For years, Yvonne has been developing a sustainable homestead complete with chickens, food plants, on-site water, solar power, and more.
How to Build a Backyard Chicken and Greenhouse Duplex
The three Ameraucana hens needed a new, larger coop and I wanted a greenhouse with a sink, so my neighbor, Shawn Thompson, who is an excellent carpenter and all-around handyman, designed and built my chicken chateau and greenhouse duplex.
Now the chickens are happy in their 5x10 foot hen house and run. And I look forward to starting seeds this winter and also to having more room to house some favorite tropical plants during winter freezes in my 7x10 foot greenhouse. Many of the materials used to build the greenhouse and chicken house were recycled, re-purposed, salvaged, or leftover from other projects, except for the frame and the roofing materials.
Here's how we did it. I helped with the design and even some of the construction and also photographed the entire process from layout to putting the chickens in.
We needed a chicken house and a greenhouse. Now we have both in one structure.
The chicken house and coop and greenhouse share the 10x12 foot building which is situated next to the garden and in front of the Satsuma trees. This will provide an extra layer of shelter during winter for these orange trees while providing easy access from the greenhouse to the vegetable garden when it's time to plant the seedlings out.
The chickens' part measures 5x10 feet. It is completely covered with chicken wire and hardware cloth or siding on all sides and has a roof over the entire structure. The hardware cloth extends 9 inches out and into the dirt to deter burrowing predators from digging in.
It is subdivided into two parts. The house where the roost and nest boxes are located has a metal roof, walls made of wooden siding, a 36-inch door with a glass insert (that leads outside), and saloon-style doors which can be propped open during hot weather that lead into the coop. The coop is where they can take dirt baths in the sun and scratch around when they are locked in. I let them out every day to forage for a few hours.
The greenhouse measures 7x10 feet. It has a window screen and hardware cloth on 3 sides and clear fiber glass on the roof and part of the common wall. In the south where we live, a greenhouse is needed for only about 4 months out of the year, so we designed it to be used as a gazebo during warmer weather and added a ceiling fan. During winter, I can put plastic up on the 3 screened sides. The sink will be used year-round for washing and filling hummingbird feeders and for potting and watering plants.
Building the Structure
The structure was built in 13 steps. Each step is explained in detail with accompanying photos below.
Building a Dual Purpose Greenhouse and Chicken Coop Structure Step-by-Step
- Prepare the site.
- Put in the posts and wire.
- Frame the doors and roof.
- Add the doors and siding.
- Add chicken coop boxes.
- Consider a movable roost.
- Consider lights for warmth.
- Consider ventilation.
- Consider the temperature.
- Consider the greenhouse.
- Add pavers and limestone floor.
- Consider the windows and sink.
- Add tray stands for starting seeds.
1. Prepare the Site
The building site was once a part of our garden but it was in too much shade to grow many things. There was a giant fat pine stump that Shawn, the builder, cut off as close as he could get to the ground. I'll have plenty of fire starter this winter.
We also had a fence and a tall trellis designed for mirlitons that had to be removed. The ground was then leveled and pipes and strings were strung to square up the corners of the building. Measurements were taken lengthwise and diagonally both ways to double-check that it was square and adjustments were made.
A post hole digger was used to dig the holes for the corner posts and the posts for the center wall.
2. Put in the Posts and Wire
4x4 posts were placed in the holes and a level, square, and tape measure were used to make sure they were right. Dry Quickcrete was poured into the hole around each post. A little water was added. Down here in wet Louisiana we can do it this way because the soil is usually moist. The concrete was tamped down until the post stood up straight. Braces were used to keep the foundation posts in place.
Then the 6-foot chicken wire and 4-foot hardware cloth was stapled around the posts where the chicken house was to be. The hardware cloth extended 9 inches at the bottom and was buried outside the coop to provide a barrier against digging predators. It extended up to the roof on 3 sides.
Next, the horizontal 2x6s were nailed up so they caught the top and the bottom of the chicken wire.
3. Frame the Doors and Roof
The 4x4's for the doors were installed. The 2x4 rafters and 1x3 slats were installed for the roof. We used clear corrugated fiberglass panels for the greenhouse side with rubber inserts to keep out mosquitoes. Hurricane clips were also installed all around.
The chicken run part of the coop also has clear fiberglass panels and the house has corrugated metal. During the hot weather, we put a silver tarp over the clear fiberglass in the chicken run because they needed more shade in the afternoon.
4. Add Doors and Siding
The front door of the chicken coop house was a salvaged metal door with a glass insert. The siding of the house is scrap from another project. The 2 small windows in the common wall were in the doors of the original part of our house. The glass panels can be taken out during warm weather and the screen keeps the mosquitoes out of the greenhouse.
A water pipe and faucet were installed in the coop and I added a y-connector so that the automatic watering bowl can provide fresh water 24/7. I also have a hose to wash things off when needed.
5. Add Chicken Coop Boxes
There are six approximately 1-foot square boxes (2 rows of 3). The top row has a slanted roof to keep the hens from perching on them. It works and the boxes are poop-free.
6. Consider a Movable Roost
The movable roost is a ladder made from two 2x4s and three oak tree trunks. Two screws on each end of the oak trunks hold them in place. The roost can be moved up or down or taken out for cleaning. It should accommodate at least 10–12 hens. I plan to have around 10 eventually.
7. Consider Lights for Warmth (Especially During Winter)
Double lights were installed to provide additional light in the winter so that the hens will continue to lay. I can also purchase a heat lamp or floodlight bulb to provide warmth when we have freezing temperatures.
8. Consider Ventilation
Two saloon-style back doors were made from salvaged red cedar. We cut a chicken size door so that they can go into the run when the doors are closed for warmth or during hurricanes.
9. Consider the Temperature
Since we live in the south, we are more concerned about the chickens getting too hot, rather than too cold. I rigged up a chain latch with 2 settings so that I can prop the door open enough for ventilation, but not wide enough so the hens can get out. Then when I am around and can let them out, the other setting on the latch keeps the door from closing so that they can go in and out and from opening any wider if a large animal tried to force its way in. I close them up tight at night because we have many predators here in the country.
Our 7 new pullets have established their place in the flock. The older hens still rule the roost, but as the younger ones grow, that may change. Four of the seven are large breed birds (2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Barred Rock). All 10 hens are laying and we average about 6 eggs per day.
Chicken Coop Poll
10. Consider the Greenhouse
The greenhouse portion of the structure is designed to be a multi-purpose facility. It is covered with window screen on three sides so cool breezes can waft through in late spring, summer, and early fall. We also installed a ceiling fan so it can be used for resting after working in the garden. An electrical outlet will enable me to add a heater to keep my plants from freezing. I may even get a small gas grill that will come in handy during hurricane season.
I will soon be getting some baby chicks and have already set up a 2x3 foot box cage in the greenhouse for the new arrivals. Baby chicks must be kept separate from the 3 mature hens until the young ones have some feathers. Then they will be introduced gradually so that the mature hens don't hurt them.
11. Add Pavers and Limestone Floor
We laid tar paper that was leftover from another project, then laid down the pavers where I needed to walk or stand. Six cubic yards of limestone was ordered for the carport and driveway and we put a few wheelbarrow loads in the greenhouse and in front of the structure.
Limestone is an environmentally friendly paving rock. It allows water to soak into the ground but will pack down to form a good surface for paths or roads. Using limestone helps to minimize storm runoff so it helps reduce floodwaters. Down here in Louisiana, we must do everything we can to control flooding.
12. Consider Windows and a Sink
- The windows have a screen and removable glass panels. They were salvaged from 2 old doors that were in the original part of our house. They are perfect to allow air circulation between the coop and the greenhouse. In winter, I will install the glass part of the windows, which can be opened on warmer days.
- The sink and counter provide a workspace for any number of things, especially starting plants when it's cold outside. It can also be used for cleaning hummingbird feeders and/or chicken feeders.
13. Add Tray Stands for Starting Seeds
The movable tray stands are versatile and provide vertical space in which to place 6–8 trays of seedlings or cuttings. I can start enough vegetable and herb plants for a very large garden.
Tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds are started in January. Down here in Louisiana that is 6–8 weeks before the last frost. We often put out our tomato plants in March.
Ameraucana Chickens Video
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you have a materials list for the chicken coop and greenhouse project? It looks absolutely beautiful!
Answer: No sorry, no parts list. Off the top of my head -
Pressure treated 4x4's, 2x6's, and 2x4's for the frame that touched the ground.
For the roof, untreated 2x4's and 1x4's plus hurricane clips.
Fiberglass panels for the green house and the run.
Galvanized metal roofing for the chicken house.
Galvanized chicken wire and 1/4 in. hardware cloth which went down into the soil around the perimeter for predators.
Window screen for outside walls of the greenhouse.
I hope this helps.
Concrete, nails and screws.
Heavy gauge plastic sheeting for winter.
Repurposed door, sink, faucet and plumbing.
Tell us about your backyard projects.
nattabi gloria on August 04, 2020:
l have got one hen about,about l would like to build a plastic house for it ,and to be trained in building using plastic bottle ,thank for good
Brenda King, Bend, Oregon on January 24, 2017:
I have had chickens for over 40 yrs. They are my favorite part of country living. I've become very attached to some of my hens. We've had some very friendly hens, and some that were mean. Roosters have been a problem at times. Some become mean, and attack the hens, pulling their feathers out, bloodying them, and sexually assaulting them repeatedly. We had a gorgeous Big White Lace Wyandott rooster, but he became so violent with the hens, we had to dispose of him. We'd had him since hatching, so it was sad. We love our different colored eggs, with Barred Plymouth Rocks, Lace Wyandottes, and Aracaunas. Our children, grand children and great grand children have all been excited to find the eggs in the chicken house, and occ. in the gardens. I have experienced total destruction of potted, and flower bed plants. Some were wiped off the face of the earth, by my beloved hens! But, I won't give up on the fun, the beautiful, tasty eggs, and the awe of getting to know each hen as a unique, individual personality. They are very entertaining, and interesting! I recommend chickens to any one who can have them!
Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on February 24, 2016:
I'm in the planning stages of constructing something similar so appreciated your photos and ideas.
Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on March 05, 2015:
Thanks. The hens are safe and happy and I can start veggie, herb and flowering plants in the greenhouse. It's coming in handy tonight as a hard freeze it forecast and I have tomato seedlings up in flats there.
Bryan Batts on March 05, 2015:
What an incredible job!! Really great Duplex.
IanTease on January 28, 2014:
That looks like a really great coop and greenhouse and it's a really informative lens
Meganhere on October 28, 2013:
I love this little building!I have a chicken coop which is round with a wooden door salvaged from a house demolition but my hens have died so new ones will be taking up residence soon.
Nice lens. Great hen/greenhouse!
LadyDuck on May 29, 2013:
You made a great chicken coop with greenhouse, very well done.
nifwlseirff on March 06, 2013:
A fantastic project - thank you for sharing! I'd love to keep chickens, and dream of building my own greenhouse in a large garden, but at the moment, I'm limited to a tiny balcony in the city. One day ...
anonymous on March 04, 2013:
amazing house.. so nice.. great video.
DebMartin on February 02, 2013:
What a great idea to combine the two. Nice!
Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on January 31, 2013:
Lovely project lens!
anonymous on January 31, 2013:
Very nice lens :)
William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on January 30, 2013:
Added to my Chicken lens module of Other great Chicken lenses! ;-)
getmoreinfo on January 30, 2013:
I love this, such well done and great photos for how to make a Chicken Coop and Greenhouse, which is such a great idea for being self sufficient.
Chazz from New York on January 30, 2013:
Great job on this lens. I hope to finish a very unusual arbor in the spring - I've been documenting the progress on it and hope to post a lens about it when it is finished. This will be a tough act to follow. Blessed and featured on "Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo." Congrats on a well deserved purple star too!
JoshK47 on January 30, 2013:
Wonderfully put together info! Blessed by a SquidAngel!
VictoriaKelley on January 30, 2013:
This is an awesome lens and you deserve the purple star award. This is one of those projects I am very interested in building myself. Especially the chicken coop! Gratz...
Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on January 30, 2013:
@Diana Wenzel: Thanks. I enjoy the greenhouse side in the winter. It's a cozy & dry place to start vegetable & herb seeds in January. Plus I'm able to take cuttings of tropicals that may succumb to freezing weather.
Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on January 30, 2013:
@Anthony Altorenna: The hens seem to be happy. I certainly am because of all the lovely eggs and rich manure that they give me.
Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on January 30, 2013:
@Steph Tietjen: Many years ago I read about raising rabbits next to a greenhouse so when Shawn suggested a duplex I jumped on it! This winter I left the panes off of the windows on the common wall & found that both the hens & the plants benefit from the shared heat.
Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on January 30, 2013:
I love your coup/greenhouse and enjoyed reading about your project. I have long wanted to have chickens next to a greenhouse, as they help warm the greenhouse in winter. You've inspired me. Congrats on the purple.
(I have 5 chickens, 2 are Auracanas, and built my coup.)
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on January 30, 2013:
What a great idea to combine these two functions. I'm in the process of building a new greenhouse and will soon start on my chicken coop. Really appreciated the ideas and seeing your process and finished products. Very nicely done. Those are some lucky chickens. Congrats on your Purple Star!
Fay Favored from USA on January 30, 2013:
What a neat idea in combining the two projects. Looks great and functional as well.
Frischy from Kentucky, USA on January 30, 2013:
This is a beautiful chicken coop and greenhouse! I'm sure you and your chickens will enjoy it a lot!
Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on January 28, 2013:
This is a great design, and you've given us a lot of good ideas for building both a coop and/or a greenhouse. Your hens must be very happy in their spacious and well-designed chicken coop!
Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on August 24, 2012:
I just love it. Blessed and added to my lens Squid Angel flinnie.
Yvonne L B (author) from Covington, LA on May 14, 2012:
@anonymous: Thank you. It has served us well. I grew many trays of tomato, pepper, herb and other seedlings in the greenhouse side this spring. The 3 original hens are much healthier in their new house and the 7 pullets have adapted well. I do wish that I could have made it a little larger, but there just wasn't room.
anonymous on May 14, 2012:
This is the best chicken coop/ greenhouse I have found on the internet. Thank you for sharing and explaining the process you went through and why you did things a certain way.
Demaw on March 19, 2012:
You and Shawn did a good job.
earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on November 08, 2011:
I really like how you combines the coup with a green house. Great use of space. My Coup is not south facing, so adding a greenhouse wouldn't work very well. Nice Lense :)
chickenmanic on October 05, 2011:
Wow. What a great idea. Loved your lens...and your chicken coop/greenhouse.
Mosoma on September 21, 2011:
Very informative lens. Thanks.
Marina K on September 19, 2011:
Wow, making something like this from scratch is completely amazing to me! It looks great, too!