Greenhouse Project; Part 1

I knew that I wanted a new greenhouse from the moment that we bought our new place a few years back. However, there were many projects that needed to be accomplished first, so I was forced to prioritize. (Against my will)

After building our barn (twice…a fire brought the first one down), and a few smaller necessary builds were completed, I began planning for our greenhouse. Well, I’m a planner, so I started planning long ago, but we actually built it at the beginning of this year.

Greenhouse Building Materials

I’ll stop here and tell you that I’m a penny pincher. I’m a bargain shopper to the extreme and I save everything that I think I might need in the future, much to my husband’s dismay. Now, because I’m a builder, I LOVE wood. I save all kinds of wood. We literally have pallets full of various sizes and types of wood, neatly stacked behind our barn for any project that I decide is next. …Oh, and we also have lots of stacks of pallets.

We salvage wood that is still in reasonably good condition from many different places. We knock down old barns, houses, etc. I tell you all of that to tell you this… it barely cost us anything to build a very good size greenhouse. Of course, there’s a give and take. When we save money on new lumber, we spend time and energy preparing old lumber. (and I spend time listening to my husband tell me how much he dislikes my obsession.)

greenhouse, project, building

Kris prying apart salvaged wood for our project.

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Me, grinding off old nails from my salvaged wood.

Step 1 – Create a Plan

Your plan is always your first step in any building project. I never pick up a power tool without a plan in place. However, in this case, as in many of my projects, I created my plan around my salvage ability. I had already salvaged a great deal of wood that would work nicely. And, for a greenhouse, I knew that I would need plenty of windows so I found some great deals on those as well. Once I had purchased all of my treasures, I designed my greenhouse around those purchases. (Don’t judge me. It’s a style that may not work for everyone, but I’m a pro.)

greenhouse two oaks farmstead

Logan, driving rebar stakes into the trench before concrete is poured.

Plan in place, the greenhouse was going to be 20 feet by 25 feet; rectangular, with windows to the south and east. This is actually the third greenhouse that I’ve built so I already had a pretty good idea of how I wanted it constructed. The first element was the footing/stem wall. In southern Oklahoma, we don’t have a great need for a deep footing so that was very good for us since our ground is not exactly soft.

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Mason, hammering the frames to help the concrete settle.

Step 2 – Prepare for the Stem Wall

We marked and measured, squared off the lines and built frames for our concrete stem wall. We used a pick ax to dig to the proper depth after the frames were secured and in place; then poured the concrete. We actually had concrete trucked in because we were putting in the stem wall for our new barn at the same time in order to save time and money down the road. (Trucking it in was a very good thing. I’ve done it by hand before and that’s just not a party!)

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Stem wall, with ‘toe up’ installed.

We removed the framework and we were ready to build, after the concrete had cured. Well…going back to my obsession…we had to prep the wood first, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as my husband makes it out to be. Grinding some old nails off, prying some boards apart. No big deal…we saved over a thousand dollars on that alone.

Step 3 – Ready to Build

After the wood was prepped, we began by laying our first course, the ‘toe up’, as it’s called. We drilled holes in the concrete and used anchor bolts to attach the toe up to the stem wall. We leveled the concrete framework before we poured. This made the actual wall construction very easy. We didn’t have to worry about the building not coming out perfectly level and square. Sometimes all that beginning prep work seems to take forever and, well, I am impatient and really like to just start cutting and nailing. However, if there is anything that I have learned from my OCD husband, who happens to be a terrific carpenter, it is that the prep work is just as important, if not more, than the actual construction.

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Setting and leveling the first corner post.

 

Step 4 – Wall Construction

greenhouse, two oaks farmstead

Walls constructed

On most of our outbuildings, we set our studs on 24 inch centers. That is what we did this time as well. However, since the south and east walls consisted of many windows, the framing had to account for that. We made sure that the framework left just the right amount of space to install the windows without much gap at all. We designed for the door and one window to be on the west side and no windows at all on the north. Once the wall sections were in place, we ran another course of wood across the tops to tie it all together tightly. We braced it all off as we went along to make sure that it stayed square. We removed the bracing once the rafters went up.

 

Next Step

My next post will cover completing the greenhouse, from getting the rafters up to roofing to setting windows to painting and sealing. Don’t miss out on the rest of this project! …and maybe start planning your own greenhouse! You could also check out another couple greenhouses that I constructed previously here and here.

Until next time…

–Amy

 

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