Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cost of Materials

I have been receiving email reports from around the Us from you the builders updating me on the availability and price of the materials for the Playhouse Coop. It seems that prices vary from region to region, making it impossible for me to estimate your costs.

Here in the Midwest, I used materials in my design that were affordable. IN your region, you may need to make some alterations in order to keep the coop in the affordable price range.

The metal standing seam roofing materials seems to be the most problematic. First, check out ABC Supply for a dealer nearest you. They will let you know the cost and if they will sell pre-cut sections. Also, consider not using the fancy color matched screws they offer and head to the local hardware store. A rubber grommet and screw can be purchased there for less. You will need to paint the heads if you want them to match the roofing color.

The big box lumber stores offer roofing options for a lower price. Corrugated rubberized materials can be purchased there.

The framing lumber I use is 5/4" cedar decking. 5/4" is really 1" thick but it is not a "one by six" rather a "5/4 by six deck board". I know it is confusing but that is the way the lumber is sized and I needed to be technical so you will be able to tell the lumber yard what you really want. The deck board measures 1" thick by 5 1/2" wide.

If the cedar is pricey in your area, consider using spruce, pine or fir (SPF). These are the standard 2 x 4s or 2 x 3s sold at the lumber yards or chain big bix stores. This wood will hold up for many years if treated and kept away from contact with the dirt. Consider using a rot resistant wood for the base only.

Wire prices also vary. While there are animals that have been known to tear through the traditional hexagonal chicken wire, it may by a suitable option if the price/risk ratio is right. In other words, if it is costing an arm and half a leg to buy the 100' roll of 1" galvanized wire for the covering, consider the risks and use the more available and less expensive poultry cloth or chicken wire. You may need to add a couple of extra vertical studs to have a seam where you can attach the wire. This still might save some money. I contacted online the Mazel company to find a dealer locally. Here in the farm Midwest, these supplies are available at a lower cost than other regions.

Finally, the wire on the bottom may not be necessary either. If it means purchasing an extra roll of wire and having the rest sit in your garage, then perhaps there are less expensive ways to secure the coop from digging predators. Use your judgment and your imagination. Some have burried a 12" wide fence around the perimeter of the coop to discourage diggers.

Please keep me posted on what you find for materials in your area. I will post your findings in an attempt to keep others updatedPublish Post on what to expect.

Best of Building Success!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coop Construction Times and Experience Needed

Many have asked me to calculate the number of hours it takes to construct the coop. I frankly never know how to answer this. Even among skilled builders times vary. For the 4 x 8 coop, I think that amateur builder will need a couple of weekends to construct the coop. Planning is the key to making the most of your time. Spend some time looking over the plans with someone from you lumber yard BEFORE the building day arrives. Having all the materials at hand makes the job so much more enjoyable and certainly keeps the builders happy.

Another question is the skill level. I would say that overall this is a beginner to intermediate project. It would not be the first project I would recommend to first time- builders. There are too many moving parts involved! However, with the aid of a more experienced builder on engineer minded person, many have successfully finished this project with very little previous experience. Because a certain skill level is needed, you will notice that the plans do not take you through the construction stages in a step-by-step fashion. I don't want to discourage builders, but I neither want to pretend that I am able to guide you through the entire process. The plans are just that, design ideas that will allow you to put your creative problem solving skills to use on a basic design.

Tracking down the necessary materials takes time too, so plan to do some searching at a couple of hardware stores and lumber yards. I suggest you decide on and begin with the roofing materials as this is often the most difficult and expensive to find. There are less expensive alternative which I mention in the plans and are shown in some of the photos at the photobucket site.

The Nest Box

Many of you have good questions concerning the number of nest boxes needed for the Playhouse coop. Most chicken people agree that one nest box can be shared by up to 5-6 layers. In the 4 x 8 and 4 x 6 version I specify only one nest box. For the 8 x 8 version, two boxes sit side by side and can be accessed by a single egg door. This works all fine and well until one of the hens goes "broody" This is when she wants to sit on her eggs, (in the nest box of course) day and night until they hatch. Thoughts on a broody hen can be found elsewhere on the web or in books.

The nest box is a cube framed with scraps of plywood and the framing members. construction is not critical. Size matters. I try to make sure that the overall dimensions are 12" x 12" x12". The photos in the plans should give you an adequate idea of how to construct it. In essence, think of making a cube of framing wood and plywood, , then removing two opposite sides of the plywood. One side allow the hens access, the other allows access to the egg collector. If the hens are not using the nest box and laying elsewhere, try making it a bit larger. A little straw in the bottom will also be needed.

If you are using a slide out plywood floor on the bottom of the roost box, then consider hanging the nest box a few inches off the floor and attaching it with screws to the wall of the roost box. This will allow the slide-out 1/4" plywood floor to slide under the nest box. When roosting, the birds tend to sit on the flat roof of the nest box and drop their droppings in the space between the roost box wall the nest box.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Welcome to the Playhouse Coop Update Blog

Hello and welcome chicken coop builders. I want to thank you for choosing my Playhouse Coop design for your poultry house. I hope that the plans you purchased from me or from one of my retail sites will provide you with the essential information to undertake the construction of this coop.

While I have striven to provide you with the necessary photos, measurements, plans and descriptions, I have learned that it is impossible to answers everyone question with a one time document. Therefore, I have created this blog in order to provide you the builder with updates, hints, materials substitutions, design alternatives and general encouragement as you send them to me. In short, I see these plans as a continual work in progress, one for which I can use your insights and observations.

As you build, please make note of any part of the building process that you find needs further clarification or more information. Then send me an email at im-handy@sbcglobal.net and I will post your findings on this blog. This will serve to help others who might share your questions. I would like to post your photos also, so consider taking a few pics of the process as well as of the finished product. Others will appreciate your willingness to share your perspectives.

If you can offer alternative designs or substitute materials, please email me this information also.

In this way I hope that together we can continue to introduce more people to the fascinating and sustainable hobby of raising chickens in our yards. I look forward to hearing from you.

I wish you the very best of building success.

Dennis Harrison-Noonan

Isthmus Handyman LLC