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 Greenhouse design and build 
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Wife wanted a greenhouse where she could grow year around. Something durable. Like a 20-year life.

First step was to determine the footprint. I have an existing 16 x 16 slab next to the garage, so that was one limitation. The other is a 200 sq foot limit on out-buildings before you need a permit. Finally, my wife had to tell me how much room she needed. With all that, I ended up with a 12’ x 16’ footprint

Next step was the make/buy decision. Quality 12 x 16 greenhouses run around $8K, without heat or ventilation. You add that in, and you are at right around $10K. I figured I could build one for less than that.

When building a greenhouse, the first decision is frame material. Choices are Aluminum extrusions, pipe and wood. Pipe is used for half-cylinder shaped structures. I didn’t want that. Between aluminum and wood, wood was cheaper. Pressure treated or cedar were the candidates.

I came across some plans for a 12’ x 16’ shed, that looks like this

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The plans were dimensioned, which was nice

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Having the framing figured out, I needed to choose the type of walls. Double-wall glass is pretty heavy, but a good insulator. Poly film only lasts for a couple of years, and is a poor insulator. Polycarbonate is a popular choice. Light and a decent insulator. I chose the 8 mm double-wall type, that looks like this

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With the structure being 12’ x 16’, with a 6/12 pitch, and using 8 mm polycarbonate, I can calculate my heating and cooling requirements

First step is to calculate the surface area of the greenhouse. There are online tools to do this. Here is the data for my greenhouse.

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Knowing the surface area, I can calculate the heat requirements. I used the tool located here

https://www.acfgreenhouses.com/greenhou ... lator.aspx

Here is my data

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So I needed 21,000 btu heater. I found a natural gas heater that put out 24,000 btu. I checked with the gas company and verified my meter had sufficient capacity to handle another 30,000 btu added to the existing btu consumption.

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Next step is to determine ventilation requirements, which is based on the volume of the greenhouse. The guideline is to be able to exchange the air volume every minute. Here is my data

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To get 1800 cfm, I chose two 12” exhaust fans. For Inlet air, I chose two 16” powered vents. They look like this

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Finally I got thermostats that will turn the fans on, and open the vents, automatically.

Knowing the fan and vent sizes, I can update the framing design to provide rough openings.

For a door I got a free sliding glass door off craigslist, and updated the framing to accommodate the rough opening and a header. Finally I scored a free kitchen counter and stainless steel sink with faucet from OfferUp. This will be the new potting bench. Water will be via a garden hose most of the year. In the winter I will have water stored in a 55 gal drum inside the greenhouse, with a hand pump.

Yesterday I laid down the sill plate and drilled for 1/2” expansion bolts. Today I ordered the greenhouse equipment and polycarbonate panels. Tomorrow I need to place my lumber order.

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All my materials are 2 weeks out. I will update this as the framing goes up, and the equipment is installed.


Last edited by Arisaka on Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Aug 25, 2020 6:56 pm
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That looks like a plan

I’ve done a few projects with polygal. They’ve got a good system. Off the shelf type stuff can do the same but I’d never tell a homeowner that because I don’t want the liability


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Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:00 pm
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Looking forward to seeing this go up! Your plan seems solid.


Wed Aug 26, 2020 6:54 am
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Debating whether to show this thread to Rita or not...

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Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:48 am
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delliottg wrote:
Debating whether to show this thread to Rita or not...


How's your back feel?


Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:40 pm
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I'm just really surprised you're going at this so half-assed. Really expected more from you Ray... :peep:


Wed Aug 26, 2020 12:47 pm
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Jagerbomber35 wrote:
I'm just really surprised you're going at this so half-assed. Really expected more from you Ray... :peep:

Once an engineer, always an engineer.


Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:52 pm
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delliottg wrote:
Debating whether to show this thread to Rita or not...


Already decided on my end...hell no... :bow:


Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:16 pm
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NWGunner wrote:
delliottg wrote:
Debating whether to show this thread to Rita or not...


Already decided on my end...hell no... :bow:


Yeah, that's a no-brainer right there.

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Thu Aug 27, 2020 2:33 pm
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Well at long last all my greenhouse supplies arrived. Here are the 4’,wide polycarbonate double-wall panels, in 8’ and 12’ lengths.

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These are H-shaped splice strips, for joining the panels together

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Speciality fasteners and spacers for attaching panels

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Natural gas heater, and vent pipes

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Fans and vents

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Now for some construction progress. I laid down pressure-treated sill plates, on top of a foam sill gasket. The greenhouse will be 12’ x 16’. Hammer Drilled into the concrete and installed 1/2” anchor bolts to hold down the sills. Then pulled the sill plates back up and went for a lumber run to Old Growth’s sawmill. Picked up 120 cedar 2x4x 8 foot studs, some 12 footers and a few 16 footers. Snagged some 2x6 and 4x6 too. All very nice stuff, and smelled great!

I built the stud walls on top of the pressure treated sills. 8’ high with 16” O.C. studs. Raised them up and bolted them down. Here are some pics

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Will install a sliding glass door here in the front wall

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It can get windy where I live so I added diagonal bracing

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Next job is to build the trusses and get them up. Then the polycarbonate walls and roof can go on. Then it’s time for systems installation and interior furnishings.


Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:14 pm
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An agricultural fortress!

Looking good, I like the bracing. :thumbsup2:


Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:18 pm
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If it gets windy I would drill in some hurricane ties at least on the corners. I am not showing how I did my hot tub room as for it I Scored a double slide slider door and a single.


Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:41 pm
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hartcreek wrote:
If it gets windy I would drill in some hurricane ties at least on the corners. I am not showing how I did my hot tub room as for it I Scored a double slide slider door and a single.

That’s my plan! I have a box of 100 ready to go


Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:52 pm
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When I built mine, I found its just as important to cool it in the warmer months, as it is to heat it in the winter.
Mine would get up over 120 deg on a 80 deg day.
That was with gable vents similar to yours and a swamp cooler.
Had to add a tarp over the top and an AC unit to keep it reasonable.

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Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:49 am
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Jeffro wrote:
When I built mine, I found its just as important to cool it in the warmer months, as it is to heat it in the winter.
Mine would get up over 120 deg on a 80 deg day.
That was with gable vents similar to yours and a swamp cooler.
Had to add a tarp over the top and an AC unit to keep it reasonable.

I have two 12” fans to blow the hot air out, and two 16” vents to allow cooler air in. They are all on a thermostat. Also have a sliding glass door with a screen, that I could open. If that doesn’t cut it, I will get one of those mesh-like greenhouse covers to throw over the entire greenhouse. But I expect that the greenhouse will be emptied out in the summer and the plants moved outdoors. This greenhouse is for wintering over delicate plants, growing fresh food over the winter, and starting seeds for spring planting. I will also be building Some cold frames for the spring planting.


Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:30 pm
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