Transitioning from roofed to roofless run

Grumpy Gus

In the Brooder
Jun 14, 2020
Getting back to the "screening his view" idea, will "Common Privet" grow were you live?
Privet hedges are common, hardy (darned near bullet-proof) and are EVERGREEN. Considered an invasive species in some areas, they grow very rapidly, they can get pretty tall (enough to block that 2nd story 'Peeping Tom's view', and they are attractive.
Frequently found at landscape garden centers, rarely at HD or Lowes, used for privacy hedges in US, commonly used for hedgerow fencing on European farms.


Aug 2, 2019
I asked about a partial roof, at least along the edges beyond the setback requirement for roofs, and he said that technically I could do it, but again, because the neighbor is complaining and raising such a stink, he has to say no. The situation got really ugly - the guy hired a lawyer and is looking for loopholes in town laws, trying to find a way to get rid of my chickens. It's pretty ridiculous. So the building commissioner is asking for no overhead coverings at all so that the neighbor has nothing to use against me. But I was thinking an umbrella or two underneath will be safe. Especially because said neighbor has a patio umbrella himself, closer to the property line than mine will be.
What is your zoning? It seems to me if your in a city that allows chickens, your neighbor can go suck pond water, as they're forcing you to be neglectful of their safety- and out of neighbor's yard.
That said, my first thought was an extended awning over the pop door.


Aug 2, 2019
HI, I dealt with a neighbor issue not unlike yours. Township, HOA, city ordinances...and court. If you'd like some advice from someone who won and actually got paid out after for all the hassle, here you go:
1. know your laws. All of them. Even the tiny ones. There's always a loophole for you. If it's not on the books, it cannot be enforced.
2. (And for some people, this is fighting dirty, but do what you must) Get your birds certified as ESA's...Emotional Support Animals. Look here:
3. Have your doctor confirm that you or someone in your home needs them for peace of mind and well-being of mental health. (Not a lie.)
But that way if it goes sour fast, the city cannot touch one can. Legally you and they are protected.

Because what happened after the neighbor realized we'd complied with everything and our out-buildings were within code is that he then attempted to have the chickens taken from the property under the nuisance ordinance.
With them protected, HUD advocated for us and we won...and they're never allowed to bother us about our hens ever again.

Regarding the structure: Your neighbor should know that if you take the roof off and cover it with wire, it'll allow rodents in and around the property. (Truth. Sadly.)
Having a roof on there is MUCH preferable to having rats pass in and out all night long...and go over to his house as well, but hey. People as asshats, so if you have to remove the roof:

Lay down the wire and make it SMALL. I'm telling ya...stuff gets in. Norwegian rats can compact themselves very tight and they have a litter every 10-16 days.
Put clear plastic roofing material UNDER that to keep the coop dry. No dry coop and you risk disease and all kind of issues.
Over all of THAT, put a heavy duty tarp to block the sun and snow. If they hated the roof, they're gonna crap over a tarp, but this is their call.

Then if you have to get creative with something that isn't reliable in wind or snow, sure. Do the umbrella thing. But I'd layer up the wire and clear plastic roofing, personally. Keeping them safe and dry is the most important thing.

Always be very, very nice and professional to everyone you're dealing with. You know who told me OUR loophole? The city code enforcer.
Make sure you keep your coop super clean and smelling good, too. Don't give anyone any reason to complain.

And lastly, hope your neighbor moves or dies.
People who take out their own problems, hurts, and anger on others and innocent animals need to be removed from this world to make it a happier place. Ideally. Won't happen, but hey.

Don't forget to breathe. "This, too, will pass." Eventually, it'll end. I promise. Just know that you're in a bit of a hot war right now and you'll have to fight it.
At some point, the city is going to get very tired of this and stop entertaining the complaints, as it's a waste of their time and resources. Make sure they're on your side.
This is a savy solution, really. If you use a clear tarp under the wire it won't be easily visible mb dbl up underneath rather than on top? The only other idea wld be move your set up to the otherside away from the neighbor or even other side of house.


Jun 22, 2020
New York
Sorry I didn't read through the whole thread, so maybe this was already addressed. Doesn't the coop have a roof too? could you just.... extend you coop?

oooh and what if you moved the roof to be UNDER the rafters on separate supports. maybe break it up a little so it's like little shelter areas insider the run. I know I'm late to this conversation, just wanted to brainstorm!


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Apr 10, 2016
This is a ridiculous situation. Whatever your neighbor has against your chicken setup, taking off the roof and replacing it with wire, umbrellas, and plastic isn’t going to fix it. Is your chicken setup obnoxious in any way (odor, flies, crowing rooster, loose chickens getting in their yard)? If so, fix that. Where do your other neighbors stand on this situation?

The written codes have to specifically say what is allowed and what isn’t. Your neighbor has not got the right to dictate, using the city staff, what you do on your property, or what the definition of a building is.

I would not take the roof off. Let your neighbor sue. Call their bluff. Let the court decide if it’s a building or not. Make the city clarify the codes. Get in touch with your representatives: city council, county commissioners, state reps.

I detest these complaint-driven enforcement policies. You could not come up with a more effective way to set neighbors against each other.


In the Brooder
Sep 13, 2018
I have built many aviaries/runs in sticky zoning situations. The wire "roof" is an excellent idea, as it will keep out most predators, and allow autumn leaves and snow to fall through without bringing down the wire. During extreme snow, you will still have to go out and knock the snow through so it doesn't build up and become heavy. A plastic rake with the tines covered by a strip of duct tape is a good tool that is lightweight and won't keep catching on the wire.
I would avoid "aviary netting" such as top-rite because raccoons and squirrels will chew straight through it. And it will not take any snow load at all. To save expense, I have used a 2' wide row of 2"x2" welded wire mesh at the top edge of the fence because the connection to the top of the fence must be secure and tidy. I infill the center with 2" chickenwire, it's much cheaper and easier to work with if it turns out your area isn't as precisely square as you thought. If you have large spans, string some trucker's rope across to create support "beams" so the chickenwire doesn't sag. If the spans are very long, you may have to support the ropes with occasional, strategic posts, poles or even bamboo poles. Your umbrella idea should work well, seasonally. A picnic table in the run can give them a place to get out of the sun/rain, too. As for screening, hedges take a long time to fully grow into a viable screen but are worth the wait. Meanwhile, get some cheap exterior siding to screen the run until the hedge grows in. My 40'x50' aviary/run is going on 20 years with this kind of roof. It is right on the property lines on 2 sides, and the neighbors barely know it is there.
[edit/addition] Hedges are slow, but vines are the thugs of the plant world. Maybe a couple strategically planted grape vines, outside the run, would grow up and over, effectively screening the run from his view above. You might even put up a pretty little arbor on that side to support them.
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Aug 21, 2015
Ok first off, peace with neighbors is a biggie. Things can escalate into uncomfortable situations. It's always better to work with them than to fight them.

How many chickens do you have? Locking them at night should be enough to prevent predators and the wire will keep hawks or eagles from getting them. Mine have no cover over a large chicken yard. I'm way out in the country and one has never been taken from the pen by hawks or eagles. I have had birds taken by an eagle which were free ranging over the farm.

What about putting a fast growing tree/shrub near the pen for shade and cover? Privet is fast growing and can get to be 30 feet tall. One of my friends lined the back of his yard/fence with it to stop his nosy neighbor from complaining about his chickens.

What is your neighbor's objection to the chickens? Do they draw flies? Smell bad? Make noise? Have you asked him? Since a lawyer is now involved there appears to have been a long term disagreement.

What kind of fence do you have between your properties that he can see what's in your yard? Would a stretch of privacy fence help block the view? Good fences make good neighbors.

I don't know the players, but the path to successful negotiations involves understanding what the actual problem is from both sides and trying to solve it with a win-win solution.

My chickens are in the rain and have no cover over their run of any kind. They can go into their house or get under the house as my shed was built on legs and made to be portable if need be. My area is semi tropical not super cold. If a roof is a must have for the run, maybe a lower roof that can't be seen on the other side? Like a small open front dog house type.

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