Chicken House Plans – Building A Chicken House

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Excerpt from the book:
Things To Make
by Archibald Williams
Published – 1918

This chapter should be of interest to the keeper of poultry on a small scale, for even if the instructions given are not followed out quite as they stand, they may suggest modifications to suit the taste and means of the reader.
The principle of the combined run and house–which will accommodate a dozen fowls without overcrowding, especially if it be moved from time to time on to fresh ground–will be understood from Figs. 13 and 14. The first of these shows the framework to which the boards for the house and the wire for the run are nailed. Its over-all length of 10 feet is subdivided into five “bays” or panels, 2 feet long (nearly) between centres of rafters.
Two bays are devoted to the house, three to the run.

 Fig. 13.–Frame for poultry house and run (above).
Completed house and run (below).

The materials used comprise:–

  •  One square (10 by 10 feet) of weather boarding
  • 6 inches wide, for covering in the house.
  • 44 feet of 4 by 1, for base and ridge.
  • 56 feet of 3 by 1, for eight rafters.
  • 28 feet of 3 by 1-1/2, for four rafters.
  • 50 feet of 2 by 1-1/2, for door frames and doors.
  • 6 feet of 2 by 2, for tie t.
  • 45 feet of 2-foot wire netting.
  • Two pairs of hinges; two locks; staples, etc.

The total cost as estimated from prices current at the time of writing is ~. This cost could be considerably reduced by using lighter stuff all through for the framework and doors and by covering in the house with old boards, which may be picked up cheaply if one is lucky. Whether it is advisable to sacrifice durability and rigidity to cost must be left to the maker to decide. Anyhow, if the specifications given are followed, an outfit warranted to last for several years will be produced.
A Few Points.
The vertical height of the run is just under 6 feet, the tips being cut away from the rafters at the apex. The width at the ground is exactly 6 feet. The base angles made by AA with B (Fig. 14) are 63 degrees; that which they make with one another, 54 degrees. The rafters r1 and r3 at each end of the house are half an inch thicker than the rest, as they have to stand a lot of nailing.


Cutting the Rafters

If floor space is available, chalk out accurately the external outline of a pair of rafters (80 inches long each before shaping) and a line joining their lower ends. Then draw a line bisecting the ridge angle. With this template as guide the rafters can be quickly cut to shape. Another method is to cut one rafter out very carefully, making a notch for half the width of the ridge, and to use it as a pattern for the rest. In any case the chalked lines will prove useful in the next operation of pairing the rafters and uniting them by a tie just under the ridge notch. Cut a 4 by 1 inch notch at the bottom of each rafter, on the outside, for the base piece. The two end pairs have the B pieces (Fig. 14) nailed on to them, and r3 the tie t, which should be in line with the rafters. The other three pairs require temporary ties halfway up to prevent straddling during erection.

Door Frames and Doors.

The method of fixing the frame of the door at the run end is shown in Fig. 14. The material for the frame being 1/2 inch thicker than that of the rafters, there is room for shoulders at the top angles, as indicated by dotted lines. The door frame at the house end is of the same thickness as r1 so that no overlapping is possible. This being the case, screws should be used in preference to nails, which are liable to draw a sloping face out of position as they get home.

Fig. 14. — On left, elevation of end of run; on right, door for run.

The doors are made of 2 by 2 inch stuff, halved at the corners. Cut out the top and bottom of the two sides; lay them on the floor so as to form a perfect rectangle, and nail them together. The strut is then prepared, care being taken to get a good fit, as any shortness of strut will sooner or later mean sagging of the door. Cut the angles as squarely as possible, to ensure the strut being of the same length both inside and out.

As the door is rectangular, it does not matter which corners are occupied by the ends of the strut; but when the door is hung, the strut must run relatively to the side on which the hinges are, as shown in Fig. 14.

Amateurs–even some professionals–have been known to get the strut the wrong way up, and so render it practically useless.

Covering the Ends of the House.
The ends of the house should be covered before erection, while it is still possible to do the nailing on the flat. The run end is boarded right over, beginning at the bottom, and allowing each board to overlap that below it by 1 inch. The board ends are flush with the outer sides of the rafters. When boarding is finished, cut (with a pad saw) a semicircular-topped run hole, 14 inches high and 8 inches wide, in the middle of the bottom. Any structural weakness caused by severing the two lowest boards is counteracted by the two grooved pieces in which the drop-door moves.

Odds and ends of weather boards should be kept for the door end of the house, which requires short pieces only, and is not boarded below the top of b2. The door may be weather-boarded to match the rest of the end, or covered by a few strakes of match–boarding put on vertically.
The two base pieces, b1 and b2, and the ridge should be marked off for the rafters at the same time. All three are 10-foot lengths of 4 by 1 wood, unless you prefer the ridge to project a bit, in which case you must allow accordingly.
Stand all three pieces together on edge, and make the marks with a square across the tops. Allow a distance of 4 feet between the outside faces of r1 and r3; halve this distance to get the centre of r2; and subdivide the distance between r3 and r6 so that each rafter is separated from its neighbours by an equal space, which will be 1 foot 11 inches. Number the marks and continue them down the sides of the boards with the square. There should be a mark on each side of the place to be occupied by the intermediate rafters, to prevent mistakes; for it is obvious that if a rafter is fixed on the left side of a single ridge mark and on the right of the corresponding mark on the base, the result will not be pleasing.

The services of a second pair of hands are needed here, to hold while nailing is done. Nail holes having been drilled in the tops of the rafters and in the base pieces, the ends are stood upright and tacked to the ridge at the places marked for them, and after them the intermediate rafters, work¬ing from one end to the other. Then tack on the base pieces, b1, b3. Get the ends quite perpendicular, and nail a temporary cross strut or two on the out¬side of the rafters to prevent shifting while the final nailing up is done.

Covering the Shed
Sixteen boards, 4 feet 2 inches long, are needed for each side, as, owing to the overlap of one inch, each tier covers only five of the 80 inches. The ridge is made watertight by a strip of sheet zinc, a foot wide, bent over the top and nailed along each edge.
Waterproofing. — All the woodwork should now be given a coating of well-boiled tar, paint, creosote, or some other preservative, worked well down into the cracks. Creosote and stoprot are most convenient to use, as they dry quickly.

When the preservative has dried, fix on the netting with 3/4-inch wire staples. Begin at the base on one side, strain the netting over the ridge, and down to the base on the other side. Be careful not to draw the rafters out of line sideways. The last edge stapled should be that on the roof of the house.

When driving nails or staples into a rafter or other part, get a helper to hold up some object considerably heavier than the hammer on the farther side to deaden the blow. Lack of such support may cause damage, besides making the work much more tedious and difficult.

Finishing off
The doors are now hung, and fitted with buttons and padlocks. The stops should be on the doors, not on the frames, where they would prove an obstruction in a somewhat narrow opening. Perches should be of 2 by 1 inch wood, rounded off at the top, and supported in sockets at each end so as to be removable for cleaning; and be all on the same level, to avoid fighting for the “upper seats” among the fowls. A loose floor, made in two pieces for convenience of moving, will help to keep the fowls warm and make cleaning easier, but will add a few shillings to the cost. The inside of the house should be well whitewashed before fowls are admitted. To prevent draughts the triangular spaces between the roof boards and rafters should be plugged, but ample ventilation must be provided for by holes bored in the ends of the house at several elevations, the lowest 2 feet above the base. Handles for lifting may be screwed to the faces of b and b2 halfway between the door frame and the corners.

Chicken House Plans – Building A Chicken House

original title:
Excerpt from the book:
Things To Make
by Archibald Williams
Published – 1918