Premade vs homemade coops?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Sphynxlover, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. Sphynxlover

    Sphynxlover Chirping

    Jan 27, 2018
    Hampton Roads Virginia
    My dad was going to make my backyard coop however he said he was adding up the cost of supplies and thought that a pre made coop would be cheaper. I started looking at some and noticed none of them have very good reviews? Does anyone have a premade coop that they love and holds 6-8 chickens comfortably?
    keeks&kiwimom likes this.
  2. Chad Oftedal

    Chad Oftedal Songster

    Dec 29, 2017
    Woodinville, WA
    My Coop
    I think you're Dad is getting into an apples and oranges comparison without realizing it. From my learnings, almost all of those pre-fab coops are made with really cheap wood/materials. I'm guessing your Dad is pricing out based on one of the large box stores or lumber yard for materials. The quality of materials he would be using are much, much better than the pre-fab. So while it may look like you're going out to a wash in price, the quality that he could build using the materials he is likely looking at will be much better.

    For 6-8 chickens, you're looking at 32 sq. ft. minimum coop size (4 sq. ft. per bird x 8). A lot of those pre-fab ones are giving a chicken count that is woefully too generous. You could almost take their numbers and divide by 3 to get the recommended space count. Meaning if they are saying 12 birds, it's likely closer to holding 4 based on what the suggested norm is here for happy, healthy birds. Cramped birds are unhappy birds and susceptible to illness, etc. So, if you're looking pre-fab for that many birds, you really want to be looking for the largest ones that you can find. Ideally, if you're not seeing them in person, see if you can find out the measurements, and do the math yourself for how big the pre-fab is, and how many birds it could hold based on the 4 sq. ft. guideline.

    For me, I purchased a set of green house plans online, and am building an 8x8 coop from that. The greenhouse has 5 large windows for ventilation, is a walk-in stand-up design, and will accommodate about 2x the birds I plan to have. That might be a bit of overkill, but the overwhelming advice that I have been given is to build bigger than you need, and enjoy the extra space in your coop when you have to do your daily chores.

    If your Dad - and you - are somewhat handy with building - and I'm going to assume that is the case since you were going to the effort of making out a materials list - you would be able to build something you could be very proud of and most likely, vastly superior to what you could buy pre-fab.

    Finally, if you do really go down the pre-fab path, make sure that what you choose can be easily upgraded with better hardware cloth or reinforced in ways that you may need. I get that not everyone can build, so there is certainly no one size fits all here, but know what you're getting into on the pre-fab before you purchase. If you do find a pre-fab that meets a lot of the suggested guidelines that people use here on the site, by all means report back and share! Lots of people could benefit from it, I'm sure. Unfortunately, they just don't seem to come by in the affordable price range that makes fiscal sense (i.e. you could build it for much less).
  3. AlleysChicks

    AlleysChicks Enabler

    Oct 10, 2016
    Southern Ohio
    No lol they are expensive but cheaply made. I’ve had 2 for roughly 1 year and they are falling apart. They are also too small and won’t comfortably hold 6-8 chickens like they say.

    This one is 6ft long and probably 6ft high (I’m 5’8 and it’s taller than me. I have 2 standard size chickens in it.

    They get as much free range time as possible.
    Sphynxlover likes this.
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    The best coop design is the Woods coop, and plans are available online and here. Second is a shed type coop with lots of ventilation added. For eight birds, at least 4'x8', and that's really tight. It might be possible to find a handyman in your area who can build something for you too.
    Buying a garden shed and modifying it works well.
    Sphynxlover likes this.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Excellent post @Chad Oftedal ....thank you!
    Sphynxlover and nminusyplusm like this.
  6. K813ZRA

    K813ZRA Songster

    Mar 29, 2016
    Up front cost may be more, as others have stated, but in the long run a coop you build yourself or convert from a shed/barn will be cheaper. Those prefab coops need a lot of work just to make them 'okay' and even then they do not seem to last.
    Sphynxlover and keeks&kiwimom like this.
  7. When we moved into our house, it came with lots of wood and a HUGE coop that can hold 20 chickens (if not more) and we just built a run with the wood and bought chicken wire.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I think you and your dad could easily put up a 4 x 8 walk in shed style coop for comparable cash outlay of a pre fab. If you build your own, you will end up with a nice coop that will last a long time. Buy pre fab, and you are going to pay through the nose for a piece of junk that will not last, nor will it be adequate to meet the needs of your birds. (even if sq. ft. floor space DOES meet the 4 s.f./bird criteria) You also must have adequate ventilation, predator proof design, perch space that is oriented correctly to provide adequate space behind, above, below AND IN FRONT of the perch. I have yet to see a single prefab that meets the ventilation or perch criteria, no matter how big it is.
  9. Chad Oftedal

    Chad Oftedal Songster

    Dec 29, 2017
    Woodinville, WA
    My Coop
    Thank you, @aart! That compliment is appreciated and really means a lot to me!
    Sphynxlover and aart like this.

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