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Past Articles Library | Gardening Design | Do's and Don'ts When Building A New Greenhouse

Do's and Don'ts When Building A New Greenhouse

If you are a growing gardening company, or a hobby gardener that grows a lot of plants in a greenhouse, there will come a time when you will run out of space in your greenhouse. It is smart to think about it now, before it is a gardening problem, and plan for what you will do when that happens.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider as you ponder what to do next.

Best Practices for planning your greenhouse include the following:

  • Establish size for growth and expansion in the future.  Do not just build for today.  Build the greenhouse to allow for expansion as your operations become larger and you need more space to deal with the plants that come from the expansion.
  • Talk to your rep from the company building the new greenhouse about how extra under gutter height, additional ventilation, glazing material options, and the different styles of greenhouses can improve or detract from the environment you want.
  • Allow space from your existing greenhouse and storage needs to make sure you have the loading docks, office space, warehouse space, environmental controls, and all the other things that you need to process the extra plants coming from the new greenhouse.
  • Check your regulations.  You may need a permit to build that new greenhouse from you township or county.  Ask for a meeting with your code compliance officer to go over the plans and tell you what permits you will need to build it.
  • Build more production and storage space to keep the extra plants you are producing in.  They will need to be incorporated into your processes for handling stock and selling it to your customers.

Ten common mistakes people make when building greenhouses:

  • Not giving yourself enough time to work on the greenhouse expansion.  Give yourself some time to plan your structure and discuss with your greenhouse project manager when your various deadlines are.  This will allow him to schedule the things you need in the greenhouse at optimal times for your needs as well as his needs.
  • Focusing on price instead of quality. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when building a greenhouse.  Spend the money to get the highest quality materials so the greenhouse is exactly what you want and need.  You will be using it a long time and you do not want it to fall down around your ears.
  • Forgetting how important your crop sells and marketing is. Now that you have doubled your capacity, you need to double the amount of sales you make to pay for it.  You need to make a solid business decision for building a new greenhouse. 
  • Using your operating line of credit to finance the new greenhouse.  This is a capital project and should be funded as such.  Using your operating credit will mean you don’t have the money to expand the way you need, and can get you into trouble with your bank, suppliers, employers, and customers.
  • Asking your banker for only the money you have been quoted.  Major construction projects often run over and cost more than expected.  You should ask for 10% more than the quote to cover any such problems.  In addition, this gives you the money to add new things to the design if you want to, such as a new loading dock.
  • Using substandard steel in building your greenhouse.  Much of the steel that is imported from other countries is not strong enough for a greenhouse.  It is weak and will not hold up to everyday use.  Make sure that any steel you use is A660 quality surveyed.  This steel will hold up to the rigors of framing a greenhouse.
  • Trying to be a greenhouse builder and a greenhouse user at the same time.  It is good to keep an eye on the greenhouse and how it is being built.  However, if you end up being the contractor who hires the people needed to finish the greenhouse, you need to balance this role with the cost of spending your time working on the building instead of working in your other building growing plants.  You may be surprised at this cost and the amount it adds to the cost of your greenhouse.
  • Failing to get all the suppliers together and making sure that each one knows what should be delivered and where it should go.  This keeps things from being installed at a place they do not belong.  This saves money and time because components do not have to be moved.
  • Building the new greenhouse just like the others you have.  The greenhouse industry has changed a lot and has new components that can increase your ROI by making sure you have built the greenhouse with the best design and equipment available. Listen to the greenhouse builder’s discussion of the new technologies available and make choices based on utility, not on doing things the same old way.
  • Not researching the possibility of grants and tax credits that may help you with your costs on the greenhouse.  If you build it with the latest innovations, you may be eligible for grants from the government.  Add things like a flood floor and a water system that reuses gray water for irrigation, and you are eligible for even more tax credits and grants. There are also tax credits and grants to help family farms keep up with the technology that would make things easier.

Expanding your capacity to grow the plants you sell by building a new greenhouse is chaotic for a relativity short period.  However, if you follow the do’s and don’ts mentioned above, it will make the chaos last as little a time as possible.  It will also help you get the exact greenhouse you need in the shortest time possible.


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