Not many of us actually need a chicken coop, but when the need does arise many builders choose to build their own. Do you plan to raise chickens so you can sell the eggs and meat or do you simply want to take more control of the food you and your family consumes? Whatever your reasons are for wanting to learn how to build a chicken coop, you will need plan, tools and materials.
There are a variety of reasons for which you might need a place to house your chickens, but once you have decided to proceed with the building you will need to plan before building begins.
Step 1: Make A Plan
Before you purchase even one screw or plank of wood you will need to make a plan. Your plan should be about more than simply building the coop because you want to make sure it fits your current and future needs. Of course you can always build a bigger coop as the need arises, but until you get used to having chickens and everything that goes along with it you might one this want to last for at least the first year.
When planning your coop you need to figure out how many chickens will be housed in the coop, what purpose will these chickens serve and where do you plan to build it? You want to make sure you have a nice slightly shaded area in your yard to build the coop so the chickens stay cool in the summer and once the leaves have fallen, the sun will shine through in the colder winter months.
You will also need to come up with a budget to avoid spending too much on materials and labor if needed. You will almost certainly have to pay for a permit of some type to build another structure on your property, so speak to your local building inspector to find out the fees (and get the permit) and add them into your budget. You will also have to factor in the cost of materials which you will get from your chicken deck plans, and needed tools.
Before you start looking at chicken coop plans or purchasing them you should have a good idea of the size your coop will be. There are tons of plans so you can browse them to figure out the style and shape of your coop, but you don’t want to build a larger coop than you need simply because it looks pretty.
Step 2: Chicken Coop Plans
Securing the right chicken coop plans is an essential step in building a chicken coop. Without proper plans you might end up with an unstable structure that poses a risk to your newly bought chickens as well as your loved ones. Finding the right building plans for building a chicken coop means looking for a reliable source that provides the builder—you—with a wealth of information. It is better to have too much information rather than not enough.
The good news is that there are thousands of chicken coop plans online; the bad news is that they are not all easy to follow. This is particularly important if you are a new builder as many plans assume the reader is an experienced builder with a working knowledge of building materials and chicken coop essentials. Builders who opt for free chicken coop plans usually end up regretting it because they end up paying more for tools and materials they don’t need.
You will need a reliable source like this which provides color plans for building a coop along with diagrams to scale as well as dimensions so you not only get guided through each step, but you can refer to the images if you have doubt you’re on the right track. Best of all, a source like this doesn’t just give you one plan and send you packing. Instead you get access to multiple plans so you can choose the one best for a beginner builder and chicken farmer and you can progress as your experience grows. You can check this short video to learn exactly what it is:
Step 3: Tools & Materials
One of the best things about really good chicken coop plans is that they will provide you with a laundry list of tools and materials required to build a chicken coop. Of course you may decide that you want one of those pre-made chicken coops and that is your choice, but you should be warned that those must also be assembled and you’re paying a higher price for finished materials and a brand name.
Whether you build a chicken coop from scratch or with the help of a pre-made kit, you will still need some materials and the tools that allow you to assemble it properly.
Take your plans with you to the local hardware or home improvement store so you can make sure you get everything you need. Keep in mind when purchasing lumber that you will need to get it slightly larger than the dimensions required for the coop if you choose to use recycled (used) wood.
If you don’t have tools you will need to decide if it is more economical to buy them outright or rent them. The big name home improvement stores usually offer the option to rent power tools for a nominal fee. If you are not a hobby woodworker or you have no plans to use the tools for any other projects, renting is probably the cheapest option for you.
Step 4: Building A Coop
When you start building your deck you need to make sure that you follow the chicken coop plans to the letter. Do not jump ahead assuming you can save time or that doing so will be more efficient. It won’t. In the end you might damage materials if you have to go back and remove nails, which will only add to your expenses.
Your first step will likely be to assemble the bottom frames before you get started on the side frames. Many different plans recommend the use of pavers so you can ensure a few feet of space between the ground and the bottom of the coop. This will make sure your chickens are safe and warm when the ground is especially wet or cold. Of course your exact steps will be determined by the coop plans you select, but it is always best to follow the instructions provided with your chicken coop design.
The next phase will be the supporting frames that will help your coop stand up properly. Again the specifics will be left up to the plans you use. All of the frames will be assembled using nails, maybe some wood glue as well depending on your plans.
Once your support beams are installed you will have to put in the roof frame (rafters), which will make it easier to add the wire or plywood to the sides of the coop. Add on the roof, which will likely be metal. You may need help with this part so factor in the cost of labor or pay your friends with a meal to make sure you get the roof on securely. Otherwise your chickens will not only be subjected to the elements, but also unwanted critters looking for a midnight snack.
The last step is adding extras like a nesting box, windows, doors and even indoor lighting, which is said to keep egg production consistent when the daylight hours are shorter.
There are many other items you might want to build into your chicken coop including roosting perches and even straw padded baskets where your chickens can lay their eggs. One item that many consider an ‘accessory’ but is actually a necessity is a metal lock. Nocturnal predators love chickens and a flimsy lock that can be easily opened with the flick of a paw will cause a serious decline in your backyard chicken population. Use a secure metal lock and make sure it is locked up tight before bed each night.
Once you have your basics done you can start adding embellishments so that your coop isn’t an eyesore in your backyard. Add window boxes or other elements that enhance the visual.
Step 5: Inspection
When you have finished the last step don’t just assume that you can throw the chickens inside and your job is done. Before that can happen you want to take a tour of the coop and make sure everything looks alright. You follow the instructions and you feel confident that all is secure, but a cursory look around will make you feel better.
Learning how to build a chicken coop isn’t as difficult as most people assume but it doesn’t require determination and an attention to detail. If you don’t want to have to build or rebuild another coop next spring, take your time and do the job right the first time. Both you and your chickens will be grateful.