(Project Started! on page 2!) Ideal Placement for new backyard coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by RoussoHomestead, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. RoussoHomestead

    RoussoHomestead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 6, 2012
    Tucson, Arizona
    Hi Guys!

    We are brand new to raising chickens - in fact, we haven't had our chickens for 24 hours just yet :) They are cozy and happy in a pine box in the garage for now, but we'd like to get started on the coop. We have two options, both with very good pros and cons and I'm hoping that the community can help us decide!

    Some background: We live in Southern Arizona where we get brutal heat in the summer and the occasional freeze in the winter. Our property is well protected from most predators but ones in the area would be coyotes (I've never seen one), bobcats, stray dogs or birds of prey (owls mostly). We live in the county, not rural - so we have neighbors close by but no restrictions on raising poultry for personal use.

    These are our new babies. Breeds, I have no idea. I have it written down somewhere.

    We have two location options:

    1) A small (9x22ft) space on the side of our house that currently houses our hot tub heater and electrical box.
    2) A much larger (40x50ft) sideyard with brick dog housing thingie that came with the house when we bought it.

    The first option....


    A photo for perspective. That window would be the master bedroom.


    This is the small side yard. Everything in it except for the hot tub heater (white pipes) is removable. It's basically full of landscaping trash, firewood and pine needles. The large black thing is our old hot tub heater and is also headed for the dump.


    1) It is very secure with 6ft walls facing the street and 6.5ft facing our neighbor.
    2) It is not currently in use for anything
    3) It gets partial sun in the afternoon.
    4) No stooping to get eggs if we go this route.
    5) If we ever wanted to fully enclose this area, it would be fairly easy.
    6) Easy to wire electricity and maybe even automatic watering.
    7) Pest control would be easier as the area is fairly well sealed.


    1) We would need to construct a hen-house from scratch, which we estimate will cost us about $250-400 for the designs we like, probably more. My husband has excellent carpentry skills but not the best cost-management skills :p
    2) The pine tree drops a TON of needles in this yard
    3) There might be a bit too much shade in the winter.
    4) We will need to construct a barrier to keep the chickens away from the hot tub heater and all cabling near the electrical unit.

    Now on to the other option....
    For perspective. This sideyard is separated from the main yard by a wall and a gate (that's currently open in the photo).

    The previous owner used to raise dogs, I'm told. So we have this dog house thing(?) constructed with a roof. There is a cooler vent inside (with the cooler sitting on the other side of the wall) with ventilation via two bricks turned sideways. The inside of the "dog house" has a dirt floor, and then there's a continued roofed "run" all the way to the orange tree.

    More pictures....
    Some idea of how the ventilation would work.

    The entrance to the enclosed part of the dog house

    Left side of dog house interior

    Right side of dog house interior

    View from the dog house to the street.


    1) Much cheaper to adapt to hold chickens.
    2) Much faster to get us up and running and on to other projects.
    3) More room to expand if we decided to increase the size of the run or keep turkeys later.
    4) An excuse for my husband to clean up this "junk" yard
    5) A purpose for something we will never use (we keep our pups indoors).
    6) More sun
    7) A cooler? Can chicken coops have coolers?

    1) Much less secure. The large sidegate might eventually have to be replaced (or a secondary barrier installed) and the walls are so much shorter than the other option.
    2) Much more visible. Unlike the West side of our property, these walls are short and the yard is visible from street. Our neighbors on this side are tenants with a high turnover. We will never know what we will get.
    3) The loss of my archery range.
    4) We are much less likely to hear any sounds of distress from the chickens should they be in trouble.
    5) Egg retrieval would mean crawling into the space (or sending one of the kids).

    Thank you for reading this far! We really appreciate all the ideas we can get!!

    *Edited to remove the poll - thanks for voting!
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  2. olefarmersdaughter

    olefarmersdaughter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2008
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Wow, looks like you will have fun, lots of different ideas. One thing tho', make sure you have the run also secure on top. Plenty of predators out there that come from the skies. I have been having a red-tailed hawk cruising my neighborhood so when the ladies have their 'free range' time, I am out there with them.
  3. RoussoHomestead

    RoussoHomestead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 6, 2012
    Tucson, Arizona
    Oh to be sure. There would be lots of chicken wire involved in either option. My husband was even talking about installing a "roof" of standard chainlink fencing if we ended up going with the smaller yard.
  4. TBowman

    TBowman Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 12, 2012
    Lone Oak, TX
    How tall is the "dog house" and fence around it?
  5. RoussoHomestead

    RoussoHomestead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 6, 2012
    Tucson, Arizona
    The sideyard is entirely walled in except for the gate shown in the last photo. It averages about 5 feet high.

    The dog house thing is 3 foot 4 inches at the lowest point (where you stoop under) with an interior height of 4 foot 4 inches.
  6. FlaRocky

    FlaRocky Chillin' With My Peeps


    How hard to raise the walls and roof on the doghouse? With post and chainlink, for air flow. Over the chainlink you can mount plywood that could be raised and lowered as needed. I have seen some coops with that kind of design here in Florida.


    Ride the Glide......Got Gait.....I Do.....
    1 person likes this.
  7. RoussoHomestead

    RoussoHomestead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 6, 2012
    Tucson, Arizona
    It's pretty solid, it would mean scraping the roof which probably needs to be redone anyhow and isn't a big deal. Actually, that's a really good idea :)
  8. makemineirish

    makemineirish Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 1, 2012
    Austin, TX
    In either option, I would give a lot of thought to how you would manage cleaning. Crawling in for eggs is bad enough, but doing so on top of bird poop[​IMG]. I really like FlaRocky's suggestion to raise the roof. I would second that and use the existing concrete base as a foundation and build on. Just realize the the ventilation bricks are also a potential entry point for smaller predators and deal with them accordingly. You could make the structure tall enough to walk into upright and far more pleasant for both tasks.

    I assume that you have already looked into city code, but my city's mandated setbacks would preclude putting the coop along a shared fence in most properties. While my neighbors probably would not care if I did so, I certainly would not want to risk being forced to move the darn thing if I got called on it. I would make sure that you are within code... especially if the chickens are more visible and you do not know who your neighbors will be next.

    Good Luck
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012
  9. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2011
    If you can swing it, that would be the way to go.
  10. RoussoHomestead

    RoussoHomestead Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 6, 2012
    Tucson, Arizona
    Thank you all so much for responding to my post - I know it was long-winded :)

    We have chosen to build the chicken house off of the doghouse (thing?) in the side-yard and use the smaller area for garden stuff storage. We found some redwood lumber on Craigslist that a guy had reclaimed from a deconstructed playground, for a quarter of the cost of buying new. It's not pretty, but my husband promises says it'll be on the interior and hidden.

    He busted his behind all weekend long clearing the area so it's ready! So excited!

    Next weekend he'll rip off half of the structure's roof and build up. Or "Raise the Roof" as my 9 year old is fond of saying now. It will be a bit different than many of the elevated designs I have seen with the hardware cloth around the bottom, but the nest box will be accessible from the outside at a reasonable height. Half of the existing structure will remain at the original height and give the chickens lots of shade and protection. The entire thing will be enclosed in either wood or welded wire.

    In time, we will build up the perimeter wall another 1-2 feet to prevent chickens from flying up and over into the neighbor's yard when allowed to free range a bit, and to give our project a little more privacy. We are allowed to have roosters here, but I don't think it would be very nice to our neighbors - and we can still get noise complaints if he crowed longer than 15 solid minutes.

    I did see a large Harris Hawk circling around yesterday so I'm grateful for the reminder to look UP!

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