Building the Coop

After introducing you to The Coop last week, I realized I made it look too easy.  I mean, first there was no coop, then there was a perfectly completed coop.  Like magic.

It was not magic.  It was work.  There was sweating and swearing and snacking.  Often all at the same time.  Sometimes in emergency situations I even snacked on my sweat.

So I thought it would be nice to take you through the building of the coop from beginning to end so you get an idea of what’s involved in case you’re thinking of building your own coop.  Which I don’t advise you do if you have children, pets, a spouse, laundry that needs to get done, a job, a need for more than 5 hours sleep a night, an aversion to possibly maiming yourself, or any semblance of sanity.

O.K.!  Here we go!  How to build a chicken coop.

Get a hammer.  You’ll definitely need a hammer.

tee shirt


Call your sister. The one with the pink, suede toolbelt and the Chanel safety glasses.  You know, the one who matches her work gloves to her tee shirt.

Building Coop 2


Start building the frame.

Building Coop


Once the frame is completed, you might want to look into bringing in extra help.

Building Coop 3


Probably check their credentials first.    These guys started out strong …

Building Coop 4


But naptime seriously slowed progress.

Building Coop 5


Once the framing is done you can start on putting up the plywood.

Building Coop 6


This is the point where things get exciting and you run around the neighbourhood high fiving random people because your structure finally looks a little bit like an actual building.  Since coops may or may not be legal where you live, you tell everyone you’re building a cabana, or a shed, or a landing pad for possible alien lifeforms.  Anything but a chicken coop.

Building Coop 7


Once all the plywood walls are up, you can tackle the roof.  The roof is an asshead.

Building Coop 8


The roof is plywood, a drip edge, a layer of roll roofing nailed down, another layer of roll roofing glued down with roll roofing tar.  Then stomp around on it a bit to make sure it sticks.  At least that’s how I did it.

At this point people will start congratulating you on your completed coop. They will say things like “Almost done now!” and “Not much more to do!“.  They’re liars these people.  Or stupid.  Or both.  I’m referring to my sister in the pink tool belt by the way, who from this point on in the building process kept saying “Wow. It’s almost done“.   She would continue to say that for the next month and a half.  Less convincingly as each week passed.  Finally by the time the coop really was almost built she was afraid to say anything and mainly just blinked at me.

Buliding Coop 9


Taking a cue from the foreman (who if you didn’t notice is actually a chicken) … take a little nap.  While standing on a ladder.  Fondly remember a time when you didn’t wear ugly jeans paired with an Olympics tee shirt and lime green crocs.

Building Coop 10


Then one day – everything will get kicked into overdrive – as you realize the chickens CANNOT live in your potting shed any longer.  Since they’re almost full sized chickens who happen to be able to wreak havoc everywhere they go.

Building Coop 11


See?  Too big to live in a potting shed.  Big enough to peck your eyes out.



Work, work, work.  We’re a month and a half into this and not even close to being done.  Work, work, work regardless of gross injury acquired while cutting the metal drip edge.  Work, work, work regardless of the fact that you’re so sick of this you could cry and you feel like you’re running around like … well you know.

Coop Injury Finger


Build a screen door.  Because you need a door.  So you have to build it.  I know.  Weird.  Building a door.  Almost done now!  Uch.

Building Coop 12


Handy little tip!  If you’re cutting anything, put a big cross through the piece you want to get rid of.  This helps for when you bring the wood over to the saw and can’t for the life of you remember what part of the wood you’re supposed to cut away.



Handy little tip!  If you have to cut a straight line but don’t have a table saw, use a circular saw with a long straight edge clamped to it.  Run the skill saw along the straight edge and you’ll get a perfectly straight cut.

Cutting plywood


Handy little tip!  Take time to snack.  It’s important to snack.  Especially on Ruffles and dip.  Twice during the course of this build people randomly dropped off Ruffles and dip.  Actually they didn’t drop them off so much as throw them over the fence and drive away fast.  You might find at this point in the build, people begin to perceive you as “cranky”.  Shitheads.

chips and dip


Once you get to the point that you’re hand staining and rubbing all the spruce you’re using as siding, you might develop narcolepsy.  Go with it.

napping building coop


Once your siding is up you’ll think, It’s done!  It’s really done!  It isn’t.  It really isn’t.  Sure your hardware cloth is installed and it looks like a chicken coop basically, but you still have to paint the inside, install a few perches, pick out, shop for and install a bunch of hardware and add the trim.  Work, work, work.

Building Coop 13


Precious minutes will be stolen from you as you investigate who is responsible for this random act of comedy.  A hanging rubber chicken in your coop.  An extensive investigation (one phone call) reveals the culprit to be your mother.

rubber chicken


Work stoppage.  Injury #2.  Fat lip.  Kindda cute.    Almost done!

coop injury lip


Trim the coop.  Paint the trim.

Building Coop 14


Actually done.

CoopFirst copy


And THAT is how you build a chicken coop.  In a nutshell.  The things that end up taking a lot of time I don’t have pictures of.  Like figuring out how to build doors that’ll work, drilling out holes for the door latches to fit properly, chiselling away at stuff so it fits better, deciding on the best way to install the hardware cloth, nailing in the siding so that all the edge line up perfectly around the entire circumference.  Stupid stuff.  It’s the stuff you don’t see, the stuff you don’t think of that takes time.  Well … that and the fact that I’ve never build anything even close to resembling a building before.

I could NOT have done it without these people who helped along the way.

My fella.  Who randomly woke up one morning, bought all the materials and starting framing the coop.  He quit … but he got the job going.

My sister with the pink tool belt.

Interior designer Carol Reed  who held my hand and confirmed my colour picks when my sister wasn’t around to ask.

My chickens.  You never saw a chicken who could wield a hammer like Tuco.

And all of you who sent me coop pictures and encouragement all the way through.

Thank you to all.


  1. Jamieson says:

    It’s crazy beautiful. How amazing!
    I would want to sleep in it at least once before the tenants moved in.

    • Karen says:

      I sat in the upper coop during a rainstorm with them once to make sure the roof wasn’t leaking. It was very cozy and they made excellent company. ~ k

      • Laura says:

        awww, chicken love. Reminds me of when I was a kid & would hang out in the barn on rainy days. We always had a few pet silkys along with the egg layers that were very friendly. The barn was a little roomier I can imagine. Great job Karen!

        ps..did you know you can hypnotize a chicken? It’s a fun party trick 🙂

  2. Nancy (aka moneycoach) says:

    Woman to woman: I am So PROUD of you! This totally inspires me to bust my own lingering stereotypes of what I can and cannot do. (sorry to get all feminist on your blog)

  3. Wow. I will never build a chicken coop. haha. I will just buy one!

    • Karen says:

      Adrienne – Probably a good idea. 🙂 I couldn’t buy one because I had such a strange space to have to fit the coop into. Long and narrow. And also, there’s the whole control freak, having to have everything exactly how I want it issue. ~ karen!

  4. Michelle says:

    Quick question – is it winterized? Will your chickens live out there in our nasty Canadian winters? More importantly will you trudge out there every day in the knee-high snowdrifts to get the eggs?

    • Karen says:

      Michelle – No, yes and yes. But the coop will be winterized a tiny bit in the fall. I am going to run some styrofoam insulation underneath and in the roof of the coop. I will also be adding a 40 watt lightbulb to help keep the hens warm. They’re actually cold weather birds that can live comfortably with a temperature of freezing and below. The bodyheat of the hens and the lightbulb should throw off enough heat to keep them happy. And since I tend to leave the house pretty much every day, there’s no problem with trudging the 5 feet outside the backdoor to get the eggs. 😉 ~ karen

  5. SK Farm Girl says:

    Congratulations Karen! You rock! Girl power! Boys drool, girls rule! The chickens at Green Fakers are so lucky to have Farmer-ess/carpenter-ess Karen! Stop by for a bag of Ruffles and a Diet Coke; I have a little sketch of something I want to show you! Really, it’s just a small structure; quite simple really, just a little roof over . . . LOL!

  6. Indira says:

    You are just everything I wolud like to be… So happy to have your blog for inspiration… 🙂 Indira

  7. Trysha says:

    So beautiful. Your sister rocks.
    I’m convinced I need chickens now. Golden Retrievers don’t lay eggs.

  8. bex says:

    cant wait to see what you do when your fella gets you a donkey next 🙂 ‘ei i ei i oooo’

  9. Jen says:

    Now that’s it’s done, do you stand outside and just stare at it constantly? I would. Huge accomplishment. It’s a beaut.

  10. Tracy says:

    This coop is just beautiful! I love everything about it.

  11. Farquist says:

    I would have taken the big red sign looming in the second and third pictures as a literal sign. You were brave to ignore it.

  12. Angela says:

    Who are these crazies who think coops are easy to build?? Did they not watch the coop-cam?

    By the way, I miss the coop-cam. And I think the trim looked awesome unpainted. Just wanted to throw that out there to frustrate you a little. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Angela – LOL. No frustration from that. The unpainted trim has a certain look, the painted trim has a certain look. I was going for the 2nd certain look, although both are acceptable. 🙂 ~ k

  13. Ruth says:

    One word… amazing. 🙂

  14. Amy says:

    Can you tell me where you found the lights? They are awesome! Great job on the coop, BTW. I sent it out to all of my chicken loving friends last night. So impressive!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amy – I go the lanterns at a grocery store, LOL. Loblaws in Canada. Did you click on the original “The Coop” link in the first sentence? It’s the post with all the pictures of the finished coop as opposed to this post which features a bit of the building process. ~ karen!

  15. Laura says:

    Yay!! It looks absolutely amazing! Such lucky little hens. I happen to have a bright purple chicken coop sitting in my backyard right now, but no chickens… Touring doesn’t leave much time for gathering eggs. You, however, make me long for some layers of my own! Great work on the coop, Karen.

    And thanks for listening to us two on Outlaw Radio! I love airplay! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Laura – LOL. You got that Tweet, eh? I love Outlaw Radio on Sirius and I was SO EXCITED to randomly hear The Secret Sisters on it! If you missed the actual “Coop” post from last week, make sure you click on it. Better pictures of the actual coop (including the chickens) than this post. When you get back from touring (if ever!) get yourself some hens. I know you’d love them. 🙂 ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      P.S. If you ever get home … I’d love to see a picture of the purple chicken coop. 🙂 ~ k

      • Laura says:

        I’ll be happy to send you some shots of it…it was built by the previous owner, and it is a raving beauty. Literally the color of eggplant, and very well made…but in dire need of some inhabitants. I’m going to contemplate at which point in my life I could handle having some chickens. Do chickens like tour buses? What am I talking about…WE don’t even have at tour bus yet! 🙂

  16. Such a great recap of your adventure, what an undertaking, but oh my word, you’ve got yourself one hell of a coup! Enjoy my friend, it’s beautiful! Someday I hope to drive on over for some fresh eggs. 🙂


    • Karen says:

      Thx. Kate! I’ll trade you some eggs for lavender. How’s that? Maybe we can make a lavender souffle. Oh god. No. That sounds horrendous. Nevermind. ~ k!

  17. Jen says:

    Awesome. Even your sawhorses were stylish.

  18. Christine says:

    Karen, what colour did you paint it? I may have missed the name/brand etc on a different post. It looks fabulous. You did a great job.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine – I actually custom blended a Benjamin Moore gray. I was trying to match the flagstone and slate in my backyard so it’s a dark, dark, dark gray. Almost black. ~ karen!

  19. The Fella's Dad says:

    The way I heard it the fella didn’t quit, you turned mean and fired him.

  20. Jenn says:

    Don’t forget to thank your mom for the awesome laugh!

    Love those tips, thanks for sharing!

  21. Evalyn says:

    I know. Build a door. What a concept. Right up there with buying a bag of dirt, or a bottle of water. Oh, and my fav: live chickens in the mail.

  22. Carol says:

    Karen you are soooooo welcome. Glad I could be there for you, I don’t have a sister so it was fun to be the stand-in. : ) Once again,,,you did an incredible job, i’m in awe of your planning/building skills.
    Carol Reed (aka Reid) ; )

  23. Julie shinnick says:

    Oh man! Great to see the progress shots at last!

    I felt tired just looking at you tired!

    Loved how the girls moved in when it was just a frame…..

  24. That is such a gorgeous chicken coop!

  25. Chris says:

    Great timing! We are currently in the “Will we ever finish” faze with our coop. I think my hubby was ready to walk off the job yesterday because our coop and run on are on a slope and he had to build a retaining wall to hold up one of the walls. Between having him read your post and watching him feed the chicks their first treat (zucchini), I think he’ll come back to work.

  26. Denise Leavens says:

    I love this post! I know it was hard, frustrating and took too long, but I still love this post. And one look at those feathered ladies (with the most elegant underpants EVER) all over the coop as it was being put together is enough to say it was worth it. Especially the one where they are all sleeping in line. An aside: do they do the line thing on command? The reveal post had several photos of those girls all lined up! How do you get them to DO that??? I must say the watermelon one (yes, I know, NOT lined up) is a favorite. I want to make it my desktop photo.

    I love this coop – the skylight is my very favorite feature, after the girls themselves. I am chicken caregiver wannabe and can only get my fix via the internet. I love it when they are called “Chooks”.

    Well done good a faithful servant of the chooks!

  27. beckie says:

    Your coop photo was on the home page of this morning. thought you should know if you did not already.

    tried to print screen and paste, but couldnt 🙁

  28. Melissa M says:

    Wow! I know this was a long, agonizing process for you (and everyone in your life, lol) but I hope you feel that in the end it paid off. The coop looks fantastic and I’m sure the chickens were stoked to have their own place. You rock!

  29. Tanya says:

    I know some people who would just love to have something like that to live in!

  30. Liz says:

    LOVE the rubber chicken!!

  31. Michelle says:

    Wow. I have a $2,000 ER bill (wood chisel + flesh = 8 stitches) and my coop doesn’t look anywhere as nice as this. It has been dubbed the ‘A’ Frame Chicken Tractor of Shame. Now I’m even more mortified.

  32. Thomas says:

    how can i get the plans for this. its awesome. please share

    • Karen says:

      Hi Thomas – Thank you! However, as I said in the post, I don’t have any plans for the coop. I made it up as I went with a basic idea of what I wanted to create in terms of size, etc. Sorry! It’s basically just a series of rectangles and boxes though … give it a shot. 😉 ~ karen

  33. Sherri Hanigan says:

    Your post has totally ruined my eye makeup! I’m sitting here wiping away black mascara streaks caused by laughing until I cried. Part of the comic hysteria was caused by your very witty writing style, but I have to admit that part of the issue was remembering my own DIY projects that somehow turned out in spite of my lack of knowledge or foresight. Like the time I locked myself in the bathroom while using oil-based paint and nearly passed out until I remembered there was a window I could open for fresh air until someone rescued me. I am now a fan and will return to your blog on a regular basis. -Sherri

    • Karen says:

      Sherri – Well done. You got me to laugh over the “realizing you could open a window” bit. 🙂 Glad you found my site! ~ karen

  34. Kathy says:

    I have been a subscriber to your blog for almost a year, but I am only just now taking a peak inside. YOU’RE ADORABLE! It’s 4:30am here in Minnesota, and I am up because I bolted out of bed at 3am realizing I had forgotten to wash a shirt my 15-yr-old says he absolutely has to have for school tomorrow. (But who am I kidding? I would be up finding stuff to do, avoiding sleep, regardless.)

    I so enjoyed reading your chicken coop saga…and before that your home tour. By the way, I love Margaret and especially LOVE your mother who inspired the purchase… actually, MANDATED the purchase…I’m not sure she ‘had me’ at the command to buy art or the when she sneaked the rubber chicken into the coop! She sounds beyond great. I guess that makes it obvious I am not your typical demographic in reader type. I’m more like your Mom’s age, with 1 kid most likely your age (who lives in Seattle), a 22-yr-old in NYC, and my little guy (6’4) who is still at home. And as for me, I am rattling around a now superfluous too-big house, which I share with my little man and my old curmugeony husband (who does not condone the purchase of art – hence my admiration for your mother’s mandate), and I am floundering around trying to remember what makes my life relevant (or hoping to figure out new ways to be relevant.) Who would’ve thunk I would get inspired by a funny, quirky girl half my age??

    Your posts gave me quite a few much-needed laughs and for that, I thank you. Rock on, girl (okay, be honest…do people still say that?) And here’s a question for you….. Does your Mom have a blog???! 😀 Clearly, she did a great job with you and your sister! If she does not have one, maybe she should! Or if you know of other cool old ladies with inspiring blogs, pass them along to me. 🙂 I the meantime I will continue to be entertained by your funny musings, holding out hope that I did half as good a job in parenting my kids as your mom obviously did for you!

    Kathy from MN

  35. Nina says:

    You are my hero…

  36. Regina says:

    Hi Karen,
    I just came across your chicken coop. It’s fabulous…I also saw the coops that inspired you about a week ago & thought they were wonderful too. I’ve been trying to design my own coop for about a week now, I want it to be functional yet creatively different. My baby chicken will be hatching out in about 8 days…and since poultry is frowned upon in my neighborhood it will be interesting to see if we can get away with having “pet hens”. The hens are Buff Orpingtons, very friendly and a quiet breed ;)so I am told.

    It’s January now and I was wondering how your hens are doing laying eggs now? and how you have liked having them so far?

    • Karen says:

      Regina – My hens are laying like lunatics. 3-4 a day (I have 4 hens) I rigged up artificial light so they continue to lay. (chickens don’t lay unless they’re 13 or 14 hours of daylight, so they tend to stop in the winter. Some people like to give their chickens a rest in the winter but since this is their first year I feel like they haven’t earned their rest yet, LOL. I love, love, love having the chickens. It *is* work though. I’m always careful to tell people that. You have to feed and water them, clean the coop, check them for mites etc., make sure their water doesn’t freeze in the winter and on and on. However … there’s nothing more fun than watching a couple of hens fight over a cherry tomato. Plus I always give them our leftover dinner (they especially love polenta, pasta and cheese) after dinner. I highly recommend having chickens! ~ karen

  37. Crazy gorgeous chicken coop! Wow! That’s all I can say…. Wow! xo

  38. Christie Thomas says:

    Hi Karen,
    Your coop is amazing! I LOVE it! I am going to attempt to build one as close to looking like it as possible! Do you know the dimensions for your coop?
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christie – I can’t remember exactly the dimensions, but just build your coop according to however much space you have. I believe it’s around 3 1/2′ wide X 11′ long X 7′ high. That’s the absolute largest I could make it for my area. It would be better if it were a bit wider ’cause that would make the run bigger for the chickens to run around. I literally just started framing it to the size I needed and built it on the fly. Good luck! ~ karen!

  39. Suzi says:

    OMG, that is one beautiful coop! Great job!

  40. Heather says:

    Hi Karen
    What a beautiful coop! My question is whether you would do it again? I work full time and I have not built anything before and my fella =) is about as handy as I am….I am ok with the chicken care part having grownup on a farm. I just love artistic original stuff (like your coop) and dont want something generic if I can help it. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Heather! It’s hard to say whether I would do this again. I mean, I love the result but it did take months of work. The other thing to keep in mind is even though I’d never built a chicken coop, I’m very familiar with tools and building things in general. I’m not sure if a Chicken Coop is the right place for you to start if you’re not handy at all. It might just end up being discouraging. If you notice, on my righthand side bar there are plans for a BEAUTIFUL chicken coop. It was the coop that inspired me to build mine. You might look into buying plans and having someone build it for you. At the very least, make sure you have actual plans. It’ll make it easier for you than doing what I did (built with no plans … just … started hammering. ) ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And I had all the tools needed to build this sort of thing. An electric mitre saw, jig saw, nail gun … etc. ~ karen

      • Heather says:

        Thank you for talking me down from the edge of that do-it-yourself chasm I was teetering on. I will place my energy in my garden and maybe buy a coop that I will customize. Keep up the wonderfully witty yet useful blog. I enjoy it immensely.

  41. Looks great! How much did materials cost?

  42. Christie Thomas says:

    Hi there!
    Do you have any pics of how you did your nesting and storage box? Also did you put a bottom on your coop? Starting our coop this week!! I’m scared but excited!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christie – Have you seen my entire Coop post? It shows the entire coop. I don’t have any plans for it or measurements because I just bought the wood and started building for the area I knew I had. If you don’t have plans, the ones for sale on my site by Heather Bullard (Chez Poulet on my right sidebar) are beautiful! I based much of my coop off of hers. Good luck and have fun with it! ~ karen

  43. Christie Thomas says:

    Hi Karen,
    Yes, and yes 🙂 I’ve read and re-read and studied all of your coop postings and have purchased her coop plans. Her plans are definitely nice, but do not contain a “how to” section. 🙂 This is my first time building anything, so i am basically teaching myself by watching u-tube video’s. My hubby is begrudgingly giving me some advice and letting me use his tools 🙂 Your nesting box works better for our backyard. Thanks for all of your input! Here goes nothing!

    • Karen says:

      Christie – Switching up the plans should be simple. Where Heather has a door, don’t make a door. Make a regular side panel attached to the framing. Then using her drawings, just make the door on the front of the nesting box where mine is. You’ll be able to figure it out. ~ karen

  44. Christie Thomas says:

    Hi Karen,
    One last quick question. What gauge of wire did you use? I’ve seen people use 1/2″ and 1/4″. Not sure if 1/2″ will keep mice out!
    Thanks again so much!

  45. Christie Thomas says:

    Hi again,
    Our coop is moving right along!! Thank you again for this inspiration! So I’m buying the siding today, did you actually stain it, or paint it? And did you use a “chicken friendly” product? Lol
    Thanks, Karen! Hope your front yard is looking good!

  46. Donn says:

    I built the same design. My 10 chickens seem to love it. They’ve only been in it for 2 nights. They have not discovered the advantages of sleeping in the upper (condo) area. I’m trying to coax them up there with more food and water.
    Did you have any problems?
    I envisioned a parade of hens proceeding merrily to the “loft” every night when the temp dropped below 50 and/or when the coyotes started howling…which they do.
    Santa Barbara Chickeneer

    • Karen says:

      Donn – Weird! No, my chickens started using the roost up in their upper coop condo right away. Do they have a roost in the upper coop? Technically it should come naturally to them. :/ ~ karen

  47. Donn says:

    3 roosting bars and 4 laying boxes. Oh well….they’ll the hang of it eventually.
    Thanks D

    • Aisha says:

      To some chickens it comes naturally, to others, not so much. My dippy birds NEVER figured out the upper loft area! I have learned training chickens is impossible, and gracefully bow out before hitting my head for the umpteenth time while sitting inside the actual coop trying to show said dippy birds that their little legs are perfect for going up ramps.

  48. Kari says:

    Karen, how did you install the magnets so they stay where you put them? Drill out the wall, push them in, secure with…glue?

    • Karen says:

      Kari – I bought the rare earth magnets at Lee Valley. They come with a cup that has a hole in the centre. So you drill out the wood you’re putting it on with a Forstner bit (to make a flat bottomed hole) then you put your cup in the hole, screw it in place, and set the magnet in the cup. It’s magnetized there for life. ~ karen!

  49. augie gallegos says:

    very nice…your carpenter skills are impressive and very helpful. I’m planning on building a coop in the spring of 2013…been wanting a coop in my yard for a few years now. You inspired me! Wish me luck. Augie

    • Karen says:

      Good luck Augie! There’s plans for sale on my right hand sidebar (Chez Poulet) $39 I think. Beautiful coop that I kind of based mine off of. I wish she had the plans for sale at the time I built mine. Probably would have taken half the time to do it. ~ karen!

  50. Nicole says:

    Your coop is beautiful! We recently finished our coop also. It was a lot of work. Unfortunately, it isn’t as cute as yours. We made it out of pallets and scraps left on the side of the road. We did end up buying the material for the roof. We are still predator-proofing it, though. We’ve lost 3 out of 12. Sad part of having chickens, but so enjoy them while they are here.

    Down here in the deep south of Alabama, we have the opposite problem of keeping it cool enough and allowing the air to move, instead of winterizing it. Thought I will be putting some insulation of some sort inside for the girls. I do also need to beautify their house. I want to paint and hang curtains. You know silly girlie stuff. 😉

    • Karen says:

      Nicole – I had heat problems here in the summer too. Canada has very cold snowy winters followed by very hot, humid summers. Many days were 105. Insulating the coop (especially the roof area) helps a LOT to keep the heat out. I also sprayed the ground around the coop, whereever they run. Cooling the ground down a couple of times a day with water helps a lot too. ~ karen!

      • Nicole says:

        Wow! I never would have guessed that! That is actually hotter than it was here all summer. That’s just crazy.

        I found your blog through pinterest. Glad I did.

        • Karen says:

          LOL. I know. Everyone thinks Canada’s only cold, but it gets blindingly hot too. And humid like a steam bath. Glad you found my blog too! (I see butterflies in your blog name .. if you search my site I have a 5 part tutorial on how to find monarch butterfly eggs and then raise them indoors to become butterflies … it’s very fun) ~ karen!

  51. Donella lyans says:

    You made me laugh so hard! Your coop is absolutely beautiful, kudos to you! I’m almost done with the 2 month adventure that has been the building of our coop. I have 7 chickens bursting out of their crappy, pieced together enclosure in my garage. I’ve read this several times because it’s helped me keep my sense of humor about all this. Great job and thanks for the inspiration!

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  53. Hi! We love your coop! Have looked for something to buy, but given space constraints and dogs, nothing else seems to fit the bill. So we are ignoring your very wise advice not to tackle something like this if we have children, jobs, laundry, etc. and going ahead and attempting to copy your coop. Hope you don’t mind. Thankfully, we currently only have 2 chickens busting out of their small cage in our utility room and will wait on the other 4 until these guys can move out! Hope you don’t mind if we lob a few questions your way as we go through this process! Many thanks, in advance!

  54. Amanda says:

    This project may be all just a long ago dream for you, but your comment on diydiva brought me over for a hearty laugh! The coop is beautiful and the build story FABULOUS! Thanks for a bit of hilarity to end my day. I’ll be back …

  55. Amanda says:

    Ooops … “Anna’s” comment on …

  56. Cher says:

    LOVE your coop!! Sweetie and I started chickens with a simple cattle panel parabolic arch house, a tree branch for the perch. It has worked well for 2 years and many feet of snow. Have never added insulation nor light/heat. The RI Reds do just fine. We cover it up with a strong plastic for the winter, letting the ladies out every day to roam their yard.
    Have been looking and dreaming for 2 years of a “nice” coop. This is the year!
    We both have skills, and materials – old and new – around the place.
    Bought: hardware, siding, roofing, pressure treated boards for touching the ground. Used scrap & reclaimed lumber for framing, & floors. Even used a used stair handrail for perch’s!
    After reading yours I told sweetie that ours is not going to be a “month” project!! Started this past Saturday, snow storm halted progress for few days (spring, hmmph) more work done today. the building WILL be finished this weekend. The run by next week (no sunroof).
    The 11 new chicks & 2 ducks are enjoying their babyhood under the heat lamp. Hope they enjoy the coop as much.

    • Karen says:

      THanks Cher. Yup. “The Coop” wasn’t a small project, that’s for sure, LOL. Especially with one person doing it. Although one of my sisters did help when she could. It’s done now and if I ever move out of this house, that coop is coming with me! I have no idea how, all I know is it is, LOL. ~ karen!

  57. Pammy says:

    I loved your article – it just cracked me up. Great work, you are amazing!
    (and so honest!)

  58. Chrystal says:

    oh! Just the kick in the butt I needed to get outside and finish my coop. I am stuck on the ‘winterizing’ part. It gets cold here in Fairbanks, Alaska! I, too, am just winging it, which makes figuring out my doors a bit tricky….for me anyways 😉

  59. Lara says:

    This is the most beautiful coop ever, nice work! I am not sure that I could persuade my husband to go to this extent, but we’ll see what we come up with…Cheers!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Lara! But here’s the thing … you don’t need to persuade your husband to do anything. YOU could do it! Yes. Yes, you really could! 🙂 ~ karen

  60. Barbara Nelson says:

    Loved your chicken coup. Do you have one for the potting shed or plans?

  61. Jackie Hall says:

    Wow! I can’t believe how amazing this coop is! I’ve been in the “research” phase for weeks. The research phase is also known as the “I’m afraid to start” or “I don’t think I can do it”, stage. Thanks for the info! I think I can, I think I can. 🙂

  62. Pingback: The Coop | The Art of Doing Stuff

  63. Minette says:

    You crack me up! The Narcolepsy “go with it” comment and picture made me laugh out loud!

  64. Linnea says:

    Your coop is amazing!! I’d like to try to recreate it this spring…but my hubby says there’s no way chickens will survive through a Manitoba winter. Then, I see in your comments that you’re in Canada! May I ask where? I’m assuming by your comments somewhere more harsh than the coast.
    How often do you have to clean the coop? Also, would this coop work with the deep litter method I left off the bottom? Thanks for your awesome inspiration and your help!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linnea! I am indeed in Canada. Southern Ontario where it is currently -14. Obviously it doesn’t get as cold here, but it gets plenty cold. The funny thing is, it isn’t cold that normally kills a chicken. It’s heat. I struggle with keeping them cool in the summer, but never with keeping them warm in the winter. If you build a smallish coop for them to roost in, their body temperature will keep them warm enough through the coldest nights. Remember, birds fly around Manitoba all the time and they survive the winter. What you have to do is make sure you get chickens that are winter hardy. Birds like Marans and Rhode Island Reds. I would guess Barred Rocks are good cold weather birds too. Last year I bought a small, ceramic heater for their coop. It hangs on the wall and isn’t a fire hazard like any other type of heater would be. I only did it because last year was SO cold that there was risk of them getting frostbite on their combs and toes at night. So there you have it. If I were you I’d look into any “Feather Fancier” clubs in Manitoba and see what they have to say. ~ karen!

  65. Kandy says:

    We love your coop!! We are about to start ours. I was wondering what the length, width and height are of your coop, forgive me if I have miss the info somewhere. Is there anything you wished you’d done differently now that some time has gone by? Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kandy. I actually don’t know what the measurements are! I just made it to fit the space I had. If you read through the post again, the measurements might be in there. It’s *around* 10 feet long by 7 feet high by 3 feet deep. And I still wouldn’t change anything about it, other than make it a bit bigger, but given the space I couldn’t have anyway. 🙂 ~ karen!

  66. Ashley says:

    Your coop is absolutely beautiful, but the roof looks very flat in pictures. Is there a small slope on the roof so rain water doesn’t collect on top?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Ashley. The roof is *almost* flat. To look at it, it is, but there’s a slight slope forward to it. I can’t remember what the calculation I used was but it was whatever it needed to be for run off. ~ karen!

  67. Allen says:

    I’m completely respectful of your work. I’ve not seen a more well designed space for a chicken coop (given the limited space and the budget). How much in total did it cost you to build this coop, if you mind me asking? This is worthy of an architectural digest article. The color choices, the trims, the lanterns … simply perfection ! May I use some of your ideas for my nonprofit project that includes a coop for my backyard chickens? Thank you kindly in advance for any considerations! But most importantly, thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. ~ Allen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Allen – Thanks very much. The coop is holding up well and I still love it. As do the chickens I assume. 🙂 I have to tell you it wasn’t an inexpensive adventure. But because of my limited space (and general aversion to cutesy coops) I was kind of forced into building my own. I didn’t keep track of the cost but my guess would be it ended up costing around $1,000! Part of the reason is because I was under such time constraints that I couldn’t take the time to source out used materials. Many people have copied my coop, which I have no problem with. All I ask is you send a photo when you’re done so I can see it! 🙂 ~ karen!

  68. Allen says:

    Hi Karen – Most definitely I will send you pics as well as any pictorial and/or publication credits. For the coop you have, the cost is very reasonable. Especially with what is out on the market currently. I sure hope you would consider putting together a kit of some sort or even plans to sell. Again thank you kindly – Allen

  69. Tresha Vincent says:

    I wanted to know what paint did you used, I just love the look it gives your coop.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tresha. Thanks! I actually had the colour custom made. It’s Benjamin Moore outdoor stain, not paint. I had it stained to match the slate in my backyard. It’s basically a black with a lot of blue in it. ~ karen!

      • Jason says:

        I love that color!!! I can’t wait to try and match the stain look. I am not making a coop, but want to make extra storage on the back of the garage and MUST HAVE THIS COLOR 🙂

  70. Maarja Daniel says:

    Oh, this is so increadibly beautiful! I am speechless! I simply love the design: it is not only pretty to look at but really practical as well! I have been dreaming about having chicken for years and now we are finally getting pullets for my daughters birthday in two weeks from now. I will get some help and try to make a chicken tractor with your coop in mind. I am so happy I found your blog! A million thanks from Estonia!

  71. Maarja Daniel says:

    Oh, this is so increadibly beautiful! I am speechless! I simply love the design: it is not only pretty to look at but really practical as well! I have been dreaming about having chickens for years and now we are finally getting pullets for my daughters birthday in two weeks from now. I will get some help and try to make a chicken tractor with your coop in mind. I am so happy I found your blog! A million thanks from Estonia!

  72. Diane says:


    Just wondering if you have a chicken guide book that you would suggest. Randomly trolling Indigo isn’t helping my decision making. Planning to get a few hens next spring (or not as I live in Calgary and they are SO behind the times so I cannot admit to anything) and would like to build the coop/ alien landing pad over the winter!
    You are the best.

  73. Ethan says:

    How much was the total cost

  74. Ethan says:

    On last Question do you have a list of all the materials that you used

  75. Ethan says:

    I am sorry i thought i had no more ?s but i would like to build my own like that is there any site or anything i could look at to see the plans for it. How many chicken could you put in the coop.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ethan, lol. No problem. I’m afraid I don’t have any plans, cut list or materials list for the coop because I literally just started building it from scratch with no plans. This size of coop will comfortably fit 4-5 chickens. I wouldn’t put more in it. I based my plan on the look of another blogger’s coop. Heather Bullard’s coop is beautiful and very similar to mine. Her has a more traditional roofline, which is really the only difference. You can buy her plans on her website and then either make her coop exactly or modify the roofline a bit to make it look more modern like mine. Good luck! ~ karen

  76. Celeste says:

    I got up this morning to read your article and cannot stop laughing. I cheated and got my coop made. I did at one point think about designing and making the coop but who was I trying to impress. I had neither the time; having kids, hubby , dogs, job, life… I did love that you persevered and completed your coop and it is wonderful. I do so love the color and the design. Congrats on a beautiful and functional coop…I am sure your chickens adore their home.

  77. Tracie says:

    I just found your blog today, I believe it was via Sweet Savannah – oh my word. In between all of the laughs, I’m actually learning stuff to do. Love your coop, love your chickens, love, love your sister and her pink tool belt! Thank you for giving up on TV!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Tracie! Welcome. 🙂 Yep, couldda been Sweet Savannah. Or Boxwood Avenue. Either or. You’re quite welcome on the whole giving up TV thing. I’m glad I did it too! ~ karen

  78. Kimberly says:

    I love your coop and aspire to spend at least a month and too much money building a similar one soon! Thanks for the awesome post.

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