lift it up onto the 2 x 4’s that run on top of the wire ceiling, front to back across the entire structure. See PHOTO # 4 .

    The roof as it exists now:
    PHOTO # 2

    The ChickArena is a 9’ x 15’ rectangle structure framed with vertical 2 x 4’s [painted yellow] set three feet apart. Horizontal 2 x 4’s (painted yellow] are at the base and at the top of the yellow verticals on all four sides of the enclosure, and additional 2 x 4’s [painted white] run across the ceiling of the enclosure from front to back. See PHOTOS 3 & 4.

    Hardwire cloth lines the interior sides and top of the enclosure and is screwed securely into the lumber creating four walls and a ceiling.

    Three wood laths lie above the hardware cloth ceiling, running crosswise from left to right. One is near the front of the structure, one in the middle, and one is close to the back of the ChickArena. The front lath is a 2 x 8 standing on edge, the middle lath is a 2 x 6, and the one at the back is a 2 x 4. The decreasing height of the three laths is what allows the overlaid clear plastic roof panels to slope. See PHOTO # 5.

    The roof panels are scalloped clear corrugated plastic panels lying on top of the lathing. The panels are held in place with removable weights so I can take the panels off for cleaning twice a year.

    PHOTO # 3

    In the next two photos you can see the lath lumber with the scalloped “horizontal plastic closure strips” attached to the top of each lath board.
    Here it is, half built, five years ago:

    PHOTO # 4

    In the next photo, the panels are all in place and you can see the decreasing size of the lathing boards. We no longer use aluminum leaders to hold the panels in place, but you can see the one that we were using at the time. That’s what that white object is spanning the front of the roof panels:

    PHOTO # 5

    Each of those scalloped closure strips is just a scalloped bed for the scalloped roof panels to lie on. The manufacturer of the plastic roof panels supplies the strips as the installation device. Here’s a photo of four strips nested in their original packaging:

    PHOTO # 6

    Here’s a photo of the hardware cloth ceiling from inside the ChickArena:

    PHOTO # 7

    The coop is a converted plastic playhouse placed free standing in the middle of the ChickArena.

    We need to have the new design rigid enough and strong enough to carry a rain and snow load without the panels sagging between the supports. That inevitably leads to leaks and I’ve had to suspend buckets hanging inside the ChickArena to catch the rain flow and the snow melt.

    Also, the overhead trees constantly drop leaves, twigs, hazelnuts, acorns and dirt onto the roof panels. I climb up on a six foot ladder every few months and use my strongest hose setting to try and clean it all off. But the pitch of the roof needs to be higher to facilitate the runoff. Panels overlap each other nicely when first installed, but gaps and leaks develop because there isn’t enough solid support from beneath. I don’t want to seal any of the panels to each other, because I won’t then be able to remove them and take them down for scrubbing.

    The roof needs to be clear and transparent to allow sunshine into the ChickArena. The chickens have plenty of shade in there from the trees, so they need as much daylight as possible from overhead as well. The greater the number of daylight hours, the higher their egg production.

    PHOTO # 8

    Any ideas?
  2. Howard E

    Howard E Crowing

    Feb 18, 2016
    Since you already have the sides built, and they look to be good and sturdy, easiest way to change this around is to convert this to a gable style roof, with ridge running down the middle and rafters running both ways. You would probably have to cut the roof panels in half, but looks like you have a lot of overhang to work with. If you have snow load, I'd suggest a pitch of at least 3 inches of rise per foot of run. That should be strong enough and will shed rain and snow with ease.

    Other options would be to leave roof panels as is, but convert it to a mono-slope shed roof, and either rebuild one side higher, drop one side down lower, or do both.

    Am a bit surprised you have been able to keep this roof on using just weights. In my area, wind would have lifted those off and sent them flying into oblivion the first week.
  3. Flock In Texas

    Flock In Texas Songster

    Aug 7, 2016
    Make sure your walls are sturdy enough to support the increased weight of your new roof. 3 feet between studs is stretching it thin if you add decking and other traditional roof materials or if you have a ton of snow on the roof.

    Raise your ridge piece and install a few rafters to support your existing roof pieces if they will still fit. Carefully screw down the roof panels and use rubber washers to limit leaks.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  4. NeChick16

    NeChick16 In the Brooder

    Jun 1, 2016
    Central Nebraska
    I agree with Howard, a gable or a sloped shed style roof is definitely needed. The problems I see will be you won't be able to complete either from the ground like you said you needed, you would have to have ladders and maybe an extra set of hands to get gable roof trusses up there. Also the pitch of roof you will need to shed the water & snow load will require you to attach the panels rather than have them just sitting there with weights so they don't slide off as well... if you absolutely can't get some sort of ladder/scaffolding up there to work off the ground the only other option I can see is making a side shorter which may interfere with your freestanding coop inside

    Good Luck! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  5. Chipper Chicken

    Chipper Chicken Songster

    Jul 16, 2014
    My Coop
    Here is one way to raise the front of the roof by use of a false wall with car jacks and support jack stands (borrow a few?) as we did last January when our roof revealed it had been developing a massive leak and rotting our headers above the back sliding door.
    Then fill in with as much, what 12 -?" higher? Of support structure as you need to get a good slope. Here is a pic of a false wall my DH made so we could rip out and replace the rotten stuff. ( neither of us are spring chickens by the way
    :rolleyes: )


    See the supports above and below the jack are to help raise it up more or less evenly. The support at the top lifts your roof up and secures it while you add new bracing. I'd be happy to try to answer any questions ;~)

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Me too! Where are you locates @Howard E ?
    Think you'll need way more than a 3/12 slope to shed snow.

    @Carolyn252 Has it been thru a winter yet?
    Is it shedding rain OK? If it's leaking, it could be because it's not screwed down and sealed.
    Lifting the whole front..... rafters, wire and all might be the easiest....but some deconstruction is probably needed.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  7. Carolyn252

    Carolyn252 Mother of Chickens

    Yes, the wind taught us many lessons. Panels flew up and off into the shrubs, and up and off onto other parts of the roof, and up and off onto the lawn. Each new windstorm had us hefting the panels back up into position and weighing them down with yet another "clever" idea. Free weights from the exercise equipment, bricks, even went to Home Depot and bought two 18 foot long aluminum rain gutters and tied them down into position on top of the roof panels. That finally worked.

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