Suggestions please... buy or build?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Contessa, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. Contessa

    Contessa Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 21, 2010
    Bethany, OK
    My husband and I both have limited mechanical skills and even more limited carpentry skills. We were originally thinking about bulding a coop, but I am concerned that it's going to be way too complicated. We had been thinking about an a-frame tractor, but my major concern would be heat - it's not uncommon for the temps to hit 90-100 in the summer. I would be concerned that it would be too small and trap too much heat. We also have cold temps in the winter so we can't have it too open either. I'm also not entirely convinced that it would be incredibly cost effective to build one unless we're able to scavenge for a lot of the materials. It would also have to be reasonably predator proofed - we do have skunks, racoons and opossoms and some birds of prey. The coop will be in a fenced yard (8ft privacy) so strays and coyotes are not a concern. I would not be able to free range them without supervision either, so we'd have to have at least a large run for them (which doesn't seem as complicated to make).

    We're planning for a small flock - possibly 3-4 full sized birds. If anyone has a suggestion for a kit coop or idiot proof plans it would be appreciated.... I would really like to be able to get chicks for end of winter/early spring but I don't want to do anything until they have a permenant home in place here.
  2. NorthernOntario

    NorthernOntario Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 19, 2010
    The heat/cold issue could be resolved with some removable panels for ventilation (summer), adequate use of shade and reflective colours (summer), and a bit of insulation+ventilation(winter).

    You will probably find that it is much cheaper to build a coop vs. buying a pre-built kit... remember, you're paying for someone else's time/labour/investment/profit.

    The construction doesn't need to be overly complicated; just do lots of looking through the build-blogs on here, and plan out how you're going to build it, step by step.

    Spend some time figuring out how to shelter the coop (for shade in the summer, and protection from the wind in the winter). But don't forget, it's nice to have a breeze going through the coop in the summer.
  3. kristen2678

    kristen2678 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2009
    North Berwick Maine
    My husband and I were in the same situation. We're not very handy so building was out of the question. We ended up buying a pre-fab from

    I had to do it over again, I would totally go the shed conversion/have someone local build us one. Have you checked Craigs list? You can find lots of local options there.
  4. kota1369

    kota1369 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 17, 2009
    Kansas City, MO
    I understand your dilema. I have myself built an a-frame with a carpenter freind of mine. Made one myself out of an insulated dog house and have spent way to much money and now have a bit better idea of what will work best for me.
    Take a look at the chicken coops on this site and look for the kids playhouse's converted into a coop. Those are heavy duty, sturdy and easy to convert when you do not have much for carpenter skills. You are like me and only having 3-4 chickens so you could easily keep your chickens happy with a premade dog run off of Craigslist. Invest in some 1"x1" welded wire for the bottom and or look into a couple hot wires. You want the bottom to be secure against the racoons or possums. And I would most likely put a wire top on it also. There are many great idea's on this site. I am just sharing with you what I would do, if I was to start over again from scratch. And depending on the deals you get it should cost between 250-350. The key I think is getting an affordable dog run. Look over the examples on here and you may agree or find something that will work out for your yard or set up better.

    The lady with 4 dogs and 4 city chickens
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I am a 56 year old former couch potato with NO construction skills and yet I built my first coop: an A-Frame sort of tractor which is too freakin' heavy to move around, so it's pretty permanent. Any carpenter or handyman looking at it would know a "girl" built it. [​IMG]

    I have also purchased a coop kit with attached covered pen on eBay, after the first coop was completed and before the chicks were ready to go outside full time. It was quite pricey but I'm not sorry I bought it. The chickens use the eBay coop and VISIT the home-made A-frame coop. They play in it, hunting bugs, taking naps there, sunning themselves in the light through the hardware cloth covered under-pen area. But they "go home to roost" in the eBay coop, because that's where I actually put them after I moved them permanently out of the brooder. (The A-Frame has a ramp to get up into the living quarters and the chickens would NOT go up that ramp. I couldn't see myself lifting them up into it every night, and then taking them out of the upstairs every morning!)


    Some of them now go up and down that A-Frame ramp, having learned to do so through curiousity. I'm going to close it off and house two new hens in it (this Friday!) as I integrate them into my small flock. The current crew will just have to live without their "play coop" for the duration.

    I am now planning on building a third coop. After having built the first one, learning how to use a power drill and a circular saw, and then putting the kit coop together, I have realized I do have the skills to attempt a larger coop structure with the features I really want.

    Not that MY opinion matters, but I would support someone's decision to purchase a kit coop, or even pay for someone to build one. It does take some time and effort if you want something secure. Anybody can throw up a piece of *crud* coop! You don't want something like that. But having built one, I know it can be accomplished even by folks with severely limited carpentry skills. Trust me. [​IMG]

    If money isn't that much of an issue, and time and effort IS, buy a coop kit. But you'll be missing the intense satisfaction of building something yourself that serves a useful purpose. Even if it may look like a "girl" built it. (Apologies to your husband, if necessary....)
  6. domino7

    domino7 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I wold say go for it. Build it yourself. The only way to get some carpenter skills is by doing. It can be a fairly simple project, and will save you 60% compared to buying prebuilt.

    Do you have a friend or family member wth any skills? Enlist their help. There are many threads on here about building coops.

    Where do you live? I wouldn't be surprised if someone here would stop by and help you get started.

    I think it's so satisfying to do it yourself. Who knows, once you figure out how easy it is, there might be no stopping you.

    Whatever you decide, good luck.
  7. domino7

    domino7 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Quote:Wow, after looking at these coops, I think you can save 80%. I'm also thinking I should start a coop building business lol.
  8. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

    Sep 18, 2009
    SF East Bay CA
    We had never built anything either, but we did it! We looked at a lot of plans and didin't use any of them. Just looked at the great coops on BYC and just started putting one wall up at a time! It's fun and you can make it totally your own. Turned out great and we've remodeled it twice so far!!

    check out my byc page link
  9. TheMatador

    TheMatador Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 20, 2009
    Upstate, NY
    If you want a new experience/challenge and would like to learn some new skills, build.

    If you just want to get the goal met as efficiently as possible, buy.

    Building may save money on materials but you'll easily negate that cost with the time you will spend building (particularly if you are learning as you go).
  10. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    One problem with prebuilt coops is that they never seem to be built with suitable ventilation, or designed to be easy to clean. I decided it was going to be much hard to retrofit a purchased coop to be the way I wanted it than to build one from scratch.

    I started building what is essentially a run: hardware cloth sides with polycarbonate panels for the roof. Take a look at my page for pictures and more description. Originally, I thought I would build a little closed in area within this run for winter housing, but decided instead to build another coop and run for the winter.

    I had no carpentry experience and won't use any power tools other than an electric drill/screwdriver. If I could build a coop, anyone can.

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