Posted on March 17 2019
The bad new is, I can't go into too much detail about how I built The Chicken Mansion, because I purchased the plans online. The good news is, they are really affordable and totally worth the $30 if you'd like to replicate it. You can find the ultra detailed plans including a supply list here. If you click on the link you will quickly notice that I made a few upgrades to the coop. I will do my best to explain how I made this basic coop into Le Manoir Du Poulet (French for The Chicken Mansion. I'll also let you know how this coop has worked for us the last few years and why its getting an addition soon.
Planning the Coop
I spent a ton of time researching chicken coops on Pinterest before I planned how I would tackle our coop. There were a few things that appealed to me in the plans that I found at thegardencoop.com. It seems easy enough for a novice builder to tackle, but was high quality at the same time. The roof structure was easy to accomplish, and provided lots of ventilation, which chickens really need. The roof over the run was covered to keep the ladies out of the elements, and gave me a dry spot to provide feed and water. It is predator proof. There is ample room for 8 birds, especially with the nesting boxes on the outside of the coop. Eight chickens just happened to be the amount we thought we wanted for our family's egg consumption. So after we were sure we wanted to use these plans, I needed to decide how I would jazz it up a bit. So i made a sketch. Notice a few changes were made, once I started the build. My son dubbed it “a mansion” after he saw the sketch. The name stuck.
Top Secret Tool for Making things Fancy
Are you ready for it? It's a jigsaw. I basically just made curved cuts to the ends of the roof boards and cut a curved board for the front pergola. I also cut corbels using leftover 2x4s from the crate that the metal roof was in. The 2x4's make up the center of the corbel. You will also need a 1x12 board or two for the outside pieces. Just use Elmer's exterior wood glue and finishing nails to hold each layer together. I sketched a stencil onto a piece of cardboard, but you could trace a corbel from Hobby Lobby if you're not an artist. I assume there are probably templates on the Internet as well.
A Vintage Screen Door or Not
The door to the coop is mistaken for a vintage screen door all of the time. It had to be a specific size to fit into the entrance to the coop, and it is not a standard size that I would be able to find in the wild. For that reason, I would need to make my own. I used turned dowels from a changing table that I found on the side of the road. I drilled holes the size of the dowels into two 2x4s and glued the dowels in between the boards. Then, I added these corbels from Etsy to the corners of the door. The finishing touch was an old door knob and backplate that I found at a thrift store.
I saved a bit of money by using some materials that I found. The barn wood on the coop was given to me by a few generous people. When I began this little business, I started painting things on materials that I could get for free. Things grew into more than I dreamed, but that's a story for another time. When word got out that I was repurposing and reusing materials, people began giving me things. It was pretty amazing and I’m forever grateful. It helped me become an artist. The columns that I used for the front were from my friend Jessica. She is a super talented picker who finds me lots of great stuff to use in my crazy projects. Her business is Jessica n Co. Vintage. She has amazing barn sales at her farm a few times a year. If you go, you'll probably see me there. The windows on the side are from an old beach cottage that my husband's family owns in Grand Haven. When they replaced the windows, I got all of the old ones. I used a few more in the greenhouse that I blogged about a few weeks ago.
I’m hoping that I provided you with enough photos to upgrade your coop from the plans that are provided. The biggest change is in the two center boards. I just purchased a board that was three feet larger than the plan called for and cut it exactly as the others. I found other free plans online that explained how to build the nesting boxes and I adjusted it to fit my coop. The window was added to the side to make it easy for me to access the coop for cleaning, but the ladies love it because i keep them wide open in the summer so they don’t get hot. It's shaded by a tree, so I don’t have to worry about the sun.
Garden Coop Review
Overall this has been an amazing coop. A raccoon tried really hard to break in for quite some time, but was unable. My biggest issue isn't with the coop at all, but more about where we live. Winter was hard this year and even though I add metal to the back/west and the North screened wall, my girls were pretty miserable. The snow blew in from the top and left them with no place to hang outside of the coop. I put a roof over the top of the coop portion every winter, but it still wasn't perfect. This summer, I’ll be adding a large addition onto the right side of the coop with a traditional roof. It will have small closable vents and be heavily insulated for winter. I plan to make a roosting space that I can open to scrape out the chicken doo doo. I'm also planning to have a space to brood the baby chicks separate from the rest of the chickens.
Chickens are Like Pringles Potato Chips
As I was researching chickens, I kept coming across a trending piece of advice. “Chickens are addictive”. If you have the space, you're always going to want more. That's absolutely true. Once you pop, you can't stop. I'll keep you up to date on the new addition. I hope you love being a Chicken Mom or Dad as much as I do.