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Pros and cons of a starplate chicken coop

Starplate building

Our starplate chicken coop is currently about a third to halfway completed, so I thought I'd sum up my thoughts on this first phase of the construction process.  As you'll recall, I was looking for several functional features in our newest chicken coop, and Mark really wanted to build something that would look aesthetically-pleasing in the landscape.  Is the starplate system the best solution?

Starplate frame

Ease of building.  Having taught myself to build using conventional methods the hard way (the internet combined with lots of trial and error), I have to admit that the starplate system is easier to figure out...if you've never built anything before.  However, if you already know a bit about building (as we now do), the starplate system is annoying because you have to learn a new method, which is just as un-intuitive as the more mainstream way was at first.  If you don't know how to build in either manner, though, I suspect the starplate system would be easier to pick up.  Plus, we discovered you can build a starplate coop flat on a sloped hillside without leveling the ground first, a method that would be extremely difficult with a stick-built coop.  So this one is a tossup, leaning toward the starplate as a winner.

Overlapped wall

Cost.  The starplate system definitely costs more.  Sure, the structural integrity of the triangles means you use less framing lumber, but I'm pretty sure you use more of just about everything else, and you have to cut it all at an angle too.  Plus, you end up adding extra framing pieces back into the middle of the triangles to match up the cut ends when filling in every other wall (unless you take out one piece and overlap the rest, as is shown in the photo above).  Total cost for the framing lumber and the wall in-fill materials has been $534.43, the kit cost $117.99, and we've yet to figure out the roof.

Starplate coop

Aesthetics.  Here, the starplate system is a definite winner.  At each stage of the building process, our new coop has looked so pretty, I'd peer out the window just to take it in.  I can hardly wait to see it in all its finished glory.

If you want to read the step-by-step building process, check out Mark's posts on the subject:

  • Framing, day 1
  • Finishing the frame.  My additional tips: If you're going to use one of the optional modifications that allow you to create a barn door on the front, you'll need to brace those corners until you get the frame all the way together.  Also, the directions don't tell you whether to start with the roof or the walls --- start with the walls.
  • Filling in the walls.  My additional tips: The best way to do this seems to be starting at the bottom of one wall, then carefully lining up each board so you can get it centered on that wall.  Then it's easy to draw a line on each end of the board to mark what to cut off.  The more precisely you center the boards, the easier it will be to cobble the end pieces back together to make the next wall.  A much easier method would have been to follow the instructions and cut each wall out of plywood, but it's tough to get 8-foot sheets of plywood into our farm, so we went for the boards instead.
  • Continuing with the walls
  • Trouble matching pieces

Stay tuned to our homesteading blog for day-to-day updates, and I'll post another sum-up here when we've made some more progress.

We're planning a rain-barrel-filled chicken waterer for this coop so the flock will be extremely low maintenance.

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