So, here's the story. My husband and I are getting ready to close on our first home together, and its out in the country! That means, per zoning laws... I can have pretty much as much chickens as I want... but we are going to keep it close to a max of 20... but about 10 to start with. Im sure some chicken math will play in but thats down the road. As it is... we have no chickens now. My husband had chickens growing up (30 chickens I think). I at one time had 6... Its amazing they survived... I had no idea what I was doing.. and well.. My first coop was a 55gl rubbermaid tote that was raised up, they were totally free range, and no protection from predators other than their wits. My grandparents ended up rehoming them when a rooster attacked my grandmother. (i bought straight run, and ended up with 4 roosters and 2 females.) ANYHOW... that was 14 years ago. Now, Im more educated, constantly researching, and feel knowledgeable enough to delve into chicken keeping. There are just SOO MANY cute coops out there, but i havent found "The one". They either arent big enough, or dont have things I want, etc. I've been researching and looking for weeks now in preparation. We dont plan to buy chicks until spring, but figure we could get the coop ready before that. I think when it comes down to it, we will just design it ourselves. I've learned its better to build then it is to build. BUt... I still have questions and keep going back and forth over different things. I know for a fact, I am going for a... all in one style of sorts. And we are planning to build bigger, than what our future flock needs intially, as we plan to let them raise some of their own babies. Question 1. Size of coop... Soo if you go by 4 sqft per chicken, and eventually we want 20... soo the coop alone needs to be a minimum of 80 sq ft. Right? I was thinking a 9' x 9' layout of the coop. Does that seem about right, or do i need to make an adjustment on my size? Question 2. The raised coop. Now.. I know all coops should be raised for predator protection. However, at what height? I love the idea of those raised higher than a wheel barrow, to make scraping the bedding out an easier task (Plus the look of them). But... Will this make it hard to "scrub" the walls down? Or would a good rinse every once in the while do the trick? I'd be willing to build a walk in for ease of cleaning, I just feel I am losing something there. Opinions on this? Question 3. Covered run. Now.. I plan to cover the run with welded wire, again for predator protection. However, should I put a roof over the entire run instead? The area our home, offers no trees. (Use to be a working field for crop production). WE do plan to plant some. But that means, I need to provide shade for them.I want to give them a big square run to play in. I was thinking of half roofed run, and a half wire mesh covered roof, to allow for sun bathing in direct sun. OR would an entirely roofed run be best? I do want to make this a walk in part to spend time with my chickens. Question 4. Insulation. So.. I live in the midwest.. our winters, while chilly, rarely dip below 0, and snow.. varies depending on the year. Sometimes its nothing, and sometimes its a lot! Do i need to add any insulation,even if its just foam board insulation, into the chicken coop? Or would this be a bad idea? Question 5. Ventilation. I know they need ventilation, does said ventilation need to be on each side, just one side, what? I read that you dont want drafts, but I'm concerned cross ventilation might cause drafts. I am also thinking of making a matching duck coop next door, and need to determine if I can butt then against one another, or put space inbetween for ventilation. I think thats it for now.. Cant wait to hear your responses!