LumberJocks Woodworking Forum banner

Beginner to build chicken coop- need help designing and choosing materials

1742 Views 18 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  kaitala
Yes, I'm an annoying beginner. I apologize in advance.

I have plenty of VERY rough experience, building concrete forms and other such items for heavy construction, nothing that had to look good, just had to be basically functional, with minimal specs and plenty of tolerances.

Now I need to build a chicken coop.

I see plans online, and other people's project with photos. It can't be all that hard, an elevated box, a couple of doors, and some support for a hardware cloth run. I could build something functional but it would be ugly. The brooder box I built was horrid.

I was wondering about the load bearing and structural integrity of using 1×3 instead of 2×4. Do I need the "big guns" for 3 5lb chickens and their waterer? I see a lot of runs made with 2×2, and the 2×2 and 1×3 are much cheaper than 2×4. I need it to support it's own weight plus about 40lbs (chickens, water, food, litter).

I think something lighter would be nice to have, easier to move if necessary. Cost and weight are why I'm wondering about smaller lumber.

I see some coops built with a base, then the box is put on top, others where the legs and corners of box are one piece. I can't get a feel for what is preferable and stronger.

I'm poking around for free plans (or affordable) online. Any suggestions would be helpful.

I know I'm going to have to be much more careful with cuts and joinery than I have had to in the past, but I'm looking forward to the project.

I do want this to be a cheapo project, as if I do make an unsightly coop, I'll have to try again, or shell out big bucks to buy one.

Thanks in advance for your replies.
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Hi there,
I am not sure where you live. Are you in a city, out in the country? How much of a property, lot do you have? Are you going to eat the chickens and/or raising them for eggs? The answers will help with the design.
A coop is a box, is a box is a box. Build it with 1×2's if you want. Cover with 3/8" plywood. Use at a 1:6 drop at least on the roof so you get good drainage.
If it has to look pretty, paint it. If not, the chickens won't care.

I have a friend that built a laying nest from a headboard. It had a top, middle and bottom, (He added), held 9 birds and they provided his family and 5 neighbors with eggs for about 2 years before the city got down on him.

I always wondered how they found out. He owned 7/8 acre and didn't have a neighbor withing 500 yards. You couldn't see the coop from anywhere except probably with a really good set of field glasses.
I'm sorry, should have provided more detail.

I live in suburbia, on a 100×125 lot, and we have 3 full sized (1 orpington, 2 rock, both buff colored) chickens for laying. I want a coop with attached run, for times when we aren't home, so they can get out but be protected. When we're home, The Girls just run around the fenced yard with the dogs.

I've been working on the plans, considering standard sizes and scavenged wood I have on hand.

I'll scan what I have in, and hopefully the pencil will show up.

I have:

2- 2×4x63
2- 2×4x48
scavenged plywood various widths, I anticipate using for odd sized cuts
a couple/few 2×2x96, forgot how many (that quickly, darn, Im old)
leftover siding, grey, that will match the house

I anticipate buying corrugated roofing, 96×26, cut one sheet in half for roofing
Trim to hold on the siding or dress it up, white
Anything else necessary, but want to keep costs to minimum.

Now the issue in side profile is having the nest box roof be able to open, and not hit the overhang that prevents rain from dripping in the nest boxes. I may have to make the "back" taller.
See less See more
There is a chicken forum at "" that has more chicken and coop info than you could ever use. Go to the learning center tab, and you will see a listing for coop building and design. There is also a coop and run forum there that is very active and the folks are very helpful.

Do you why a chicken coop has two doors? If it had four it would be a sedan!
Can't upload the pdf for some reason. Trying to find remote storage

While I agree with Paul, I would suggest you split cut your 2×4" into 2×2x06" The coop doesn't need to be more than 16-18" wide.
This thing doesn't have to have much structural strength. What it needs is stability and weather tightness, except that you'll probably have chicken wire on the front.

To add a drip edge, use a piece of drip edge from the box store. Or cut a chunk of your metal roof at one of the raised areas and use that.
Personally,. if you are going to use a metal roof I don't seen any need to use plywood under it.

Lots of ways to skin a cat, just make sure he is conducive to the idea.

I'm on backyard chickens. I have seen EVERY small chicken coop posted there. People do a nice job of documenting their builds, but plans and materials/cut sheets are lacking. The ones that were provided were not withing my budget (nice HOUSES for the feathered ones! I just want a little coop!) Many builds are "I just started cutting and this is what I got". I'm not that good, can't just start cutting, I need a PLAN!!!!!

I have the "on paper" skills for math and such, just need to get those classroom skills to a workable plan.

And I was thinking corrugated plastic roof. I'm trying to find a way to upload plans.
Send me or someone you trust here pictures of what materials you have and dimensions. I'm sure most of us can design a coop. Or better yet, haunt your local flea markets and yard sales and buy a book case, head board, etc. fix it so the girls can get from one level to another and put a screen over it.
BTW, I had a weasel tear out regular chicken wire. It killed 14 chickens.

Now I use hardware clothe, thicker and much stronger.
The most common recommendation I've seen for coop size is a minimum 4 square feet per standard size chicken. I would make is at least 3'x4', but probably 4'x4' to best use material sizes. A coop also needs to be well ventilated. Chickens can stand the cold much better than the heat.

Haven't built a chicken coop but i do work with chickens everyday, so if you have any of those type questions i could help haha
Also, please provide additional info in regards to how much eggs, chicken for consumption do you need?
I like Jerry's suggestion about the sedan, but I would go with an old (say 40s or 50s vintage) coupe. Maybe a Ford or Chevy. You could paint it up to look really nice.

Then you'd have a chicken coupe for real.
Thanks for all the replies. I'm running crazy, I work in buildings and grounds at a college and we have commencement coming up plus I have my private landscaping clients! Egads!

Was anyone able to look at what I scanned in?

I already have our 3 chickens. 2 Buff Rocks and one buff orp.

I'll do more tonight on the plan and such and see what I can scan in for you all.

Also, how do I best choose hinges? For example, a piano hinge on the nest door, vs. two smaller hinges, etc. There are some nice decorative iron like ones, but size wise, how do I know what hinges will hold what weight when opening like a door, when opening like a roof, etc.?

I want to make one side open entirely for easy cleaning.
decided not to reinvent the wheel as a beginner. This plan looks GREAT, but I may choose plywood scraps instead of fence pickets.

I want a closed front door instead of the screen, but may build to spec just because I don't have much experience. I can make a "winter door" later.

I'm guessing the best idea, despite the fact they say it's "light enough to move around" is to build in place.

You can make a chicken coop tractor by putting wheels on one end. Lawn mower wheels would be about right. It's often done that way.
Bought some fence pickets for the roofing, as I love how that looks.

I have some 1×3, any suggestions for where I could substitute them is appreciated.

This looks to be a simple enough plan.

I di want to use some more decorative hinges, though
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.