Monday, August 30, 2010

I Did It!

Building a Chicken Coop aka
A Lesson in Life

1. Follow directions.
2. Improvise.
3. Ask for help – kids are really good at holding up walls.
4. Ask to be left alone.
5. Stick with it.
6. Return things you don’t need (save receipts).
7. Always have a Plan B (similar to #2)
8. Read directions twice.
9. Don’t spend too much money.
10. Sleep is important.
11. Have fun.
12. Appreciate a sore body!

I began the weekend with telling you all how difficult it is to tear apart a pallet. That’s still true.

Lesson #7 – have a Plan B: I found cedar fencing planks for 97-cents each. This was really a good deal to me because I was just beside myself tearing apart pallets and after posting my difficulty on Facebook, I learned that I was not alone. I failed with others and that’s just easier for me to take.

Shannen helps his mom out a bit.
The plans that I bought from adapted very well to the cedar planks. I wish that I had used the cedar planks from the beginning, but oh well! I did end up using the pallet wood for the nesting box and they worked out very well. The pallet wood definitely has more meat than the cedar planks and the ladies have a very solid nesting box.

I ran to the hardware store on Saturday at noon, got overcharged for the cedar planks, realized it on the way home and turned around only to have to argue with the guy who rang me up…somehow the 5 foot board that he charged to me as 6 foot board was shorter than me! He kept insisting the board I had was 6 feet. I kept insisting that I could see over the top of the board quite easily so it had to be 5 feet. The manager solved the problem. My kids seemed a bit shocked that I was right!

Construction began at about 1:30 on Saturday. By the end of the day, I had the main structure almost complete, but still needed to finish some of the roof planks. On Sunday, I undertook the rest of the roof, the nesting boxes and doors. I still need to do the roofing material and paint the coop red!

Have I mentioned that I’ve never built anything!!!??? I can’t tell you how good it felt to have my door align perfectly, to drill on a hinge and then have a door that works great -- it even has a latch! And, I did it all (mostly) by myself. On Saturday the boys helped me hold up walls and drill a bit. And, on Sunday, Tim helped me with the nesting box.
The first "chicken" enters the coop
and Dudley hopes someone
throws his ball!

I really recommend the directions that I got from They have pictures for every step and are easy to understand. My insider tips: a jig is just a construction word for a template and a cross-support is simply an “X” to hold things up!

The other night with my coop kind of complete, I really wanted the hens to move in. They were so cute – as I was working on it, they would come over and watch what we were all up to. I picked up Dolly and put her in. I think she liked it. She was still roosting inside this morning. As an aside, Dolly has been acting a little strange lately. I think that Martha may be the top of the pecking order now?

I love to look out the window and see the coop that I built for under $200. I still need to go back over my receipts, but I know it wasn’t more than that.

Now, all I need is to figure out how to move the beast of a coop where it belongs...

I built a chicken coop!


  1. How cute! I also like your blog!

  2. From – Trevor Kelly - Author of the build guide

    Congratulations! Its great building something for yourself and looking out of the window and being proud of your new found skills. I still do!

    Yes, dismantling wooden pallets is very physical and no two pallets are the same. Some fall apart easily and some just end up as firewood!

    Your comments are noted and I might include clarification in future guides.

    If other people buy the guide from and need ongoing support when building, I would be glad to help them. They can catch me on

    I do have build guides for other projects other than chicken houses

    Best regards
    Trevor Kelly, Emsworth, Hampshire, UK

  3. Perseverance this case with a cute coop! Congrats on sticking with the the plan and adapting as needed.
    Found your blog from the MyPetChicken site with the plans (Trevor's?), which has convinced me to go ahead with the purchase.

    At the moment I am working on a chicken tractor (triangular type) for my three chicks who are outgrowing their brooder rapidly .

    After that the coop..... and another tractor for my guinea keets

  4. There are so many cute coops out there, I (almost) want more (enough) chickens so I don't have to decide.
    However your coop is a contender.

  5. Hey all - Thanks for the great comments. And, yes, Trevor wrote the plans for the coop. I'm just a lucky person who purchased the plans! I really do love all the comments. Thank you, Heidi

  6. Heidi you did a great job on your little coop. I am going to buy the plans, but I am going to modify them so that they will have a run off of them, and I am going to elevate it off the ground for storage under the coop. I am praying I have better luck pulling apart the pallets for I have 7 fat RIR hens..:)
    I like that you got cedar panels.. was that at a local hardware store??
    I also have a small Scion XB you would be surprised what I load up in it..
    well your coop looks great and I will definitely be needing to email Trevor.

  7. Heidi,

    Thanks for all of the great tips - you've inspired me to build this one. I've been researching for 2 years and have decided to go for this model and purchase my chickens this Spring!

  8. Yea! I'm so very glad that I've inspired some of you to build this coop. It really is a great one. And, just an update... It's been a very cold winter in Montana and my hens are doing very well in the below zero weather. The coop has kept them safe, dry and warm.

    And, remember it is tough, but you can do it. And, to answer the questions - I got the cedar planks and Lowes. They were really inexpensive.

    I wish you all luck and fun! Your ladies will love their new coop.

  9. So after seeing how your coop turned out, I cant wait to build one. I have went over board and bought 10 chickens, 2 ducks, and 3 guiena keets. My hubby hates me right now. Although I did recycle a rabbit hutch my grandfather built into a coop that is quickly becomming over crowded. It makes a nice rembrence of him now that he has passed. I however could not bear to see it set and ruin since the rabbits have been long gone. So I would like to use this plan to make one for my chickens, one for the guienas, and one for the ducks and keep the other to use as a brooder. Lots of fun for my 1/2 acre- subdavision farm, lol. My neibors are gonna love me----NOT! Ok, Ill admit the guienas are just to eat my very large population of black widows and to drive the neibor nuts since he keept me up at 2am building swings in his gaurage last night! By the way love the blog- cant wait to see trevors other recycled pallets idea since I have a friend that works for a fork lift company and can get me as many pallets as I want----yeah!

  10. I am trying to decide which chicken coop is best for us and our budget. After reading your blog, I will probably go with the cedar planks as well. Do you mind me asking how much it cost to build?

  11. Does the coop really accomidate 6-8 vhickens? How many nesting boxes does it have?

  12. What did the plans suggest to seal up the roof? I can't figure out what is used in their pictures. I can see staples on the sides, so must be some thin plastic?