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Chickens

Building the coop: exterior – Planning for chickens (4)

With the coop frame done, it’s time to cover it so the chickens will stay safe, warm and dry : ) After some looking around, we decided to cover the coop with rebate planks. I love natural materials, and in my opinion wood looks just beautiful! On top of that it isolates, and with the right joint it fits tight together making it wind and water proof.

We chose two different kinds of rebate – pine rebate for the walls, and douglas swedish rebate for the roof. We took two different kinds of wood to create contrast in color. Basically just for looks : )

Through the plans I made earlier, we were able to calculate how many planks we needed for the covering. For the walls, the coop is 8 planks high (on the front and back where it ends at the roof) and 11 planks high on the sides, up to the ridge of the roof.

We also took in account the difference in length where the planks need to cover the laying nests. From here we calculated which planks could be sown from 4m planks, and if we needed different sized planks as well.

For the roof it was pretty much the same thing, since we knew what size the roof and laying nest covering would be.

These are the amounts and sizes of the planks we need. We actually ordered less due to a miscalculation, but we’ll fix that in a future blog : )

One thing I should say before going on to covering the coop – if you want to add any extra support to the frame, for example to create more places where you can attach a perch, you should do so before adding the covering. We did, too : ) That way you can reach everything easily, and you don’t have to screw things down through the outer covering.

Covering the roof

In hindsight I’m not quite sure why, but we decided to start with the roof. I suppose we did because it was a really rainy day, so by starting with the roof we would protect the frame and foundation at least somewhat from the moisture.

Because our ridge beam is horizontal and we want a pointy roof, we needed to make sure the roof parts would align above the middle of the ridge. To do that, we measured out the middle of the ridge beam, and attached a temporary slat. That way, we could slide the first plank against it before attaching it to the frame. The first plank on the other side could then be pushed up against the first plank, and they’d join right above the middle of the ridge beam : )

Aligning the first roof planks
This is how we aligned the middle of the roof above the ridge beam. It worked really well!

With the first two planks in place, we could then just simply slide the next planks in place before screwing them down on the frame. The roof planks are a bit long, we plan on sawing them a bit shorter later.

Aaaand the roof’s in place!

Covering the walls

When the roof was finished, we started with the walls. We decided to start with the top plank on the front and back, since we need to saw gaps for the roof beams to fit through. We also mitered the corners, to make nice corners. Hopefully that’ll help the coop to last longer as well : )

Making the top plank fit right
Sawing gaps to make the plank fit tight to the roof

After screwing down the front and back top planks, we fit in the planks for the short sides that should fit in between. And guess what – they fit like a glove! : )

The first row of planks done
First row of planks done…

Now the tricky part – adding planks on the siding between the roof. It took a LOT of measuring, drawing out, remeasuring and cursing to get this part right. It would probably be easier to add the roof later, and just screwing straight planks down and sawing them to size with a jigsaw.

As you can see, we added small wood beams to the frame for future details. Which was kinda dumb to do before covering the walls, since it’s tricky to make planks fit around. We learned this the hard way, and removed them halfway through. : )

A lot of blood, sweat and tears later…

From this point on it went a lot faster. Measure the exact size the plank needs to be, fit it in place and screw it down. Because we have the chicken and human entrance at the front, we didn’t cover those. We’ll make the doors to fill the openings later.

The walls of the coop are (almost) done!
That looks a whole lot more like a chicken coop to me!

When we were almost done with the walls, it became evident we didn’t order enough rebate. We had to choose – either finish off the walls with the last row of planks, or make a human door. Since the door is needed for functional purposes, we decided to make that. We’ll order more wood later to finish off the last row : )

Human door and laying nest access

To finish off the covering and make it as wind and water proof as can be, we needed to make the laying nest access flap and the human door. We already had some hinges, so we could make them functional as well : )

Laying nest access

To make sure we can gather eggs easily, we wanted to make a flap entrance to reach the laying nests. To make it, we made a frame to fit on the opening. We wanted it to fit as nicely as we could on the frame, for best support.

The frame on its place!

We made sure to leave some room at the back, so it has room to rotate when opening.

Room for rotation on the back, and space for covering planks on the top!

After that, we screwed the planks to cover it down, whilst making sure the frame would keep room for rotation but the planks also ended below the wall planks. That way, when it rains, water from the walls will fall down on the plank instead of dripping down inside the coop.

Then we just laid it in place, added the hinges and tried if it worked… and it did! As you can see on the pic below, we’re one plank short. We’ll fix that later : )

Human door

Much like when we made the laying nests access, we started with the frame to make the human door. We measured the space we had between the frame beams, and made the frame to fit that with 5mm margin on every side.

Human door frame
The frame for the human door

After we made the frame, we screwed down the covering planks. The planks also had some margin, but less than the frame. We wanted it to fit as snug as we could, and also make sure the planks lined up with the planks of the coop.

Then we set it in place, making sure we kept the margins, and attached the hinges and the lock.

The door, put in place : )

Lastly, we made a walking plank so the chickens could access the coop. And that’s as far as we got finished today! I really love how the coop turned out. How do you like it? And what would you have done differently?

The finished coop
The finished coop! I love how it looks : )

Lessons learned

Since it was the first time we made something like this – and it’ll be the first time we raise chickens – we made some mistakes and realized some things would work better if done differently.

  • Make it as easy as you can for yourself, so start with the covering of the walls instead of the roof…
  • For a next build, I’d probably move the human door and the chicken entrance a bit farther apart. They’re 5cm apart now, but it looks a bit weird with the covering of the wall. It also isn’t as sturdy as it could be.
  • Order a bit more planks than you think you need, in case of miscalculations and/or mistakes.

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