Buy or make a chicken coop? What’s the best options

Do you buy a chicken coop or make one? I made one, and I’ve documented my thoughts and feelings toward that process, as well as shown you a successful build in terms of saving money on a chicken coop too.

I’ve got to completely disappoint you here. Unless you’re planning on building some rather large chicken pen then sadly the truth of the matter is buy. Now obviously, despite giving you this advice it most certainly is not what I did and I absolutely love my little chicken coop. The problem is the cost of building my coop was more than half of buying and it took me a full two days to get it over the line. Yes I was pleased with it, yes it looked great (better than bought ones in my opinion) and yes it was more sturdy.

My chicken coop built with ship lap and felt roof

But was it worth losing a whole weekend over? Probably not. On the other hand, if you’re building a large chicken pen, not so concerned on aesthetics, just need some cover for your chickens and a 4 by 2 frame with some chicken wire then without doubt it’s much better to make your own. Either way. I am going to go through both builds, give you the costs, and then you can make your minds up from that point 🙂

My lovely little chicken hut I made:

So as you can see it’s nothing fancy but I think it looks lovely – 5 hens love it in there and they are really peaceful and content. I did have 8 in there but felt that was too much. In terms of construction I got a bit handy with my cordless power tools 🙂

The main shed was built with shiplap. A pretty cheap material. I had some left over but if you were to buy that it would be at least fifty quid. The costs are already mounting up against a home built chicken coop and we haven’t got anywhere yet!

Chicken coop with felt roof fitted with a couple of handles for easy lifting – a nice addition

The sawn two by one and one by half for the outside section to hold the chicken wire, again, I had those laying about but that would be twenty quid.

The roof is constructed of ply and some felt roof tiles to make them look nice. Again this is all stuff I had laying about in my shed. However to buy those is another forty quid easy.

The inside of the chicken coop is just some more ply – to be fair this would come from the offcuts of the sheet you bought for the roof. The flooring panel would probably come out of that too but I used 3 by 1 that I had kicking about. Somewhere nice for the chickens to stand – the section made out of two by two, that would cost another tenner.

Inside my chicken coop – pretty cozy for the layers

Then there’s the pen hinges to the door, the chicken wire, some nails, and a few screws. Quite frankly if you had to go out and buy these materials to make a nice looking coop you would be up around £100. This is just not making any sense when you factor in a couple of days and I bought this chicken coop for around £200 at the time.

Tools to build a coop

Whilst it was a lovely project, the kids loved watching us using our cordless Makita nail guns, our cordless planer, our cordless jigsaw, and our circular saw to make this lovely coop (and we really did have a good time) it was an entire waste of time. We worked really hard at it for two days. I plonked them on a fresh patch of grass and quite frankly it was quite emotional seeing the chickens so happy. But a couple of days later I realised there’s bills to pay and times must and all that.

Incidentally if you copy this kind of design, put the egg access on hinges, I used a block of wood and slid the panel back up and in. Hinges would have been much easier – the idea was to make sure rain didn’t come in but you can get over that in so many easy ways. That was definitely the only design flaw.

First night in the chicken coop

On the other hand, large chicken pens cost a fortune and so making your own out of cheap timber is a no brainer:

Big chicken pen walloped together for a dozen chooks

This isn’t my build, it’s Jo’s, she’s a girl that works for me. She loves chickens, and saw just how many beautiful fresh eggs we get and so wanted some for herself. She set about building a chicken coop to house 12 birds. It’s pretty rough and ready but it certainly does the job.

She literally set about building a frame from 3 by 2 you can get out of Wickes – it does appear tanalised . I wouldn’t recommend this timber but you can treat it or paint it with Cuprinol fence paint. You’ll get a few years out of it. Alternatively heard to your timber yard for some good old 3 by 2 saw and make sure its treated. You’ll get ages and ages out of your chicken coop this way though it’ll cost a few quid more. Hardly a big deal on a large coop for twelve birds.

Making a chicken coop on the fly – the base made

Start with a base and the section you are going to use to raise the chicken off the ground overnight. This is the easiest way to visualise as you build. I can assure you Jo had no set plan 😀 The fixings are just 100mm 4.5 head turbo screws. They fire 3 by 2 together easily with a decent cordless drill.

Large chicken coop mid complete

After the base shell is down you’ll want to support the raised platform. From there you simply build up and square it all off. You can pick where your door goes after. Whilst her build is rough, it has everything to keep a chicken happy, so as long as aesthetics aren’t your thing this will work. If you do want it tidier, just make it so. She needs introducing to a spirit level though, that is for sure.

Chicken coop for twelve chooks – not the best looking but certainly cheap

As you can see much of those timbers are now squared up. When I questioned her on them, she told me it was just braces 😀 Anyway it’s neater now and the entire build was 80 quid for all that timber and chicken wire. The chickens have a house for the night and it’s pretty sturdy.

When you think that took a couple of days and save £500 on one that size then this is making a great deal of sense.

The best option really is for a small chicken coop you buy off the shelf, for something larger or where aesthetics on’t bother you, you’re probably going to build yourself.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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