Chicken Coop Project – Part 5

It seems that my posts are down to about one a month lately.  I’ve been working each day on my chicken coop project, but some days I can only put in a couple of hours as work and family keep me quite busy.  So, what does a month of my spare time yield?  Well, read on.

You can read the earlier posts in this series here:

I ended the last post in this series with the roof finished water-tight, so I could now work below without regard to the weather.  At least now I can work with both feet on the ground.

I also installed a cap at the hip joint. It is done!!!

The roof is done, time to complete the hen-house.

To get started, I installed sheets of 7/16″ oriented strand board (OSB) to the wall studs.  I attached them with ring shank nails, fired from my framing nailer.  The OSB sheets covered the openings for the nesting boxes and windows, but that wasn’t a problem.  I used a panel pilot router bit to plunge through the OSB and follow the framing lumber.  This quickly cut out the openings.

OSB was installed and the openings cut out with a router.

OSB was installed and the openings cut out with a router.

The openings are for windows, nesting boxes, and the poop pit.

The openings are for windows, nesting boxes, and the poop pit.

I cut some smaller pieces to cover the area above, below, and beside the door opening.  I then cut angled pieces of OSB and filled in the openings in the eves.

I also trimmed around the door to keep it all on the same level.

I also trimmed around the door to keep it all on the same level.

To install and flash the windows, I used a product called Vycor.  It is a very, very sticky roll of tape about 6-inches wide.  When pressed down with a pressure roller, it seals up well.  I’m not worried about any water getting into this building.

I installed and flashed the four windows.

I installed and flashed the four windows.

I also flashed the bottom of the door.

I also flashed the bottom of the door.

I mentioned in a earlier post that I priced out Tyvek wrap and it was going to cost more than the OSB that it covers.  I was going to just use tar-paper to save some money.  My Dad told me that he thought there was some leftover Tyvek that he had given me from when his shed was built.  I had a good look around, and sure enough, I found some.  It was just enough to wrap the whole hen-house.  Thanks Dad!

Next up was the Tyvek wrap.

Next up was the Tyvek wrap.

Once the building was wrapped with Tyvek, I installed the trim boards.  For these I bought 5/4″ x 3″ and 5/4″ x 4″ pre-primed fascia boards.  screwing a 3″ and 4″ board together in an “L” shape makes a corner board that appears evenly sized.  If the boards were the same width, one part of the “L” would look longer than the other.  I used the same pre-primed fascia to trim around the windows.

I installed the door, corner boards, and the window trim.

I installed the door, corner boards, and the window trim.

The local hardware store where I have bought all my materials gave me a good deal on an exterior out-swing door that had been sitting in their inventory.   Out-swing exterior doors aren’t that common as the hinge pins are on the outside.  This could be a security issue on a house, but not on this coop, I think.  I could have used and interior door and installed it backwards, but those doors aren’t designed to be exposed to the elements, and would likely rot or warp in no time.  Having the door swing outwards will be important as deep wood shavings / litter on the floor of the hen-house would stop the door from swinging inwards.   With an out-swing door, I can install a ledger board on the inside of the bottom of the door frame, and this will prevent the wood shaving falling out of the door when it is opened.

I used and out-swing exterior door.

I used and out-swing exterior door.

1x3 for the top and sides, and 1x4 for the bottom.

1×3 for the top and sides, and 1×4 for the bottom of the window trim.

The whole hen house was wrapped in Tyvek.

The whole hen house was wrapped in Tyvek.

I had a couple of days when it rained way too much to be able to work outside.  I used this time to run all the wiring for the building.  You may remember from the first post in this series, that I ran an underground power supply to the building before I poured the foundation.  I tied into this and ran wires for lights and electrical outlets.  I bought three FEIT LED shop lights from Costco for $35 each and I’m really impressed with how much light they put out.  One light is in the hen-house and two are in the chicken run.

LED lights purchased from Costco.

LED lights purchased from Costco.

I will eventually hang the waterer and feeder from one of the roof trusses in the outdoor chicken run.  To ensure that the water doesn’t freeze during the coldest parts of winter, I will need a heated waterer, and this in turn will need electricity.  I installed a receptacle on the intended truss.

I installed some electrical outlets in the covered run.

I installed some electrical outlets in the covered run.

On other rainy days, I worked on cutting and fitting some insulation.

When it was too rainy to work outside and hang siding, I worked on fitting the insulation.

When it was too rainy to work outside and hang siding, I worked on fitting the insulation.

When the weather cleared up, I got busy installing the siding.  I chose Hardie Plank siding for the project.  I love this stuff.  It is made out of a mixture of cellulose fiber and cement and pressed to look like wooden clapboards.  Whats not to like? It can’t rot and is surprisingly cheap.  This is the same siding that I put on my barn and that is on my house.  It comes pre-primed and takes paint beautifully.

Starting to hang the Hardie Plank cement siding.

Starting to hang the Hardie Plank cement siding.

There are few important tricks to hanging this siding.  First, get a pair of hanging guides. These clamp onto a lower plank and hold the upper plank in place while you nail it.  This makes sure that your reveal is always constant.  Pay special attention with a spirit level when you install the first plank, and then work your way up the building using the guides.  I wouldn’t even attempt installing this type of siding without these guides.  The ones I use are made by Pacific Tool and you can find them on Amazon.  The plastic ones are cheaper, and are plenty strong enough for the home user.  If I installed this stuff for a living, I’d probably buy the metal ones.

Next, don’t cut the siding with a saw.  It’s cement, and it eats saw blades!  Plus, it makes clouds of nasty cement dust that you really don’t want to breathe.  Instead, score the planks with a speed square and utility knife, and then simply snap it.  I also use a pair of nail pincers that I bought in England.  I use the pincers to nip away any uneven parts along the snap line and to put a very small back bevel on the planks.  My pincers look like this:

To cut the angle where the cement planks intersect with the underside of the roof, I used a sliding bevel set to 40° to match the 10/12 pitch.

All the siding on these two sides done.

All the siding on these two sides done.

Now were getting somewhere.

Now were getting somewhere.

The siding really wasn’t needed on the 4th wall of the hen-house, but it would look odd if different from the rest of the building.

I finished the siding on this last wall.

I finished the siding on this last wall.

Interior walls usually are sheathed in drywall or gypsum board.  Since chickens love to scratch, I don’t plan on using drywall.  Instead, I lined the interior walls with more sheets of OSB.  This was also a cheap option, as the sheets only cost about $6.

With the exterior done, I started sheathing the inside of the walls with OSB.

With the exterior done, I started sheathing the inside of the walls with OSB.

As I did when I sheathed the outside of the walls, I attached the OSB and then cut out the window and nesting box openings with a panel pilot bit in the router.

I used 2 ½ rolls of insulation batting to insulate the whole hen-house.

I used 2 ½ rolls of insulation batting to insulate the whole hen-house.

OSB is attached to the inside of the walls.

OSB is attached to the inside of the walls.

It was around this time that the chicks arrived.  I placed an order with the Murray McMurray hatchery.  I ordered two female birds of each of the following 8 breeds:

  • Buff Orpington
  • Delaware
  • Speckled Sussex
  • Araucana
  • Cuckoo Maran
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Red Star
  • Plymouth Barred Rock

The post office called me at about 6am one morning and said that the birds had arrived.  I went to pick them up and get them quickly into the brooder that I had set up for them.

These little guys arrived from the hatchery.

These little guys arrived from the hatchery.

Back to the building.

About 8 years ago, when I finished the garage on my house, I had a ton of baseboard moulding left over.  It has sat under some cabinets in the garage all this time and whenever I clean up my shop it gets in the way.  I have often thought of chopping it up and feeding it to the wood stove, but never have.  I thought that now might be a good time to use it up.  I know that it is baseboard moulding and not window trim, but I doubt that the chickens will mind.

Adding a little trim.

Adding a little trim.

Here’s what the windows looked like after I had added the trim:

I trimmed the windows with old leftover baseboard moulding.

I trimmed the windows with old leftover baseboard moulding.

I also put some trim around the chicken door.

I also put some trim around the chicken door.

I bought a 5 gallon bucket of Kilz 2 primer and started to paint the walls.  Painting OSB is not fun as it takes a lot of paint, and you really have to work it in with the brush to get it into all the nooks and crannies in the surface.  It was worth it though as it really brightens up the inside of the hen-house.

Next, the slow process of painting.

Next, the slow process of painting.

The room really got lighter when I painted the underside of the roof, but man this took forever.

I also decided to paint the underside of the roof to brighten things up.

I also decided to paint the underside of the roof to brighten things up.

Back to the chickens:

The brooder box that I had set up for the chickens was originally placed in our living room.  This was fine for the first week as tiny chicks are no trouble.  However, after a week the little critters were very active and scratching around in their wood shavings like crazy. The dust was simply getting too much.

The wife said, “Put them in the garage.”

“I don’t have a garage, it’s a workshop”, I replied.

You can imagine the response.  I haven’t been using the workshop for a few months as all my efforts have gone into the building project.  In short, the shop was a disaster. My workbench, table saw, and just about every other available surface was piled with the tools and “stuff” brought back into the shop from the coop project.  I took a day off from building and thoroughly cleaned up the work shop.

I’m happy that I’m finally getting to using my Ambidextrous Grizz-ubo Bench, but this is not what I had in mind.

My Roubo bench is finally getting some use. I never though it would be for brooding chickens.

My Roubo bench is finally getting some use. I never though it would be for brooding chickens.

These little chicks are growing quickly and are starting to get some feathers. I need to get the building finished, FAST!

These little chicks are growing quickly and are starting to get some feathers. I need to get the building finished, FAST!

Before the chickens can be moved out to the new coop building, there are a few things that I have to get done.  I need to build the roosts and the pull-out poop pit that goes underneath.  I have to make doors that will cover the openings for the poop pit and nesting boxes (although the boxes themselves can wait).  And, I have some linoleum that I need to glue down to the floor.  Then I’ll need to add the wire to the chicken run walls. The wire is not as time sensitive, as I can confine the chickens to the hen-house for a short while.

I’m feeling the pressure to get this done, and I’m seriously afraid that the birds will be ready for the coop before I’m finished.  Anyone have a tool for stretching a day into a few hours longer?

Hopefully, I’ll post again before another month has gone by, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

 

–  Jonathan White

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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12 Responses to Chicken Coop Project – Part 5

  1. Are there any plans to insulate the roof/attic area? Seems to be a waste to do the interior walls and not that. Or is there some reasoning behind that related to the chickens?
    Also, I have heard that the RI Reds have a highly developed fashion sense and may say something about baseboard trim on the windows.

    • Jonathan says:

      Haha! Thanks for the laugh Ralph. If the RI Reds want to be that finicky, I’ll have to introduce them to my friend the Colonel. Once glance at him should have them toeing the line.

      No plans to insulate the roof. I thought about it, but with this truss design it would be a royal PITA. I wasn’t originally planning on insulating the coop at all, but the insulation that I did use only cost about $50. I figured that I might as well do it before I closed up the walls as it’s cheap insurance. It would be too difficult to go back and add insulation later if I discover that I need it. I hope you are well.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  2. jenesaisquoiwoodworking says:

    Hey Jonathan

    Exceptional work, I am simply gobsmacked at your skill, attention to detail and the aesthetics of the coop. You can really feel proud of the result. I think it is time to head indoors now, back to your workshop. I am sure it must be getting cold over your way by this time of year?

    All the best
    Gerhard

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Gerhard,

      Thanks! I wish it was time to head back inside. This project has admittedly dragged on a little past my intended “summer project” idea. I have several things that I want to get done in the shop, but just haven’t had any spare time. It is starting to get cool here. It was about 37ºF last night and it was the first night this season that I had frost on the windshield. However, I’ll take 37ºF over 37ºC any day! 🙂 This coop would never have been built if I were working in heat like that.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  3. Gav says:

    Hi Jonathon,
    Don’t want to play devils advocate but the insulation in a ceiling will far outweigh the walls in terms of effectiveness. In Australia the most common reason for insulation is the heat gain rather then heat loss but like just about every place we have both ends of the climate. There are some diagrams floating around the net with percentages for roof,walls,ceiling etc. The quality of your build is certainly going to help with restricting unnecessary draughts and the birds generally have pretty good insulation themselves and clump together when roosting. Sounds like the cold in your part of the world will be the big issue temperature wise. There are some really good insulation boards that are rigid and can be fitted between the trusses from underneath if really needed but like painting ceilings- it sucks! Agree with the insulation in the walls though, no way do you want to do that after the fact. Looking good, hope time is on your side. I too have used up various moldings in outbuildings etc because they were there, most common comment ‘ Why did you bother?’ not ‘Gee, that’s the wrong one’.To which I have been known to respond with ‘ Because it finishes it off you clown.’

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Gav,

      I agree with you completely. I realize that an insulated ceiling would be a major benefit if this were to be a heated space. I still need to add some small vents up high in the eves of the side walls as moisture and ammonia fumes are prone to build up in chicken coops without proper ventilation. This need for ventilation was the real reason that I felt insulating the coop was probably useless, however, as I said the wall insulation was only about $50 and I thought it couldn’t hurt. I liked your ‘Because it finishes it off you clown’ comment. Well put.

      Take care,

      Jonathan

  4. Gav says:

    Actually, I’ve been known to use more colourful language than that, depending on the situation. Do you guys have self driving vents that mount in the roof? Common here as a lot of roof spaces need to expel hot air , bit like me. They can even have an add on hinged bafffle where you can open and shut it from inside as you wish with a simple exhaust fan for a bathroom. Maybe something you operate when you check on their feed, gather eggs etc. Understand the moisture, ammonia issue . Maybe reducing the draughts and making it predator proof is the best option as the birds are pretty hardy all things considered. I am all for passive operating systems if achievable, it isn’t even set/forget , it is built in.

    • Jonathan says:

      Gav,

      I’ve seen the vents you mention that are used for venting hot air from an attic space. I don’t think that venting heat will be a problem where I live. I’ve installed four windows in the coop that will have metal screens on the inside and will allow for major venting most of the year. The vents that I will put up high in the eves will hopefully help to vent any fumes from the droppings without creating a draft. We’re in full agreement on making things passively functional, even the small chicken door from the hen house to the run is going to be automatic.

      Thanks for all your comments and thoughts. I really appreciate the folks that come on here and share their ideas and even constructive criticism. I often find that it causes me to up my game and I end up with a better finished product, whatever I’m making.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  5. Very nice building. those chicks are going to love it…
    I too was thinking about adding roof insulation, but I never thought about the ammonia fumes etc.
    That could be an hazard I guess unless you have provision for some effective venting.
    Don’t know much about chicken coop requirements, I’m afraid..

    I’m sure they will be growing up fast, talk about incentive to move the build along :-).

    Cheers

    Bob and Rudy the love sponge

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Bob,

      It’s good to hear from you. I hope all is well and that the new pup isn’t driving you crazy. You’re right about the fast growing chicks. It’s actually causing me quite a bit of stress as I’m not sure I’m going to be done in time. Well, I guess I’ll just have to be.

      Moisture and ammonia buildup in the chicken coop is actually quite bad for the birds, it leads to respiratory illnesses. This makes it very important that a coop is ventilated. I thought about adding some rigid foam board insulation to the underside of the roof, but then I thought if I’m adding vents, the insulation probably wasn’t going to do much. Along those same lines, the insulation in the walls was probably not of much use, but it was easy to install and cheap, so I went for it. The cost and difficulty of installation of the rigid foam insulation made me draw the line at that point.

      Please send my regards to Heather.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  6. You’d better get yourself some fancy-arsed chickens for that coop, brother.

    I’m no fancy chicken, but I’d stay in that thing…

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Ethan,

      I don’t know about fancy, but I think that they are going to need to lay about 50,000 eggs to pay for their new digs. If you lay eggs, you’ll be welcome to stay in it too!

      Jonathan

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