Are you thinking about making a chicken coop for your own flock? Or, are you contemplating getting chickens for their delicious fresh eggs? If you're only needing a coop for about a dozen chickens, building your own is worth it! We priced out buying a prefabricated coop, but in the end to give our backyard chickens the best chicken coop possible, we had to do it ourselves! We wanted a chicken coop design that was simple, high quality, had easy access to eggs, and was comfortable and secure for them. Also, we didn't want it too big so they could stay warm in winter months.
Read on to see how we put together our backyard chicken coop. It was relatively easy and a worthwhile DIY build. This post shows you generally how we did it and includes a link to the coop plan we used. It was definitely worth our time, money and effort, even years later.
Before you Build a Coop
Make sure before you put in any effort, time or money into making your DIY chicken coop, you take a good look into your city ordinances to make sure you don't have certain restrictions for flock sizes or building restrictions on your property. Even though we have about 2.5 acres, some of our neighbors are only allowed to own a couple chickens, but our property happens to be just off the city line, so we are allowed as many chickens as we like. We got nervous when we found out about restrictions, but got lucky. Some friends of ours had to actually downsize their flock when they learned a little late about their max flock size allowed. So definitely do your research.
The Decision to Build a Coop
We moved into our house several years ago and there was an old shed on the property the previous owners used as a coop. We had thought about chickens but didn't really have a plan for getting them. Fast forward a few months and of course we would be getting chickens! Click here to read about our start with chickens. We converted the shed back to a chicken coop by adding roosting bars, feeders and waterers, adding a new chicken door and throwing together a little cobbled together chicken run. This old shed coop did the job but it definitely had it's issues. It was at the low end of our property and of course while we were on vacation our chicken sitter (what...you don't have a chicken sitter?) contacted us and let us know it had flooded.
The floor of the coop had a couple soft spots in it that a friendly neighborhood racoon located. You can see in the video below, we had a very close call! Luckily, our favorite chicken, Snowball saved the day and ran it off. Yes, we have a favorite chicken, you probably will too. https://youtu.be/nU76hh_bqiI
Time for Predator Protection
Since we never have enough projects going on at the same time, we immediately decided we needed to start a DIY project for a new chicken coop! Our poor chickens were in crisis with their shoddy coop and we needed them to feel safe. Also, our healthy birds were now being stressed and we could tell because egg production was on a downward spiral. A stressed hen is not a good egg layer. Our feathered friends needed a new and improved backyard coop.
Katia went online and found several different sets of plans for smaller DIY chicken coops. We narrowed it down to a Chicken Coop Plan from Etsy that met our requirements. The plan comes with the material list so you can refer to that in the plan. We picked our spot for it and got to building!
Our Backyard Chicken Coop Requirements
- Raised off the ground-There are many benefits for good ventilation beneath the coop. It makes for a great place for the chickens to hang out and keeps it from getting flooded. They love to hang out under the coop, some make dust baths or if they see a hawk in the air, they sometimes run under the coop for some temporary protection.
- Hold up to 12 chickens- This number is relative. We had 12 chickens when we built this coop, but right now we have 14 and they all fit quite well and snug with no problem. The coop design we used has 24 square feet of space. For some people this might be a little small if you do not allow your chickens to free range, but ours free range all day and we made them a fairly spacious chicken run as well.
- Have Electricity- This is not a necessity, but this is what we wanted for numerous reasons. Yes, our chickens have Wifi. 🤣 We wanted coop cams, plugs and an automatic door, so this is why we really wanted to add electricity during the build. We do have a heat lamp available to them in the winter, but we ONLY use it if it's a long deep freeze, just to give the hens a few degrees to make it through the worst freezes.
- Easy Cleaning- We use pine shavings in our coop to absorb chicken poop and are able to easily clean the coop through the front door. It's not too long so you can rake it all out and then replenish with fresh pine shavings.
- Safe and Secure Chickens- We have an automatic door which we have set on a timer to close at a certain time every night and we have a secured door with a carabiner to keep coons from getting in, hardware cloth on the windows and a secured chicken run door.
- Easy Access to Eggs- This chicken coop plan can have up to 5 nesting boxes, we chose to just build 2 boxes and keep the remaining area for small storage. Being backyard chicken owners for a while now, we know that, for the most part hens only lay in 1 or 2 boxes anyway. You'll see...
- Had to look nice- Looks aren't everything, but if this coop is something that's going in your own backyard then you probably want one that looks good too. After all, you'll have to look at it everyday.
Handy Items To Have
Before we get on with the build, here are some items we got from Amazon for the coop build.
This automatic chick coop door is a lifesaver for us! It's easy to install and can operate with a photo sensor or on a timer. We will never be without an automatic coop door again, it's that awesome!
We had the Happy Henhouse chicken coop door and it's been fantastic, however we just switched to the Chickcozy Automatic Door recently. Here's the post with a review of the door, discussing Pros and Cons of an automatic chicken coop door. If you're interested in trying it, here's a 5% discount. Use the coupon code WMLChick.
These windows are a perfect size for the coop plans we used. It only called for 2 windows, but we added 3. They look great and we haven't had any issues at all with them.
These hinges are perfect for the access door as well as the egg door on top of the nesting boxes. This pack was enough for everything.
Not going to lie, I'm not really sure what to call this thing but it's really handy! If you power your chicken coop using an extension cord, this allows you to plug your cord right into it. Inside you connect your wiring and you are good to go!
The Chicken Coop Build
The spot for our new coop is a ways down our property so I started to do some of the pre-fab work up at the house in our driveway. I framed up all the walls out of 2X3's for easy transport to the future chicken coop site. The plans we used had a complete cut list that made it super easy to get started.
I dug holes and set the posts in concrete for the elevated base. We wanted the chicken coop elevated so the chickens could go under it for some shade and also to prevent it getting water in it like the last one. I guess I forgot to get pictures of just the base, oh well... You can see we have a lot of slope in our yard, so building it elevated like this actually made things easier.
I added the rafters and started putting the siding up. I used T1 plywood siding panels which I think turned out great. During the build our friendliest chicken Snowball showed up to help and inspect my work a lot.
After the siding was all done, the roof sheathing went on. The coop was primed and painted, and the windows went in. The chickens were getting eager for their new chicken coop to be completed!
Coop Inspection By The Chickens
Snowball was there every step of the way during the roof install. She's the lightest of our chickens and can fly quite well. I would be up on the roof and next thing I knew she was on my shoulder seeing how I was doing!
And that's about it for the new DIY chicken coop. Snowball and her friend, Brownie gave it a once over to make sure it was habitable before they moved in.
I coated the plywood floor with Blackjack 57 rubber roof coating to keep it from rotting quickly. I coated it about a foot up the interior walls for extra protection. This has been very sturdy and I don't expect to need and recoat for several years.
How much does it cost to build a Chicken Coop?
When we built this coop, the total cost without the chicken run was about $900. Yes, it is a lot of money, but for us quality, security and strength of the coop was important. We needed a coop to last many years and knew we'd have chickens for years to come, so it was worth it. This was in the beginning of 2020. Today, the cost might be higher, so keep that in mind as you plan as well.
What if I need a Bigger Coop?
If you have the resources, time and energy to build a bigger coop to accommodate more chickens, go for it. Be sure to price it out first. Etsy has a lot of various coop plans to choose from, we just happened to really like how easily these plans were written out by the CoopExpert shop on Etsy. Most good plans will give you an estimate of cost, but everything varies with prices in different locations and stores.
Building A Chicken Run
Up next is building an enclosed run to keep the chickens safe. We have an electric fence to help keep predators out, but wanted an enclosed run for extra safety. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about the chicken run construction.
Our Growing Homestead
We've had some losses and some gains over the last few years of raising backyard chickens. Due to the recent chicken and egg shortages and egg prices, we decided to give our homestead a re-fresh since we got down to just 4 chickens in 2022. We ordered 9 more chicks in late summer of 2022 and the Hatchery threw in an extra so we now have 14 hens. They are all fitting well and enjoying their cozy coop and producing eggs like champs. This just tells you that the coop limit of 12 hens is relative, 14 hens are fitting in there quite nicely. As a disclaimer though, the chickens do free range all day and they are not held in their run so that makes a difference as well. Gotta keep those chickens happy and healthy.