I did it! Me! Lil’ Old Me. I took on my very own DIY Dog House chicken coop construction project all on my own with no building experience whatsoever.
So, going forward just know that this was written for those who feel like actually building something is way out of the question. If you know what you’re doing carpentry wise, you will only find this mildly amusing at best.
I managed to create this super cute little cottage like hen house using almost all found and free materials. A little back story.
I really, really wanted a flock of chickens. Actually, I had always wanted a pet chicken. Since I was a teenager, when I asked my Dad if I could get some. To which he replied “yes.” with the stipulation that I raise them for food and slaughter them when they were old enough. Um… no. No teenage girl in their right mind would agree to that!
So here I am more than 20 years later, and I want a flock of hens for eggs and some awesome garden rocket fuel (ahem… chicken poop). And my husband was none too happy about it.
But I figured, heck, if I can make a cheap chicken coop, or even a free one… just maybe he would be OK with it. And then he’d see how delicious these eggs are, and how happy the kids would be, and he’d be OK with the whole thing and everything would be roses and sunshine!
So I started thinking of my options. I was perusing the Craigslist free section for ideas, and posting ads on Freecycle.
And then one day it dawns on me. The old dog house in the back yard! Eureka!
We had this old dog house that had been sitting in our back yard in the dog kennel pen since we had moved in, three years earlier. Our dogs never so much as looked at that dog house.
So one day when hubby went of to work, I went out back and got to work. Let me just interject here – I had never built anything in my entire life. No building, carpentry, or power tools experience here. Just plain determination.
And that thing was heavy! First order of business was getting it out of the dog pen and over to the back patio where I could work on it. I’ll tell you one thing. Determination goes a long way! I rolled, kicked, and pushed that thing about 25 feet across the lawn. No way was I picking it up and carrying it!
At closer inspection, the roof was totally rotten and the shingles were falling off. And it was kind of small on the inside.
So I pulled off the roof with an old hammer, and got to work gathering supplies, planning my build. Back to Craigslist and Freecycle.
Over the next few weeks I spent a lot of time gathering supplies. I already had things like hammers and nails hanging around in my husband’s man town… er, I mean shed. And a bit of wood here and there, mainly 2 by 4’s.
I found someone on Craigslist who had a big pile of wood and building stuff they needed to get rid of after taking down a porch and stairs. I found others with a couple pieces of wood left over from a build. I even happen to just drive past a pile of plywood and two by fours one day, the plywood on top spray painted the word “FREE” on it. I took the wood and the sign.
Once I had what seemed like an acceptable amount of materials, I began building! Remember, I had no idea what I was doing. I have puny weak arms. And I was working while hubby was at work. So I had little help. So if you are prone more towards wielding a nail file than a hand saw, or just the type of person who never does this sort of thing (like I was/are), you may think there’s no way you could ever build something like that. Put the thought out of your head! If I can do it, you can do it!
Dog House Chicken Coop Construction Step By Step
So I started, as I said above, by ripping the rotted roof off. But I wanted to make the coop bigger. At present it was 3 feet by 2 feet. But I felt that it ought to be wider.
Let me add a note in here, in retrospect this was totally unnecessary. My chickens lived in it happily only ever roosting in the front part with the arch to the roof. They only ever walked across the additional space to get to the nest box.
So my plan was to add on an additional 2 feet of space. So I started by taking off the wall on the right side of the house and making a new frame to attach the floor. I created the frame by nailing together 2 by 4’s and nailing them to the bottom of the dog house. I cut two of the 2 by 4’s to 4 feet and two of them to 3 feet. So when I put them together end to end they created a rectangular shape measuring 3 feet by 4 feet. I most likely made this rectangle by nailing them to the bottom of the dog house, and then nailing the 2 by 4’s together while attached to the house.
Oh, and by the way, cutting the 2 by 4’s – I used a circular saw. We just happen to have one in the shed! I put it on a work horse on the back patio and used it. Although it was kind of scary at first, it was pretty easy to use.
Oh and did I mention I had a little helper throughout this endeavor? Isn’t he a looker?
Next I used the wall that used to be attached to the right side of the dog house to nail down onto my rectangular frame to become part of the floor.
And yes, I started out using a good old hammer and nails. I didn’t know any better! It was hard, slow work, but it did the job. I have to also note here, much of this building effort was done by simply wingin’ it. It became pretty much like putting together a puzzle where I was cutting the pieces to fit where they go.
Next I created a similar frame for the walls. For this I simply measured from the floor to the top of where the wall would be and cut the 2 by 4’s accordingly. And I nailed those suckers in place.
I happen to score a box of linoleum tiles from Freecycle, so I glued those babies down in place too.
Next step? Adding a nest box! At the time I knew I wanted an attached nest box that I could simply open up and collect eggs without having to get into the coop at all. So I started with simply figuring out how big I wanted the nest box to be and based on that started planning out what sizes to cut my wood.
I used the wood from some old stairing to put the box together, and basically just cut the top parts at an angle and constructed a simple rectangular, three sided box. I then nailed that box to the floor of the coop at the right side in between my wall frame pieces.
I also added a piece off wood across the top of the nest box and attached to the wall frames to keep everything stable.
The next thing I did was to cut out a couple of doors, and add some walls. I cut a small door for ventilation on the front right above the door. I could have just cut a small hole and covered it with chicken mesh wire in the back, but I was being all cutesy about it.
I also cut out a large door to the left side of the house.
Just how did I create these doors you ask?? Well my mom had this little hand saw thingy. I later found it was called a Jigsaw and it was rather nifty. I used a big ruler to draw where I wanted to cut. Made a hole with a hand held drill and used the saw to simply cut out the rectangular shape. If you’re going to try and do this yourself – don’t worry, it doesn’t have to even look perfect. You can fix it later.
I added walls where there previously none by measuring the space and cutting some plywood accordingly. And then just nailing those babies in place.
And here’s where I started to spend a bit of money. But in comparing to the cost and quality of a store bought coop, what I spent was pennies!
I needed to add a coat of paint to the coop now that it was coming close to finish. So I high tailed it to the local Lowe’s and headed straight for the paint reject shelf. That is where they keep the paint that customers decided they didn’t want after having colors mixed in. So it’s hit or miss what you might get for color. But I got my big bucket of exterior paint for $7 flat. Sure does make the color more attractive, doesn’t it?
So I began caulking and painting. I added two coats of paint to the walls and doors.
I also bought a little bit of stripping form the lumber section on my trip to buy paint. I used the stripping to create molding for the edges of the walls and doors. For a bit of a cottage-esque coop, and a much nicer finished hen house.
I measured all of the places I would attach the molding and I cut the stripping to the specified sizes. I painted them all white with some paint we had left over from who knows what, and attached them with screws and, whoa, get this – I upgraded form a hammer and nails to an actual drill!
I added a lid to the nest box with hinges. And started to add a roof.
And started attaching the doors.
The front door was already cut in the wood of the original dog house. So what I decided to do was make that a sliding door. Basically I just cut a rectangular piece of plywood to a little bit bigger a size than the hole that was to be the door. I placed some pieces of stripping above and below the door, and then added some more pieces to hold the door into place, but with just enough “give” that the door could slide open and shut from right to left.
The tiny door at the top is my ventilation door. In the winter it stays shut, but in the summer I can open it for a bit more air flow on hot days.
And the side door is my “cleaning” door. So I can get in and give the coop a good once over every now and then. That one was easy. I placed a couple pieces of wood on the inside overlapping the edge of the door to keep it from swinging inward. On the outside I placed molding on the outer edges of the actual door and then hung it in place on hinges.
Last I finished putting on the roof. I put on the last parts of the wooden roof, and then stapled a plastic contractor’s bag (yep, like a trash bag) in place. For a roof I used a a corrugated roof piece I bought at, you guessed it… Lowe’s. It was a big floppy piece of roof that I could easily cut to size, and wasn’t too expensive. So I measured out the sizes I would need, cut the roofing to size, and screwed it into place making sure to use caulking around all of the screws. Viola!
What About A Chicken Run?
This chicken coop construction project would not be complete without devising a plan for a chicken run!
In the future, I would probably opt for pouring over Craigslist ads until I found someone trying to unload and old dog kennel. That would be just so much easier, and last a lot longer.
I was going the cheapest route possible, so I built my chicken run out of PVC pipe. What I did was pretty simple! I drew a rough sketch of what I was trying to accomplish and made a list of how many feet of pipe I needed, as well as how many connectors. I built the run against the fence so I could utilize it as one wall, thus keeping my expenses down even more.
I basically made 3 “walls” out of various lengths of pipes and connectors and then zip tied them all together, and covered them in chicken wire.. I dug a trench along the front and side leading up to the coop to let the pipe “wall” sit in so I could bury it for stability. The front wall was held on with zip ties and tied shut with a rope so I could swing it open if need be.
All together the run cost me all of about $35. The only downfall? It won’t last more than one winter. After the winter was over the pipes started to crack and break.
Building Your Own Hen House?
Inspired to start your own chick coop construction project? I just have a couple tips for you…