Thinking of building an easy/ simple type coop - please help me


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jul 16, 2011
I am thinking of building a coop to house about 4-5 hens What size would I need the internal space to be? Would anyone be able to do me a massive favour and give me some plans of their own coop or instructions about how to go about building one. I haven't that much experience in wood work but given the right help and guidance I think I could do an OK job :) What would be an average budget needed to build the coop at a reasonable quality? What all materials would it need? How long should it take - a weekend? I really would appreciate anyone's advice or guidance on this project and I will keep you all update on its progress. thanks very much Claire
Have you checked out our coop tab at the top? Probably the small coops would be more suitable, if you're really sure you won't want more. Size depends some on your climate, whether you get snow or are in a very hot area, and in a small coop, whether food and water or even nests will be in there. A general rule of thumb here is 4 sq ft per large bird; you may be able to get away with 2 or 3. You can build a coop for almost nothing if you scrounge things like pallets or leftover building materials, or you can spend a good deal more. A predator proof run may cost as much as the coop, or more. Lots of factors.

Coop building is, I think, a great place to start for an inexperienced builder. Using screws instead of nails lets you fix mistakes and change your mind; a powered screwdriver is not a big expense.
Some good comments from Flockwatcher. There are so many different types and styles, it is hard to give specific advice, so I'll try to be general.

Chickens do not care how cute it is. They really don't. Depending on where you live and community requirements, you may have some restrictions about that, but the chickens really don't care.

What you need a coop to do is to provide protection from predators and protection from wind blowing directly on them, especially when they roost. It does need to stay dry, so cover it and put it where rainwater does not run into it. You need to be able to reach every part inside. You might need to clean it, reach an egg that is where it should not be, or reach a chicken that does not want to be caught. Whether you build a walk-in coop or one of those elevated things, access is important.

Inside you need a roost and probably two best boxes for your number of hens. You can put a feeder and waterer in there. That is it for what you need.

How much space you need is real hard to nail down. A lot of that depends on how you manage them and your climate. Each of us have different management techniques and different conditions. A rule of thumb often used on this forum is 4 square feet per chicken in the coop along with 10 square feet per chicken in the run. There are conditions and management techniques where you can get by with less, but those space requirements are reasonably safe for you to shoot for. I find that if I provide more than the minimum space, I have to work less.

I'll mention that if you are building, most construction material comes in 4' and 8' dimensions. If you build your coop based in those dimensions, you will have less material waste and less cutting. For example, you could probably build a 4' x 8' coop for about the same cost with less cutting that a 3-1/2' x 7' coop.

If you don't want to build it yourself, maybve you could find a shed on Craigslist and get someone to deliver it to you. Or get a friend with a truck or trailer to pick it up. They are more expensive, but you can get one of those sheds from Home Depot or Lowe's. At one time, I had my 10 and 12 year old sons at the time put together one of those kits for me. That was a 8' x 10' building tall enough for me to stand up in. They read the instructions and did the work. If they can do it, so can you. It does take some tools but at least everything is precut.

Have you got a bunch of friends, especially young adult friends? Get one of those kits and throw a party. Buy a case of beer and tell them they can have it after the building is up.

You can visit your local library and look for books on shed construction. A good one will give you step by step instructions. Or you can buy one of those books at Lowe's or Home Depot.

I'm fully confident you can get it done. Your biggest problem will probably be deciding which way to go about it.
Looks like you and I are in the same boat; best advice I've come to realize is that it is true that "the chickens don't care".

Only other advice I would add to what has already been given is to not buy your chicks/birds before building the coop; and, everyone has the feeling afterwards that they should have built it bigger so don't design too small.
Size-wise, think 4ft.x 4ft. for four birds, and it would work fine for 5-6 birds if you live in a year-round mild area. That's a good size for not wasting materials too, since most lumber comes in 8 ft. sections (or 4x8 sheet if plywood). Probably the simplest way to think of building if you're not blessed in the carpentry department is to picture a 4x4 doghouse, except with an access door (for cleaning/accessing) added to the back or side.
I agree that the coop pages (focus on small coop section) is the best resource for you. Most give basic steps on how they constructed them. I'm including the link to my small coop. Look at the first two pictures. Really all you would actually NEED are the four frames (I have several studs because I was insulating) that you could join together to make a framed "box." Then plywood over that with doors/windows cut out of the plywood (but don't forget a people access door). Hope that helps a little - there are tons of simple designs out there...
Find a coop that you like here on BYC make sure you pick out one with good "as they were building " pictures. Print the pictures out and take them to Lowe's with you I am sure they will help you figure out what you need. Then follow the building plan. Is your land relatively flat? If your land is flat it would be alot easier. My land is rather hilly so I am going to have build my coop on "stilts" (4x4 posts in the ground to create a level foundation") . Chickens don't require a perfect coop. They won't know if it is built to perfection or not. RidgeRunner has good advice. I agree with the 4x8 construction, if you have extra room you could always close off a part of it to keep your feed , shovels, bedding etc. Just make sure it is predator proof and doesnt fall in you will be fine. Oh yeah make sure have ventalation.
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Wish I could help you but I've to do anything simple!
Check out the coop designs and pick out the features from each one that you like best. There are so many possibilities. Climate, finances, topography, etc. all affect the design of your coop.
I built my coop as a 12'x20' building... I made it a dual purpose one. The "left" side (14'x12') has an 8' sliding barn door and I'm currently using it to store all of my gardening stuff as well as lawnmowers and chicken supplies... whatever kind of stuff my wife is yelling at me about to clean up. it also houses my 4'x4' brooder in the back corner with a 'screened' entrance into the big-boy coop (screened meaning that little babies can get in/out, but big chickens can't.. can't easily, anyway... no idea how my hens kept getting in.) Then on the right side is the coop (6'x12') is the big boy coop. 4 terribly placed/designed nest boxes, a roost that only the 'loner' hen uses, and a steel container for the feed... as well as the big-boy door, and a screened 'baby' door for the 8'x8' kiddie run. My big boy run is only 10'x10', a repurposed dog kennel that I got at an auction for a STEAL ($20 with a super nice house to boot!) that I hope to make MUCH bigger this year... I kinda blew my budget out of the water on the coop. My financial Advisor (wife...) made it ubandtly clear that the $1000++ I spent on the coop could have bought a "butt-load" of eggs... Adding that I planned to butcher chickens just made things worse. I strongly advise against trying to reason with the keeper of the checkbook, if it isn't you.

I tried to make it as simple as possible as I am (thankfully) not a carpenter, although I have gotten MUCH better in the last year because of my chicken ownership. I made the tall side 10.5' and the short side 8' and just connected the two so it's just a crappy slant roof. (I cheated... rather than measuring/figuring what angles to cut on the vertical boards on the side, I just held them up straight, drew the angle that the top board made, and cut with a... chainsaw. Yeah, that's how I roll) I would say if you plan on using metal siding (like me)... make sure your sides are in 3' increments... cutting 10.5' of metal is super, super, SUPER lame (unless you break down and get a $10 nibler from Harbor Freight <-- strongly reccomend) We made the inside wall semi-movable (basically it can be moved, but will deffinitely be a PITA) so if we felt like they were crowded, or we wanted more, we could just slide it over another 2' and we'd be golden. We'll be running water/electric out to it this spring sometime, and I think that the storage area will eventually house a processing center (plucker, boiler, chiller, stainless tables, etc) and my incubation equipment (will need to be insulated, I know).

What would I change if I could do it all over again?

Make it bigger. It would have cost next to nothing to make it another 8' longer... So price it the size you want, then bump it up a notch and see if you can still swing it... you can ALWAYS use the space for something else.

If you'd like, I can get pics and send them to you. It's kind of a mess ATM (50 degree mid-january temps tuesday, to -2 windchills today... I don't even care that I left everything a mess. lol) but you could learn from my mistakes.

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