September 1, 2012

Planning And Building The Chicken Coop

The Coop

In the beginning……….As we started planning the chicken coop I had no idea what I was building in regards to size and functional requirements for chickens. So we looked on line at images, plans and other blogs to get an idea what was needed for your average chicken. A lot of folks have been down this path and we are fortunate that they shared this information. Simply go to YOUTUBE and there is a wealth of information on chicken coops. I hope sharing our adventure of what we did will help someone else.

We decided on a basic chicken coop and run configuration approximately 6’ x 10’. The chicken coop is the raised shelter where the chicks sleep at night. The run is the closed protected playground, like a screened in porch for chickens. The actual chicken coop is 32” wide and 72” deep.  I roughed it out in Illustrator to get an idea of scale.

For the foundation it appeared that 8” by 16” concrete blocks were the most popular material to use. I roughed in the location in our backyard and let Teddy pretend he was a chicken to see if it was big enough. 

Some folks put two levels of blocks around the perimeter however we chose only one level. Besides saving money we were located on pretty firm ground. Starting at one corner we dug down past the grass level then used sand to level out the blocks. Basically we checked the blocks by a straight edge, square and a level as we laid down each block.  Being square and level is important in this case.

After the foundation was in place we were not sure of the scale of the structure by simply looking at the screen. So we nailed together 2 x 4’s to get an idea how tall we should go.  The roof was at a approximately 20 degree angle facing south. 

After confirming the profile I decided to build flat frames out of 2 x 4’s. These were the basic ribs of the structure. These defined the roof line and the chicken coop floor height and one run end. Two frames for the run did not have the lower cross frame, however I nailed a temporary board in place until they were in positioned. There were five frames in total.

I used lap-joints which help to make a strong frame. So if you have carpenter skills, you will have your favorite way to make these whether by hand tools or power tools. And remember to always think safety when using tools…

Since these five frames are the core of the structure, I coated the ends with water sealer and cover the bottom with flashing. They will sit directly on to the concrete blocks so I wanted a little extra protection. I might note that the frames were also pressure treated lumber. However, we did use about 40% reclaimed wood I had from various sources in the total structure. So what is reclaimed wood? I hate to throw out any wood from old structures that have been torn down.  Taking time and pulling out nails or hardware, a lot of old lumber is just as good as new.

We framed up both ends first then connected the two with the fifth frame in the middle. They were spaced 32”, 24”, 32”, 24” on center. The 32 “ sections were the width of the coop and the doorway for the run. The floor frame of the coop was 24” of the bottom and the framing continued across the run. The rafters were slightly under 96” in order to allow 8 foot corrugated metal roofing.

After we got the main frame up, I made up the design as I went. I equally spaced out the uprights at the end of the run and nailed into place. I continued the rafters across the top at the same spacing. I used 1 x 6 decking boards for the baseboards.

Next, I framed out the floor of the nesting box from the side of the chicken coop framed floor. Furniture clamps really come in handy when you are trying to hold something in place.

  When looking at chicken coop designs on line, most of them where just sitting on blocks with no anchor to the ground. In Memphis we get a lot of freaky storms with wind so I had the fear of the whole structure blowing over. So I dropped two, 4 x 4’s three feet into the ground on each end. I bolted them to the structure and mixed concrete and filled the hole. May not be needed but I sleep better knowing there in an anchor.

At this point we went ahead and stained the structure. Besides looking good, it gave the new and used wood a common look.

The corrugated metal roof was added. This was somewhat exciting because it was taking on the shape of the complete structure. The floor of the chicken coop came from the shelving I reclaimed out of an old butler pantry we tore out.  

Everything I read was to allow a 12’ cube space for the nesting boxes, I guess most chickens are 12 x 12 x 12. We built space for three. At this stage of construction, I was truly designing as I went. I started framing in the coop. Looking at the pictures now I think the nesting box frame was a little over built but it worked. I placed up right frames for the coop chicken door to the run using the 12” square rule.
Planning the next step is important. I started to put the siding on then realized that that the outside, siding needs to over lap the hardware cloth. So I went ahead and attached half inch square hardware cloth around the lower section of the structure. I used Romex wiring staples. You simply drive them in with a hammer. In the lower sections where it was hard to reach (mainly under the coop) I used small screws and washers.

I used fence boards as my siding. Note to use a level to keep them vertical as you go. 

To make a cleaner look, I added a bevel on the sides with my homemade router table 

I constructed the door frames for the chicken coop and the chicken run out of 2 x 4’s using lapped joints for strengths. Remember to use that square….

Again I covered the frame with fence boards and used a glass door from our butler’s pantry for the window in the chicken coop door.

The chicken run door was covered with the hardware cloth. Note the hinges.  

I had a box of old hinges from my Dad’s shop, I cleaned the rust off, primed them and painted them black and they were good as new. I had to go buy one extra hinge for the coop door and my old hinges were more heavy duty than the new.

Inside the chicken coop I first installed the sliding run door. I made a door out of ¼”masonite, rounded the corner to prevent it from catching and added a 1 x 2 at the top with a screw eye. I made the track with a ¾” dado cut. Attached to the screw eye is a small rope that goes to another screw eye at the top then goes through the rafter to the outside. The end of the rope has a carabiner attached that hooks to another screw eye when the door is in the open position. For the chicken nesting boxes, I used 1 x 2’s with a 1” space and which create slots for panels to separated the nesting area. For easy cleaning we applied some medium priced 12 x 12 self-adhesive linoleum tiles floorboards. 

I made the top of the chicken nesting box out of a reused piece of ¾” plywood and hinged to to the coop. I cut a piece of metal corrugated roof and attached to the plywood. To hold open, I attached a small rope to hook to a screw eye on the rafter above.  

For the ramp from the chicken coop to the run I used a 1 x 12 that came from some old shelving. I attached 1 x 2’s for the ramp steps. I made the ramp removable for cleaning. I have a U-bracket on the chicken coop entrance and two L-brackets on the end of the ramp that simply hook on.

The first night in the chicken coop for the girls, I ran out of time making the perches. So I used an old ladder for them to roost on. I added perches later. This worked out well, the only problem was that all 6 girls wanted to be on the top step.

For the perches I ripped some 2 x 4 to 1½” wide and beveled the edges. On each end I notched out a board and nailed onto the wall to slide the perch into. They were a little loose in the notch and they wobbled when the chicks were on them. So I cut our a few wooded wedges to tap into the joint to make them stable. I have three perches in the coop. Again, they all want to be on one so, they seem to push one or two to the alternate perches after they settle in.

I can’t say it is completely finished but…… here we are to date. We still need to plan for winter, like heat and lights plus all the other stuff we didn’t think about.

It’s time for a break to just sit back and watch the chicks….



  1. If this is your situation, then you should learn how to build a chicken coop yourself. Don't worry, with the right tools and a positive attitude, you can do this!

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  2. I soooo want that coop! Beautiful and I love the blue window frame.

  3. Thanks for this! I've never built anything, but I'm going for it and will attempt to build a coop - smaller than this, but similar in design. I especially like your note about sealing and capping the bottom pieces. I will attempt to do the same.

  4. Love the coop! Good detailed instructions. I am looking forward to building this for our small flock.

  5. I found out the thing with building a coop is you are always modifying and redesigning your coop as you go along. I thought I was done and now I'm adding inside storage shelves for hay, feed, and tools. Just remember that a coop is a lot of work before and after your done, so plan ahead and add details that will make maintaining it a lot easier.

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  8. Im looking forward to starting the Chicken Journey.... and this article helped quite a bit. Good insight.

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