Chicken Coop Building by non-handy people – Part one

My Husband, Kevin, and I are not naturally handy people. I have picked up some handiness over the years and so has hubby. Just owning a little farm requires one to learn some tricks of the trade because something is always broken on a farm and it is expensive to get everything fixed by a pro.  I like to jump in and learn new things and so does Kevin much of the time – but we never have really built anything like a building or anything but ..there are times where one needs to step up…and we were heading into one of those times…

Recently I got some chicks to replenish those we lost over the last 2 years – and since I have two roosters who are now separated bc they fight I needed to find a coop to house the new chickens and rooster Clark and his one girlfriend.The coop they are in now is way too small for 8 chickens. My other rooster- Lucky -has a nice home of his own with his 7 girls.

I love chicken coops- yes its a thing for me –  and we began to shop for one at the fancy store in a nearby town. We got a rather decent deal on a coop a few years back at that same store. But when we looked at the prices our jaws dropped. There were none in our budget. So I began to shop online and everything in our price range was crappy. I know this bc I bought a crappy coop for a few hundred dollars a couple years back when I got ducks. It would fall apart and we would slap it back together and it began to resemble a not so lovely shanty town- then the back fell off and- well- that was that.

I began to think that instead of spending $300 on a pre-made coop we could set out and make our own. I had looked into this last fall when the crappy coop fell apart and I had no home for Clark and his ladies (he had 2 then – one has since passed). But we got lazy and craigslist advertised a small coop just the right size for $100 in a town nearby. We ended up getting a better deal on that coop and we brought it home. I soon began hating the coop bc it was so hard to clean. Then I got chicks and the coop is no good to the chickens anymore because of its size – we needed an 8 seater – not a 2-3 seater (I think it will go to the ducks). So we were in a pickle.

So we decided to build one. It felt good and exciting. I had been feeling more confident in our handy abilities ever since I began painting furniture – we could do this thing! (There was no rational behind this thought it was just blind confidence). But I could not find the plan I liked from last fall on my Pinterest or anywhere on the internet.  Those chicks were living in my office and they couldn’t live there for good. I cant even work in there bc the chicken dust is so bad. Chickens are dusty – look it up! My office cleaning is going to be a bear.

So I stumbled on a plan on a blog that I somehow found- I cant even recall how because I googled “Coop plans” and I looked that up on Backyard Chickens and all over the place. But I found this coop. 3154809834_1336517386Isn’t it cute? And then this blog , Whitney’s Workshop,that actually made the coop from the plans. Hers is so adorable – I began shopping paint colors right away. The plans looked great. Very easy to understand. There was the little note that it was intermediate difficulty – and we were beginners- but that wasn’t going to sway me. I wanted to do this…we needed to do it.

So begins the story of building the coop.

The best advice I have so far is find good plan and follow them and don’t make changes unless you really know what you are doing. I will explain that later on. Oh and make sure you understand the size of the coop- on paper I saw ours was 4’x8’x8′ but until we erected the walls I never realized how tall it is – it towers over my other coop. We could have shortened the height if we thought about it more but we didn’t think about it until it was already standing up (also see my note about making changes to plans above).

We also thought we would save buckets of money on the build but we will save money but not buckets. The pre-made coops online were a lot smaller than this coop I chose except I didn’t really absorb that until we began to build and bigger is going to be more pricey. We are over $500 and I still have a few things to buy – like hardware for the doors that will increase that cost. The coops at the fancy place were well over $800 and they weren’t as big as this one.

In the planning phase I read over the plans carefully and I realized that the folks on Whitney’s Workshop modified the plans and used 2×3 studs to save some money. We decided to go with the plans and materials as is bc I was fearful we would mess something up in the plans with making the change. I think it is safe to say that Whitney and her helpers had done some legit building before. We had not!

So here we go!

Step One – the foundation –

We began with a pretty flat area. We cleared the area and chopped up the dirt and leveled that. We then laid the concrete blocks and tried to make it level corner to corner and then leveled the interior blocks from there. We did fairly well and when the foundation was laid on the blocks were were almost level – a bit off but not as bad as the coop we already had (we never leveled that one and it is pretty close – it pools water in one corner when it is spray cleaned – not a big deal.)

I painted the foundation floor with deck paint and then Kevin added linoleum tiles to help with the cleaning and hopefully durability. We had a floor and it felt sturdy!

 

Step 2 – the walls –

On the plan the walls looked pretty easy ( I say that as a novice wall builder) except there were a few angle cuts so that made me worry some. The best thing is that we were very careful with our measurements. The plans began with the front wall and that was a lot of cuts because of the door and headers. But it went well. We took a break of a day or two because we have had rain here for a couple weeks and we waited for breaks in the weather to be able to work on it.  But we have been working in the rain under the cover of the barn patio roof because the weather isn’t letting up anytime soon and we need that coop to be ready soon!

We got the side walls done and the back. We followed the plan but you can adjust the six of your windows. We are not installing an external nest box either. I have some on order that should fit onto an interior wall in the coop and they are said to be easy to clean. We felt like adding the external nest box was a little more than we wanted to tackle now.

We did try to keep the walls square. We measured from corner to corner and none were ever out of square  by much. I know that when we have to build the door it will be necessary to adjust that to fit. The door will not be square. I think maybe the world is not in perfect plumb or square so why fret if it is off a little?

There is just enough we don’t understand that limits us to having a perfectly level and square coop but I am very proud to see how close we were. We do feel we had little help from the beyond as you can read here in one of my latest blog posts.

 

We think we attached the walls together correctly- the plan didn’t really have a picture of how to do it. It seemed simple enough and maybe that is why I questioned the validity of it. Too simple in my head might equal wrong. But the walls were up and they felt sturdy and I felt a sense of pride that we actually were doing this thing and so far not too many snafus!

You might wonder how Kevin and I have faired with each other through this build. We have had one or two disagreements. Often it was bc one of us was confused about what the other one was saying. Kevin is more methodical than I am. I think he is more a perfectionist and I keep reminding him it is a chicken coop they won’t care if there are some flaws. But we seem to work it out and laugh more than we argue!

So far we have put in maybe 15-20 hours into the project. But for this part one as I have written it here I would say this took a good 8- 10 hours. It seems long but we are beginners. That time is a lot of me reading the plans to Kevin and him doing the brunt of the labor. I have done quite a bit of painting but with another frozen shoulder my arms can only take so much so I got the kids painting for me some as well.

Its a never ending family affair here- even if the teens aren’t too thrilled about helping to expand the chicken village.  Oh well, I am having fun- I may be the only one!

Part 2 – coming soon -stay tuned…

See part 2 here

 

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