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Our DIY Urban Backyard Chicken Coop

2016 December 2
by Becky

diy urban backyard chicken coop - profile

Remember those chickens we “fostered” a while back. Yeah well…they never left.

We were coaxed into keeping them in an outdoor chicken coop for a trial month, just to see how things went down. I was nervous about having time to properly care for them and very worried about the poop situation—how much would there be? So The Easy Chicken hooked us up with a temporary coop and we put the babies outside. We actually had to help them get up on the roosting perch each evening at dusk, as they were too little and fuzzy to do so on their own.

It was comical.

Me to Stu: “I’m going to put the chickens up.”
Stu: “I already did it.”

About a week after they became outside pets (which I’m quickly realizing are THE BEST kind of pets), we were sold. Even Mr. We Aren’t Keeping The Chickens was happily helping out with their care. And the kids were OVER THE MOON. The temporary chicken coop wasn’t going to cut it, especially since it was for warm-weather climates (no indoor roost), so I started drawing out coop plans, something I had absolutely no idea how to do, and we got to work.

diy urban backyard chicken coop - construction

Before you get any ideas about this being a “family project”, one where we gave the kids little jobs and it turned out a be a great bonding experience…that was NOT the case. We worked on this projects around the kids. While they played, while Finn napped, trading off building/child entertaining duties. It involved me getting over my power tool anxiety and using a miter saw—still scary but doable. Dealing with the kids while trying to get this done on the two days per week Stu is home from work reminded us just why we don’t do all those home projects we used to love doing, it’s just too hard.

Luckily things went smoothly and quickly.

diy urban backyard chicken coop - tongueandgroove

Here is my attempt at a very rough and incomplete supply list for our Modern Urban Chicken Coop:
-2x4s for the whole frame
-tongue and groove planks for the roost walls
-some 2×2’s for the doors, roof line, ladder steps, and perch
-deck screws in various lengths
-some smaller trim boards (1×2’s?) for covering construction mesh edges
-construction mesh
-while I originally wanted a piece of corrugated metal for the roof, we found this awesome plasticy version and fell in love
-brass hinges and a handle from Ikea, plus an extra hinge to attach the ladder
-a strip of 1/2″ plywood for the ladder base

Oh and better give you our plans!

diy urban backyard chicken coop - plans

Gorgeous, aren’t they? Clear as mud? They changed a little during the process, but this was what we worked from.

diy urban backyard chicken coop - wirecovers

We somehow got this project done with only three trips to the hardware store…possibly a world record. Quickly realizing it wouldn’t fit through the garage side door, we decided build the coop right on site, right where it would stay. Plus, we were honestly scared it would be too heavy to move when finished. Size-wise we planned on four square feet per chicken, so 12 square feet in the run, and 10 SF in the roost. We let them free range for a few hours almost every day, so we weren’t concerned about them getting claustrophobic. We checked the level at every step but still had some fitting issues to deal with due to the uneven work surface and our severe lack of carpentry skills. Luckily it isn’t furniture, it’s place for chickens to eat and poop and sleep, so it didn’t have to be perfect!

It’s a wonder what a few shiny hinges and a little deck stain can do….

diy urban backyard chicken coop - finished coop

The guy in the Home Depot paint department saved me about a million hours of brushing and wiping by suggesting I use this water based desk stain. This man is my hero. He tinted it in Slate and two coats gave us just the look we were going for.

diy urban backyard chicken coop - garagehood

diy urban backyard chicken coop - childprooflatches
We didn’t totally know how we’d be using this chicken coop, so we gave it as many access points as possible. A hatch door on the slanted side part, two large front doors (which we use by far the most), and a large roost door for easy cleaning and egg retrieval. All I honestly cared about was making sure Finn couldn’t open the front doors…ever. All I need is him releasing the chickens every time we walk to and from the garage. These safety gate hooks work perfectly. Ethan can operate them but Finn can’t.

diy urban backyard chicken coop - childprooflatches2

Insert evil plan laugh here.

I’m tickled every time he makes these attempts. Really, these things are even a little tricky for me sometimes (although Ethan’s nimble fingers open them in a flash). 

diy urban backyard chicken coop -roostedchickens

diy urban backyard chicken coop - roostbedding

They are so little in that picture! What we have patrolling the property now are three huge, fluffy chickens. I’m still fine tuning our poop situation, but so far so good. We use paper grocery bags, torn into pieces, with a few handfuls of wood shavings on top. I toss the poop and shavings into our compost pile every few days, recycle the paper, easy. We’ve had no smell issues. We took down that lower perch though, quickly realizing they all want to be on one perch. We are adding a nesting box, a flexible plastic floor panel, and heated waterer this weekend to prepare our spoiled girls for winter, now that temps are dipping below freezing at night. We installed a light on a timer a couple weeks ago in hopes the cold weather won’t keep them from laying…they are closing in on 20 weeks so we’re anxiously awaiting that first egg!

diy urban backyard chicken coop - full

The girls were huge wimps about climbing up into the roost as first, but quickly figured things out. They seem really happy in the coop and are easily corralled in after an afternoon of roaming the yard.

Maybe we should have built a walk-in run, maybe it should be a little bigger. But overall we’re thrilled with the result and LOVE the look. While we originally assumed we’d want the coop out of sight, it became abundantly clear that if it looked good, it could be a center piece of the big open garage wall space. I can’t wait to plant some shrubs in the rest of the area next Spring.

I’m sure a few things will change in the coming months but I figured I should post this before I forget everything we did. I think we ended up spending around $300 on this project, which is worth every penny to get something that looks great and will hold up. It’s sturdy—hasn’t been destroyed by Ethan climbing on it or Finn hitting it with his bat, not sure why he does that—and keeps our “flock” safe. What more could we ask for?

4 Responses
  1. Linda Johnson permalink
    December 3, 2016

    Wow, what a great looking chicken coop! Love the picture of you, chicken and Ethan next to the coop.

  2. January 3, 2018

    Do you have predators in your area? Is your coop protected from them?

    • Becky permalink*
      January 3, 2018

      Hi David! We had possums and cats and hawks in the area, so we kept an eye on our chickens when they were roaming. Nothing ever got into the coop so I guess it was pretty secure!

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