Today I have a guest post from my husband Wade. He is great at constructing and bringing to life ideas that I have. Since he was the builder of this project, I asked him to write about how he built this awesome and adorable chicken coop for me!
The initial planning phase of our chicken coop began with determining how many chickens we wanted. We thought 6-8 chickens would be a good number for starting out, and researched what size coop we would need to house and support them. It seemed we should plan for 3-4 square feet of chicken coop per chicken, so we needed approximately 18-32 square feet total.
We wanted an entirely contained coop. One that would consist of a house, for sleeping and laying eggs, as well as a run to allow them to be outside. We also wanted the entire set-up to be completely roofed. This was so the chickens could remain dry even if outside in inclement weather. After viewing many different commercially and hand-constructed chicken coop designs, we chose an approximate style and shape we both agreed on. The coop that I built was loosely designed and assembled based off a picture that Affordable Sheds & garden products had posted on Craigslist. I determined that building a coop and run 4ft x 8ft would give us the 32 square foot total that we needed.
Base and Frame
Since our chicken coop would be sitting on the ground, I needed to build a base of pressure-treated lumbar. This meant a trip to Lowes was necessary to purchase three 8 ft 4×4’s. I planned to use two for the longer sides of the base, and then cut the third one to make the shorter ends. I cut the two short end pieces to 41 inches in length. When inserted between the longer sides, my overall width was then 48 inches.
Before assembling these bottom pieces, I used my circular saw to cut small 45 degree angles on all four edges of the long pieces. I did the same thing on three sides of the shorter end pieces as well. This was to reduce the sharp corners, and allow the coop to slide more smoothly when moved from one site to another for fresh grazing.
To assemble the base, I used 3.5 inch deck screws that I had gotten at Lowes. (I later began using construction adhesive on all joints, in addition to the screws, to add more strength to the structure.) Attached to this, I made the side posts 6 feet in height. This was to allow us to stand upright in the outer run portion of our coop. I used 4×4’s for these outer posts as well. Since I wanted the house portion to be 48 inches wide x 42 inches long, I screwed two of these posts 42 inches from that end. For a symmetrical appearance, I also used 4×4’s to make the support beams at the top of the coop and run.
I need to insert here that we wanted to build our chicken coop in a budget-friendly manner. That’s part of the reason for a DIY project anyway, right? So in that spirit, I made several trips to a local wholesale business. They routinely get rid of shipping pallets, and I am able to procure these for free. After I brought these home, I dissembled them to use for parts of my coop construction. I also used my chainsaw and the homemade mill attachment, as I had in this project, to cut my own 4×4’s from pine logs on my property. I made these the same size as the 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 pressure-treated ones purchased at Lowes. They are what I used for all the side posts and top beams.
Constructing Coop House
Now I turned to contemplating the specifications of the coop’s house. I decided to build the house 24 inches above ground level. Later, I wished I had gone a little higher to accomodate a wheelbarrow better when cleaning out the floor shavings. But anyway, I marked the side posts at this height, and cut pieces to fit in between them. These were screwed and glued into place, while making sure they were flush with the outer edges of the posts. Floor joists were cut and inserted with 16 inch spacing. And I built and screwed into place a frame, for the portion that became the floor of our nesting boxes.
Next I cut a piece of 7/16 inch OSB plywood to cover the floor joists and the nest box section to create the flooring. I glued this and screwed it into place with 1.625 inch drywall screws. Once the flooring was finished, I began working on the walls. I knew that I wanted a fairly large door on the end of the coop’s house, so I framed in the sides to allow for a 28 inch wide by 47 1/2 inch tall door. This gives us access to the house. On the opposite side, I framed a 12 by 18 inch opening for the chickens’ door into the run.
For the chicken coop siding, I used T1-11 plywood siding. I had considered using my chainsaw mill to make board and batten siding, but that would have been more time-consuming. I used three pieces of the plywood to cover all the sides of the house. In addition, I built a door frame using the cut-out piece of plywood from the end, so that the grooves would match up once the door was in place. The door hinges and latches were purchased at Tractor Supply.
I installed guide rails around the small door leading into the run. Then I attached a small rope from the outside of the coop to a hole drilled thru the top of this door. I then ran the rope thru a lag eye ring at the top of the door and across the top of the run. With this rope, we can raise and lower the door as desired. We can keep the door open by looping the rope around a hook.
The nest boxes are a bump-out from the coop’s house. I built it 17 inches deep and 34.5 inches long. I then divided it into three nest boxes, each measuring 11 x 17 inches. These are currently blocked off from the chickens until they begin laying. We don’t want them to think this area is appropriate for anything other than egg-laying business. The nest boxes are easily acessible from outside the coop, by a hinged lid covering them. I added a circle lag eye and hook to keep it closed.
Above the nest boxes, I later cut an 18 x 24 inch window opening, and installed a small window we had purchased from Lowes. I also added two roosts inside the house, one on each side. These were cut from a 2×4 into 1.5 x 1.5 pieces. I rounded the edges to make a smooth surface for the chickens’ feet, and attached them about 16 inches above the floor.
Building the Run
For the outside run of the coop, I added two more upright studs between the edges of the house and the corner posts. This was to add more stability when we attached the outside wire mesh. I also needed to frame a third door. This one is a full-height door that we can walk into the run from the outside. It measures 24 inches by 68.75 inches, and allows us to enter without bumping our heads. I covered it with wire screen. Inside the run a small ramp was added, leading down from the house.
We enclosed the run with wire screen or hardware cloth that came from Lowes as well. The wire comes in rolls that are 30 inches wide by 10 feet long. The squares it is made up of are 1/2 inch by 1 inch. To make it all fit, we ran a piece length-wise around the bottom of the run that is under the house.
Then the other pieces we attached up-and-down the height of the main run. My wife helped me attach the wire with 3/4 inch staples, that we placed approximately every 4-6 inches. I cut the wire as necessary with either a side-cutting pliers or a metal cutting shears. In total, we used 4 rolls of this wire to enclose the run and the outer door.
The roofing system consists of 5 trusses I built from reclaimed pallet runners. This was a process of trial-and-error, since I wanted to re-create a roof design I had seen on another chicken coop. However, it didn’t quite turn out the same. The front portion of the roof was to be at a steeper pitch than the back portion to create an off-set design. But the peak ended up being higher; with a steeper pitch than I had envisioned.
But anyway, I made the front pieces of the trusses 37 inches long and the back pieces 50 inches. They had mitered cuts at the top and bottom ends. I also made the tops with a relief cut to allow each piece to overlap the other when I glued and screwed them. Small “birds mouths” were then cut where the trusses would sit on the top plate. I spaced the trusses every 2 feet, but made sure one truss was flush with each end of the coop. Three perlins were installed length-wise. I placed one flush with the trusses at the drip edge, the second about two feet up, and the third was set back from the peak approximately two inches. The set-back allowed the ridge cap to be screwed into place.
Since I liked the look of the shiny metal roof, I decided to use galvanized roofing metal that I bought at Home Depot. It was priced more cheaply there than at Lowes. I purchased five pieces that were about 24 inches wide by 8 feet long. I also bought one piece of ridge cap that was available in a 10 feet length. I cut the roof metal approximately 43 inches for the front portion, which left 53 inches for the back. It was fastened with 1.5 inch roofing screws with neoprene washers to seal the holes. I had to be careful to make sure I aligned the first piece properly, so that the rest of the roof pieces remained square with the structure. Finally, the ridge cap was screwed on last to complete the roof.
My wife stained the coop throughout this building process with Olympic deck stain in the color of Canyon Brown. Along the way, I have added trim pieces made from 3/4 x 3 inch pieces of pine that I cut with my chainsaw mill. The trim pieces were placed at the corners of the house, along the gable ends, around the door frame and door, and the window and nest boxes. I screwed them into place with 2 inch deck screws. Soffit boards were installed using 3/4 by 10 inch boards I milled myself, but the gable and soffit fascia pieces have yet to be installed. I will make these of 1 inch by 6 inch boards, and will cut small slits into the face for proper ventilation. We will cover the vents on the back side with leftover wire mesh to keep out unwanted critters.
In summary, our DIY chicken coop continues to be a work in progress. The trim has been painted with white primer, but still needs a finishing coat of white paint. We would also like to add another window for better ventilation. My latest additions have been DIY watering system built of PVC pipe, and a feeding system also made of PVC pipe. Over all we really like our little chicken coop, although we might go bigger and better if there’s a next time!