DIY Chicken Coop

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DIY Chicken Coop

Even though a bookcase is the biggest project I've ever done,
I decided to attempt my own DIY Chicken Coop
using (mostly) scrap materials and a ton of
creative engineering. Here's how I did it...

It all started with the idea that I could build my own diy chicken coop ...I mean, how hard could it be? A few screws, some wood, add a door ...presto! A chicken coop would appear. (I think secretly, I was trying to fulfill a childhood dream of building my own tree fort!)

My first idea was to find a play structure that would serve as a foundation of sorts and that I could build on from there. My goal was to build a chicken coop with as many free, recycled and/or reused products as possible. And, to keep the costs down, however I could.

I found this two story play structure on Craigslist. (And extra bonus was that I re-sold the slide on Craigslist for extra coop money.) I brought the play structure home in pieces and lined them up along the back fence.

lay structure

play structure parts

I (mistakenly) thought that it would be wiser to put the shingles on the roof while it was still on the ground. It was easier, to be sure, but it added a WHOLE lot of weight to the roof, making it hard to put up on top of the structure later.

adding shingles roof

Next, I sawed off the long 4x4's to make the 2 story play structure a 1 story diy chicken coop on stilts. (I decided part of the chicken run could be underneath the chicken coop.) And assembled the base framework to work from.

holding the wall up putting it back together

Once I realized that this diy chicken coop project was going to take longer than a weekend, I decided it would be best to have two phases for the coop building. I would put a temporary wall on the back wall and take it down when I completed the 2nd phase of the project.

(This actually kicked in panic mode. I had 10 chicks in the garage growing at break-neck speed. They needed a home faster than I could build the, plan B: Coop in Phases! This diy chicken coop building project was turning out to be a lot more than I bargained for!)One wall up


A house in the neighborhood was gutted and we got permission to drag home their scrap wood. This wall, the first I built, was made entirely out of that wood. I left a hole for the nest box (so we could reach in from the outside to collect eggs).

On second wall on the opposite side from wall one, I decided to install a window. This window was an old scrap I had in the garage that I'd been saving for an art project. I'd originally picked it up for $2 at a re-use store.

From there, I built a nesting box out of parts of cupboards from the same gutted house, as well as other scraps I found laying around.

After I got all the walls done, someone asked me if I'd put insulation in my coop...hmmm...I hadn't thought of I went out and bought a sheet of insulation (for about $15). It insulated 3 of the 4 walls (but remember, the 4th wall is only it was a perfect fix.) I then found scraps and put in an inner wall so the chickens wouldn't peck at the insulation.

Then the nest box was installed. You can see through it to the outside at this point, but later there will be a door on hinges (a cupboard door from the now famous gutted house!)

Here's a look at the third wall, which is the front of the coop, along with a door.

nest boxes front door

And with the help of a couple of strong guys, the roof was added. (Now, keep in mind, we're now WEEKS into the process and my chickens are growing bigger by the day...the pressure is on!)

I enlisted cheerful helpers to paint the inside of the coop (floors, walls, nesting box) bright yellow. Since we live in the Pacific NW where it rains a lot, we thought yellow would make the chickens happy in the winter (but really, it happened to be some leftover paint I found in the garage...but don't tell them that!)

Here the egg door is installed, as well as the platform for phase TWO of the coop. Eventually, this back wall will come down and the coop will double in size. (Hopefully before my chickens start laying eggs!)

I made the small double door out of recycled shutters I sawed in half (left). And enclosed the underside of the coop with hardwire cloth. This way, the chickens can get some 'outdoor' space before the extended chicken run is completed.

wired in run egg door

This picture below (right) shows the side view of the underneath chicken run. You can also see the little ladder I made for them to get from the coop to the chicken run underneath. (If you look close, you can see the completed nest box through the window.)

I brought Frieda out to inspect the coop (left) before the chicks moved in. I think she likes the color (and, of course, the picture window).

Frieda likes the color run and window

A glimpse through the picture window before the chicks move in (left) clean and can see a roost on the left side. It's made out of some bin holders. There's another on the right wall that's a CD rack converted to roost (which is their favorite).

The girls finally move in (right)...they don't know what to think with all this space ...they're coming from an appliance box in the garage...

through the coop window chicks move in

Next comes the paint, shutters and window box (left). The shutters are actually the top half of the shutters I used for the little doors into the chicken run (see earlier picture).

And phase one of the extended chicken run (right) in progress. The doors at the end are made out of yet more shutters from the neighbor's gutted house.

shutters chicken run

Eventually there will be a corrugated roof on top of the run, but for temporary purposes, a tarp is nailed down. The doors, made from recycled shutters, is the human entrance to the run (left).

Now that the chickens are moved out, construction for Phase Two holes are being cut into the floor. They will be covered with chicken wire and be under the roost. This way, themajority of chicken poop will fall out on the ground below (outside the coop) for easy removal (right).

run cutting holes

The main roost in the 2nd half of the coop is made from the ladder that came with the play structure (left). Nest box and roost, minus a Phase Two (right).

ladder roost 2nd nest boxes

And, finally, I opened up the coop--removed the temporary wall and doubled the size ....below are a few different angles of the 'new, improved' inside of the coop.

inside coop inside coop

The only problem is that my chickens don't like the new, improved, spacious coop...and they don't want to hang out on the new roost. Here they are all squished together on one of the old roosts I left inside....oh brother! So much for appreciation!
unhappy chickens

I designed and painted a sign for the coop and added it below. You can also see the kids feather collection lining the wall (left)...why? I don't know! But they love tacking them up there, all in a row...

new sign new sign close up

Here I've added the 2nd half of the chicken run--making it more twice as large as before (the original chicken run stopped at the white shutter door--the whole section on the left side is new). At this point, the 2nd half only has a couple support beams and chicken wire over the top, covered by heavy thick plastic--as we're moving into the fall and the non-ending winter rain.

chicken run

I have read stories of people building chicken coops in a day or two. My story isn't so grand. It pretty much took me from April through October to build this. Of course it didn't help that I don't know WHAT I'm doing. Nor did I have chicken coop plans (which I'd highly suggest). Also, I used as much recycled materials as possible, so I pieced it together in kind of odd ways....

It is completely functional and serves well for a home for the girls. However, if I ever move from here, I want to move to a place that ALREADY HAS A COOP in place!

Now, on to a simple lean-to shed for the chicken food to live in this winter....the base is made from a free bee palette a business was giving away. Since it was extra large, it seemed perfect for a floor. I filled in the slats with wood scraps of wood and began the framework, walls and ceiling ...unfortunately, it isn't done yet (still has a wall to go) so I don't have a completed's done far enough, however, to accomplish what I wanted it for--a place close to the chicken coop to store the feed and keep it dry.

shed base shed frame

Just a couple months after the coop was completed and it's ready to be decked out for the holidays...(and yes, now that the coop building is behind me and the chickens are warm, happy and dry, I'm happy I did it...but still not sure I'd want to do it again!)

Winter Coop

Learning from my diy Chicken Coop Experience:

1. BEFORE YOU EVEN GO LOOK AT CHICKS, BUILT A COOP! Yes, this WAS my advice, but I still neglected to take it.

2. Any DIY Chicken Coop project will most likely take a lot more time than you anticipate. Plan accordingly.

3. An actual DRAWN OUT plan would be a very good place to start

4. If you don't know what you're doing (like me), see if you can talk a more knowledgeable friend into helping you with some advice and planning. A couple hours of help could save you tons of hours of struggling on your own.

5. No matter how 'cool' it might be to recycle something (ie a ladder into a roost), if you know (for example) that chickens prefer round poles to rectangular wood, DON'T DO IT!

6. Chickens are creatures of habit. Even after a year, they still hate the 2nd half of the coop ..which, by the way, seems perfectly fine to ME. It would have saved me a lot of frustration to BUILD THE COOP BEFORE I bought chicks! But since that wasn't the case, I can always hope future generations of chickens will warm up to that 2nd addition.

7. Even using as many recycled and re purposed supplies as possible, a coop is still going to cost you more than you think. Plan accordingly.

8. The paint store's mis-mixed paints are a great place to go for coop paint! I even ended up with the exact color I was after, for almost nothing.

Want to learn more about building a coop?

Figure out how much space you'll need for your chickens.

Do you have any coop stories or photos you'd like to share?
We'd love to see them and hear all about it!


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