I acquired my first flock (four chickens) and a classic style 4’x6′ Amish built chicken coop that I bought off of Facebook Market Place in the spring of 2018. We ended up moving to a neighboring state and brought the coop and chickens with us to establish our first homestead, Humble Hills Homestead (formerly Humble Hills Farm). We have just over 4.6 acres. By that time I had added seven pullets. Soon one of the pullets decided to go broody and I let her hatch. And then I let her hatch again. And then I bought some hatchery chicks. After whacking my forehead on the rafters more than a few times, battling carpenter bees, and not one but three black bear attacks, the little Amish coop is left in shambles, and the birds are sorely over crowded. Along with several other reasons, the time had come to start our very first coop build. We had very little building experience except for work done on and around the house. The coop was our biggest project.
Here was the first coop:
Here is the outside of the new coop for a teaser:
Goals for the Coop:
We started the build sometime in September 2020. In a nutshell, I wanted a coop so versatile I’ll not have to build a new one for as long as I live unless a disaster occurs, or I’d like to get more serious about breeding. The entire foot print takes up 400 sq feet. The building for the coop itself is elevated roughly 2′ to provide run space and is 10’x20′ and the additional run space (not including under the coop) is also 10’x20′. As of the time of this writing, the posts have been dug and concreted in, but the roof and run have not been completed. Coop and run will be/are covered with a metal roof. Run will be wrapped with 1″x1″ 16 gauge hot dip galvanized steel fencing from CritterFence.
General floor plan:
While the run may not be finished, the chicken coop is now complete, with the exception to adding work benches to the storage area.
Before I share progression photos though, I have to pause for a moment to talk about my partner. He didn’t want chickens. He didn’t want to farm. He isn’t a gardener. What he loves is dirt bikes and motorcycles, and he’s even won a national championship for racing dirt bikes. Apparently he loves me too, though. He’s never hesitated to support my wants and dreams at any moment. I came home from work one day to find him building a raised garden bed for my first ever garden as a complete surprise, and he’s supported every wild idea since. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.
Now on to the photos. My partner dug all of the holes, and put in all of the posts and floor joists by himself. The sad reality is his job is substantially more flexible than mine, and he is much stronger, taller, and more experienced. Much of the work falls on him.
Framing was actually a unique opportunity for me. Not only was I home and able to help, but I actually was hands on with framing from start to finish, and did most of this with my partner’s dad while his mom hung out and enjoyed the chickens.
Because we started this in the middle of the pandemic, it is quite unfortunate that we had to overpay for our lumber. In general prices were up, but we also had to buy more expensive and higher quality materials than we would have preferred because they were out of stock with so many items. The walls are 3/4″ plywood made for flooring. We also had no choice but to purchase plywood that had tongue and groove. Advice on tongue and grooved plywood: Just don’t. It is the worst and throws all of your measurements out of whack. It was so awful we cut the tongue and grooves off in some instances. For all of the lumber, wall paneling, windows, linoleum, and insulation we spent about $3,800. Honestly the full cost is probably closer to $5000 when factoring in fencing, roofing, siding and some electric components.
We had bought roofing for our garage and, um, borrowed some for the chicken coop.
The facia on the coop is from some rough cut local lumber we bought for only a small cost. We’ve used this lumber on and off for smaller projects within the coop, but no major structural components were used with it. The building was wrapped until we could figure out what we wanted to do with siding. We ended up finding 500 sheets of reclaimed tin for $400 that was enough to put siding on a large garage and on the chicken coop with a few pieces left over. All but one of the windows were bought brand-new. I’ve used reclaimed windows for my greenhouse, but the reality is the quality of them is always very poor. I only wanted to do this project once! The door was brand-new and pre-framed from the Restore, and only cost $20. Sweet!
While we kept the rafters open, we bought two strips of soffit and split them in half to cover the exterior rafters, rather than use hardware cloth. They were just screwed into place. If worse comes to worst, this could be exchanged for hardware cloth, but I don’t have any moisture issues in my current coop, and it is severely under ventilated. This was one area where I had to let go of how I wanted it done. I did want hardware cloth, but I wasn’t the one that installed this, so I forfeited my opinion here.
I was on the rocks about spending a couple hundred on insulation boards, but I did it anyways. The sheet on the ceiling my partner tacked up there to get it out of the way, but it’s been moved. There is a 1/4″ foamboard insulation barrier under the metal roof however. I am happy I insulated because there is a noticeable reduction in the draftiness. Probably because of the difficulties we had with the tongue and groove plywood, we couldn’t get seals as tight as we wanted between each sheet of plywood. This picked up the slack. For all of that work though, the floor isn’t insulated at all! I figured the bedding will help though.
Because of the insulation, we also bought wall paneling to cover the insulation. Unfortunately it did get wet so it bled in some places (the weird brown spots). It bothers me a little because I am a perfectionist, but the paneling was definitely not perfect. We covered the floor with linoleum to protect the plywood. The linoleum was an unfortunate hefty cost, at about $200. It was the cheapest available, but at least it has a beautiful pattern! I imagine this might need covered or replaced some day.
Here was my little side project: we need to trim out the windows in our bathroom as well as add base boards and crown molding. I learned how to utilize the table saw more effectively and to cut 45* angles. I used the chicken coop as an excuse for learning a new skill. I can claim 100% of the work for the window trim and baseboards.
They aren’t perfect, but I can’t help but to be proud of myself anyways.
From this view, I am standing in what is designated as the storage area. At the time of writing, the coop is finished, but installation of a work bench and storage area has not been completed. You can see from where I am standing the main coop to the left, and the brooder coop to the right. There is a little “pop door” to open the area up for the chickens when brooding area is in use.
Wide angle lens view of the coop. The main coop is finished and ready for my girls (and guys)!
Poop boards were made with molded aluminum and are now lined with dried coffee grounds (not pictured). Roosts were trees from the backyard. Not sure how the girls feel about them just yet. Their old roosts were 2x4s with the skinny side up, and wrapped with pool noodles.
Nest boxes! I am trying out fake grass squares. The girls have been moved in for two days at the time of writing, and thus far had no laid an egg in the “correct” nest boxes, but they have laid under the boxes, and in the nest boxes of the brooder coop. We may need to reassess this setup. Unfortunately.
View standing outside of the main coop.
Brooder coop. At the time of writing, exterior pop was still not installed. We’ve gotten about 8″ of snow so wood working has come to a screeching halt.
My partner whipped up these octagon holders for the food and water. They look cool and are working very well.
The flock is checking things out!
My friendly little Maddy girl seems to like her new space!
I hope you all liked the Cluck Mansion story! Of course the coop is not 100% finished. We still need to add on the covered run, and I will be sure to provide updates when the time comes.