Chicken Coop Progress!

Coop before side_mark

I’m so excited to share with you the progress we’ve made on our future chicken coop! Since I’ve been talking for years about wanting to keep a few chickens on our acre, you all can probably guess how fun it is to finally see it coming together.

We started with this three-sided structure on our property that we had used as a garden shed until we built our garage (which you can see in this post). Once we had storage for the normal garage things, the totally enclosed shed next to it was freed up for our garden supplies.

Last summer I used this open shed for a painting shed when I got my new paint sprayer.

There were two major issues with this shed, however.

The first is that it is seen from the road, which means that it always looked pretty junky as a garden shed. Since it is something people see as they drive past, I wanted the front to look good as well as be enclosed.

The other issue is that although it is solid and has no rot or anything, it is completely out of square. As in, the folks who built it paid no attention to level or right angles. To say it’s been challenging for Brian is an understatement.

Luckily, we’ve always been OK with imperfection – our classic mantra is, “It’s the cottage-look!”

After reading a lot about chicken-keeping and coops, and seeing people write how they “only spent $500 to $1000″ on their coop, my heart would drop – did a coop have to be that expensive?

Hopefully not. We’ve made it our challenge to use salvaged materials and to buy as little as possible. Since we’ve been planning on converting this shed for years, we’ve saved materials from all our projects with this in mind:

-The old dog run that came with our property (our dog never runs, so he hasn’t used this in years) will be attached to the back of the coop, pictured above. I plan on letting the chickens have the run of our small pasture (to the left) when we’re home, with the run reserved for safety when we’re away.

-This pile of wood was salvaged from our deck deconstruction. Anything that wasn’t rotten was set aside for the coop.

-A friend of ours (Dan) works for a landscape supply/composting company and builders bring full sheets of plywood to dump that they are not going to use. They then sell these for $3.00 a sheet (woot!) and Dan let us pick through the pile of plywood he had salvaged from work to use for the floor of the coop.

Then he wouldn’t let us pay him.

Yeah, we are blessed with some good friends.

-Brian decided to make these windows for the front with plexiglass and wood from other projects we had.

Though why we had a sheet of plexiglass lying around, I’ll never know.

The first thing Brian started with was the floor, using the salvaged treated beams from the old deck. I wanted a porch to make the flat front a bit cuter since it’s easily seen by neighbors, so he simply made one big floor to accommodate the small porch out front.

With the help of our friend Dan, Brian added floor beams and topped them with the plywood before framing the front wall with the old garage door we had been saving since our remodeling seven years ago and a fun old window I bought years ago at a local salvage yard (it is one of a pair that I think I was going to use for inside decoration, but they turned out to be too big).

And this is what it looks like now! Well, we have added more paint since this photo, but it still needs another coat, so it’s kinda rough-looking yet.

Doesn’t the porch look good? It’s sort of an old-west look with the flat front and Brian’s plexiglass windows above. I was surprised at the amount of light the windows and door let in and we haven’t even put the windows in on the sides yet (they will be screened for ventilation).

And how are we doing on our cost challenge? So far the paint has cost us the most (ugh- that siding just sucks up the paint):

  • one 4 x 4 post $8
  • two 2 x 4’s $6
  • metal hangers $10
  • bolts, nails and screws $13
  • paint $50

Total:  $87.00

Not bad. Here’s what we still have to find/do:

  1. two windows that open for the sides
  2. molding to finish all the windows and the door
  3. chicken-wire and 2 x 4s to frame an inside “wall”
  4. wood for nesting boxes
  5. an auto door opener for the chicken door to the run
  6. a salvaged sheet of vinyl for the floor (I’ve read this is the easiest to keep clean…)
  7. feed and water containers
  8. run electricity from garage to coop
  9. finish painting (ugh, another $25 bucks…)

Since our salvaged wood pile is getting smaller and smaller, we might end up having to buy more wood.

But you never know when something will turn up…


P.S. To make sure you don’t miss how this all turns out, you can get FREE email updates from An Oregon Cottage or subscribe by RSS.

This is linked to Saturday Nite Special.


  1. says

    That is a fabulous coop! We turned our kids playhouse they grew out of into a coop for our chickens….I love a good repurposing of an unused shed like you are doing!!

  2. says

    Looks great! Love the front porch idea! re: paint cost – Do you have a Habitat for Humanity Re Store near you? you could check to see what paint they have, at least for the base coat that gets sucked in. They might not have exterior paint, but you never know.

  3. Anonymous says

    Here in Minnesota, we need electricity in ours. We need it for an electric water heater in the winter … occasionally for a fan if we have a long spurt of really hot weather. We also have a radio that we play sometimes when we have a problem with fox, racoons or stray dogs. We live on 9 acres and ours run free during the day, but we keep them in a pen when we are losing some or they start eating too much out of my garden. They love tomatoes! LOL! We also lock them in the coop at night.

    We also have a small coop and a very small pen that we put the new chicks in at first.

    You should also have a roosting bar for them. You don’t want them sleeping and hanging out in the nests … too dirty! Good luck and enjoy! I give away lots of eggs and everyone loves them!

  4. Diana says

    That looks good! Are you sure you need electricity to run to the coop? On the “automatic door opener to the run” — my husband rigged up a pulley and rope system so we can lift up the door from outside of the coop by pulling on a rope and then catching it on a hook to keep it up during the day. I don’t know how cold you get where you are, but the only time we need electricity out there are on the 5-7 days when our night time temps drop down in the mid twenties or lower, then we have a heat lamp out there that we run an outdoor extension cord to. If the temps are just in the 30’s, they don’t need additional heat.

    Our current coop we made 6 years ago and is made of two rabbit hutches we modified (the hutches are probably 25-30 years old now and rotting and in bad shape — so now we are assembling a coop we got from Amazon for under $400.00).

  5. Anonymous says

    The coop we have is built like an avery, except we keep the roosting bars 3 feet off the ground. The entire area is screening, with the square trellis as the backing inside of the
    avery. we have a big tree that is a part of it as well. The run has another door towards the back, giving them more space to have fun. All in all, we make sure they are protected against the animals that roam during the night. Even a raccoon can easily open a door, so we made sure it is latched well. In the event we leave, the set up includes water and feed for three days, and more if needed. You may want to think about safety, since critters can and will climb, jump or find the wiggle room into the area. So much time is given to chickens that are of different breeds, and it is a sad thing to lose anyone of them. Good luck with yours, C.N.

  6. says

    Awesome! And Jamie, some of that you can do even cheaper. Your hubby can build a better feeder than he could buy out of some scrap plywood. (I might be able to send pics if you want.) And we have found the best watering system are “chicken nipples”. They use them only on the east coast – as far as I can tell – but they are awesome and so easy to keep clean. Try looking them up and see what you think. And yes, vinyl is the easiest to keep clean. Make sure you plan well where they will roost (i.e. where they will poop all night.) And make sure they’re not roosting over their nesting boxes. Also, old milk crates and “recycle” boxes make great nesting boxes too. As for the electricity, they don’t really need it in this region, unless you just want to light them in the winter. I currently have 13 hens and I have never kept a light on them. Their production does go down in the winter, but we still have plenty of eggs. I don’t know if you’ve read this, but hens are somewhat like females (women) with their egg production. They are only born with so many eggs. If you put a light on them and increase their egg production, they will lay more eggs in a year, but will lay for less years. Does that makes sense? Again, it’s just personal preference and everyone does it differently.

    You can get the chicks now – you have a good six weeks with them in your garage – that way you wouldn’t have to wait until next spring. Can’t wait to see the finished project!

  7. Mary W says

    Jami – Is there a Freecycle group in your area? If so, that’s a perfect way to get leftovers from other peoples’ projects. You can even “ask” for what you want. If not, maybe the free section of Craig’s List. My experience with Habitat for Humanity stores is that their stuff is way too nice for a chicken coop :-)

  8. says

    Late to the post, loving your coop, and an idea on paint: check home improvement and paint stores for their mis-tint section. We’ve gotten very good deals on basic neutrals that will work well for “priming” layers, and then you just buy one gallon of your desired exterior color to go over the top as a finish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>