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Please help with my crappy coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by joszefja, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. joszefja

    joszefja Hatching

    Aug 26, 2010
    Hello all! Longtime lurker, yadda yadda. And apologies in advance for the length of the post.

    I cold tell a long, sad, frustrating story about why our chicken coop has so many problems. But in the interest of marital harmony, let's just say it's like this because it is and we need to stop dwelling on past choices (that were not always made by us) and move forward. Also let's posit that I don't know one single thing about construction or design and don't have anyone local to ask (I know, that sounds suspicious and maybe crazy but see above re: long, sad, etc.)

    Anyway. The coop has two major problems (that we're currently aware of) -- one urgent, the other urgent-ish. One: It leaks. A lot. Mostly through the windows, and also through the nest box. We're currently working on the assumption that the roof does not have enough overhang and so water is trickling in through the (clearly not watertight) window frames. Water is also dripping directly down onto the hinges of the nest box, which has a strip of rubber over most of the joint, but there's a bit of a gap on the windward side.

    So, leak-fixing questions: the windows need to be caulked, right? What would be the best product to use? Is there anything we can use while the windows still have water inside, or do we need to wait until they're completely dry? Is caulking outside sufficient, or should we do both inside and outside?

    The nest box currently has concrete shingles for "roofing", which we're going to remove as it's much too heavy and in fact broke one of the hinges (which is also contributing to the leaking). We're planning on replacing them with some of the aluminum used for roofing it. Okay idea? What's the best way to protect the hinge joint from water?

    The roof has zero overhang (currently we have a tarp tied over it partially covering the windows, which seems to be keeping a lot of the water out but is clearly not a long-term solution). We can fairly easily get the roof extended 3-4 inches; will that be sufficient to drain water away from the windows and nest box hinge? If not, how much overhang should we aim for? Weather comes from the side of the blank wall in the photos. As I mentioned above there's also a troubling gap in the nest box on the windward side (photo); suggestions for fixing it? Water also seeps in the front edge of the nest box lid, not sure how to fix that. Anything else we should be doing re: fixing the leaks?

    Problem two: the floor is made out of some kind of particle board (I think it's called orientented strand lumber?), mostly covered with vinyl flooring that's just nailed down, with about a 1-inch gap at the back end of the coop, which is the direction the floor slopes in and where water runs to (we tried sealing the edges of the vinyl but that was a total disaster and will have to be scraped off). There are small parts of this floor that are already about half rotted through, and I assume that the whole thing will come apart and rot away sooner or later -- sooner if we can't keep water and manure off it.

    [note: I just *know* you all are rolling your eyes and slapping your foreheads and wondering what kind of dope I am. Again, choices were made that we were not a part of here. Also, I am a largish kind of dope.]

    So. What can we do to make the floor last longer? We live in North Idaho and have pretty much the entire list of chicken predators out here, so that's my primary concern about the floor being crappy (well, also about going in to clean it and falling through). We've been told that replacing the floor completely isn't really an option (but if you all tell me that's not true, I'm prepared to listen). The coop is raised off the ground, but only an inch or so at the lowest points. We could pretty easily dig it out a bit, though.

    I will finally add that we currently have 5 chicks/chickens in our basement that really, really need a new place to live, pronto. We could move them into our garage for a while if it's imperative that major repairs be made to the coop -- any suggestions for good, cheap/free medium-term chicken containment? They will be sufficiently protected from weather/predators in the garage (although there are mice). I just need them not running around under the car.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this far, and any advice you can give. Photos here; and I'm happy to take more if that would be useful.

    I freely accept that we are idiots and probably should not have started chickens this year with all the issues with the coop. But we are really hoping that we can get it at least useable for this year, even if it's not ideal, and then perhaps consider more radical solutions (like a completely new coop) for next year.

  2. Glasshen

    Glasshen Songster

    Jan 13, 2012
    La Fayette, NY
    My husband would have all sorts of answers for you. But, he is working, so, here are my impressions.
    It looks like a cute coop. The windows look like they are good, so it is probably the installation that is faulty. Having watched lots of construction, I have seen that window are installed with flexible waterproof parts that extend from them to divert water and wind from where they join the building. I wonder if that was the case with these windows.

    In my coop I stayed away from the protruding nest box idea. Although it gives you more room in the coop, and easy access from outside, I thought that for warmth and weather protection I would opt for inside boxes. Also, I put in 4 nest boxes, but could probably do with less. I had 6hens.

    The floor, I would replace if it is rotten at all. That won't be getting better unless it is replaced.

    I see you have two nice long roosting bars, have you considered using poop boards underneath them? I just switched over to them, effectively putting a 24 inch wide shelf about 6 inches below, and centered under each roost bar. There is a narrow lip on the sides of the shelf and I put sand and Sweet PDZ in it. Each morning I scoop out the nights droppings, and it is so much cleaner and nicer in the coop!

    I know that there are others who can give you more direction in stopping the leaks.

    For your first post, this one is a pretty serious one! Welcome!
  3. Joe.G

    Joe.G Songster

    Nov 16, 2011
    Eastern NY
    It is hard for me to explain but I ll try.. First you can get that coop into shape pretty cheap. What I would do is tear up the floor the best you can from inside then i would lay down Plywood if it were me I would put down either 5/8 or 3/4 Inch plywood ( as long as the floor joists are in decent shape you could alos prob get away with putting the plywood on top of your current floor not the right way but if you are not good with wood working itll be the easiest and prob will last many years. )

    I would extend the over hang of the roof maybe another 6 Inches or so ( you could go longer and let it cover most or all of he out side nest boxes you ll have to check the angle and make sure you will not be banging your head )

    You could caulk teh windows ask a hardware store they will give you the right stuff and then trim around the windows to cover it up and make it look nicer.

    I wouldn't put tin roof on the nest boxes just because you will prob bump into it and cut your self at times.

    Stay away from the OSB that is the wood I see in some of the photos its shaped like plywood but is not as strong and doesn't like to get wet.

    You can have the coop all fixed up and do it for a low price in a weekend with out much skill.

    I hope you understand my post. Good Luck.
  4. ladychicken&Ducklover

    ladychicken&Ducklover Songster

    May 21, 2011
    Champion, Michigan
    Hello and welcome !

    I would like to make a point about leaking nest boxes and roof.

    When it does come time to re-roof both places , you Really need to put down Roofing Paper .

    That can be found at any big place.

    It keeps water from seeping under roof lines .

    When you put sheet down , overlap them too. That helps Alot.

    For what it's worth , I am a female who , this time last year, couldn't even build a little box , but by reading Alot of posts here and looking at hundreds of pics. , I'm self taught and have 1 8x10 coop , 1 12x20 coop and 2 runs under my belt that I built by myself except for putting up the roof paper and corrugated roof panels , I had help there.

    I had a " friend " build a coop originally , and had put up the worst and thinnest plywood for the roof and the roof collapsed after the first rain !!

    I had had enough , so I tore off the whole roof and did it myself !

    That's the 12x20 I mentioned. I re -did the Whole thing. Ugh. Lol

    So , I know where you're at .. Keep up the good work and everything will turn out !

    You are Definetley at the right place in getting help !

    Hope this helps.

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