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. 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.

  2. Hailey Marie says:

    That is such a gorgeous chicken coop!

  3. 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…..

  4. 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) ; )

  5. 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.

  6. Jenn says:

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

    Love those tips, thanks for sharing!

  7. The Fella's Dad says:

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

  8. 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!

  9. Jen says:

    Awesome. Even your sawhorses were stylish.

  10. 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!

  11. 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! :)

  12. 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!

  13. Ruth says:

    One word… amazing. :)

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. Tracy says:

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

  17. 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.

  18. bex says:

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

  19. Trysha says:

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

  20. Indira says:

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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

  23. Adrienne Audrey says:

    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!

  24. 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)

  25. 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 :)

      • Liz says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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