So, you are planning to build your own chicken coop.
Don’t panic, take a deep breath!
If you are concerned that you won’t be able to read the coop plans, that they will be too technical, you are not alone.
I cannot read and execute building plans to save my life, yet I have built a total of 8 coops so far, with more to come. The chickens don’t care if the corners aren’t square or it is not the prettiest building in town – it is draft free, dry and keeps them safe and warm.
The point is, don’t be intimidated, you can do this!
Below we have 44 free DIY chicken coop plans with simple step by step instructions. We will also give you some general guidelines about coops to help smooth the path for you.
The biggest hurdle is getting over your fears or anxieties, so sit down, have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and read on!
What are the ‘Must Haves’ of a DIY Coop?
Before we get to the plans, let’s take a look at what your coop must provide for your hens.
The must have list is fairly short, but essential:
- Sufficient space for the hens
- Keeps chickens in and predators out
- Draft free
- Easy to clean and sanitize with good drainage
- Protection from the elements
Let’s look at each one of these in turn below.
How Big Should Your Coop Be?
In order to answer this question, you have to know what chickens you are getting. Are they bantams or large fowl? Are they considered standard size or extra-large such as Jersey Giants.
If you have ordered from a hatchery, they usually have a helpful section in the catalog that will give you space requirements for chickens.
In general, the following space requirements apply:
- Bantams – 2sq.ft./bird in the coop, 4sq.ft/bird in the run.
- Standard large fowl – 4sq.ft/bird in the coop, 8sq.ft in the run.
- Extra-large birds – minimumft/bird in the coop, 8sq.ft in the run.
As a note in the plans below we’ve assumed 3 square foot per chicken.
A note of caution here – these are minimum space requirements per bird. If you can build bigger, do so. It is likely that at some point you will get more birds; this is known as ‘chicken math’ or ‘more hens’ disease’!
The coop can be tall enough for you to walk into, or small enough for the hens and nothing else, your choice.
My preference is a walk-in coop because I don’t want to be leaning over to see what’s going on inside the coop or leaning in to ‘muck out’ on a regular basis.
Size requirements in the coop are really quite essential for the birds’ well-being, especially in the winter months. In close confinement, your pretty, lovable hens will start picking and plucking at each other if they don’t have sufficient room.
It can be very ugly, so don’t skimp on space for your girls.
It really is important that you have an attached run area to your coop for extra space. If you don’t have a run and want to keep your hens locked up all the time, the confined space requirements are going to be significantly more.
Advantages of Building your Own Chicken Coop
The easiest and most plentiful material for coop building is wood.
If you do decide to build your own coop, you can save a lot of money by using stuff that is freely available, such as wooden pallets. Businesses give pallets away free just to get rid of them. As long as the wood is heat treated it is fine to build with.
Building your own coop also means you get the exact coop you want! Something unique that perfectly meets your needs.
A word of caution here – many web sites I visited researching this article advocated for using chicken wire to cover windows and also in the run area. Chicken wire is designed to keep chickens in, but will not keep predators out.
You should use wire mesh (hardware cloth) no larger than ½ inch for at least the bottom three foot of the run, you can if you wish use chicken wire higher up. Raccoons can and will bite through chicken wire to get to your birds, hardware mesh will keep them out, this applies to all openings too – windows and vents.
Using anything larger than ½ inch invites weasels and other small critters to visit your girls…not something you want to happen.
Coop Ventilation and Access
Without a doubt, ventilation to the coop is vital. In summer the vents will allow the warmer air out, keeping the coop cooler and in winter it allows the warm, moist stale air out.
Moist air in the coop during the colder months will give your birds frostbite to the combs and wattles – especially breeds that have large combs and wattles.
It is the combination of cold and moisture on a warm comb that causes the problem. As contrary as it might sound, ventilation will release the moisture from the coop. A well ventilated coop will reduce problems to an absolute minimum.
How big a vent and where to put it? The vent should be up near the ceiling well above the heads of your chickens (remember, no drafts).
The general rule of thumb is 1sq.ft of vent per 10sq.ft of floor space in colder climates. In warmer areas, more is better in order to maintain an ambient temperature in the coop. At temperatures over 90F, the chickens will start to be stressed, which leads to problems.
A window in the coop will ideally be south facing, but can be placed elsewhere except the north side. The window will allow sunlight into the coop and add extra ventilation too.
Access to the coop for you should be a standard sized door so that you don’t crack your head every time you enter.
Chicken access is via a ‘pop’ door. A pop door is simply a hole cut into the coop about 12 inches tall and 14 inches wide. The extra width allows for two birds to pass in the doorway.
Oftentimes you will have a hen that likes to sit in the doorway, so the extra space allows others to come and go.
Location, Location, Location
Try to take into consideration all the things that might limit the desirability or accessibility to the coop.
Write yourself a list of desirable things for coop location:
- Dry ground, good drainage
- In a sunny spot, but shaded from the midday heat
- Easily accessible for you
- Somewhat sheltered from bad weather – as an example, you would not want to place the coop on a high spot prone to strong winds.
Before you start building your coop, visit your site area in the morning, afternoon and evening and see how the time of day affects the area. Think about it for a few days before deciding if the spot is right for you.
If you live in an urban setting, make sure the zoning laws allow you to put up a coop in your yard and keep chickens.
Sadly, there are many municipalities that do not allow chickens in the town or village, or they only allow a certain number of hens. There are likely to be rules about where you can place your coop also – such as a minimum of six feet from the neighbors’ fence.
It is your responsibility to check out the rules and regulations. Don’t want to wade through the village by-laws? Ask your local code enforcement/zoning official, they should be able to help you.
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Hen Furniture: What to Include Inside the Coop
Thankfully, hens don’t require TV, internet access or most of the things us humans deem necessary. They do need some basic ‘furniture’ though.
A roosting perch is essential for them when they are old enough to perch. This perch provides the sleeping area for the hens. They will snuggle together on the bar in winter and spread out a bit during the warmer months.
Roosting perches should allow for 8-12 inches of space per bird. Chickens sleep ‘flat-footed’, so the perch should be between 2-4 inches wide for their comfort.
The ideal height from the floor should be 18-24 inches. Any higher and heavier hens run the risk of leg or foot injury when jumping down. Bantams seem to enjoy higher perches since they fly so well.
Think carefully where you will put your roost; birds poop over 70% of the total daily droppings at night. If you plan carefully, you can incorporate something like ‘poop boards’, poop hammock or some other way to easily collect and remove the poop mountains.
Tip: don’t place your nest boxes under the roost.
I use old discarded professional baking trays – they are solid metal trays about 18×24 inches which sit under the roosts. They are easy to lift out and empty as necessary.
Nest boxes are the second necessity for hens. The golden rule is one nest box for every 3-4 hens, although they will usually have one favorite box and all will want to use it!
Standard sized birds will fit nicely into a 12 x 12 inch box situated about 12 inches off the floor. Nest boxes should be place in the darkest part of the coop since hens do like a little privacy when laying their eggs. If you have very large birds such as Jersey Giants the nest box will have to be larger to accommodate the hens. Bantams require much less space – about 6 inches per box, but they can and will use the ‘big girls’ nest boxes.
Of course, you will need feeders and drinkers for your flock. The feeder can be hung in the coop, but leave the drinker outside otherwise it will contribute excess moisture to the air in the coop.
If your chickens will spend most of their time in confinement, you may want to consider adding a bathtub to their home. And when I say bathtub, I mean a dust bathing area.
Chickens take dust baths to control the oils on their bodies as well as protect themselves from external parasites. If your birds are in confinement, a dust bath is non-negotiable. Birds that live in enclosures are more susceptible to contracting parasites, thus they need access to a place to take their daily baths.
If you don’t provide one, they will undoubtedly try to make one, even if it is amongst their droppings.
Dust baths also provide an element of entertainment for your chickens. If you’ve ever seen a chicken bathing themselves, you’ll notice they appear relaxed and content. Think of a dust bath box as a spa for your chickens.
It doesn’t have to be large, and all you need is some dirt, diatomaceous earth, or sand. You can use a mixture of all of these elements to create a lovely dirt bath for your chickens. They will love it.
Keep the dust bath away from the roost and feed areas to prevent excessive dropping from falling into it.
Chicken Coop Plans
This small chicken coop will house 2-3 chickens and costs under $150 to build. It has 2 hinged doors – one for access to the main area, and the second to collect the eggs from the nest box. It’ll take you around one and a half days to build.
This step-by-step instruction pack shows you how to build a 4 × 6 chicken coop which will house 10-12 hens. It has a large door for access, an external nest box, and a pitched roof. It can be built on stilts, so it’s ideal if you don’t want your coop to touch the ground.
This plan provides you with exact dimensions to create a large chicken coop for at least 25 chickens. With opening windows and a full-size door, this is a luxury coop for larger flocks. With 100 square feet of floor space, it’s one of the more difficult plans to build.
Complete with a detailed materials list, this plan includes 3D sketches of the design as well as a real-life version for your convenience. This large 128 square foot coop is one of the easier plans to build and can house in excess of 25 chickens.
The Chicken Mansion is well built and attractive looking coop, complete with a porch. The coop is 8 × 8 ft. with a 4 x 8 ft. porch attached. We’ve rated this as one of the more difficult builds because it takes a lot of time and effort, but the results are great.
This narrow, but tall coop is ideal for just 1-6 chickens, but its height allows a person to get inside and clean it out. It’s easy, yet slightly more on the expensive side to build. The roof is quite easy to attach though, as it is just one sloped side.
This square shaped plan can easily be built from recycled materials and it’s tall enough to walk into. It’s 8 × 8 square feet and can house between 13-24 chickens. The Clutch Hutch has a sloping roof, which allows 6 feet of head height at the front and 4 feet at the back.
If you’re looking for a unique and different shaped chicken coop, this one is for you. It has a dropdown side to make cleaning easy. At 32 square feet, it will give you enough space for 12 chickens. The plan also includes instructions for adding ventilation to prevent overheating.
This 96 square foot coop has both a full-size door and a chicken door at either end. The ramp cleverly doubles as the chicken door. The plans include hand sketched dimensions of various parts and step-by-step photos of it being built.
This coop was built with the intention of being like Fort Knox, keeping out predators. It has a locked outside door for egg collection and a slanted steel roof. The plans include detailed photographs of the sweet but sturdy looking coop being built.
The plans for this 22 square foot coop come complete with a video and step-by-step pictures of the coop being built. It has shutter windows with a wire mesh behind. It can house 7-12 chickens and is relatively cheap to build.
This insulated chicken coop is a cube shape with an interesting roof. There are windows on every side of the coop and up at the top to let light in. The Egg Plant can house 7-12 chickens, although it’s quite expensive and difficult to build.
The Feather Factory is 20 square feet and can house 7-12 chickens. It has a sloped overhanging roof and opening hatch windows on each side of the coop. There is even an opening in the roof for ventilation purposes.
The plan set comes with a very detailed materials list and step-by-step pictures of the coop being built. Fowl Play is a large coop of 100 square feet that can house over 25 chickens. It’s also relatively easy to build for its size.
The original coop of this plan set was built using the materials of an old garage, this drastically reduces costs. It has a fantastically shaped roof with lots of windows to let light in. It almost looks like a tiny home! It’s ideal for a large flock of chickens as it can hold over 25.
This plan will help you create a tiny, 8 square foot chicken coop. It would make an ideal build for a beginner chicken keeper and has a rustic look to it. It’s extremely easy and cheap to build and would probably house 4 or less chickens.
Hen Haven is a luxurious and large chicken coop. It can house over 25 chickens and looks more like a small annex. It’s 120 square feet, has two French doors for access, a sliding chicken door, and sliding windows fit for a real house.
This simple box-shaped design has been finished with cedar shakes to give it a beautiful finish. The nesting box is on the interior, with a hinged door to access the eggs. It has ventilation above the large front door and sweet house-like windows.
This plan set takes you through a gallery of pictures to complete the build. It also includes a small run area. At only 10 square feet, it can house 1-6 chickens. It is of average cost and difficulty to build. It provides a number of examples of how the coop can be finished on the exterior.
Hope Hut is a 60 square foot box-shaped coop with a pitched roof. It can house 13-24 chickens and it’s extremely cheap to build. The plan incorporates natural branches to make roosts for the birds. On the front wall there is also a large access door and window.
This very sweet coop looks like a postcard cottage. With flower boxes under the windows and a red exterior, it would make a perfect coop for someone who wants to lavish their chickens. It’s one of the largest coops we feature. At 192 square feet, it can easily house over 25 birds.
This beautiful coop is a little labor of love and would make an ideal plan for someone who wants to create something extra special. It’s raised 32 inches off the ground to deter predators and is very functional in that all the cleaning, access, and getting eggs can be done without going inside.
This monster of a coop has three rooms – two large rooms at either end and one small room as you first walk in. In the 160 square feet of floor space, you could house in excess of 25 chickens, so it’d make a perfect coop for a large flock.
The coop was constructed similarly to a modular home. It was all constructed separately and then assembled in place. Monks Coop is only 15 square feet, so it can house only 6 or less chickens, but it’s quite easy and cheap to build.
This 10 × 8-foot coop has a gable roof that can house between 13 and 24 chickens. The plans include detailed drawings of the dimensions of each side, and then step-by-step photos of the entire build. Considering the size, it’s one of the easier large coop plans to build.
This large coop will house at least 25 chickens. At 96 square feet, it has a large door for access, windows on each side, and a small opening for the chickens with a ramp down. The roof is one continuous slope which makes it really easy to put on.
The Palace Chicken Coop is a combined coop and run with an external nesting box. It has flap windows which can be propped open and ventilation holes around the top. The roof slopes from the front to the back and there is a small access door. This coop is suitable for 7-12 chickens.
The Pallet Palace was built using 22 oak pallets. This makes the build quick and efficient. The plans include detailed photos of all the steps from start to finish. It has 28 square feet of floor space and can house 7-12 chickens. It’s also extremely cheap to build if you can source free pallets.
This chicken coop is both pretty and functional. Built up on a stilt base, it has an external egg box with a hinged sloped roof. There are also 2 further access doors and ventilation along the top of the front panel. This coop will house up to 6 chickens.
This small coop is built up on stilts and has two hinged doors. One opens downwards to remove the eggs and one opens like a normal door for access. At 16 square feet, you’ll be able to keep a maximum of 6 chickens in the Riverton.
This is a mid-sized coop which will house between 13 and 24 chickens. It’s quite inexpensive and easy to build, so it would suit a first-time chicken keeper. It has a stable-type door which can be opened at the bottom, the top, or both.
Rural Rehatch is a stunning rustic-looking coop which is 8 × 8 feet. It has a lightly sloped roof and a large entrance door. This plan includes a materials list, sketches, and photos of the original build. It will house between 13-24 chickens and is relatively easy to build.
South City is a narrow but long coop which might suit slim a garden or yard. There are double doors for access and a side hatch for the chickens. This tiny 8 square foot coop will be big enough for up to 6 chickens, although it’s quite tricky to build.
This tiny coop would be ideal for those who want to keep chickens but don’t have much outdoor space. At only 8 square feet, you’ll be able to keep a maximum of 6 chickens. The Southern Maine is one of the easiest and cheapest plans available.
This small chicken coop looks like a little house in the country. It has plant boxes under the windows and roofing tiles. The exterior nesting box opens upwards to collect eggs. The whole coop is raised on stilts to allow plenty of space underneath, which could be sectioned off as a run.
The Nest Egg
The Nest Egg is suitable for a medium-sized flock of 13-24 chickens. It has floor space of 38 square feet and has a full-sized entrance door. The external nesting box is double tiered to make the most of the space. The coop is also insulated, which is ideal for cooler climates.
The original coop that this plan is based on costs a mere $40 to build. So, if you have access to lots of recycled materials, it would be good for those who are on a budget. At only 16 square feet, it will house a maximum of 6 chickens.
This small cube-shaped coop looks like a miniature cottage. The windows are framed with little shutters and there is an exterior nesting box to allow for easy collection of eggs. It’s only 9 square feet and will house up to 6 chickens.
Two Dog Farm
This small chicken house incorporates both a coop and a run. It has a small door for access and the bottom of one of the sides opens up to allow for easy cleaning. It will house up to 6 chickens. Although it’s cheap to build, it’s on the more technical side to construct.
This coop is perfect for a small flock of urban chickens. It doesn’t take up much space and it’s raised off the ground to allow them to roam underneath too. It’ll house up to 6 chickens and it’s fairly inexpensive to build.
The gable-roofed coop is of medium size and can house between 13-24 chickens. It’s quite difficult and expensive to build, but its finish is high-quality and durable. The main frame is built using pallets – quite a unique and quick way to build a coop.
The White Coop is one of the smaller and easier build plans. It’s a very simple triangular-shaped coop which requires much less materials than most. It has a small access door at the front for both cleaning purposes and for the chickens to roam in and out.
This Wichita Cabin Coop is a small, simple, and easy-to-use coop – perfect for a small backyard flock. It will house up to 6 chickens and is one of the more difficult plan packs that we feature. It has an external nesting box and a slanted roof, which gets lower toward the back.
This extremely thorough plan pack contains 34 detailed pages of instructions. It has materials lists, 3D elevations, diagrams of the framing, and step-by-step pictorial instructions. Zelda can house up to 20 chickens and it’ll take 3-4 days to build. The overall cost will be around $450.
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Whatever you decide for your coop, it needs to be comfortable for both your hens and you. Try to ensure that the coop design suits both you and them with ample space for the girls and easy cleaning for you.
If I had one tip it would be make the coop slightly larger than you need!
This way you can add a few more hens to your flock without needing to build another coop.
Finally, remember you can do this!
I cannot read building plans at all, yet I have built a total of 8 coops; don’t be intimidated!
Most importantly – have fun in your new venture! Make sure to send us photos of your new coop and leave comments below…