Make It Your Own: Anna & Matt’s Garden Coop, San Francisco, California

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Along with pictures of their completed backyard chicken coop, Anna and Matt sent a very thoughtful review of The Garden Coop chicken coop plans and a summary of their building process and decisions. So without further ado, the rest of this post comes straight from them:

Anna and Matt built their own backyard chicken coop using The Garden Coop plans

Finding the right chicken coop plans

After much research, Matt and I finally settled on purchasing both The Garden Coop and The Garden Ark plans. We had never built anything from scratch — our prior building experience topped out at putting together some cheap bookshelves and a coffee table. We had considered coming up with our own plans based on pictures of random coops available online, but we quickly scrapped the idea when we realized that we wanted to build something that was actually aesthetically pleasing.

There are quite a few books out there detailing coop plans, along with other plans that could be purchased via Internet download, but none of those plans would produce a coop that came close to the simple beauty of The Garden Coop. . .

The purchase and download of the plans was a breeze, and we appreciated the immediate gratification of having both plans at the click of a button. Upon an initial review, the plans were articulate and detailed, but written in a language that amateur carpenters (and non-carpenters) could appreciate and understand.

Building the chicken coop

Anna and Matt made the door to their chicken coop swing outwardAfter ordering our chicks, procrastinating was over, and the building had to begin. The shopping list of tools/materials proved to be invaluable, as it reduced the number of visits to our local hardware store and gave us the terminology to ask where to find each item.

Armed with our first tools and the supplies, we began building the coop. We effectively followed the plans (for the most part), only making slight deviations, most of which were inspired by other builders’ modifications at TheGardenCoop.com. The entire coop took us approximately 10 days to build, working approximately 6 hours a day.

Here are a few modifications we made along the way:

  • Digging the pier holes – We measured the frame first and then dug and placed the piers accordingly (as opposed to putting the frame on the space and marking the grass).
  • Bracing – We did use some bracing. We took the triangular scrap pieces from cutting the roof rafters and temporarily nailed those into four corners of the frame.
  • General measuring – After putting up the frame, we followed the cutting measurements from the plans, but double-checked with the dimensions of our coop prior to cutting.
  • A-angle brackets for frame – We could not find A-angle brackets narrow enough, so our A-angle brackets extended beyond the width of the 2x4s. As a result, we made our coop door swing out instead of in, and we cut a notch in the henhouse frame supports to fit over the brackets.
  • Burying wire mesh around the base of your chicken run to prevent rodents and predatorsTrench – We only dug a trench around three sides of the coop, since the front of the coop is lined with pavers. To keep mice, etc. from entering through any small gaps in the front, we dug a hole on the inside of the coop, and buried hardware cloth from the inside instead (see picture).
  • Hardware cloth – We had a lot of difficulty wrapping the hardware cloth entirely around the coop, so instead we ended up cutting it at several corners and restarting the hardware cloth. I found that the easiest way to install hardware cloth was to hold each poultry staple with a pair of pliers and nail them in with the pliers, thereby saving me the pain of accidentally hammering my fingers.
  • Redwood is naturally rot-resistant and great for siding a backyard chicken coopSiding – We used redwood siding, which ended up looking great!
  • Egg door – We had some trouble with the egg door. When first installed, it worked well, but then as the weather heated up, thermal expansion locked the egg door in place. We ended up shaving a bit off the top and bottom of the egg door.
  • Windows – We put one Plexiglas window on the henhouse access door and another on the front of the coop. Soon after cutting the window of the door for the front of the coop, we realized that the window would be somewhat limited in functionality, since it only leads to a good view of the nesting boxes. In retrospect, we would have put that window on the left side of the coop instead.
  • Swivel latches – We put a swivel latch on both the henhouse access door and the outer coop door. The latch on the coop door is quite high (plus the door is quite snug), so we think that raccoons, etc. will find it impossible to get in.
  • Anna and Matt lined the floor inside the henhouse to make it easier to clean up the chicken poopHenhouse floor – We put a basic blue tarp on the henhouse floor, with a hole cut out for access, for ease of cleaning. Any poop that drops past the straw cleans up easily with a quick scrape, and the blue tarp can’t be seen outside of the coop.

The finished coop

The end product is absolutely beautiful and is now the centerpiece of the backyard. Our family has been incredibly impressed with the coop, expressing astonishment at both its functionality and appearance.

Chickens enjoy a roomy run in their new backyard coop built from The Garden Coop plans.

We are more than happy with our purchase of the plans and would enthusiastically recommend purchasing the plans to anyone interested in starting their own backyard chickens.

Along the way, we had several questions, and John was immensely helpful in answering those questions in a prompt and complete manner. He was also great in providing us with extra encouragement in our building venture.

Many thanks again for the great plans. Our chickens thank you too!
—Anna and Matt H., San Francisco, California

Thanks to Anna and Matt for taking the time to write about their coop building project and for sharing their photos (and compliments!). If you’ve built your own backyard chicken coop using one of our DIY plans and have ideas to share, let us know. Send an email or leave a comment below.

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5 Responses to “Make It Your Own: Anna & Matt’s Garden Coop, San Francisco, California”

  1. Macy says:

    I just wanted to state that this coop is BEAUTIFUL, but…

    This would be impractible in north central CT where I am. It abounds here with predators that you may not have to deal with where you are: foxes and coyotes; martens; weasels; fishers; rats; cats both domestic and wild; dogs; rats; raccoons; and let’s not even get into birds of prey.

    While it’s REALLY great that we have a more balanced ecosystem here than we used to, if I built that coop, any slinky predator with the ability to climb could scale the hardware cloth, go though the spaces at the top (right below the roof), and proceed to wreak havoc.

    We have to build ‘em like Fort Knox here! I do admire the style of your coop though. I hope to come up with something as elegant as this looks!

    • Macy, thanks for commenting. To clarify, The Garden Coop is secure on all sides — including the top, where there is hardware cloth protecting the entire ceiling. There are no spaces for predators to sneak (or bust) in. You also secure it at the bottom with trenched hardware cloth or a perimeter. Check out the other profiles on this blog, and you’ll see the mix of places where people have built this coop, precisely because they need security from a range of predators.

  2. Sandra Christou says:

    I would love to know what stain Matt and Anna used on their Garden Coop (in the photo) – it’s beautiful and my Garden Coop is ready to be stained.
    Thank you.

    • Sandra, I asked Anna. She said they used a clear wood sealer to protect the redwood siding from the elements, while maintaining the natural tones inherent to the redwood. So if you’re staining a lighter wood, you might look for a redwood stain to approximate what you see here. Hope this helps.

  3. Kate says:

    I just wanted to add that in my coop I used cheap, self-adhesive vinyl tiles on the floor which also makes for easy clean up. Just thought it might stay in place better than a tarp, but functionally achieves the same thing…easy wipe up!

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