Should you Build or Buy your First Chicken Coop?

So – you’ve made the decision to raise your own chickens. Congratulations! Next up is creating a great home for them so they will be happy, healthy, and safe for years to come.

Should you build or buy your next chicken coop? 6 questions to help you decide

Finding the perfect coop can be a very fun, but sometimes overwhelming task. The first decision to make is whether you will buy a ready-made coop or build your own.

There are several factors that play into this decision, but it’s pretty simple to sort out. Take this questionnaire to see which end of the equation you will be on.

Thinking about Building your own chicken Coop? Here are six questions to ask yourself to make sure it’s the right call

Table of Contents

1. How Much Money Do You Want to Spend?

This is one of the main determining factors for most. Building your own chicken coop will normally cost you about half of what you can expect to spend for a ready-made coop. That is if you buy all new materials.  You can do it for much, much less if you use recycled materials.

The kits which are sold can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand depending on the size and quality of the materials. And one thing to remember when buying a kit online is, you will still have to put it together. It will be shipped in boxes, not fully assembled.

The Cost of Small Chicken Coops

Here are a few examples of small chicken coops for sale:

Producer’s Pride Defender Chicken Coop, 1168239N

Nesting Area – 53.3″L x 15.9″W
(Estimated Retail $1200 @ Tractor Supply)

Fontana ECOFLEX® Tan Jumbo Chicken Barn

Small White Stationary Chicken Coop
41.1″ L x 36.8″ W
(Estimated Retail $500-600 @ Home Depot)

OverEZ Large Chicken Coop, 46OEZCKCP

Red OverEZ Chicken Coop (Tractor Supply)
74″ L w x 60 ” W
(Estimated Retail $1,899.99 at Tractor Supply)

Small Wooden Chicken Coop with a View by Trixie

Wooden Raised chicken coop hutch style with downstairs run
31.25″ D x 68.75″ W
(Estimated Retail $350 @ Home Depot)

As you can see there are wide variations in price. The variances are due to the quality of the materials or sometimes the implied quality, the included features or accessories, and of course the company’s profit margin.

More Considerations When Purchasing a Coop

There are some really beautiful chicken coops for sale these days. Since raising backyard chickens has become such a popular hobby, new sources have popped up all over the place. But some are really expensive.

So take a good look at your budget and decide how much you can afford. Be sure to include the cost to care for the chickens and how much money you will save by having your own source of eggs.

If your ideal coop is a little too pricey for your budget, you may decide to build your own coop instead.  When you build your own chicken coop, you will get to choose all the materials. This means you can decide where it is best to splurge & spend more money like on the base of the structure.

You can also use recycled or even free materials. There are plenty of places to find affordable materials that will look great and not break the bank. You can build some really amazing coops with free or nearly free materials.

2. Do you Enjoy DIY Projects?

Or Know Somebody That Does?

man building a chicken run outside

This is probably the second most important question to answer. Building your own chicken coop can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of building something with your own two hands & seeing your vision come to life. It is enormously satisfying to know that you created your chicken’s home yourself & you will look at it with a feeling of pride for years to come.

However, if you do not enjoy the process of building things, you may be better off having someone else do the heavy lifting.

You could still have your own chicken coop built, but you may decide to be the project manager instead of the actual builder. It’s pretty common for couples to build their coops together, with one as the designated “builder” and the other as “designer/helper”.

Be honest with yourself on this question. Raising chickens should be a fun experience. If you REALLY do not like to build things or if you need a coop for 50 chickens to be ready in 2 weeks and you do not have anyone to help you, this could be a problem.

3. How Much Time Do you Have?

Building a chicken coop takes a little bit of time. A small chicken coop for just a few chickens can be built in a weekend.

But if you are planning on housing 30 or more chickens, this will take quite a bit longer. Some folks may take up to 3 months to build their first coop.

So this is another important question – think about when you need to have your coop ready for the chickens to move in & work backwards.

If you are raising baby chicks, you will likely have them inside the house in a cardboard box or pen for a month or so. But if you are planning of starting with adult chickens, you are going to need to have their coop ready on Day1.

chickens outside the coop

4. Do you Have any Custom Requirements?

Think about your vision for housing chickens on your property.

  • Where do you want the house to be located, and how will you get the eggs?
  • Do you want to be able to walk right into the chicken coop without bending over?
  • Or do you want to be able to access the eggs from the outside of the coop?
  • What about ventilation? Is it extremely hot or humid in your area? How many ventilation vents will you need?
  • Is your area prone to flooding? Maybe you need to consider laying a concrete floor to secure the ground your chicken house will sit on to make sure your chickens stay dry.
  • How will your chickens get in & out of the coop? Can they free range in your area or will they need to have a protected run to keep them safe?

There are many things to consider when planning the design of your chicken coop, so when taking a look at the available coops for sale, have a look at all the features you would like to incorporate in your own design and see if they are available in a pre-built coop.

5. Would the Standard Chicken House Look Good on your Property?

Red Barn Style Walk in Chicken Coop
The Little Barn Chicken Coop from Little Cottage Company @ Wayfair

Many chicken coops are designed with a bit of a country flair. While this may work in many landscapes, it may not be ideal for your property. You will probably want your chicken coop to be an extension of your overall property’s landscape design.

Have a good look around at the available designs on the market. Then, also take a good look at your house and try to decide if they would fit in or look out of place.

When you build your own chicken coop you will be in control of the design. And you can make some small adjustments with materials and colors that can ensure the overall design will fit in with your home.

6. Do You Have any Carpentry Skills at all?

or Do your Friends Run the Other Way When you Pick up a Hammer?

Any DIY project comes with an element of risk.

If you are an extremely clumsy person or just have 2 left feet and are always tripping over something, you may want to consider buying a pre-built chicken coop and having it delivered. You don’t want to accidentally cut off a finger, or pull your back out lifting a bunch of 2x4s.

nail in wood
You don’t need to be a master carpenter to build your own coop, but you should be able to hammer a nail.

If you are not very handy, but still have your heart set on building your own creation, team up with someone that has a few skills. You will have a lot of laughs and hopefully create a beautiful coop in the process – just don’t forget the safety gear!!

As long as you have a good set of plans, you don’t really need to be a master carpenter to build a chicken coop. But you should know what a hammer is & be comfortable with a tape measure and maybe a saw.

And it wouldn’t hurt to have a partner to help you build it. It is good to have someone to help lift the heavier pieces of lumber & hold things in place during the building process.

cock staring

So are you going to build me a coop?

Decision Time:  Will you Build or Buy your First Coop?

The decision to build or buy your first coop is a big one. If you’re still on the fence just think about these 3 points. Does this describe you?

  • You like to save money
  • You enjoy DIY projects
  • You have the time to complete the project before the chickens need a home

If it does – sounds like the decision is made – Building a coop is for you. Next, you will need a good set of design plans – since having a good plan to follow is going to be critical to your success.


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