Ask a Question forum: Greenhouse construction

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Mar 12, 2018 3:31 PM CST
Hey. So, my mother is in the market for a greenhouse, but I believe it will be smarter and cheaper to BUILD a greenhouse instead. How would one go about building a greenhouse that works and is extremely cheap?
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Only dead fish go with the flow!
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Mar 12, 2018 3:42 PM CST
Hi and welcome to NGA!

There are a lot of free plans on the net but here is a link to my favorite place:
"The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one."

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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Mar 12, 2018 4:01 PM CST

It probably would be cheaper to build it yourself, rather than buying a kit or ready-made. On the other hand, someone has to actually do the labor. Will that be you?

Decide what you want. What are you going to grow? How big is the GH going to be? How much sun/shade does your build spot get? What kind of construction are you planning? I would start by reading every book I could find about GH construction.

Some of the things you may want to consider are foundation (concrete, wood), frame (wood, metal), windows (plastic, glass), floor (bricks on sand, concrete), are you going to heat it? How will you handle drainage and ventilation? Research the pros and cons to each in your area. Wood frames are cool until they rot away and you are faced with having to replace something that's holding up your greenhouse. But if your area is dry and you aren't raising orchids, the wood could last for 15 or 20 years.

Check with your Planning Department to see what the code is. You may or may not need a permit. You may or may not have to meet certain criteria.

My GH is a heavy duty kit GH. I did have to get a permit because, although you can't access the GH from the house, it is attached to the house. A freestanding GH does not need a permit. If you decide to put a couple chairs and a little table in your GH, it may be considered a 'living space'.

Because I had to get a permit, I also had to put the foundation 18 inches deep. The GH was engineered to withstand 130 MPH winds - that's the building code. On the otherhand, snow load is not an issue. Smiling My GH has withstood winds of 90 MPH and its still standing.

I have friends who built GH without the wind load and their GH's are now residing in Elko - first big wind and the GH headed east. They didn't even find pieces!

There are a lot of GH construction plans and ideas available but make sure it makes sense for your area and what you want to do.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Judge
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Mar 13, 2018 4:49 AM CST
It will not be cheaper and smarter to build your own greenhouse without tons or preparation.
Personally I think a kit is easier, you know just assemble and grow. But as Daisyl points out, there are dozens of things to consider, mostly location.
Honestly I do not think there is such a thing as a cheap greenhouse. There are cheaper greenhouses but NOT a cheap greenhouse.
With a self built one or a cheaper one, there is a good chance that you will build one twice. For a greenhouse for March of 2018, you should have started planning for it in March of 2017!
Have you considered lean-to's, freestanding or maybe you just need a coldframe??? What you hope to grow in it or use it for is the first BIG hurdle you have. Nothing worse then to cut corners and build cheap and it does not meet your goals.
The old adage is "penny-wise, pound foolish"! Personally I would read like crazy and plan now for 2019!
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."

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