Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coop planning Part 3, our dream coop in detail.

So there it is, the complete coop sketch up for what we would ideally like to do for the coop. Of course in the process I found some things we could probably do better with, but here's the planning process continued. I will also include the estimate for how much this monstrosity will cost, and discuss some options when it comes to the construction. Above is the South face including the storage shed, and the low level windows which I'd probably want to move up a couple feet for better lighting.

First things first, let's start with the frame. Left is the South face of the coop. I did this in two stages so I could show you the whole planning process. This is the 8x8 coop area only. At this size it can be a little difficult to interpret some of it, but the confusing jumble in the center is the window set up. Something I thought about after the fact while I was showing this off 
to the Lady of the House was that it would make sense to also put windows in the upper portion of the South side of the shed roof. The other thing I thought about is whether or not it might make most sense to actually have the slope of the roof facing south to facilitate the snow melting off. It's something I will have to think about for which would make most sense for the coop. Another consideration that might make it most wise to put the slope of the roof South facing is that it would keep the slope from pointing right at where the chickens are planned to enter and exit. Of course, another option for that is putting the pop hatch on the East side where there is no roof slope. Then again, two hatches could also be done allowing us to have different release areas by day if we so desired. For all the planning that's already happened this is still a work in progress.

Above shows the nesting boxes and where they will sit on the structural wall. Right is a fairly good view of how they will look from the side, specifically showing the East side. It is a very simple design of 16"x16" nesting boxes. By having them outside the coop it allows easy access to them to get to the eggs, and doesn't take up valuable floor space inside the coop. I'm not %100 sure how I'd want to do the access hatch for humans to get to the eggs on the outside, but my current thought is that each row will have a single large door that swings open to allow access to four nesting boxes at once. That would be efficient with wood, hardware, and human time. It would also minimize drafts by having fewer doors to secure. The more moving parts, the more likely something isn't going to fit quite right.
The other thing you can see easily in the East side drawing is the trusses. In the current concept they are a 26.67 degree slope, which is easily understood as the roof rises 6 inches every 12 inches it runs. A steeper roof would be nice, but it would use a lot more lumber and be a bit of a pain. In terms of roof strength it will be fine due to using a good sturdy truss design, and essentially the same building requirements as a human inhabited structure. Right now the walls and trusses are what is called 16 inch on center. That means from center of stud to center of stud is 16". That is a fairly standard high quality construction standard for houses, 24" on center being more common. We'd like to stick with a very sturdy structure for high winds, rain, snow, and longevity. 

 Left is the same East view with one big difference. We've got the skin on here. In the current drawing it is showing what we'd be using in terms of plywood as 4 foot by 8 foot standard sheets. We may in fact not be using plywood since I recently found out about rough cut lumber. I haven't priced it out yet, but that is to come. The other important thing you can see is a gap up at the top of the wall but below the roof line. That is a cut out that is intended to be ventilation. It will, as with the nesting boxes, have a door to close it off, and open it up. Ventilation is very important for chickens, so we want to make sure they have enough of it. In fact, it's so important that it seems that insulating a well built coop is a mistake because in the winter humidity and ammonia build up are more of a problem than cold! That of course is contingent on you having built the structure to not be drafty.
Right is a view of the North side. Right now there isn't a pop hatch sketched in because I'm not %100 sure where we will want it to go anymore. Most likely at least one will be just below and to the right of the nesting boxes. It's easy to tell this is a substantial structure, that is part of an initial design, it's supposed to have everything you want.
 These last two images Left are the same East face. The first one Above Left is showing the coop wall, and Bottom Left is showing the shed outer wall. You can see that the East side has the same ventilation holes that the West side has. In both cases in addition to the doors, they would need to have significant hardware cloth protection to keep critters out.

Alright, we have our ideal coop here that would be able to house 16 chickens in plenty of space, with potential for housing more during the spring, summer, and fall when the flock would be outside most of the time. Now it's time to look at the damage of this monstrosity which will inevitably lead to the next stage of planning. Cost cutting. All of the prices below are Home Depot standard pricing which is fairly universal in the USA so everyone can have a reasonable idea of the cost. We can probably get a lot of this for less, and we have all of the 2x4s already which cuts our new cost a good bit.

Framing Lumber: This is what is needed to just build the thing.
47, 8 foot 2.92 each $137.24
15 10 foot 4.95 each $74.25
11 12 foot 4.95 each $54.45  - - - $128.70
4  16 foot 6.62 each $26.48

Backups: You always make sure you have a good amount of extra lumber for mistakes, bad lumber, etc. This is part of where your spare lumber comes from if things go right, but it's %100 needed for when things don't.
10  8 foot $29.20
5  12 foot $24.75
2  16 foot $13.24

$369.61 Lumber total before tax

Plywood: This is the biggest cost that we are probably going to be doing something different than. We are going to try to do rough cut pine planks for the sheathing. We will still need the treated plywood for the roof, but that's more reasonable.
12 15/32" 4x8 plywood $19.97 each  $239.64
6  23/32" 4x8 treated plywood $35.97 each $215.82

Total $455.46 before tax

Concrete: This is assuming pouring a full 6" slab for the whole thing which would probably be the best option. If we were to pour a block foundation wall instead, and have a dirt floor it would cost less, but bring its own problems. Right now I'm leaving out the cost of cinder blocks because those are optional and can usually be had for free.
110 bags of 80lb quikrete concrete mix $390.50 before tax

Roofing shingles
5 bundles at $32.50 each
total without tax $162.50

Roofing Underlayer

Total without tax: 1,097.57

Total with %6.25 tax: $1,166.17

For a coop of this size and fit to our wants perfectly, that's not too bad. That said, ouch. That's a lot of money. Next post I'm going to talk about what we can do to potentially reduce our cost since that's definitely more than we can spend at this point in our lives.


  1. I have a metal roof. I have no idea how much it cost... my carpenter ordered it and I wrote a check, but I don't recall the amount. It does alleviate the need for plywood and shingles, and is extremely durable. Also the snow slides off nicely, though that's a detractor for collecting the meltwater in gutters. It's fine for collecting rainwater, though.

    1. The contractor we've had do work on the house actually made the same recommendation to me. I should really look into that since it seems to be a fairly universal "Do this" suggestion. I suspect that snow melt collection as a loss will be survivable. My big concern with snow sliding off is not having chickens hit by a mass of snow falling from the roof since we've seen just how big a mess that can cause off the studio. Another tick on "East side pop hatch" pros column.