There comes a time in life where we need an upgrade. Moving out of a starter home and into one with more bedrooms, more square footage. Add some kids in there. Such is the case for our flock of chickens. We went from 10 to 26 overnight, and the little starter chicken coop that we always planned to upgrade at some point, had served its purpose. The flock had outgrown the coop.
We didn’t really plan to have this many chickens, but I seem to have a weak spot for the cute little chicks and for some reason this past spring, my thought process was “what’s another six?” Or, 16, in this case. That starter coop that we moved into the barn for the winter, then back out and under a tree in the spring was waayyyy over capacity.
We decided to build a custom chicken coop, and I found an article with free DIY plans for a shed online, that was the perfect shape and size for our envisioned chicken coop. With a couple windows, a front door and a cupola; done, done and done. The plans included a materials list, and mentioned that it would take two people to build in about a weekend’s time, and would cost less than $700.
Wellllllllll, this was not the case. At all. The materials were much more than the estimated cost, and the more we read over the plans, the more our heads started spinning around like a busy top. The plans were vague at best. Although Sean and I pride ourselves as experienced DIYer’s, this project was too far out of our whelm. We had to bring in John the Handyman to take over the reins.
We left John alone and let him do his thing. He pieced together the plans, and then some. The foundation can support a couple tons, the studs are 16 inches on point; there’s support beams and a pitched roof that will weather winter’s snow. Did I mention that the coop is a story and a half?! Twelve feet from floor to peak. The windows got an upgrade as well, but ended up costing a fraction of custom windows per the plans, at $20 a piece. Thank you Facebook marketplace.
The front door was recycled from our house. It was sitting up in the attic waiting for a new home. I simply painted on marine varnish to give it that shiny look, and to weatherize it. I also had the window boxes in the attic. Please don’t call me a hoarder, but there may be reason for concern.
Inside, the nesting boxes are built out of a cupboard that was heading for the dumpster, and so far, the chickens are earning their keep. We collect at least a dozen eggs a day, and our neighbors have become our best customers.
The run was built mostly out of materials that we had on hand, with the exception of the fencing. It’s large enough for the chickens to have space, run around and cluck. There is netting over the top of the run to keep flying predators away.
It took John a little over a month to build this Taj Mahal of coops, and we did go over budget, but in the end, it’s built extremely well and can withstand the storm. The chickens are happy, and they certainly have space to perch. Having such a cute coop to look out on is a bonus.
So here is my advice to you, if you are planning on building a custom chicken coop, or a shed, do your research on costs and labor. Even though this coop cost us less than a pre-built shed / coop, it was much higher than the article estimated it would cost. Shop the materials first, and gather costs before buying. Make sure you can handle the project yourself, and if you prefer to hire someone like John, make sure he/she is an experienced builder. In the end though, it’s all worth it. Cluck. Cluck.
Coop, sweet coop.