If you want to build a chicken coop from scratch, here are free plans to help you get started. Before you start, please read the basics of a chicken coop article to make sure you give your chickens everything they need.
The Basics of a Chicken Coop
The Chicken Run:
This is a secure place for chickens when not in the chicken coop and it usually ‘fenced’ with chicken wire.
The Perch or Roost:
This is a bar that is installed 2 feet or so off the ground where chickens like to hang out and roost. Being off the ground helps them feel safer and keeps them dry.
The Nest Box:
This space is where the chickens will lay their eggs. A chicken coop will often have several nest box spaces tucked away for privacy in laying. The boxes themselves are generally about the size of a shoebox or a bit bigger. Large enough for the chicken to be inside and not feel crowded.
The Chicken Feeder:
A container that holds food for the chickens. This can be free standing or hanging in the hen house or in a covered area of the chicken run.
The Chicken Waterer:
A container that holds water for the chickens. This can also be free standing or hanging in the hen house or out in the chicken run.
Step By Step Chicken Coop
It all started with the idea that I could build my own chicken coop.
My first idea was to find a play structure 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.
I found this two story play structure on Craigslist.
I brought the play structure home in pieces and lined them up along the back fence.
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.
Jacob shingling Roof
Next, I sawed off the long 4×4’s to make the 2 story play structure a 1 story chicken coop on stilts. And assembled the base framework to work from.
Holding it up Putting it back together
Once I realized that this 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.
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.
(I’m still using the gutted wood from the neighbor’s house, also.
(Actually almost all of Phase One used the wood from that house.)
Window nest box
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. And then I stuck a kid on painting duty.
After I got all the walls done, someone asked me if I’d put insulation in my coop…hmmm…I hadn’t thought of that…so 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 temporary…so it was a perfect fix.) I then found scraps and put in an inner wall so the chickens wouldn’t peck at the insulation.
insulation nest box
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!)
The third wall, which is the front of the coop, along with a 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 a double door out of shutters from the gutted house. 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.
This picture 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.)chicken run
I brought Frieda out to inspect the coop before the chicks moved in. I think she likes the color (and, of course, the picture window).
The girls finally move in…they don’t know what to think with all this space …they’re coming from an appliance box in the garage…
girls move in
Next comes the paint, shutters and window box. The shutters are actually the top half of the shutters I used for the little doors into the chicken run (see earlier picture).shutters
Here is the extended chicken run (phase one) in progress. The doors at the end are made out of yet more shutters from the neighbor’s gutted house. chicken run
Eventually there will be a corrugated roof on top of the run, but for temporary purposes, a tarp is nailed down.
Now that the chickens are moved out, construction for Phase Two begins…here holes are being cut into the floor. They will be covered with chicken wire and be under the roost. This way, the majority of chicken poop will fall out on the ground below (outside the coop) for easy removal.
A Phase Two wall is completed…this wall, with double doors, will become the main entrance (for humans) into the chicken coop.
The main roost in the 2nd half of the coop is made from the ladder that came with the play structure.
Nest box and roost, minus a wall…in Phase Two.
nest box and roost
Adding chicken wire and support beams to the ‘roof’ of the chicken run. I want to cover it in a safer manner. So far, I’ve just had a tarp stapled down.
Adding Chicken Wire
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.
Opening the wall Inside coop
Inside the 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!
I designed and painted a sign for the coop and added it below. You can also see the kids feather collection lining the wall…why? I don’t know! But they love tacking them up there, all in a row…
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 Extention
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 freebee 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 photo…it’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.