DIY Chicken Coop
One day, I randomly had the idea to get 2 chickens. I knew if I was going to have a coop, it would have to be a DIY Coop. My husband (who says no to everything) said, “Yes get them”. An hour later I entered the Big DIY Challenge. I entered this because I knew I needed a deadline and also needed to get it done before my husband had time to change his mind. If I didn’t have that deadline it probably would have taken me months to finish.
The Big DIY Challenge
As part of the Big DIY Challenge, there was only 10 days to complete the coop. I knew I would have to make a big coop just to make that a proper challenge. Entering into the “Upcycling” category was not an option for me as it was my profession. But I could build the coop from scratch and enter the “DIY” category. I never ever created a structure of that size from scratch. Looking at the coop now I think….. How did I make that?
I was met with some resistance from people who thought there was no way I was going to be able to build what I was building with no real experience. I’m not a carpenter by any means. Thinking this is why a lot of women are afraid to start a DIY project, they’re told the tools are “too dangerous” or that they “won’t be able”. I think this really gave me fire in my belly to do a good job. I really learned that you can achieve a lot if you stay calm and focused and in the words if Marie Forleo “Everything is figureoutable”
Before I started the DIY Chicken Coop
Before I start any project I love spending time researching. I looked at other coops and saw how they were made, even took inspiration from some wooden glass houses for their structure. Its like a little obsessed and I make it in my head a few times so I can visualise how it might go. Every night while building the coop I would visualise what I needed to do the next day. It weirdly prepared me for what I needed to do each day.
I read loads of articles on how to raise chickens and what people wished they might have done differently with the coop. The awkwardness of cleaning seemed to come up a lot, so I thought I’d need a coop I could stand up in and easily clean out. Researching paint, chickens respiratory systems are really sensitive, so no oil based paint can be used inside the coop. Oil based paints can release toxins over time, so a low VOC is the best paint to use of your planning on painting the inside of the coop.
I knew I would need a skill saw, which I had never used before this project. Researched how to use one, I looked at youtube videos and safety advice so I would feel more comfortable using one. Now I don’t know how I ever managed without it. It’s one of my favourite tools I’ve used.
I have a mitre saw which I love and use all the time so I was really comfortable with that. A drill and driver made the job a lot easier. Clamps made everything safe and stopped anything moving while I was cutting. A spirit level, my staple gun and nail gun really helped time wise, as I needed to create this in 10 days. I don’t think I could have done it without those tools.
For building anything outdoor I use pressure treated wood. This is really important to make sure the timber is suitable for outside. Pressure treated wood is longer lasting. I placed plastic sheeting under the coop to prevent any rot that may occur. The plywood I used was suitable for outdoor but only after it was primed and painted. Primer and water based paint used were all suitable for outdoor with low VOC.
Over the years, from dismantling furniture, I was always really interested to see how they were put together, the supports in place and how each element was supporting the structure. I think this knowledge stood to me in this project.
I purchased the wood from TJ O Mahoney. They are close to me in Cahir, Co. Tipperary and deliver, which is great when you are buying 16 ft lengths. I bought the roof shingles in Woodies. The hinges, locks, outdoor chaulk, chicken wire and screws are from my local hardware shop.
Making the Coop
I like to work one step at a time. I need to complete one step before I figure out the next. The plan above was what I used as a rough guide for what I could get done each day but I didn’t stick to this completely. I like having the freedom of changing my mind as I go. I couldn’t determine what height it would be until I had the base done.
Starting with a rough sketch of what I wanted it be, look like and its size, but I didn’t use one of those measurements on the plan above. Initially, I had planned to make the coop 4ft wide, my husband thought it was way too big, so I went for 5ft (No one tells me what to do). So I don’t like anyone helping me in jobs like this. (literally wouldn’t let my husband help me.)
It was raining at the start of the challenge so I had to build it in my dining room. The whole structure and the run was made from 4×2’s. I started off with the base and cutting the angles with a mitre saw. I put supports in the middle and covered it in Plywood. From there, I started with the front and then the first side of the coop where the nesting boxes would go and then moved onto the back. The whole time I was determined but also scared. Once I got the frame finished and made sure it was all the same height, I was happy. The first day was a 13 hour day but I was eager to get stuck in.
Progress DIY Chicken Coop
The nesting boxes were something I had to measure so many times to make sure it was right, as it had to fit perfectly into the frame. I cut these from plywood. Once I had this in place it took the pressure off a bit. I built everything in separate panels and temporarily attached them to the base so that I could move them outside. The Roof was the part Is really worried about building, but was actually fine once I started.
I cladded the outside with sheets of Plywood, panelled it with 2×1’s and sealed the gaps with chaluk. The roof was hard to attach. It was also a sheet of plywood, which I covered in plastic to help with the elements. It took me a while to find the perfect roof shingles but I really think that they made it.
The run was pretty straightforward and I put in a few supports to make sure it was sturdy.
Finished DIY Chicken Coop
I really love how it turned out. I can easily step in and clean out the coop and the chickens have loads of room.
The nesting boxes are one of my favourite things in the coop. I thought that the nesting box was where the chickens slept at night. The nesting boxes are actually just for when they lay. They really like to do this alone and in private, hence the curtains. Even when they go into the box to lay they pull the curtains in with their beaks sometimes. I made a mistake with the building of the he roosting rail. The roosting rail is where the chickens sleep but this should be higher than the nesting box. I need to make the roosting rail bigger because all my hens want to be on the top rail and there isn’t room for them all.
Lighting in the Coop
The two solar lights, the barn style one I got from amazon, it doesn’t have great light but I love the look of it. I painted it, it was originally wine. I also have a solar light on the inside of the coop that works by remote control. The solar pad is outside and I have a hole in the top that the wire feeds through. Festoon lights hang around run. I am really happy how it all turned out. Sometimes I look at it now and wonder how I made it in 10 days. But it was a really enjoyable experience.
The next thing on the list is to extend the run. My chickens spend a lot of time free-range but this will be reduced in the winter time. I need to also roof the run, so that they can stay outside when it rains. I am hoping to get rabbits and build another hutch. Apparently chickens and rabbits can live together. I need to also switch out the chicken wire for hardcloth, it looks neater and is more predator proof. There was no where I could get this when I was making the coop. The best thing is that there is no waste for the chicken. The maure is great for plants. The old straw goes up to the farm that gets turned into dung that is spread in the fields. The bonus is I get 4 fresh eggs every day!
This project was really tough, but completing it has give me so much confidence and next year I’m determined to build a greenhouse.