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Saltbox Chicken Coop, Run, and Planter

Keeping chickens has recently benefitted from a huge resurgence. It’s not just a farm thing anymore, many people are choosing to raise chickens for eggs and meat in urban and suburban areas too. Recently I was browsing a major retailer’s website for furniture ideas and saw a beautifully designed coop, run and planter, all-in-one! But with retail prices above $1600 before shipping, it’s not a feasible cost for many. So we decided to put our spin on the idea and build it ourselves! This is the perfect coop for an urban space. At only five feet by five feet, it has a small impact on available space. It’s also lightweight enough to move around the yard so you can fertilize different sections and not risk yard burnout. However you could only support about 2-4 chickens at a time if you keep them penned, but if you allow them yard access you could keep a larger flock. We plan on starting small and allowing them out during the day so long as our dogs leave them alone, but if they don’t we can build a larger run off the gated side should we like to keep more hens.

The inspiration for the coop design comes from the classic Saltbox houses of New England. I spent my childhood in Massachusetts and now the style brings back very fond memories. It’s a very easy shape to build too! About 75% of the “upstairs” consists of the coop, with a small section for a planter box. Over the weekend I set in some pickling cucumber seeds, and will be tacking on some chicken wire to the side once they sprout for a green wall trellis. It’s going to be so pretty!

The front of the coop features an open gate for access as well as ventilation. We also included two dowels for roosting.

As for nest access, the roof hinges to allow you to easily harvest the eggs.

We used scraps from the siding and roof to partition off the boxes.

I’m so excited to start seeing some green in the planter, and of course pick up some hens! First I need to whip up a quick ladder from a spare picket so they can get from the run into the coop.

Now for the tutorial. I’ll warn you, it’s one of my more complicated ones. I did my best to take detailed photos and note my cuts, but it may get a bit confusing. Feel free to leave me any questions in the comments or email me. Here we go!

Supply List:
• roughly 25 cedar fence pickets

Cut List: I highly recommend cutting as you go, not pre-cutting. Dimensions may be a bit off from the plan.

• 8 – 2×4 @ 36″ (legs)
• 8 – 1×4 @ 60″ (frames)
• 8 – 2×4 @ 9″, cut at 45 degree angles, not parallel (square braces)
• 4 – 2×4 @ 58 3/8″ (top supports)
• 8 – 1×6 pickets @ 65″ (top slats)
• 6 – 1×6 pickets @ 26 3/4″ (slats for top around coop entrance)
• 2 – 2×2 @ 60″ (coop base sides)
• 2 – 2×2 @ 42 5/16″ (coop base front/back)
• 2 – 2×2 @ 12″, to long point of 45 degree angle cut at top (low roof supports)
• 4 – 2×2 @ 30″, to long point of 45 degree angle cut at top (tall roof supports)
• 4 – 2×2 @ 34 7/8″ (top braces)
• 2 – 2×2 @ 35″ (roost supports)
• 1 – 1×2 @ 42 3/8″ (nest partition)
• 2 – 1×2 @ 19 5/8″ (nest partitions)
• 5 – 2×2 @ 42 3/8″ (roof supports)
• 2 – 2×2 @ 58″ (roof line 1)
• 2 – 2×2 @ 27″ (roof line 2)
• 2 – 2″ dowel rods @ 42″ (roosts)

Step 1 – build 4 legs

Build 4 legs using two 36″ 2×4′s.

 

Step 2 – Make two frame sides

I laid down two legs, with the 2×4′s set in the same direction. We placed two 1×4′s at 60″ and attached them to the legs with two screws per side, checking for square. Build two.

 

Step 3 – Add your frame sides

We squared up the remaining four 1×4′s and screwed them into the legs.

 

Step 4 – Finish the base box

We laid the second side on the ground and flipped over the piece in step 3. Then checked for square, and screwed the 1×4′s into place.

 

Step 5 – Add your braces for square

We decided to add 2×4 braces in each corner to keep the coop from getting cattywompus. You can use scrap 2×2′s if you want to be able to attach chicken wire inside the coop, as the wide braces will block that. We added one in each corner, top and bottom.

 

Step 6 – Add top supports

Chickens may not be heavy, but the coop and planter filled with dirt are! We evenly spaced out our 2×4′s and drilled them in from the sides.

 

Step 7 – Attach your floor slats

We measured the distance from leg to leg, then cut 8 pickets to fit. The first seven are placed from the planter side, and the 8th is on the opposite end. This is to leave space for the opening so the chickens can climb into the coop. We spaced the slats about a 1/2″ apart for drainage and ventilation. We attached the slats by nailing 1 1/4″ nails into the 2×4 supports.

 

Step 8 – Attach your floor slats for opening

To cut the slats for the opening, we measured from the end of the last slat to the center 2×4 brace from both sides. Then just nailed them into the 2×4 supports, leaving a nice big rectangle.

 

Step 9 – Coop base

Next we nailed down the two long sides of the coop area. As the floor pickets overhang the 1×4′s a bit (as they’re lined up with the edge of the legs) we measured the distance and inset the 2×2′s about 1.5″ in. That’s so we had a little more to nail into to keep the coop in place. We don’t want those chickens blowing away! We matched the inset all around, as the coop will have fence picket siding that we didn’t want to overlap. Next we measured the distance between the two and cut the front and back and nailed in place.

 

Step 10 – Attach coop front and back roof supports

We used pocket holes and kreg screws to attach the roof supports. Attach the lower and one set of uppers at each end, tall points facing in toward each other. To get placement for your second set of tall supports, place a scrap piece of lumber on the shorter support and move your tall support into place where it sits flush with the “roof scrap”. Then measure the distance and attach on the other side.

 

Step 11 – Attach roof line pieces and supports

We ran out of 2×2′s so we used 1×2′s, but the thicker lumber would be better. We started by measuring the distance between the tall supports at the base, then cut two 2×4′s at that number and screwed them into the top of the braces. Check for square. Once that was complete, we did the same by measuring the length between the tall support pairs on the sides and added a center support there as well. Once everything was square and steady, we added the roof lines. Start by taking two uncut sticks and hold them flush with the ends of the supports, then mark where they meet. Start with the longer piece and cut a 90 degree angle at that mark. Screw into your supports. Then do the same with the shorter roof line, cutting to fit.

 

Step 12 – Attach more roof supports and nest box partitions

We did a little more measuring at the base and cut three more roof supports to fit, so each peak has a supporting piece. One at the short base, one at each tall base, and one in the top center peak. Then we measured for the nesting box partitions and nailed down 1×2′s, skinny-side-up. You could fit 4 nests here instead of 3 if you’d like more hens.

 

Step 13 – Add roost braces

We decided to add two more 2×4 side supports a bit lower to brace for an extra roost pole, 15″ below the top brace.

 

Step 14 – Add roost poles

We attached both with a center screw and two added nails on opposing ends so it wouldn’t spin.

 

Step 15 – siding

This is where I have no measurements for you, as I took a break to lie down and hubs kept on truckin’! He started from the back, holding up each picket and marking the angle for the cut, then nailed each into place one at a time. It was pure serendipity that they happened to line up evenly. Both sides took him about 30 minutes to cut and attach.

 

Step 16 – Short Roof Side

For the roof slats, he started by measuring the distance of the top and adding a 2″ overhang to each side. Starting on the shorter roof line, place your first picket at the bottom with a 1/2″ overhang and nail into place. Overhang each slat, working your way up, so the water runs down and not into the coop.

 

Step 17 – Hinged Roof Side

I’m going to have to beg your forgiveness for my lack of photos here. We started by building a 1×2 frame to fit inside the area of the coop from the bottom roof brace to the middle brace that’s set at the pair of tall center supports. That frame is attached with hinges. We used the same method to attach the top picket slats, by nailing them into the frame with a 2″ overhang on the sides and a 1/2″ overhang on the bottom. Once we got to the top of the frame, Jacob cut two wedges to allow for the frame to move upward and not get caught by the picket above. Clever! Then he simply finished nailing the pickets into the sides of the coop, just like the shorter roof section. The final top piece should overhang the top board from the short side so there’s no gap for water to enter. Check out the finished photo below, you can see the small gap where the wedge sits.

Which allows the pickets attached to the hinged frame to open high enough to reach the eggs. We have a stick stored inside to prop it up.

Now for the details, which again have no photos. We got a little too excited about getting it done and didn’t take pictures of the process. Anyway, down to business:

Step 18 – Door and Gate

I made a large frame to fit the opening of the side of the coop. It’s held together with L-shaped flat brackets on the inside, as the kreg holes didn’t work too well on 1/2″ thick pickets. The cross brace keeps it square. If you live in a colder climate, you can add slats to your door and leave a smaller opening for ventilation. The netting is stapled into the interior of this gate. We used the same method on the large access gate to the run below. It’s secured with latches and clips.

 

Step 19 – Windows

I used my jigsaw to cut two 4″x6″ windows and used scrap pickets to frame it out. Wire is stapled inside. This is dual purpose, for the cute factor and for cross-ventilation.

 

Step 20 – planter box

The final step is the planter box, shown above. We cut two side pickets to length (about 22″) and used the nailer from below to secure it. Then we measured the longest piece and attached it with more nails below and into the sides.

As far as the chicken wire on the run, we stapled it from the outside since the braces keep it from laying flush inside the run. We did it on all three sides, then attached the wire on the back of the gate frame. Then we called it quits! We still need to make a little ladder by nailing some scrap 1×2′s to a fence picket to allow access into the coop. I may figure out a way to finagle it to some string so it can be pulled up at night to keep predators out. But for now, we *finally* have a chicken coop!

 

 

 

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16 comments

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  1. Liz

    Woww the coop turned out amazing! Bookmarking this page so we can, ahem, copy ya’ll once we get settled into our new house!

    1. That’s what the plans are there for! I’d love to see someone build it. The plans aren’t complete quite yet, I’ll have to edit once I figure out the supply list and gate dimensions, as well as cost. Hopefully it will be done by the time you’re ready for them!

  2. Katie

    So cute! We’re getting chickens (and turkeys) this year too, but I don’t know how to start small, so we’re getting about a dozen laying hens, plus about 30 broilers. So I miss out on the adorable chicken coop.

    1. Oh my! You’re much braver than I. I’d love to hear how it goes! We’re don’t consume much chicken or eggs, but if it goes well we may up the amount and share with my family and neighbors. What kind of hens and turkeys are you getting?

      1. Katie

        For our meat chickens we’re getting Freedom Rangers. They’re good at free ranging, and unlike the Cornish Cross, they don’t grow so fast that their legs break (ugh). And for turkeys I’m going to raise a heritage breed, the Bourbon reds. I’m going to raise a variety of chickens for eggs. We’re a family of five and we all eat eggs for breakfast every day, plus I bake from scratch a lot.
        We eat a lot of chicken right now, because it’s the cheapest meat to buy. We’re hoping to phase out grocery store meat completely by buying half a cow, raising chickens and next year a hog.

  3. Amber

    Are you going to be adding a ramp so that the girls can go in and out of the coop and so you can shut the coop up at night? if not, are you going to fortify the bottom of the chicken run so that predators cannot dig under and get in for a tasty chicken dinner?

    1. Amber, we do have the ramp materials ready, we’re just trying to figure out how to get it to pull up from the outside. We don’t plan to bury anything since the coop is portable and we plan to move it around the yard every few weeks. I’m hoping *fingerscrossed* we can teach our dogs that the chickens are pets, not prey. They are on the, uh, bloodthirsty side and enjoy killing coons and rabbits and other “critters”. They would be excellent protectors if I can convince them not to eat the chickens. We’re going to start with grown hens so they’re less defenseless, and will keep an eye on things until we see if the dogs can handle themselves around them.

  4. Sandie

    What an awesome chicken coop!!! I’m sure this would be a VERY popular item for sale at your next event!

  5. Joy

    It looks amazing!! you guys did such a great job!! I wish we could have chickens so bad!! if they could only survive the mountain winter – I can’t wait to see how it works for you.

    1. Joy you should look into some cold weather breeds. I’ve read a few books, and there are several that do well in cold climates. Brahmas (which are also good winter layers) could be a good choice, plus they’re supposed to be great with kids! It seems you’ll just need to add a heat bulb in the coop for cold nights and you should be good to go!

  6. Tena

    Thanks for posting! Will you be posting the plans soon? How much time do you estimate it took to build this coop? Beautiful Job!

    1. Brooke

      Um…these ARE the plans! I’m not very skilled in sketchup so I just do step by step photos. You can see my supply and cut list below the “glamor shots”. It took about a day to build, then another day to staple on the chicken wire (which is now covered in hardware cloth as its sturdier). I need to get an accurate cost estimate, but I’m thinking it was around $250 for everything. The chickens love it though! Now if I could just convince them to start laying…

  7. Tena

    Thanks Brooke! Our babies come in a couple days and I need to decide if we can start tackiling this or give in and buy one….you guys make it look easy, but I am certain a lot of planning and hard work went into this. Best of luck with the egg laying! :)

  8. Heather

    Love this! I think I’m gonna try it. Do you have photos of how you did the ramp? Thank you!

  9. Brian Heath

    I built this over the last weekend, one thing I found is 24 Picket/plank isnt enough to to the roof too, you may want to add the number of roof planks.

    1. Brooke

      Ah, thank you Brian! I didn’t keep a sharp count while we were building/buying, so I suppose I missed a few. Sorry for the added trip! I’ll add on a few extras to the supply list

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