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Converted chicken coop as small home for NorCal family

When Chris and Tanya bought their property in Petaluma (California) 15 years ago, it was what most people would have called a teardown. Since Chris is a carpenter and contractor, the couple decided to convert the old structures into livable shelters.

Chris began converting a shack into their main home, but it was a project that would take 10 years so to avoid paying rent during the remodel, he quickly transformed an old chicken coop (the property used to be a chicken farm) into their “temporary” home.

For seven years, the couple and then their daughter and finally their son shared the small space. It had just one bedroom, but when their new home was ready, they weren’t prepared to leave it. “Life actually seemed less complicated when we were living in here,” explains Chris.

While their property is no longer a commercial farm, they do have chickens for eggs and goats for milk. To make milking easier, Chris created an automatic milker, using a motor with a wheel and air piston and a vacuum switch meant to control a car’s automatic transmission.

“The ones that are commercially available are very expensive… to buy something that would do the same job would be about about $2500 and I spent maybe about $150 on parts and had some things kicking around in my shop. So no buckets, no kicking, no yanking.”