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A Multilevel Coop with a Small Footprint

Download PDF of Materials List and Building Plan Drawing

This coop has a simple sloped roof that is easy to build. Its interior divided levels provide more usable square footage. The coop’s door in the floor allows the residents to come and go as they please. Fencing below the coop and the wire enclosure on one side creates a practical setup with a small footprint.

If you build this coop off-site, you will need to transport it to its destination. Therefore, this coop is easy to take apart and reassemble.

1. Gather your materials.

  • You can build this coop from scavenged materials as long as the wood is in good shape.

2. Cut the bottom to size.

  • The interior dimensions of the coop are 3' x 4' (900 x 1200mm), or 12 square feet (1.1 square meters). 
    These dimensions provide enough space for six birds using a rule of thumb of 2 square feet (.2 square meters) per bird.

3. Prepare 2 x 2s for framing.

  • You can use 2 x 4s for the framing (B, C).
  • Using a table saw ripping them down the middle.

4. Cut the subassembly parts.

  • This coop is structured around a matching pair of side subassemblies.
  • Using your 2 x 2s, cut two 5' (1500mm)-long vertical pieces (B) and two 34 1/2" (875mm)-long horizontal pieces (C) for each subassembly.
  • Clamp up the sides so you can fasten their parts together.
  • Place the lower horizontal 2 x 2 (C) 18" (458mm) from the bottom.

5. Prepare the joining plates.

  • Just screwing the 2 x 2s together does not make a strong or durable joint.
  • Screw shop-made joining plates (D) onto the joints where the members meet up.
  • The joints won’t be prominent when the coop is finished, but you can dress them up using whatever design you like.

6. Cut out the joining plates.

  • Cut the braces (D) on a band saw, although a jigsaw would work fine too.
  • If you prefer a simpler look, you could just lop off one corner of each piece on a miter saw or a table saw equipped with a miter gage.

7. Attach the braces.

  • Make sure to use no fewer than 4 screws on each brace (D).
  • You can reinforce the joint further by running a bead of exterior-grade construction adhesive on the backsides of the braces.

8. Complete the side subassemblies.

  • The completed side subassemblies are lightweight and very strong.

9. Attach the floor.

  • After you have assembled both sides, screw down the floor panel (A) onto the lower horizontal subassembly frame pieces.

10. Examine the coop.

  • At this point, you should see the coop start to look like something.
  • The structure has a tendency to rack (wobble side-to-side), but you’ll eliminate this weakness when you add the solid back panel (E).

11. Prepare the back panel.

  • Many builders like to use 1/4" (6mm) plywood for the back of the coop because it is rigid and doesn’t add too much weight.
  • If you don’t have a sheet wide enough to span from the top to the bottom, it is fine to make up the difference with a second piece.
  • Screw on the back panel piece(s) (E).

12. Attach the interior back cleat.

  • To seal up the gap between the two back panels (E), patch in a cleat (F) on the interior of the coop.
  • Attach it at 20" (510mm).
  • This height allows it to also serve as a support for the second floor of the coop.

13. Attach the interior side cleat.

  • Install a similar cleat (G) perpendicular to the back cleat (F) to act as another support for the second floor.

14. Attach the interior platform.

  • There isn’t much to the second floor (H), but it is a simple way of adding extra usable space to the interior.
  • Use a scrap length of 2 x 2 (I) to support the cantilevered corner.
  • Screw the platform (H) onto the cleats (F, G) and the vertical support (I).

15. Attach the lower edge of the siding.

  • To more easily install exterior siding (J), tip the coop on its side. Rather than cutting each board individually, line up the boards carefully with the bottom edge of the lower 2 x 2 and let them “run wild” over the top edge./li>
  • Then trim them after they’re screwed down./li>
  • This method is faster, easier, and provides a neater result.

16. Scribe the top of the sides.

  • After the boards (J) are screwed down, use a straightedge to scribe a line at the top of the wall—45" (1145mm) from the bottom of the boards in the back, 54" (1370mm) in the front.

17. Remove the waste material.

  • With a circular saw it should take less than 30 seconds to remove the waste material.

18. Examine the side

  • The finished side has the look of an old barn.

19. Add a window.

  • After completing the second side, cut a window opening with a jigsaw.
  • If you make the window two boards wide, you only need to cut the top and bottom.

20. Install interior support trim.

  • Cutting the window opening may leave some boards unsupported on both ends.
  • You can solve this by installing a trimmer (K) below the window.

21. Screen in the window.

  • The screen is easy to attach. Just staple it directly to the siding with 3/8" (10mm) staples.

22. Glue up the window frame.

  • The window frame (L) is a simple mitered assembly.
  • Use a miter box to cut the pieces at 45° so that the inner frame fits the window size.
  • Use blue painter’s tape to clamp the miters while the glue dries.

23. Double-check the frame size.

  • To make sure the frame (L) is square, measure the diagonals.
  • Eliminate discrepancies with a nudge as required.
  • Paint the frame white when it is dry.

24. Attach the frame to the coop.

  • Secure the window frame (L) to the structure with construction adhesive and nails.

25. Make a chicken ladder.

  • The second floor of this coop is too high for hens to reach with a hop, so a chicken ladder (M) is essential.
  • A chicken ladder is basically a long board with many short rungs.
  • Run screws through the front and back sides of the rungs so they don’t loosen over time.

26. Construct the nest boxes.

  • Nest boxes (N, O) can be simple.
  • You can place this freestanding, five-sided box anywhere in the coop.
  • Use screws (be sure to pre-drill) or nails and glue to fasten the 5 pieces together.
  • Make as many nest boxes as you want.

27. Add the header and roof cleats.

  • The metal roofing (T) for this coop is rigid and doesn’t need a lot of support beneath it, even in a particularly snowy area.
  • You do need to fasten it to the coop very tightly.
  • Attach the header (Q).
  • A pair of cleats (P) at the top of the walls provides a good place for attachment.

28. Build the door frame and panel.

  • Use 1 x 4s (S) to make a rectangular frame. This frame is “skinned” with leftover laminate flooring on the backside. While this is hardly a conventional technique, it is certainly a reasonable solution. Another approach is to prepare your door panels (R) and trim them with the 1 x 4s (S).

29. Mark the first slat of the X.

  • Embellish the fronts of the doors with a traditional X-shaped pattern (S).
  • To make the slats fit neatly into place, lay the first slat into position—just so that it looks nice—and then use a straightedge to extend the lines of the door’s frame onto the slat.

30. Cut the first slat of the X.

  • Cut away the waste with a jigsaw or circular saw, and the slat should drop neatly into place.

31. Cut the second slat of the X.

  • To fit the second slat, mark its corners just like the first slat, then use a straightedge to mark its intersection with the first slat.
  • Identify the waste area with an X.
  • After this section is cut away, glue and screw down the top and bottom halves of the second slat.

32. Hang the doors.

  • Hanging the completed doors is fairly straightforward.
  • First fasten the hinges (U) to the door.
  • Then fasten the top hinge to the coop.
  • When the top is secured with one screw, move the bottom hinge from side to side until the door is properly aligned.
  • Then put a screw into the bottom hinge.
  • When both doors are hung and lined up nicely, fill in the rest of the holes.

33. Attach the roof.

  • Attach the metal roof (T) to the roof cleats using exterior-grade screws.

34. Review your work.

  • Here’s a shot of the exterior so far.

35. Install the run.

  • If you chose to build a small run, attach it to the coop now. Simply push the run up against the coop then secure it with mechanical fasteners.

36. Add the finishing touches.

  • This photo shows the final configuration of the coop’s interior.
  • You can cut a 14" x 14" (355 x 355mm) hole in the floor of the coop and install a second chicken ladder (M) so that the birds can easily move from the coop to the run.
  • You can also put a pair of roosts in the back of the coop for the birds to sleep.
  • Screw the bars of the roosts (V) onto a pair of blocks (W), and screw the blocks directly to the walls of the coop.