Backyard Bliss | How to build a 'wacko dacko' chook house

A classic
A classic "house" shape design with a whole lot of personality. Photos: Kirsten Bradley and Anton Vikstrom.

Apart from being beautiful and joyful to behold, our chook house also had to fulfill some important functions - shelter, a nesting place and a roost for our feathered friends.

We needed to be able to easily access the space to remove manure and eggs and clean it in the event of any disease problems. What's more, we live on a very steep block of land and needed a chook house that could be moved to different locations. So we present you with our super duper guide to our wacko dacko chook house.

But first, a word of encouragement: Just about anyone can build a chook house. Our chosen materials are low cost and reused, the construction techniques simple and the tools required are minimal.

If you are having doubts follow the Urban Bush Carpenter's motto: "Close enough is good enough".

A word of warning: I have a pallet fetish - I love them, hoard them and use them to create functional and beautiful things from them.

Being a 'waste' product, we salvage them from around town from building sites and warehouses for free, as soon as you start looking, you'll see them everywhere.

We only collect heat-treated pallets which are chemical free, you can recognise them by the "HT" stamp, which stands for "Heat Treated". Avoid pallets marked "MB", which means it's been treated with methyl bromide, a chemical toxic to humans and the environment.

The only tools required to build such a thing are a paintbrush, saw, hammer and drill. The two sidewalls where made from pallets (with their base removed).

A sturdy rigid base was made by screwing large section timber perpendicular.

A "roof truss" made of 3 x 2 timbers joined at right angles was attached to the corners of each pallet.

A roosting box was attached to the rear of the structure and all of the parts infilled with light weight pallet timber

Inside isn't quite as fancy as the outside, but here you can see a couple of the best features. The cross pieces are some prunings from the garden, these are the roosts for the chooks to sleep on.

Below that is a mesh which allows the chook poo to fall straight through to the ground where it gets collected for our compost pile.

Without something like this a chook house can get pretty messy, stinky and potentially cause disease or sickness.

As well as looking good, we painted the lightweight pine to protect it from the elements.

The lid for the egg hatch is a bit of sheet metal cut to size which we scrounged from the local tip shop, it's 100 per cent rain proof and built to last.

The corrugated iron roof sheeting is also from the tip shop and finished with a nice ridge cap.

My favourite bit, this chook house also has legs - and buggy legs at that. Each one of the legs can be adjusted in the metal guides.

This way we can set it up in any location or slope around the block (although we don't want to move it very often).

If you have foxes or other predator issues, we recommend you invest in creating a "straw yard" where a small section of the chook run encloses the chook house that can be completely sealed from Mr and Mrs Fox.

This allows you to go away for a night or two without requiring a neighbour to lock and unlock your little ladies each day.

We love this chook house for its functionality and its capacity to stun and inspire people.

Function should always come first when designing anything - but gee, it sure does help engage people when things are also beautiful!

  • Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture, a permaculture landscape design and education enterprise regenerating landscapes and lifestyles.