Two love birds and a chicken coop

Before & Afters | June 5, 2018

Republished in partnership with Run to Radiance 

Rod, wanted to remodel his then-fiancée’s (now wife!) a chicken coop. Brittany built the entire coop herself six years ago (go girl!) and it was in need of some serious repairs thanks to some rambunctious chickens. Rod self-declared himself “tool-challenged” and asked The UpSkill Project to help him give Brittany the ultimate wedding gift—a decked out coop.

The Red Vest team along with Rod and Brittney started work on a Sunday morning with a team huddle, led by our fearless leader, Mikey. Mikey has been traveling with The UpSkill Project for a year and this was his 50th project!

After briefly going over the plans for the day, the team started building.

Start with a plan, but don’t be afraid to change it. The official chicken coop plan was purchased online but was then also modified to fit Brittany and Rod’s space, as well as the needs of their growing flock.

Start with a level base and firm foundation. The very first thing Mikey and the team did was make sure the base was level. They dug down and put 3” of paver base using crushed granite before placing skids on top. This allows for good drainage and helps make sure the coop won’t settle over time—especially in Dallas!

Once the team had the skids laid, they built the foundation with plywood and some more 2×4″ boards.

 Mark once, cut twice. Okay, everyone has heard this tip before…but that’s because it WORKS. Bonus tip—the team made a “V” to mark their spot instead of a straight line for the most accurate markings. 

Know that a 2×4 isn’t really a 2×4. Confused yet? When measuring, it’s important to know that a 2×4, named for its alleged measurements of 2” by 4” isn’t really 2” by 4” at all! It was originally cut at a measurement of 2 by 4 inches, but is then sent into a kiln process to dry the wood, during which it shrinks to about 1.5” by 3.5”. So really, a 2×4 is a 1.5×3.5. Who knew? The UpSkill Project team did. 

Work with a team. Okay, not everyone can get a crew from by Lowe’s to come out to their home and help with a project, sadly. But the local Lowe’s experts are there to help plan any home improvement project and pretty much everyone can get a crew of friends and family to come help them out. Even just one extra set of hands for just a few hours can make a big difference!

A square is a tool everyone needs. The square (which isn’t square-shaped) is a humble but mighty tool to help anyone make sure things are square in relation to one another, hence the name. The square was used multiple times throughout the project to make sure beams were truly straight—looks can be deceiving.

The team made a second stop at the store. Even working with a professional team, Brittany and Rod still had to make another Lowe’s run halfway through the project to get some more supplies.

8th-grade math IS useful.  All those times in grade school when everyone bemoaned how pointless math could be…until it’s time to build a roof on a chicken coop. The teachers taught everyone how used the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the roof pitch. A2 + B= C2 – how long the roof beam should be! Most roof rafters jet out about 12”, so they can add a foot to the calculations. This is also followed the 12/4 rule, for every 12” long a rafter is, it slopes down 4”. Now go high five it’s time to high five that eighth-grade math teacher!

Always start at the bottom when installing shingles. The team started at the bottom and layer on top—if they are installed the other way, bugs and other gross things get stuck under the shingles.

Keep a fully stocked toolbox. It always comes in handy!

 There are a million tools out there, but Mikey made a list of tools he would recommend for every homeowner to have handy:

  • Kobalt toolkit, This kit comes stocked with a ton of essentials including a ratchet driver and bits, box cutter, hammer, needle nose pliers, adjustable wrench and more—the perfect starting point for any homeowner!
  • Tape measurer
  • Handheld electric meter, This little tool costs about $10 and will tell you if a wire is hot or not. Safety first!
  • Speed square, Great for any carpentry projects.
  • 3-foot level, A long level is very helpful when hanging art or shelves in your home!
  • Vice grip, If you ever strip a screw or bolt (and trust me, you will at some point!), use a vice grip to get it out.
  • Basin wrench, This is helpful whenever you change out a faucet or if you need to turn the main water line off.
  • Contour gig, This tool is to lay tile or wood down, it can help cut the weird angles in a closet or under any trim.