Noobie could use some help


8 Years
Jul 25, 2011
Durham, North Carolina
I want to build a coop. I think I can handle most of it but getting started is tripping me up.

Here's the deal:

I want the coop off the ground so I had planned on putting Four 4"x4" posts in the ground then mounting the floor on top of that. The posts would be 12-18" high off the ground and then the coop floor would set on those four posts. My problem is how do I go about leveling and making those four support posts square and level?

My step father is helping me but here's another problem, he kind of just wings it. His coop is crooked. I asked him how we were going do this and he said "use a t square." I wasn't too sure about that. We are talking about 3d here. Height, perfect square, etc.

You have uneven ground (it's sloped and I want to use that slope (10 degrees or so) to help with drainage so I'm not leveling the ground. You have four posts that all have to be the same height and to be level.

My initial plan is this

Pre build the floor. Six 2x4s in a 6'x6' square, no flooring added yet.

Mark off the 6'x6' area with stakes to mark off where the four posts will be. Dig the holes, put the posts in there then set the floor which is level and square on top of the posts to make sure everything is level and square. Since the floor is square and level it seems like it would be easier to use that as a guide. Does that make sense?

I don't know, so help me out please.

Put your posts in the ground first. Use a 4 foot level to plumb the posts and a 2x4 to get them square to each other. I would set them in concrete like the provided link instructs. Then I would screw 2x4s to the posts to make a box at the desired height and build my floor on that.
Here's a video that is way more than you need but will help you understand the basics.

Does that make things more clear?
How are you setting your posts? I generally use posthole diggers, set the post in, and then tamp rocks around it to hold it in place when setting a post. I grew up doing it that way but you do lose some accuracy and precision in the final positioning.

If you set it in with concrete you can be a lot more precise. You probably need to build a template or frame to hold the posts in position once you get them where you want them until the concrete sets up.

One thing to watch for. A whole lot of the lumber, especially 2x4's are not straight. Don't count on them giving a straight edge to use for measuring if you want to be that precise.

If the diagonal measurements are equal, it is square. If you really want to, you can build a template and make sure it is square to position your posts by. But with your building method, I'd suggest don't get too hung up on the posts being perfectly square. You want it close, no question, but you have some tolerance when you fit the floor of the coop to the top of the posts. This goes for both the squareness and the exact distances apart. To misquote an old adage, you get 90% or the results with 10% of the effort. Don't beat yourself up trying to get absolute perfection when it's not required.

As far as level, there are a few different ways. Running a straight edge over the tops of the posts and checking that with a level works. You can also set up two strings parallel and a few feet apart that are both the exact height you want the top of the posts to be. When you can stand outside the outside string and line up the top of the posts with those two strings, you have it level.

I suggest you consider a 4x8 coop instead of a 6x6. You need to be able to reach everywhere inside your coop. That's easier to do with a 4x8 if you set the doors up right. Another reason is that most building materials come in 4' and 8' dimensions. You have to watch the outside to outside dimensions instead of using centerline measurements, but you if you plan it right, you can build it with less cutting and waste material. It may even be less expensive.

When I built my frame to set a 4x8 grow-out pen on, I took some treated 2x4's, cut them into 4' lengths and sharpened one end. Then using a sledge hammer drove them into the ground maybe 2'. I was fairly careful on getting them square and the right distance apart but did not beat myself up about getting too precise. I used a straight 2x4 and a level to determine when I had the top level.

Looking at it, you cannot tell that it may not be perfectly level, though it is really close. Looking at it, you cannot tell it is not perfectly square. It's not, but it is really close.

The 2x4 supports have gotten it through some pretty strong thunderstorm winds. They have been plenty strong enough for me.
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See how in the video they use longer posts than needed and wrap them with 2x6? Do that, using posts as tall as you want your coop. Cut the posts off at the same height and then use 2x4 instead of 2x6 they use to support the floor at the height that you want it. Then you can build your coop on that foundation using the posts as corners. It will be sturdy!

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