Every man needs a passion. For Andy Hinds, it’s the super-deluxe chicken coop he just built: The Coop DeVille.
You know how I got that new camera lens and now I think I’m a photojournalist? And I said I was finishing up a big project and would be posting a million pictures of it? Well, here it is. Part I anyway.
Yep…I am now one of those insufferable urban chicken farmers.
Or maybe my wife and I started it. In any case, we drank a lot of wine on a lot of different occasions and got more and more excited about the idea of pooling our resources and running a little poultry operation. They had a big yard and knew a guy at the farmers’ market who could be our chicken guru, and I knew how to build stuff. And we all liked eggs. Clearly, it was meant to be.
Toward the end of one of these dinner party/playdates, we researched chicken coop designs on the iPad, and within 15 minutes had ordered a set of plans off of eBay. (I wrote more about urban chickeneering in my neighborhood paper, here.)
And for the next three weekends, and some weekdays when I didn’t have any paying work to do, my buddy and I picked away at what the old coot who designed this thing calls the “Coop deVille.”
The plans aren’t bad, but they’re not exactly standard architectural blueprints. It took a while to figure out how the hodgepodge of sketches, photos, and text fit together. Luckily, the designer, James, was pretty easy to reach by phone to clarify parts that I just couldn’t puzzle out.
It’s not the most complicated thing I’ve ever built–not by a long shot. But I wouldn’t recommend it for novice handypersons, either. Even if you’ve got skills, there’s another thing you need a lot of: tools. Obviously, you need all your basic hand tools–hammer, tape measure, chalkbox, level, etc. But I swear I used a good 60% of my power tools, and I’ve got a garage full of them. I even needed to buy yet another specialty pneumatic fastener, bringing the number of nail guns I now own to six.
The material list for the project was pretty basic. Almost the whole structure was made of 2x4s and plywood. Then of course there was quite a bit of hardware. But the reason the lumber list was so simple was because, instead of making me buy twenty 2x2s and ten 1x2s and thirty 1x4s, etc., etc., ol’ James had me ripping all the pieces for the framing, the doors, the trim, everything, out of 2x4s. I felt like Laura’s Pa on Little House on the Prairie, milling logs to build wagon wheels. This system made shopping for lumber easy, and saved quite a bit of money, but I had to set up my table saw every single time I worked on it. I was blasting sawdust out of my nose with the neti pot every night.
These are some of the power tools I used: table saw, circular saw (Skilsaw), jigsaw, miter saw, air compressor, framing nailer, trim nailer, pneumatic stapler, cordless drill, impact driver, router, random orbit sander…I’m sure I’m forgetting some. You could probably make do without having all of those tools, but you definitely need a table saw.
is what we started with.
One pretty cool thing about the design of the deVille is that it’s modular. You build all the panels of the coop and the run that’s attached to it separately, then screw them together. This way, you could theoretically unscrew the panels from each other and move the whole shebang to another part of your yard.
By the time I had finished the roof, Rob’s wife thought it was ready for chickens. Rob and I were all, “No. Not yet. We have to finish trimming it out so it has that board-and-batten farmhouse look. Then we have to paint all the trim pieces white.” She was like, “This thing is for chickens. There’s something wrong with you fuckers.”
So there it is. Stay tuned for the part where we get the chickens. It has already happened, and you’d better believe I have some pictures to share. WAIT. WHERE ARE YOU GOING? COME BACK…