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Building Chicken Coops For Dummies
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$14.29+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

VINE VOICEon September 10, 2010
For <$20 one gets chapters on where to build, how to build, what materials, lots of info on general carpentry and 5 coop plans. It's written by 1) a do-it-yourself writer, 2)an owner of Horizon structures and 3)the co-author of the excellent companion book, 'Raising Chickens For Dummies".

Building a chicken coop is very personal. I've scanned the internet endlessly. There are tons of plans, a few graciously offered freely, but most you have to pay for the so-called schematics. I know what I want in a 'home': 3 chickens, easy clean, well protected-weather and pest, room for me to go inside the run, easy access to nest, cute appearance. Absolutely must contain slideout drip pans for fast cleanout! That's me.

The 5 plans are at different skill levels and needs:
1)the Minimal Coop- box shaped with single, sloping roof, simple hinged door, ~4'X4'X4', no adjoining run, good it states for 4-5 birds. Price tag ~$200 for building supplies. Easy;
2)the Alpine A-frame- 4'wide X 10'long X ~4'tall,, 2 nest boxes, screened run with door, 2-4 birds, looks cute, ~$300, not too hard, but you do have to cut some simple angles;
3)the Urban Tractor- 3'X6' with peaked roof 5', 2-3 birds, 16 sq.ft. run, tow chains to pull around the yard(put wheels on!), ~$400, looks neat and tidy; will take some work to build but totally doable for a novice like me;
4)the All-in-One(my choice & a similar version pictured on the front cover)- 8'X4'X7'tall, 4-6 birds(I prefer 3-4), one can enter the shelter and the run through short doors 3 1/2- 4' tall, 3 boxes, A real sloping roof(shingle it), ~$750 cost, add wheels and removable drip pan, nice doors, a small window, it'll take a few weekends to make unless you're Joe the Builder.
5) and finally, the Walk-In- 8X8X9'tall, 30 chickens?, 10 boxes, no run given, $1000, need some skills or help.

The designs are well done, easy to follow with step by step instructions. They list the materials needed, give lots of Tips and Warnings as expected by Dummies. They also include a few chapters on doing things differently: like water supply, electicity, storage spacefeeders, removable drip pans- highly recommended, retractable roof, automatic doors, etc. These are stated with general suggestions, not actual specific plans.

The book itself is larger in size than 'Raising Chicken for Dummies' which makes it easier to lay out. Very readable.

I'm not a carpenter. I have very few building skills; however, last summer, I dove in and constructed an A-frame treehouse on stilts from Stile's 'Treehouses and Other Cool Stuff'(see my review). It was a lot of fun and hard work, and a great learning experience. The plans here are much more comprehensive than Stiles' basic but adequate diagrams/instructions.

You will need some basic tools: circular saw, jig saw, drills, level, square, etc. They mention that a table saw and miter saw sure would be great, but you don't necessarily need them. Just take your time and have fun. Even if you don't use or like their specific plans, the rest of the book is immensely helpful. If building the coop is frustrating or too bothersome, just carefully choose and buy one, and enjoy your chickens!

Update(8/2013): I've built both the All-In-One(as pictured above, modified) and recently the Urban Tractor which I really like. Lumbar gets heavy fast as you add pieces of 2X4, 2X3's, etc. and the All-In-One is quite heavy even for 2 men to try to move on a rough service(I hooked mine up to a tow chain and jeep to move it). The urban tractor is much easier, of course, but still a bit heavy trying to pull through the grass. I added 10" wheels which really help, and I or my wife can roll that around by ourselves; however, tough to go up hills alone.

I did find one error with the Urban Tractor design in the measurement of the height of the front wall/nest box. Significant if one isn't paying attention and carefully reviewing the dimensions before cutting; also there are lots of little details one learns while doing, e.g., when screwing a 1-1/4" screw through a 1X3(on the 3/4" side) to a piece of T1-11, the screw will protrude if one screws down flush with the board. They do warn about this since they want you to use this length screw, but I was surprised about how much I had to back off the screw for just 1/8".

Overall, I enjoy building the structures. They may be heavy, but they're solid, protective and cute looking. Not being a carpenter, this is a great instructive book.

Coop update 2015- I love our All-In-One. It's almost(it is) an obsession for me to automate it as much as possible for our 4 cute and very different chicks. We use automatic tube(pvc pipe) feeders, hung waterers made from gatorade bottles and nipples, an overhead heat lamp in the coop with a thermo-cube, drip pans made from plastic boot trays(the ones that sit by the door for people to place their wet shoes on coming into the house)- my wife loves these because cleaning's so much easier- just remove, dump off the shavings, hose off, and slip back in(I cut them to fit).

We lay straw in the run, and I recently purchased from England(best one I've seen) an automatic door opener, which I placed inside the coop and raises and closes the door(a lightweight plank on the inside) by timer or sunlight- absolutely super, although it's a bit costly.

Finally, for our harsh winters, especially this one, and to keep the run dry, I've added removable 'Hurricane Shutters' that I can put up before a storm, by sliding siding over hooks around the run, and, later, can easily be removed.

I call the coop "Chicken Fort Knox" because nothing can get into it, e.g., raccoons-which we have many- just be sure to use hardware wire(no chicken wire ever!).

Do some research and have tons of fun with embellishing, but no matter what, have fun. Update 10/16- I've put pics of the modified All in One and Modified Tractor and the storm shutters. I've added a heated water bottle in the coop and the run- getting ready for our cold snowy winters. Also, I would say, the girls like fresh grass clippings best(no fertilizer or pesticides) for their run cover. Best wishes!
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on March 30, 2016
I was hoping for more in depth information about different designs, but this book (and I should have realized it) is designed for the person with limited building experience. For that person, this book would be a wonderful purchase. Many detailed explanations of the different materials and how they relate to building your own chicken coop. from the tiny little 2-3 chicken shelter, to a larger walk-in design for more birds. This book explains what tools, equipment, and materials you need from start to finish. I have built two houses (people type), and refinished portions of two more, so an entry level book wasn't exactly what I needed. I did get some good hints in here, but the book is more for the novice. If you are a handy person, or want some good instruction on becoming one. This is a good book.
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on June 19, 2017
I bought this book hoping it would have detailed plans on how to make a very large chicken coop (50 chickens) and was disappointed that the designs given aren't more specific. They do have general building guidelines, but they are in no was specific in measurements. The book does give very good information on how to build it, what to think about before building it, automatic waterers, etc. So I didn't get the coop plans I'd hoped for but it is still full of so much knowledge that we needed, so I gave it a 4 star.
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on July 7, 2011
We're new to chicken coops and many things construction. I sat down with my dad and we read through the book. There were a number of plans and we eventually decided to slightly modify the plan showed on the cover, but with the directions provided it was very easy for us to do that. Dad and I are very mathematically oriented, but not so construction oriented so we really needed a book like this. If my dad had not come by to help, I would simply have done the coop on the cover and I feel pretty confident that I could have done it myself. The equipment lists were absolutely a life saver. It took us (emphasis on him) about two weeks to buy the material, build the coop and take days off to go golfing and shopping with my mom.

I must admit I looked for hours on the internet for free coop plans and while there were some cool looking chicken coops out there, nothing I found had the level of detail I needed to make a chicken coop beyond a one or two chicken project. I am not the kind of person who can see a picture of something and make it. I need detailed, step by step instructions which was exactly what this book provided. I really liked the variety of options available since many people may want to select a different size coop than I did and the pros and cons are very honestly listed.

I really can't say enough good things about this book. We found a similar (but not identicle) coop to the one we made for commercial sale and it cost about 5 times what it cost us to make this coop. I am in the process now of painting the coop because I've decided that before I move the chickens in, it's essential that the coop match the house, but all in all this has been a fun family project and I look forward to a new hobby as a result of it. Were we not able to make this coop ourselves, I would not have paid for the commerically available coop and probably would still by debating on whether or not to get chickens.
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on April 15, 2014
As I approached the entire backyard chicken project, research was key in doing it right. I kept searching for one source that would describe, in detail, the construction and requirements of coop building, since this was something we wanted to do on our own. Resources in that area are extremely limited, give general information and don't get into the nitty gritty of it. This book does that in spades! It is excellent for the newer DIY'er because it has a chapter with construction how-to's to wean you along. If you are looking for an in-depth coop building source, this book is definitely for you! Added benefit: also has 5 plans to look at or use!
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on March 17, 2017
This is not what I expected I assumed it would have more coop plans but it only has a few options. Better off looking at a different book.This is kinda a waste of money
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on April 23, 2018
This is a fantastic book and simple to understand instructions. Bought this book in the bundle as well "Chicken Coops And Sheds: 26 Plans With Illustrations" and it sucked compared to the Dummies book. There were only one set of actual plans in the book cover to cover??
Just get Building Chicken Coops for Dummies it is an excellent book for beginners and has actual step by step PLANS
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on December 25, 2015
Great ideas and instructions,but gave it as a Christmas gift to my husband,and hope to get a functional coop for spring chickens,we will see.If anything I know I can do it myself,but would be nice to have hubby do it, (with me as a helper) if only to get him out of the house,and have a feeling of accomplishment.
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on May 14, 2017
Oddly enough, the plans for a hooped coop, which they say is the easiest and one of the best all around configurations for keeping chickens, is not included in the book... and is of course the one I was looking for. But it was very helpful at developing my basic building skills and I needed that too.
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on September 28, 2017
This book is the most clear, helpful and informative of several that I have read on chicks coops. Very good on simple building basics and should get you through to a finish coop. I'd give it a 5, but I'm going to build the coop first.
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