Le Jardin Ombragé Thumbnails
Dave Builds a Greenhouse



I have been planning this for months, and finally I am getting started. I have purchased a custom manufactured greenhouse from Florian Greenhouse, Inc, of Geogetown, South Carolina. So far, I have been totally impressed with this company - they have been easy to deal with and have delivered on time.

I'll keep a photo record of my progress on this website for friends and family to see.

Click on a thumbnail image to open a full size image, then use your "back" button to come back to this thumbnail page.
Click to see 00Before.jpg
Apr 3 2002
Here is a "before" picture. I have removed most of the plants but otherwise have not even started building.
Click to see 01GreenhouseBlueprint.jpg
Apr 27 2002
The blueprint shows the front, side and top views, along with some construction detail for the vents and doorway.
Click to see 02RentalTruck.jpg
Apr 3 2002
This is the 24 ft. International Diesel Truck I drove 900 miles in one day, to pick up the greenhouse in South Carolina.
Click to see 03TruckLoaded.jpg
Apr 3 2002
It does not look like much in this picture, but is 3,600 lbs of materials to build the greenhouse.
Click to see 04StoredInGarage.jpg
Apr 3 2002
And here, stored in the garage... I think it will be here for a while.
Click to see 05TigerGuardingGreenhouse.jpg
Apr 4 2002
I hired the neighborhood cat, Tiger, as a security guard for the construction site.
Click to see 06BuildingPermit.jpg
Apr 27 2002
Finally, I got my building permit.
Click to see 07SiteReady.jpg
Apr 21 2002
It took me a day to finish getting the site cleared and ready.
Click to see 08TopCornerWindow.jpg
I needed to make sure the top right corner would clear the living room window, so the wall must be as high as the "X" in this picture.
Click to see 09CenterWallLevel.jpg
Apr 27 2002
I found the center point at that height, then used a line level to make sure I was level on each end for my rough measurements.
Click to see 10PlumbBob.jpg
Apr 27 2002
Then I measured out 13 ft. 3 3/8 in. from the center, and dropped a plumb bob to find where the footers will go.
Click to see 11MarkingWall.jpg
Apr 27 2002
I took the rest of the outside measures where the greenhouse will be attached to the house, and marked the outline with twine.
Click to see 12MarkingLeftSideFooter.jpg
Apr 27 2002
I marked on the existing foundation of the house, exactly where I need the greenhouse footer to be dug. I measured down 18 in. to allow for the concrete block kneewall.
Click to see 13RightSideFooter.jpg
Apr 27 2002
The property is on a slope, so the right side and front footers will be 8 1/4 inches lower to allow for another course of concrete block wall.
Click to see 14MeasuringDiagonal.jpg
May 5 2002
I measured and remeasured to make sure the footer was dug in the right place. To make sure it is square, I measured the two diagonals to make certain they are equal. (In this picture I am rechecking the measurement after digging the footers, but before building the forms.)
Click to see 15trigonometry.jpg
The diagonals each measured 373 inches, so I checked the calculations using my long forgotten high school geometry for right triangles. There's a great shortcut on the web at http://www.1728.com/pythgorn.htm.
Click to see 16MeasuringOtherDiagonal.jpg
May 5 2002
As long as the opposite sides and both diagonals are equal, it HAS to be square (right?).
Click to see 17AllMeasured.jpg
Apr 27 2002
Here's a view from the end of the house, showing where the greenhouse will be attached.
Click to see 18AnotherView.jpg
Apr 27 2002
Another view showing the outline.
Click to see 19StartingToDigFooters.jpg
Apr 27 2002
Here, I have only begun to dig the footers.
Click to see 20ArtistsConception.jpg
A VERY ROUGH drawing (not to scale) showing how the greenhouse will be situated.
Click to see 21FormsInPlace.jpg
May 11 2002
Finally I finished digging and got the forms built for the perimeter footing. I am not putting in a concrete slab, because I want to be able to plant in the soil in the greenhouse, and it will need to drain properly.
Click to see 22FormLevelCange.jpg
May 11 2002
Because of my sloping property, I had to make a level change of 8 1/4 inches to allow for 1 course of concrete block.
Click to see 23HoleInTheWall.jpg
May 11 2002
Our city building code requires that the new footing be joined to the existing footing by drilling and epoxying rebar into the existing footing.
Click to see 24DrainagePipes.jpg
May 11 2002
On the lower side I added 2 inch pipes under the footing to provide better drainage.
Click to see 25SecurityGuardAsleep.jpg
May 12 2002
Meanwhile, my security guard is still alert, making sure no one steals my building materials.
Click to see 26RebarEpoxyedInPlace.jpg
May 12 2002
Here is the rebar, epoxyed in place.
Click to see 27MustBeJoined.jpg
May 12 2002
When the concrete is poured, there is no way this footing will separate from the house.
Click to see 28NotEasyToBend.jpg
May 12 2002
I found out just how hard it is to make a 90 degree bend in #5 rebar. Here I have continuous pieces around the corner and changing level so it will be solid and strong.
Click to see 29RebarCompleted.jpg
May 12 2002
It was a real challenge to get the forms perfectly level and square. I started from each end and when they came together at the corner they met just right, thank goodness.
Click to see 30ReadyForFirstInspection.jpg
May 12 2002
So here it is, May 12th, ready for my first inspection from the city. If it passes inspection, I can start pouring concrete.
Click to see 31ConcretePoured.jpg
Jun 3 2002
It passed! I was going to mix the concrete myself until I figured out how much it would take, and how long.
Click to see 32ConcreteCloseUp.jpg
Jun 3 2002
So I had a crew with the right equipment pump the concrete up from the street and pour it. The footer came out level, and the two-levels were just right.
Click to see 33BlockWorkDone.jpg
Jun 15 2002
Next I had to lay three courses of concrete block and anchor in a 2 by 8 sill plate.
Click to see 34DrainagePipesInstalled.jpg
Jun 21 2002
I installed 4 inch drainpipe both inside and outside the greenhouse walls. The upper one shown here drains off the pond overflow.
Click to see 35ReadyForFraming.jpg
Jun 21 2002
Here it is, ready for framing when I get back from Thailand. I'll probably finish the inside decking and raised beds BEFORE I start framing it up.
Click to see 36PeaGravel.jpg
Aug 31 2002
A shoulder injury slowed me down, but I've finally gotten back to work. I had 6 yards of pea gravel delivered to make the main floor of the greenhouse. I killed all the weeds with Roundup, then laid weed block down before I spread the gravel. I will use patio stones for part of the area but most will be potted plants on the gravel.
Click to see 37LayoutWallFrame.jpg
Aug 31 2002
I am using treated lumber to make a plate to attach the open gable side to the house. Here I have laid out and cut the lumber on my driveway by using the actual greenhouse framing members that will be attached.
Click to see 38RaiseWallPlate.jpg
Aug 31 2002
Next, I raised the 2 by 6 plate in place and marked the vinyl siding where it needs to be cut.
Click to see 39WallPlateInPlace1.jpg
Sep 1 2002
After cutting the strip of vinyl siding, I edged it with "J" molding and then anchored the 2 by 6 plate through the wall into the studs with 4 inch lag bolts.
Click to see 40WallPlateInPlace2.jpg
Sep 1 2002
I made sure the verticals were spaced exactly the right distance apart and mounted perfectly vertical and plumb. I had to use some shims because the house wall was not exactly plumb.
Click to see 41WallPlateInPlace4.jpg
Sep 4 2002
I had to add a treated 2 by 4 to bring the distance out a little more, but that gave me a perfect fit with the door opening.
Click to see 42ReadyForFraming.jpg
Sep 4 2002
Before I finally anchored the sill to the sill plate, I measured everything one more time. The diagonals from outside corner to outside corner of the sills came to 371 3/4 inches. Using the calculator (see #15 above) it came out 371.66 inches - within a tenth of an inch.
Click to see 43SillInstalled.jpg
Sep 4 2002
I anchored the sill to the plate with 2 1/2 inch lag bolts and caulked everything according to the installation manual. I also went ahead and pre-painted the areas before installing the sill and the main bar against the house.
Click to see 44RaisingTheHeader.jpg
Sep 7 2002
I used a pulley and an improvised wooden prop to help me raise the main header. This is NOT something to attempt by yourself.
Click to see 45RaisingTheHeader.jpg
Sep 7 2002
I'll let the next few pictures speak for themselves.
Click to see 46RaisingTheHeader.jpg
Sep 7 2002
Click to see 47RaisingTheHeader.jpg
Sep 7 2002
Click to see 48RaisingTheHeader.jpg
Sep 7 2002
Click to see 49GableEnd.jpg
Sep 7 2002
My wife helped me with the two gable ends, but the whole thing is very unstable at this point.
Click to see 50FramingComingAlong.jpg
Sep 7 2002
My son came over and helped me with the other main roof bars and we soon had it taking shape.
Click to see 51CenterGableVertical.jpg
Sep 7 2002
We lifted the center gable vertical in place and things started stabilizing very well.
Click to see 52OtherGableVerticals.jpg
Sep 7 2002
Once the other gable verticals were installed, and some horizontals bolted in place, we could start coasting.
Click to see 53ReinforceMainBar.jpg
Sep 8 2002
I decided to add some reinforcement to attach the main bar to the house. The only thing holding it as designed was the two "T-bolts" that connect the roof main bars.
Click to see 54Doorway.jpg
Sep 8 2002
I was really coasting until I got to the doorway framing. I discovered that the horizontal was cut too short.
Click to see 55CutShort.jpg
Sep 8 2002
I called Florian and they were very responsive. They are cutting a new piece and shipping it UPS, hopefully this week.
Click to see 56Frame3-4Complete.jpg
Sep 8 2002
Here the frame is about 3/4 finished. I have been very impressed with the careful packaging, labeling, organization and installation instructions by Florian Greenhouses. The one cutting error I found was with a custom piece for my front-wall doorway, and they are sending me a replacement soon.
Click to see 57H-members.jpg
Sep 14 2002
Greenhouses more than 6 bays long require H-members and support poles. The H members did not come painted white, so I had to paint them myself.
Click to see 58TigerHelper.jpg
Sep 14 2002
Meanwhile, my helper found a good place to take a break.
Click to see 59FramingComplete.jpg
Sep 28 2002
The new door frame piece arrived and I finished the framing.
Click to see 60ConcretePiling.jpg
Sep 28 2002
I used the paper tubes that the framing members were packed in as a form to make concrete piers for the support poles.
Click to see 61SupportPoles.jpg
Sep 28 2002
These support poles add stability and wind load rating to the greenhouse.
Click to see 62H-memberBraces.jpg
Sep 28 2002
I also anchored the H-members directly to the wall plate for added support and strength of the framing. I had to remove the reinforcement on the header because it was in the way of the ridge vent.
Click to see 63GlazingStarted.jpg
Sep 30 2002
I started the glazing from the first bay next to the house and worked my way outward one complete bay at a time. This way I could reach all the pressure plates and horizontals without climbing on the roof.
Click to see 64Window.jpg
Sep 30 2002
I changed the original plans and located the window next to the door near the planned sitting area.
Click to see 65GlazingDetail.jpg
Sep 30 2002
This picture shows some detail of how the glass lays on the glazing gaskets before the pressure plates and flat caps are installed. Note how the horizontals are joined to the main bars using stainless steel cross clips.
Click to see 65aCrossClip.jpg
Sep 30 2002
Another picture of the cross clip which holds the frame together.
Click to see 66HeaderButyl.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The glass is sealed to the header and the sills using butyl tape.
Click to see 67PressurePlate.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The pressure plate is slipped under the header and then screwed down to the main bar. The glazing gaskets above and below the glass make a tight seal, but note that the first hole was predrilled a little too close to the end of the pressure plate.
Click to see 68EndCaps.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The straight eave models require inner and outer end caps to seal the roof glass to the front wall glass. The instructions for this were unclear, and the design (I think) could be improved.
Click to see 69SettingBlock.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The wall glass is temporarily held in position by using rubber setting blocks to hold them in position. This worked out very easily and the wall glass was a snap to install even with one person.
Click to see 70FlatCaps.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The flat caps are sealed to the glass with thin foam tape. This also worked out very well.
Click to see 71RubberSpacer.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The areas which will NOT have glass (like the ridge vent opening) have rubber spacers instead of glazing gasket.
Click to see 72DoorOpening.jpg
Sep 30 2002
Here is the door opening, with a rubber spacer along the top and under the pressure plate along the side.
Click to see 73Lexan.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The spaces where the exhaust fan and intake louvers will be installed have Lexan instead of glass. An opening will be cut with a jig saw when they are installed.
Click to see 74GlassManufacturer.jpg
Sep 30 2002
The glass I am using is single pane tempered glass, 1/8th inch thick.
Click to see 75GlazingCompleted.jpg
Oct 5 2002
At last! The glazing is completed. But there is still lots of work to be done.
Click to see 76NextStep.jpg
Oct 5 2002
Next step was to build and install the ridge vent. This turned out to be one of the most difficult parts.
Click to see 77CutShort.jpg
Oct 22 2002
Several of the parts (such as these F11 spacers) were cut too short and the vent frame did not fit in the opening exactly as indicated in the installation manual.
Click to see 78VentClosed.jpg
Oct 22 2002
Eventually I was able to work everything out and get the ridge vent and its apparatus working okay. Here it is in the closed position.
Click to see 79VentOpen.jpg
Oct 22 2002
And here it is in the open position.
Click to see 80ScreenBrush.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I ordered screens with my ridge vent, and the design for them is pretty slick, using brushes around the lifting bars.
Click to see 81VentMotor.jpg
Oct 22 2002
A powerful motor was included, which can easily lift the 6-bay ridge vent.
Click to see 82ExhaustFan.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I ordered a Schaeffer 3000 CFM exhaust fan which can move a lot of air for its compact size.
Click to see 83ExhaustFanFrame.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I built an aluminum frame to provide a little more support where it is bolted to the Lexan panel.
Click to see 84IntakeLouver.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I ordered two of the Schaeffer intake louvers which are powered to force them open or closed, triggered by the same thermostat as the exhaust fan.
Click to see 85IntakeLouverSwitch.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I added an override switch so that I can run the fan with the lovers closed, if I want the air to be forced through the screened window and door instead of the louvered intakes.
Click to see 86VentControls.jpg
Oct 22 2002
All the ventilation controls are lined up on an outside wall. At the top is an electrical outlet, then the thermostats which control the ridge vent and the exhaust fan, and finally a Schaeffer speed control so I can run the fan at a lower speed.
Click to see 87Door.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I bought a Larsen storm door which has a screened window that can be opened. My careful measurements paid off as the door fit perfectly in the opening in the knee wall.
Click to see 88Heater.jpg
Oct 22 2002
I bought two King Pic-a-watt heaters which run at 240 volts and each can produce up to 19,000 btu.
Click to see 89HeatersInstalled.jpg
Oct 22 2002
These heaters are very well designed and constructed in Seattle, Washington. The fans are permanently lubricated, designed to last for 15-20 years, and will serve as circulation fans.
Click to see 90NearlyCompleted.jpg
Oct 22 2002
Almost done (I think).
Click to see 91ElectricalWorkDone.jpg
Oct 31 2002
I hired an electrician to install 4 new circuits at the main panel and bring the wiring to the greenhouse. Then I completed the electrical work, using PVC conduit.
Click to see 92PlumbingDone.jpg
Oct 31 2002
I installed 4 water spigots inside.
Click to see 93Stucco.jpg
Oct 31 2002
I stuccoed the concrete block walls inside and out.
Click to see 94Painted.jpg
Oct 31 2002
I painted the stucco with a water-proof masonry paint, to deter the growth of mildew on the knee wall.
Click to see 95EaveCaps.jpg
Oct 31 2002
I had to redo the eave caps, which IMHO have a poor design and incomplete instructions from the factory. I had to drill extra holes in the pressure plates, and seal the glass with poly tape and caulking. In the end it came out just fine.
Click to see 96FinishedWithPlants.jpg
Nov 3 2002
And here it is, with plants inside, and only a few finishing touches left to go.
Click to see 97AnotherView.jpg
Nov 3 2002
Another view.
Click to see 98FromInside.jpg
Nov 3 2002
And from the inside... It did not take me long at all to fill it with plants. I am adding some shelving and some hangers for hanging plants.
Click to see 99aAnotherLook.jpg
Nov 19 2002
I built some shelves on the outer walls.
Click to see 99bTableChairs.jpg
Nov 19 2002
And added a table and chairs for the patio.
Click to see 99cHangingBromeliads2.jpg
Nov 19 2002
I made full use of the vertical space with hanging baskets and mounted bromeliads.
Click to see 99dMoreHangingPlants.jpg
Nov 19 2002
More hanging baskets.
Click to see 99eVine.jpg
Nov 19 2002
And a climbing Tibouchina on one of the support poles.
Click to see door01.jpg
Feb 1 2003
A couple of months later I decided to cut a doorway through the wall from our living room.
Click to see door02.jpg
Feb 1 2003
I felt like Tim on "Tool Time" as I started cutting through the wall.
Click to see door03.jpg
Feb 2 2003
This door sure looks wide! I hope I measured right.
Click to see door04.jpg
Feb 2 2003
The view from the greenhouse. I reinforced the opening with some 2 by 4 studs.
Click to see door05.jpg
Feb 2 2003
Whew! That other photo was just turned the wrong way. The door is in place, a perfect fit.
Click to see door06.jpg
Feb 2 2002
Just need to add the hardware.
UPDATE SEPT. 8, 2005 - After three years, I can still say it has worked out very well. I have added some shelving around the sides and added a misting system from the top to keep my tropical plants in their preferred "rainforest" climate. If you browse through the plant photo pages you will find many of my Costus and other tender gingers growing and blooming well here.

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Copyright © 2002 - Dave Skinner