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
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

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

  • 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

We’re planning a
chicken waterer for this coop so the
flock will be extremely low maintenance.

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