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Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Posted by myrmayde 5b Western Montana (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 0:57

Hi, All,
I've found so many kits for octagonal greenhouses that I need help narrowing down the choices. I can't post more than one photo at a time, because the later posts override the earlier ones. So here's the first one:
(1)
http://www.fifthroom.com/ProductCustomize.aspx?ProductID=8711&Path=203

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' octagon vinyl sunroom

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 1:56


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

So, here's another kit I'm looking into:
(2)
http://livingoutfitters.com/12-ft-octagon-whistler-all-season-gazebo-kit

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' octagon all season gazebo

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 1:58


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Here's another octagonal sunhouse, which is delivered prebuilt:
(3)
http://www.greenhousenation.com/little-cottage-company-12x12-octagon-garden-shed-greenhouse-p-227.html

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' octagon garden shed greenhouse

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 1:59


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Here's another one:
(4)
http://www.gazebodepot.com/proddetail.asp?prod=GazEnc002

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' octagon gazebo enclosure

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 2:00


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

And yet another octagonal sunroom:
(5)
http://www.foreverredwood.com/pergolas-gazebos/gazebos/regal-gazebos.html

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' redwood gazebo

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 2:01


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Here's another one:
(6)
http://www.leisure-woods.com/products/index.asp?ID=22

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' Woodbridge cedar gazebo

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 2:02


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

And another one:
(7)
http://www.homeplacestructures.com/frontsite/structures/enclosed-buildings/sun-houses/octagon-cedar-sun-house/#product

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' octagon cedar sunhouse

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 2:03


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Here's another one:
(8)
http://www.cabinfield.com/Gazebo/Traditional+Gazebo+Sun+Room/36/253.html

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' Amish sunroom

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 2:04


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Another one:
(9)
http://www.shednation.com/ez-log-structures-emma-4f-12x12-octagon-cabin-p-792.html

Here is a link that might be useful: 12' Emma octagon cabin

This post was edited by myrmayde on Sat, Jan 25, 14 at 2:06


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

While they all look like nice gazebos, I'm not sure how well they would function as GHs. The reason being is they all have solid (shingled not glazed) roofs. So the only light which will get in is from the windows. Not going to be enough light for plants that need strong sun probably, at least in the summer.

But a lot will depend upon your intended use(s). Are you looking for a structure to use mostly for growing plants or as a room for people, or both? Growing over the winter too or just in the warm season? Are you going to heat and cool the structure to keep it's temps in the growing range for plants during the peaks of summer and winter, or just get an early start on some tomatoes in the spring? What sort of plants are you planing to grow?

Depending upon how you answer these questions, it would help us say how well these gazebo structures would work for your intended purposes.

In general though, if I wanted an octagonal functioning GH (as opposed to just a people room), my choice from these kits would likely be the third one you posted. Reasons for that choice are: it looks bigger than the others, it has (or could have venting) at the top which will help summer cooling, and has glazing further down the sides for more light.

But there are other considerations too (for this or any of the kits), which one can't tell from just pics: Are the windows openable?, insulation?, Can some of the roof be glazed as well? Are the structures strong enough for the snow/wind loads of your area.

I have probably asked more questions than given you answers here, but there are quite a few variables which go into a GH decision. It's not necessarily a question of right or wrong, but more one of what do you want to do with your GH, and the best way to accomplish that.


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

  • Posted by myrmayde 5b Western Montana (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 17:58

You make several excellent points, Steve. I appreciate the feedback. If none of these work out, I'll fall back on a 10'X12' Cedar-Built, which would probably be better functionally than all of these, but I just love the look of an octagon. I have a border with giant curves and a circular vegie garden in the center, so an octagon would fit in visually so well. One thing I'm trying to do is prove that a garden designed for birds, insects, and native plants can be beautiful as well. It would give me so much pleasure just to look at a beautiful gazebo among the lupines.

I remember reading that one gazebo somewhere had a skylight option, and at least one vents at the roof, but I can't seem to find those in all my bookmarked pages. I've e-mailed all the sellers a list of questions, and I'm putting all the info into a comparison chart. Some give a wind rating, so I'll add that to my list to ask about. "Fortunately," I can't afford it for a year, so there's plenty of time to research it all.

I'd like to use the GH as much as possible, almost year-round. I envision attempting the system Eliot Coleman writes about. I'd like to start seeds to plant out later, perhaps leave tomatoes inside all summer to protect them from the deer, add some long-season plants like peppers and melons, and start a second cool-season crop (maybe start them outdoors) to overwinter in the GH. It doesn't need to be fancy or pretty or roomy or comfortable inside for people, though.

I'm wondering if an unglazed roof could be a net benefit, catching the winter sun but avoiding the hottest, most direct rays of summer. If insulated and vented, it could also help moderate temperatures in winter or summer.

I'm interested in some solar panels to mount on the roof, like the 45-watt 12"X36" panel kits from Harbor Freight, to power a fan and lights. I have heavy-duty extension cords and an outside receptacle if necessary. I don't want to heat the GH, except maybe with an electric heater in a rare cold spell.

(Since I moved back to Montana in 2009, winters here have been incredibly mild compared to 30 years ago. One year an early freeze made the brown leaves stay on the trees all winter. It was in the 40s most days, with hardly any snow; like a very long November. We went two years without getting below zero. It's been in the 40s lately and a some hardy souls have been paddle-boarding on the river.)

Forever Redwood, with the #5 gazebo, replied right away, and they'd help me customize it. They mentioned making sure a skylight doesn't leak. Their cupola isn't normally vented, but they could make it vent, and there are three small windows near the top of the walls that open. Their glazing is bronzed Lexan acrylic. They also offer a 10% annual mid-winter online purchase discount, and a 10% discount for waiting 12 weeks for delivery. And you can choose from 3 different heights of base wall (24", 30", 36"). They're looking like the favorite at the moment.

The one in the #3 photo is a strong contender, because it's delivered fully assembled. Their site used the word "insulated," so I'm trying to find out what they meant. And, as you mention, they have the most glazing (on 5 of the walls).

The one in the #1 photo allows you to pay extra to insulate roof, walls, or floor. And you can get a cedar interior finish.

Thanks again for your suggestions.


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 18:34

So you don't want to heat in winter when sun will be best inside. And it's not very functional in summer because there isn't enough light inside with that roof. Plus if you do get light inside in summer it will overheat.

On the ones with the most glazing there is enough light for some crops but not for high light crops like melons.

What I'm saying is this isn't a real functioning greenhouse. For that you need lots of light inside, heat in winter, and lots of cooling in summer. At the very least adequate cooling requires lots of top venting of hot air.

Sounds like form over function to me. You could do something that looks nice for a lot less money, IMO.


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

  • Posted by myrmayde 5b Western Montana (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 26, 14 at 20:49

Thanks for the feedback, fruitnut. I agree that these prioritize form over function, compared to Cedar-Built, and I can't justify the expense if that's the case. I think the Cedar-Builts look great; they're just not octagons. I can only get one of these if I think it's functional or can be modified to be. I'm willing to heat it if necessary, maybe with a small propane heater. It sounds as if a vent at the roof apex is essential, so I'll take that into account.

Most of the greenhouses I like cost about $10,000, so that's my max budget. Do you think I could pay for an architect, a contractor, subcontractors, and materials for that amount and end up with a functional 12' octagonal greenhouse?

Another idea is to modify the roof of one of these gazebos so that it's half glazed or all glazed. Here's an example of a smaller 8' octagonal greenhouse with a translucent roof, made by the same company as in the #3 photo above:
http://www.greenhousenation.com/little-cottage-company-8x8-octagon-greenhouse-p-419.html
I could get two of these for the price of one of the 12' ones, but that would provide 106 square feet, compared to 119 square feet in one 12-footer.

Whether I have one custom-built, or get a semi-custom 10'X12' from Cedar-Built, or a semi-custom 12' redwood octagon (#5 above), or happen to find something (either rectangular or octagonal) that's perfect: What do you think is the optimal amount of unglazed surface for a greenhouse in a northern-tier state (assuming the unglazed surfaces are insulated wood and that it will have a heater and a fan but no supplemental light)?

For example, how about 30" high base walls, and solid wood north wall and north roof?

Here is a link that might be useful: 8' octagon greenhouse


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

You might want to consider doing a custom built GH, of whatever shape you settle on. I don't think you need the services of an architect for this sort of project, but of course could use one.

It is fairly easy to build a wood framed, multi-wall polycarbonate covered greenhouse. Certainly within the skill set of any GOOD general contractor and framing crew. A decent civil engineer can work out the wind/snow loads if that is a requirement in your area.

You really should be able to go to a GOOD general contractor, tell him what you want, show him some sites that talk about/sell the materials (if he is not familiar with these GH structures), and maybe some pics of similar commercial ones you like, and let him come up with a plan and bid.

If you are so inclined, you can do the research yourself and come up with some initial plans/sketches. Or even do some of the building yourself.

I would take a look at Sundance Supply.
http://www.sundancesupply.com/index2.html
They have a great section on design/construction for multi-wall polycarb covered GH's.

And once you are doing the planning (or asking someone else to do it) you can ask them how does the price change if the structure is octagonal vs rectangular.

A few thoughts:

1. A framed GH covered in multi-wall polycarb will be much less expensive than skylights/windows in a conventional roof/walled structure (like the gazebos you were looking at).

2. With your own design, you can make it as fancy or as plain as you wish (and as your budget allows). You can finish it as a commercial GH, or can put on trim and fancy details if you want. You can control how much glazing there is and where, where vents will be, how much insulation, etc.

3. Multi-wall polycarb will not be as transparent as glass. That may be a good thing (if you want privacy) or not; but is something to be aware of.

Reason I suggest this is that from the discussion so far, it seems that the gazebos you picked were more of an aesthetic pick, rather than being a good fit for what you wanted to do. I think with a custom design, you can potentially get both; a functional GH in the shape you want. And maybe at the same or a lower price point.

Good Luck


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Steve, that would probably be the best solution. I went to that website, and there's a lot to think about.

You're allowed a 120 square foot building here without a permit, and you can have more than one, up to 50% of your back yard. So perhaps I should focus on a workable greenhouse next year, and a cute octagonal shed/cabana in a few years, if ever.

Meanwhile, I found a hexagonal oval that might work. It's only 97 square feet, but on the other hand, it's only $2,446. I could get one of these each year, ha-ha:
http://www.greenhousesetc.com/greenhouse-kits/halls-greenhouse-kits/atrium-greenhouse-kits

By the way, in England these kinds of greenhouses are everywhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hall's atrium greenhouse kit


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Mrmayde, steve333, and fruitnut: I am trying to make the exact same decision as Mrmayde, only I need something larger - trying for 16 ft or 20 ft (#7 has these options, and the Brits, who as Mrmayde noticed, have perfected the octagon greenhouse, are willing to custom-build one of this size for me, but importing the wood - which goes from Canada to the UK for the build - back to the US is an issue). The difference is that I am in Southern California, zone 9a/b, and so I am actually thinking that the covered roof will be a positive rather than negative for me, as I am looking for something to provide shade in summer and insulation in winter for starting spring seeds early, mid-summer protection for crops that overheat, keeping tomatoes and cukes going all winter and starting cool crops indoors while the summer garden is still going (mine produces until December, usually). My issue would be retrofitting a roofed structure to provide the proper venting. Mrmayde, what did you end up deciding? Any feedback from steve333 or fruitnut?


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

  • Posted by myrmayde 5b Western Montana (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 16, 14 at 18:16

Hi, Seletts,
I didn't buy one yet, and I may not ever be able to afford it. (First I got inundated by weeds, got carpal tunnel syndrome from weeding, tried to put down inches and inches of mulch, at $1,000 per inch, then belatedly decided to start sheet-mulching with builder's paper under the mulch so I could use less of it. So it's been a painful, expensive, and unproductive summer. But I've learned a lot. Maybe if I can get the weed/mulch situation under control, I can start saving for a greenhouse again.) I think your best bet of these would be foreverredwood.com. They're in Annapolis, CA, and they sound quite willing to customize. Or try to find another company in Southern California, as shipping costs are a big issue. I might use a local company, badgoatgoodwood.com. They bolt Solexx panels in a low-tech way to the outside of a wooden frame, and they can do a smallish greenhouse for about $5,000, half of what I was thinking it might cost. karin_mt recommends German kits for their quality. You might be able to find a store locally where you can pick up a kit and not have to pay shipping.

This post was edited by myrmayde on Tue, Sep 16, 14 at 18:32


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RE: Help me choose a kit for octagonal greenhouse

Seletts, I am not sure my experience in a cold zone 5a in the CO mountains is applicable to you in a warm CA zone 9. The emphasis for me is capturing warmth and storing/holding it for the winter. There are a few months where some venting extra heat is required, but it is a minor part of my yearly routine. I suspect your climate will largely reverse those needs.

That said, many of the construction points still are applicable. Regardless of shape, your choice of materials can greatly effect the longevity, initial construction costs and maintenance costs of a GH. Hard to beat multi wall polycarb glazing for GH on a functional and cost basis; although it can leave you with a commercial GH look. Traditional framing with house window glazing can give a very finished look, but tends to be expensive and not necessarily the best for GH, at lease in northern cold climates. Of course there are quite a few points between those extremes where these things are balanced to some degree.

If I were you, I'd do some investigating of what local GH growers are using, both commercial and hobby. Try to find folks who are doing the sort of growing you plan to do. See what they use, how do they heat, what about roof glazing, venting, cooling, etc. With this info, you can make plans for your GH, and decide the best ways to build something which will meet your goals.


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