Make It Your Own: Bill and Chris’s Massachusetts Garden Coop

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Front view of Garden Coop with henhouse window and green trim.

Bill and Chris in Southeastern Massachusetts built a beautiful chicken coop using The Garden Coop plans. They sent us some nice pictures and a detailed description of all they did to make it their own. The rest of the post comes directly from Chris. . . . 

Our Garden Coop build

I came home from work one day and informed my husband that I wanted to get some chickens. I thought he would laugh in my face, but instead I got a very different reaction. He thought it was a good idea and was really excited about building a coop. We have a large lot including an old farmhouse and barn so we had plenty of room. We were already working on some renovations to the barn in preparation for adding solar panels so we already had some construction in progress. After looking around at different designs we decided on The Garden Coop.

I ordered the plans, and we surveyed the yard to decide on just the right spot to place it. We got 8 chicks in March and they stayed in the house and then basement until the coop was finished and the weather was warm enough. The coop was built with the help of our son, who is a contractor, and two of our grandchildren. It was truly a family affair.

Grandkids looking out through the henhouse window of the Garden Coop.

We had some wood from an old building we took down on our property in the barn so we used this for the siding. It’s beautiful old wood. You can see the large saw marks on most of the boards. This gives our coop a rustic look and has special meaning for us since the wood originally came from the property.

Rustic siding on the henhouse of the Garden Coop.

Our chicken coop modifications

We made some changes to the plans based in part on comments from The Garden Coop website and our personal needs:

  • Extra bracing around base and the walls: My son felt we should “beef up” the frame a little. This included additional 2x4s around the base of the coop frame as well as some diagonal bracing in several spots.
  • Increased the overall height: The hen house is essentially the same size just higher off the ground. Of course it turned out a little taller than planned, and I have to stand on a stool to clean out the hen house! The extra height would have required more hardware cloth so we improvised with some additional siding around the top of the coop and beneath the hen house.
  • Moved the hen house entrance door from the floor to the side and added a hinged door for extra protection from wind. This can be opened from the front of the coop with a rope connected to the door.
  • Installed handles on interior walls for easy removal.
  • Incorporated external nesting boxes from the beginning: Thanks so much for the additional free plans. The only thing we would do different is change the hinge type on the box for the door. We used the exact same hinge as in the picture and we felt like it would be better to affix to the side of the plywood instead of the edge.
  • We added a Plexiglas window to the front of the hen house.
  • The siding on the hen house was wood we had in our barn. The wood was different lengths and widths and a full 1 inch thick. Some boards were 20′+ long and anywhere from 10″ to 17″ wide. These were all cut to length then ripped to size on a table saw and stained on all sides before nailing them in place.
  • Painted the roof rafters, purlins, and door and window frames a bright contrasting color found in the (oops) customer returns bin at Home Depot. Cost us $5 for a gallon of premium exterior paint.

We couldn’t stop there. . .

Once the coop was completed we couldn’t stop there, so we set up a 40′ x 60′ free range fence around the coop and incorporated the roof rafters design into the arbor. We used the reclaimed wood for the gate and arbor to keep the look the same. We also added two 4′x4′ compost bins at the far end of the free range area. The chickens get so excited when my husband turns the compost pile since it sends all kinds of creepy crawly things their way.

The Garden Coop with fenced chicken yard and gate with arbor.

We also added 2 solar spot lights. One shines on the coop door and the other is pointed at the arbor gate. We both leave for work early, so in winter I am running out to the coop in the morning and late in the evening when it’s dark. The lights are a huge help. We even found some solar Christmas lights to decorate the arbor.

One of my favorite pictures of the finished coop and free range area is after my husband and grandchildren decorated it for fall:

Chicken coop and arbor decorated for Fall.

We have pictures of the coop and free range area from every season since its completion, including the one after we wrapped the coop for winter:

The Garden Coop wrapped in plastic for the Winter.

FYI, we did not add insulation between the walls. Winter temps here are a little more moderate than our more northern neighbors. However we have been having some single digit temps with subzero wind chills and our girls have been just fine. This spring we intend to set up a solar generator to provide electricity to the coop for heated water base (currently powered by extension cord). I will also be adding some ornamental shrubbery to give the chickens some additional protection when they are out in the yard.

The Garden Coop in the Winter with snow.

Thank you so much for the easy-to-follow plans. The Garden Coop is such a beautiful addition to our yard. I can’t imagine our yard without it now.

Many thanks to Bill and Chris for sharing their notes and gorgeous coop photos with us! If you like what they’ve done, please let them know with a comment below.

 

 

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5 Responses to “Make It Your Own: Bill and Chris’s Massachusetts Garden Coop”

  1. Liz Collins says:

    I would love to learn more about the solar generator that will be used to power the water heater base. What a great idea for those of us in colder regions. Presumably the water base can’t take up too much juice!

    • Bill Pellegrini says:

      Hi Liz,
      Unfortunately we have not yet set up our solar generator. We still hope to do that soon. I will post details when we do.

  2. Sandra, for a “real” window you would first get the window you want, then place two extra studs the width of your window apart. You could use 2x2s or 2x4s for the studs, depending on how thick your window is. Then cut a 2×4 (or 2×2) to sit horizontally below the window, and another above it. You’ll attach your window to these, then add siding and trim as needed.

    A plexiglass window (like the one featured in this post) can just attach to the back of the siding. Predrill the holes before screwing into it. If you’re using individual siding boards, you’ll need something to attach them to around the opening. This could be plywood or additional short studs.

    Here are all our blog posts tagged “windows”: http://www.thegardencoop.com/blog/tag/windows/

    Hope this helps.

    • sandra Hanna says:

      Thanks. Yes, it did. The hen hut part (we’re sectioning it into 3 parts to move it soon) weighs a lot, and hubby suggested we wait to see if we can just get it in the backyard first! Good idea. I’ll post if I get to add a window. Thought it would help cool the coop on those hot Texas days — and evenings!

  3. sandra Hanna says:

    thanks for sharing your photos and tips. I’m interested in knowing more about adding a window. I’ll insulate our coop and intend to add an enclosed roof to help keep them warm on some of our Texas days in the teens…and a solar exhaust for our hot summers! currently accepting any tips on these subjects!

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