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Converting a Lean-to into a Chicken Coop

Converting a lean-to or other simple structure into a chicken coop is economical and not difficult.

We needed a new coop. Our little flock had just continued to grow over the last few years but, sadly, our coop hadn't.  I love the little coop that I built three years ago for our original six chickens, but it was now literally bursting at the seams.

I wanted to buy a ready-made coop in the $2,000-3,000 price range...but my husband insisted that I could build one instead for a lot less money.  And he was right.

So we compromised and I got free rein to convert an old lean-to attached to our barn (and conveniently butting up against the back of our existing run) into a new coop. It was about 8x12, so a very nice size for our flock.

I know, not too inspiring! I had my work cut out for me, but I absolutely love building, creating, and re-purposing, so I eagerly accepted the challenge.  

Converting a Lean-to into a Chicken Coop

It has taken about a month of working on it a bit at a time, mostly early in the morning before it gets too hot, but our new coop is finally finished! 

The chickens have so much more room now and I really love how it looks!  Even more importantly, it is safe for them. No predator is going to get in, so I can sleep at night knowing they are secure inside.

Here's how I tackled this lean-to makeover project:

First I cleaned out all the junk, cobwebs and miscellany and we made a trip or two to the dump.

I realized that the openings under the eaves, front and back, would make for excellent ventilation so I covered them with 1/2" hardware cloth to keep predators out instead of boarding them up. 

Then I laid down some pallets we got free from our feed store on top of bricks and then screwed sheets of plywood on top to make a raised floor that won't rot and will prevent predators from digging in from underneath. A raised floor also provides better insulation in the winter and a nice air flow in the summer to regulate the temperature inside the coop.

I found an inexpensive remnant of vinyl linoleum at Lowes in their discount bin and nailed it over the plywood after giving the whole floor a sprinkle of DE to prevent mites. 

Furring strips around the edges secured the floor to the walls. 

Next I tackled the nesting boxes. There was already a shelf of sorts in the lean-to which made an excellent base and I had a row of four wooden boxes from an old coop a friend gave us.

An old wooden ladder a friend found in her garage serves as access to the boxes. 

To keep the girls from perching on top of the boxes, I built a slanted roof out of plywood... 

then shingled it with leftover shingles from our first coop. 

I cut a small vent above the boxes, covered it with hardware mesh and framed it with furring strips.

And added a decorative railing.

And because I can't help it, I added some lace curtains. 

I think the boxes came out so cute!

Then I decided I wanted a larger vent to the side so I cut another hole in the wall, covered it with hardware mesh and made a furring strip frame for it also.

I hung the first dollar the girls ever made from selling their eggs over the row of boxes  along with some vintage feed scoops.

I had some vintage wooden cranberry boxes that I set up on a pallet on the floor as nesting boxes for some of our heavier breeds that might not want to climb the ladder to the higher boxes.

Fresh straw on the floor and nesting boxes makes for nice clean, inexpensive bedding.  

Now it was time for the front. I did splurge and buy the T1-11 plywood because it looks so much nicer than the plain.  I screwed the sheets to the top and sides of the lean-to.

Then I cut out a door, framed it with 1x4s and then hinged it back on. 

Abigail came by to check out my progress at one point. I think she approved. (Notice the NiteGuard solar predator light ready to guard the front entrance also)


Since safety was my main priority, I installed a deadbolt at the top of the door... 

and a predator proof latch at the bottom that was part of the latch kit I bought for the door. It will take a family of very talented raccoons with dextrous fingers, working as a team and standing on each other's shoulders to get this door open! 

I next cut a hole in the front to accommodate the old paned window I had rescued from someone's trash a few months ago - just knowing it would come in handy one day.  I hinged it at the bottom so I can leave it open all summer for a nice breeze...

And then hook it closed for the winter.

I made decorative shutters out of scraps of wood and also put some decorative accents on the door. 

I decided to also build a low stone wall along the front to further prevent predators from trying to gain access. 

And of course I had to add a chicken window decal.

I was so excited when I found an old lace shower curtain at Goodwill for $1.99 that I cut up and used to make curtains for the inside (as well as the nesting box curtains).  I hung them on rods so I can take them off and wash them as needed.

The lean-to was built off the tack room of our barn and when I took out the non-working air conditioner that was built into the wall of the tack room, I realized that hole provided some more nice ventilation into the new coop.  So that window got covered with hardware mesh and a curtain also! 

I built a ledge on the tack room side so I can put a fan in the window to help cool the coop in the summer.  A few recycled colored glass vases, silk flowers and this gorgeous wooden 'Sweet Dreams' sign completed the wall decor. 

I cut a small pop door in the side that accesses the back part of our run for the chickens to enter the coop. 

Predator proof eyehooks on both sides and a NiteGuard solar predator light will keep predators out. I still need to frame the opening and figure out more permanent 'steps'.

I decided to make the roosts from 2x4s. We had a few lying around so I didn't need to buy any. The 4" side is facing up for a nice wide perch.

I made them each 46" long and about 15" apart on the 'ladder'.

I cut two windows above the roosts for more ventilation.

Curious girls came to check them out. 

I sanded the top corners to round them off a bit. Although chickens don't necessarily wrap their feet around a perch like wild birds do, the rounded edges will be more comfortable if they happen to.

I checked the tops for splinters and sanded them smooth. 

I hadn't decided on the coop color yet, but knew I would be painting the door and shutters using leftover paint from our garage, so I went ahead and painted them this pretty lavender blue and painted the window trim white.

I put black barn hinges on the shutters to match the door hinges. 

After much deliberation and input from you all, I chose a gray paint for the coop. I wanted to retain a rustic look but protect the wood and also give it a finished look.  I love how the colors work together. 

To add a bit more eye appeal, I painted the fascia board along the roof line white with the darker blue to look like scalloping and hung a dried flower wreath.  A few baskets of flowers and a stone stoop add a bit of 'curb appeal'.

I found the arms and back of a wrought-iron bench on the side of the road the other day and still need to cut some slats and get that refinished and the bench will sit on the right side in front of the coop.

I also need to put up some hooks and maybe a small shelf inside the coop to hang my egg baskets and hold my garden gloves I use when I clean the coop and also my shaker jar of DE.  All in all, a fun project, but I'm glad it's done.

The chickens have plenty of room, private nesting boxes, tons of roosting bars and a nice place to spend rainy or snowy days scratching in the straw if they don't want to go outside.

Cost of our New Coop

We had a lot of these materials already, so the actual cost wasn't this high, but I wanted to give a representative project cost if you had to buy everything. I think I have included all the materials I used.

3 sheets 7/16" Plywood $24
7 furring strips $7
1 box 1-1/4" deck screws $8
1 box 2-1/2" deck screws $8
Decorative gate kit $20
5 2x4s $14
5 1x4s $20
8x12 vinyl remnant $36
3 sheets T1-11 plywood $114
Galley rail $10
Decorative trim for inside of door $8
44 Stone Pavers $58
3 1x3" furring strips $4
3 1x4" furring strips $6
4 sets strap hinges $14
1 set window hinges $3
2 curtains rods $4
Lace shower curtain from Goodwill $2
Gate hook and eye $1
Four sets predator proof eyehooks $6
Paint $27
Roller/Foam Brushes $6

TOTAL $ 400

So from this:

To this:

Well worth the investment of time and money....after all, spoiled hens lay fresh eggs!

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