Suggestions for my first try at building a coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by WhySayWhat, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Spokane
    I got it in my head a few months ago that I wanted to raise chickens...so began the search for decent coop plans (which led me here) that would fit into my budget (of not a whole lot). I have searched and searched to no avail! Not to say I didn't find coops, I just can't afford the price tag (using the cheapest materials I can find at Lowe's or Home Depot I managed to get one down to and $140). So, then I switched to trying to build my own using Google SketchUp, but again, by the time I got it all "built", the price was HUGE! Also, I have no idea what I'm doing as far as making a roof goes, my "shop class experience" consists of the drill press (the teacher died the second week of class & wasn't replaced). I have however made several things from wood, I am in no way incompatent (spelling?), I helped my mother make a HUGE picnic table, and rebuild her back deck (twice) over the years. Now, with our own home, we've taken on a few projects inside, but nothing huge. I have a circular saw and drills for power tools and am quite handy with a hand saw (removed most of the Sumac's in the backyard this summer with it, lol).

    My shed
    [​IMG]

    My new plan (trying to keep costs to a minimum) is to turn our already standing storage shed into the coop. Easily done, as far as I can tell. Just need a few minor corrections, vent holes added (I think I can add the round louver vents easily, hardware cloth covering of course), fix the people door that won't stay shut (fix the trim and replacethe knob/lock?), add a pop door (in people door if possible), cover the middle window in the door with hardware cloth (the glass has been broken out of it since we bought the house 3 years ago), and add a run (avoiding the built-in ladder to the second "floor" that is going to remain storage space). And, I plan to turn the current windiw around if possible so I can open it from outside and have it hardware cloth-covered from inside to create better air flow. The chickens won't be under that window in the run, I have Rhubarb planted there!

    As for covering the run, my plan/goal is to extend it out into the grass a ways and "plant" those posts a foot or so below the bottom of the upper deck, to create a slope that I can tarp off in winter and possibley for added shade in the summer. I live in Spokane, Washington, so get a mix of hot in the summer (I've seen it hit 105, but average is closer to 70-90) and cold in winter (with mild to severe snow, temps dipping to -20 F on occassion). I've been debating insulation since I began my research and have decided to go "as-is"...I do plan on getting a cold hardy breed, whichever one I eventually decide on! But, I'll only be getting 3 hens...might squeeze in a fourth, but that would be pushing my luck with my neighbors I think!

    Interior...

    Currently, there is a ~10-inch shelf that runs the length if the shed (8 to 10 feet). There actually 2 (it's a typical gardening shed with space for pots & the laenmower & wheelbarrow). I'm cosidering leaving on or both for space to put a nesting box (large covered cat little box) and to use as the roost, rather than taking it out and putting in a 2x4. If I need a light out there, that's another added expense (one I would need professional help doing), but could be managed since the large cost portion is dealt with by using the pre-made structure. Once it warms up a bit, I may dig a path out there this winter to take interior shots, but really there isn't much in there!

    Anyway, any advice on anything I may have missed or not thought of would be great! Or you can tell me I'm all wet for thinking I can turn the lower half into a coop! I know it's huge for just 3 hens, but that's really all I can have within city limits (I live about 2 blocks off the main road (Hwy 2 I think it is...).
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2010
  2. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    Sounds like you have a great plan!
     
  3. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Spokane
    Thank you!

    After taking some time staring at that pic, I've decided to change my run placement, lol. I'll put the pop door on the wall to the right of the door (back side facing fence) and have the run be shallow on that side as my neighbors back there have some small yappers (I'll want some space between run and back fence). Then, I'll have it open up a bit under the decking to add shade and allow me to get into the coop still using the people door (getting in to the left of the ladder). That will also give them more to scratch around in without too much effort on my part.

    I'll really be putting my carpentry skills to the test! Does it run in the blood? I have two uncles that build houses for a living (one builds spec homes in the neighborhood he grew up in in Portland, OR that are similar to the type he grtew up IN, just beautiful homes...I wonder if he'd do my coop? Lol!)...
     
  4. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    [​IMG] Sounds like "uncle bribery" is in order! [​IMG]
     
  5. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Spokane
    A 1950's style chicken coop with 12" kick boards throughout! Sounds awesome to me. [​IMG]

    And I have rethought the run again, lol. This time I was discussing it on another forum (totally un-chicken related)! The space directly behind (on the wide side) is where we typically put our yard waste (was before we decided to hire a college kid to mow anyway) and already has a nice rich dirt/mulch going on (I have old grass seed that I can add to it to see if it'll grow to). Anyway, the space back there is at least 10'x10', it won't provide shade from a "porched" above are, but the neighbor's poplars should give enough shade there, the weeds grow great back there... Anywho, bigger outdoor space, easier to fix into a square-ish run and not as much of a concern about the little yappers! I may have to plywood in that side though...has a direct veiw into that neighbor's living room!

    I still have time to redecide everything, lol. My hope is to have chicks by February (or early March), but have the coop ready before then. I plan on "broodering" them in my garage. I'm still not convinced I'll get chicks...I want to get them as locally as possible, but I also want to make sure I'm buying hens! Ones that are laying if they are grown! I've seen CL ads lately that someone is selling his "old", non-layers as layers...jerk.
     
  6. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Spokane
    Since the snow let up over the last few weeks, I was able to get out to the shed and get some interior pictures. I forgot to take the key however, so I took these all through the browken window in the door! I need to get out there again with a good flashlight and the key to take a closer look, but for now it looks like "operation save the structure" will be under way when the weather gets even better!

    Around the roll of roofing paper (I think that's what it is anyway, it came with the house) it appears there might be water building up. I'm guessing from around the window, the wall looks to be slightly damp as well. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The wall (behind the concrete garden bench) is just to the right of the door, so I'm not completely sure if the "leak" is coming from the roof or from wind blowing snow/rain in through the broken window. Let's hope it's from the window!
    [​IMG]

    So the shelving that I thought was boards up on blocks turns out to be a couple of cheap pressed board shelving units, those will need to find a new home...I might be able to get away with them if I stack one in front of the other, but as is, they won't wwork for me. Besides, they are really sagging!
    [​IMG]

    This is the door, for the most part. There are 3 windows, it's the middle one by the lock that is completely busted out. If I can salvage this door, I'll put Hardware cloth over it from the inside.
    [​IMG]

    And this is how it is currently held closed! I think I can replace the knob and striker plates and get it to shut properly. If I can't, the whole door is history and I'll be looking for a good deal online somewhere, lol.
    [​IMG]

    This is the south facing window in better detail than in the first pic I posted. The whole shed needs a good coat of paint, we have some that the previous owner's left with the house (the shed is painted the same as the house). The painting is planned for when my 5-year old nephew will be here in Feb, as long as the weather cooperates with me!
    [​IMG]

    After repairing the roof and fixing whatever walls need to be fixed, we should be back on for this being our coop, but it's looking like it'll cost even more than I had hoped.
     
  7. TajMahalChickens

    TajMahalChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 22, 2010
    Since you already have your shed in place, it really shouldn't cost too much for the few repairs that you need to do.

    If you are looking for cheap materials, just check Craigslist and ask around. We built an all Home Depot 4X8 raised coop for $700, then we build a 8X10 with an attached storage shed for $250. For the 8x10, we got all the Cedar siding free from a builder who had leftovers, and we got all the interior waterproof siding & the Tyvek for $1 TOTAL at an auction, and then we got all the singles, the door, 4 windows, and all the interior studs for $70. We got 11 rolls of field fencing (great for chickens) for a total of $40. You just have to look around and you can build it cheaply.

    I would suggest insulation. I know there are some people who don't think you need it, but I do think it keeps egg producing up in the winter. One of my coops doesn't even freeze at all, and that is SOOOOOO nice no to have to have to chip ice every morning.

    However, if you are only having three hens, even with insulation it is going to be very hard to keep it warm, especially since your coop is so big. I found that in my 4x8 coop, when I had eight chickens in there, it didn't freeze; when I had three chickens in there, it froze. I think insulation only works if you have enough chickens to produce enough heat to for the insulation to keep in.

    [​IMG]
    here's a pic of my 4X8 coop (this is the one that had 3 1/2 inches of insulation and stays cozy in the winter IF there are enough chickens in it.)

    If possible, I would suggest having two runs, so that you can rotate them when one gets eaten down. However, since you only have three hens, that is not as much of an issue. However, don't underestimate how much ground chickens can turn up - I thought that my 4X25 run would be enough for my 4 hens - they ate it down in a month. There are two solutions to this - make a bigger run or make two runs so that you can rotate them. I would vote two runs, because if you need to replant one or something you can still let them out in the other run.

    [​IMG]
    Here is my coop from above. This is the area that my four hens ate down in a month

    Another thing that I like is making one a "Secure run" and the other a "Not-so secure run". The secure run has apron fencing to prevent digging predators from getting in, as well as fencing over the top to prevent things from climbing over. I can leave my secure run open 24/27, since nothing can get in. My "insecure" run is 3x bigger, but nothing over the top or bottom, so I have to close the door to the that run at night.


    Well, those are my tips to building a good coop. Hope they help! Have fun!
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2010
  8. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Check out the BYC coop pics. I have learned, the hard way, that interior layout matters to the chickens . Make sure they have no draft on them in winter. Also suggest you make your roosts fairly low, or provide a chicken ladder to them.
     
  9. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Spokane
    Chicken. Lytle - Yes, I have been scouring any and all coop pics I can find, first looking for something I could build myself (slightly proficient at building, but in no way, shape, or form an expert) and then for ways to convert my shed/outbuilding(?) into a decent coop. With the reduced number of chickens (I did finally get word that I can have up to 3 hens within city limits), I have also been thinking of halving the space inside the current building, but I really would prefer to give them as much room as possible!

    TajMahalChickens - I have looked at your coop many times when I was trying to figure out how I could build one from scratch! The main issues I've had locating materials are that everyone around here, it seems, is faster at grabbing up the stuff in the "free" section, or it's just a big old scam to sell something else (like my email address)! I'm sure I will eventually get what I need (I bought a bed on CL 1 week before I absolutely needed it, as well as a kid's bike for my eldest nephew just days before he got here for his summer stay), I'm really good at getting things when I really need them, lol. I almost had 10 sections of chainlink dog kennel pieces that were 8-10 feet long, but they were in horrible condition and the gal wanted too much for them they way they were! She didn't like me telling her I wouldn't (& couldn't) give her $ for them but would recycle them for her, lol.

    This spring/summer I plan on having a friend of ours (or the neighbor) run wiring from our house to the shed. The electrical work will be for lighting, heat, & a "chicken cam" from Harbor Freight. They have a security camera setup that has color picture with sound and night vision for around $30 (on sale) that I plan on getting. As far as heat, I have been considering multiple sources...the standards heat lamp/light bulb or possible an infrared heat source (if I can get it angled from above and not risk a fire). Hopefully I will have gotten some sort of work outside this house by then! (So that I can afford more than bare minimum.) Also, will need electric for a heated waterer...

    Roosts...I had planned on using the existing shelving, but that was back when I thought it was 1x6's stacked on concrete! I will be pulling those shelving units out (repurposing either on my back deck or under it for my planter graden or to hold the "tools") and replacing it with 2x4 boards, maybe angled in the corner or across the short end of the shed near the window? My thinking there was a minimum of 2 roosts, one lower and one up a bit higher. I read somewhere that "average" heights (it could have been minimums) of roosts were 18-48 inches and I have seen others post that their's are even higher than that!

    Drafts should not be much of an issue, assuming I have to replace the people door. The more I look at it & think about it, the more sure I am that it will need replacing. The shed itself is free of holes and such. The upper portion was built to be a little playhouse for someone's child (hence the "Lauren" on the upper door), but we currently use it for the stuff we just don't want to store in the garage.

    The run...still a bit unsure of the where & how's for that one. The area off the west (near the corner of the lot) is fairly unused for anything else and I have an old portable hexagonal dog pen (that was left here) that I plane to use as a "tractor" when I can be outside with them so they have range over more of the yard. The major issue with the run will be setting the posts, about 3 inches below the "dirt" level around the entire building for at least 24 inches, is a 12+ inch thick layer of very fine gravel! I know this because I spent several hours digging through it when I planted my rhubarb! So, I'm hoping I can rent a powered post hole digger (& con my boyfriend into using it). This is when I miss my Dad...I could have gotten him to build the whole dang thing with me over the course of a weekend, but I'll settle for over the course of a few months with me doing all of the work.

    The building looks bigger from the outside because it's 2 stories, completely seperate from each other. They even have seperate entrances! The lower half is tall enough for me to stand in (at 5'6"), but my boyfriend (who is 6'6") has to duck a bit. The door opens in & my plan for the pop door will slide up on the interior of the coop on a track.

    Craig's List and the HH Restore are going to be where you find me for the coming menths, lol. Having the rolls of roofing material already save a good bit of money for whatever repairs need to be made, I'm guessing we need to redo the roof (by that I mean my bf, I don't do heights). We lost some large pieces off of it this past spring in those big wind storms & I just never was able to talk/con the bf into fixing it this summer. I'll be getting my uncle up there this spring/summer to redo the whole flipping thing! They laugh when I ask them when they're coming for a visit anymore...I've had him remove the lower paneling off my back deck's roof (had a major bee hive in there) , remove about 25 Sumacs this summer (35-40 yr old trees were rotten through & falling over every chance they got), & fix 2 fussy toilets. I even got my mother to help rip up the carpeting in my master bath & help to install linoleum tile instead. This spring/summer we already have a list going...including redoing the laminate wood floor in my kitchen! The leftovers from the bathroom I'm planning on putting on the floor of the shed as well, linoleum is always easier to clean that concrete!
     
  10. WhySayWhat

    WhySayWhat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 5, 2010
    Spokane
    [​IMG]

    I got a new toy today for the coop! They have them onsale at Harbor Frieght through 1/17 for $25! Brought it home and plugged it into the TV in the bedroom (only room inside we can block out light) and tested the nightvision and microphone, works great! I did hold on to my coupon (that expires on 2/6) incase I decide that I need a second one some time after this weekend. It's weatherproof, NOT waterproof, so I would not suggest using it outside at all, ours will be going into the coop itself, totally out of the weather.
     

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