The egg & poultry project is moving forward, and the chickens are getting bigger. Soon they will outgrow the dog crate in which they have been living. Since my vacation is almost over, I’m hurrying to build a house for the birds.
After studying a variety of designs, I came up with one of my own, and went shopping for the first batch of materials. The design only accounted for the general exterior shape and dimensions. I’d work out the finer details as I encountered them.
The first issue was that I had not yet determined the best location for a chicken coop. So I built the foundation with 4×4 skids. I was able to tow the assembly into position after I figured out where, and completed the framing with the assembly temporarily leveled on wood blocks.
As usual, budget was limited so I specifically looked for low cost alternatives:
- 2×3 wall studs instead of 2×4
- primed hardboard siding instead of wood
- tempered hardboard for the interior
The design called for a 4-12 roof pitch. Since I’d never properly measured and cut rafters before, the project gave me an opportunity to learn how. Common rafters like these are not difficult. The angle on each end is determined using a roofers square, and the dimensions calculated using the Pythagorean Theorem from high school math.
Pouring the footers for the structure after framing is, well, completely backwards. But even without a plan, I was confident it could be done. It turned out to be easy:
- Remove the sod
- Dig a descending trench into the location of the footer
- Insert a disposable cardboard footer-form
- Back-fill dirt behind the form & replace the sod
- Pour concrete into the form
The complexity here was to ensure tie-down bolts and plates were in position before pouring the concrete. The wind is sometimes quite strong, and the tie-down bolts & plates will prevent my chicken coop from rolling across the pasture like a tumbleweed.
Once the footers were done, I added siding and roof panels. That’s when some of the other details had to be resolved, like placement and size of the doors and windows. Rather then trying to measure and cut each siding panel around the window openings, it was faster to attach a panel, drill holes through the panel at the corners of the window frame, and use a jigsaw to cut out the window opening. Minor imperfections would be concealed by casement and trim.
Opinions vary about insulating chicken coops. I chose to add it. Using some insulation leftover from my basement, I split each 6-inch-deep bat into two plies. The resulting 3-inch-deep layers went into the birdhouse walls.
I covered the insulation with a combination of tempered hardboard and lauan (5mm flooring underlayment) .
Boxes for a light fixture and and electrical outlet were attached to the inside of the roof. A switch by the door will operate the light.
A few more details remain: Nesting boxes, roosting bars, windows, doors, etc.