Dan S. and family in Raleigh sent in this exciting example of a backyard coop built with The Garden Coop plans. The time and attention they put into it shows, and you can tell from the pictures that it was truly a family project. Dan was kind enough to share his thoughts on the plans and his notes on the customizations he made. The rest of the post comes from him. Enjoy!
Dan’s review of The Garden Coop plans
I did a lot of research before I built my chicken coop, and this is by far one of the best sets of coop plans out there. I went back and forth on trying to create my own plan until I found your site. The plans are worth every bit of the price (if not a lot more).
Overall, I stuck pretty close to The Garden Coop design. I was still able to put my own creativity into it and make it my own, but the plans saved me hours of work by giving me the basic design, supplies, and easy steps to follow. It is such a great plan, but also allows for basic modifications.
The coop did cost a little more than I budgeted for. I had a $500 start, but honestly probably hit closer to $1,000 after all was said and done, including modifications. I also took my time building it. Probably two months in all. We would bring out tools, music, and work together as a family. The memories and experience — priceless.
Extra features and design touches
Here are some of the things we did to personalize our backyard coop:
- Cantilevered extended roof. We really like this addition to the design. It gives a “garage” to store our urban farm accessories. We keep four cans under here: one for wood shavings, one for chicken feed/scratch, one for our rabbit food, one for our bird feed. I also hang our basic tools and have two Lowes buckets for cleaning. With the extended roof, you really have to create temporary braces before putting on the hardware cloth due to the extra weight and extension of the roof. It also adds costs to the overall plan, but it worked well for us.
- Hen house ramp to side. This looks to be one of the most popular options. I like it because it allows more room inside the hen house, and I get to see my “girls” walk up the ramp from my kitchen window.
- Roofing material. We have a few Lowes stores in the Raleigh area, and I could only find this at one of the stores. It is called Ondura. They have a really cool red color, and I liked how it looked on the coop.
- Decorative window. I saw this and knew I had to have it on my coop. I picked it up at Market Imports in Raleigh, NC. We thought about an old stain glass window, but in the end this was more durable and easier to install.
- T-11 siding. I liked the vertical lines of the T-11 siding, and due to the thickness, I didn’t put in the interior floating wall called for in the plans. I just put T-11 around the whole thing. It is a little heavier, and you really need two people for helping with this one.
- Side-swinging egg door. I first built a door that raised up to access the internal nest boxes I built, but the cabinet hinge I used was not kid-friendly. I switched it back to the side (as in the plans), and it has been much easier for my kids to open.
- Rear access door. I put a rear access door on the back of the hen house so that I don’t have to go into the coop to access the hen house. It gives me an extra option for cleaning and for adding wood shavings to the hen house.
- Bench. I put in a homemade bench directly in front of the coop. This has been great. I go out early in the morning before kids are up to drink my coffee and watch my “girls.” Great way to start my day.
- Rain barrel wash station. My hose didn’t quite reach to the coop, and adding two hoses was too hard for my kids to pull all the way to the coop, so I built a rain barrel wash station. I took four cinder blocks, put leftover T-11 siding around it, added a platform, put a frame in front with pressure treated 2x4s, and connected with two-foot rebar to put it together. I like how it looks with the coop, and it is easy to wash your hands after working with the coop and to fill our waterer. I haven’t built the gutter yet, so currently I am just filling the barrel with the hose.
- Metal decorative roosters. Again, another Market Imports find. I saw these three years ago and knew I wanted them in my garden. I had know idea I would ever have backyard chickens! I mounted two of them on a 6X12 piece of pressure treated wood I stained. I have one on each side of the roof “protecting my girls.”
Again, what a great experience for me and my family building the coop. Thanks for great plans and a great site. It has been fun to see others across the nation and world being part of the “Garden Coop Club.” —Dan, Jessica, Ethan, Olivia, Adam, and Aaron in Raleigh, North Carolina
Many thanks to Dan and his family for sharing their pictures and ideas. If you like what they’ve done. Let them know with a comment below. And check out this post on Dan’s blog (Dan The Can Do Man) for more about their backyard chicken adventures. Finally, subscribe to Coop Thoughts. It’s free, ad-free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.