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Memorial Day Sale 5/24-5/29 - Free Gifts/Reduced Prices On the Following Brands: Cal Flame, Duramax, Yardistry, Elementi, Modeno, Outdoor Greatroom, Riverside Shed, Outdoor Living Today, Exaco, Napoleon Grills, Blaze Grills, Paragon Outdoor, Gazebo Penguin.
How Much Does a Greenhouse Cost? Complete Breakdown

How Much Does a Greenhouse Cost? Complete Breakdown

Constructing a greenhouse can be an exciting project for home gardeners and commercial growers alike. But before embarking on your greenhouse build, it’s important to educate yourself on the likely costs so you can budget appropriately.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the typical expenses associated with greenhouse construction to help you determine how much it will cost to build the greenhouse of your dreams.

Key Takeaways

  • The average cost to build a greenhouse is $20 per square foot, but this can vary widely from $10-$45 per sq ft depending on many factors.

  • Small DIY greenhouses (100-300 sq ft) cost $1,000-$3,000. Professionally built small greenhouses are $1,500-$4,500.

  • For medium hobbyist greenhouses (300-1,000 sq ft), expect to pay $7,500-$15,000 DIY. Professionally built runs $12,500-$30,000.

  • Large commercial greenhouses (1,000+ sq ft) cost $50,000-$90,000 DIY. Professionally built commercial greenhouses are $70,000-$130,000.

  • Opt for polyethylene film or polycarbonate panels to save 80-90% on glazing costs compared to glass. Choose wood framing over metal to save 50-70%.

How Much Does a Greenhouse Cost?

The average cost to build a standard mid-sized greenhouse is $20 per square foot. The cost per square foot to build a greenhouse can range quite a bit based on the size, features, materials, and whether you take on the project yourself or hire a professional. Here's an overview of average greenhouse prices by size:

  • Small greenhouse (100-300 sq ft) - Building a compact, starter greenhouse will cost $10 to $25 per square foot on average if constructing it yourself. Hiring a contractor raises costs to $15 to $45 per square foot. In total, a DIY 100 sq ft greenhouse can cost around $1,000 to $3,000. Opting for professional installation brings the total to $1,500 to $4,500.

  • Medium greenhouse (300-1,000 sq ft) - For a medium-sized, hobbyist greenhouse, expect to spend $15 to $30 per square foot if doing it yourself. Professionally built it ranges from $25 to $60 per square foot. So the overall budget for a 500 sq ft medium DIY greenhouse would be $7,500 to $15,000. A contractor-built one of the same size would cost $12,500 to $30,000.

  • Large Commercial greenhouse (1,000+ sq ft) - Larger custom greenhouses for commercial growing average $25 to $45 per square foot in DIY construction. Having it professionally installed typically costs $35 to $65 per square foot. So a professionally built 2,000 sq ft commercial greenhouse could be $70,000 to $130,000. A DIY one of the same size might range from $50,000 to $90,000.

To summarize, here is an overview of typical greenhouse costs by size for both DIY and professionally installed construction:

Greenhouse Size DIY Cost Range Professional Install Cost Range
Small (100-300 sq ft) $1,000 - $3,000 $1,500 - $4,500
Medium (300-1,000 sq ft) $7,500 - $15,000 $12,500 - $30,000
Large/Commercial (1,000+ sq ft) $50,000 - $90,000 $70,000 - $130,000

Keep in mind other variables like materials, add-ons, and location can raise or lower these base square foot costs significantly.

Factors That Influence Greenhouse Building Costs

Many variables affect the overall budget for a greenhouse project. The main factors that dictate the total investment include:

  • Type of framing - Wood framing averages $1 per linear foot, while steel framing is $2.50 per linear foot.

  • Glazing material - Polyethylene sheeting runs 10¢ - 50¢ per sq ft. Glass is $2.50 - $3.50 per sq ft.

  • Functional components - Heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, benches, etc. add costs.

  • DIY vs hiring a contractor - Opting to build it yourself saves on labor.

  • Geographic location - Costs vary based on local rates and material availability.

  • Special features - Energy efficiency upgrades, automated systems, etc. increase price.

Cost Breakdown: What Does It Take to Build a Greenhouse?

To get a handle on the likely greenhouse cost per square foot for your project, it helps to look at what goes into greenhouse construction and what each component costs. Here are the main expenses involved:

Land Preparation

Making sure your greenhouse site is properly prepared adds $3 - $6 per square foot to the budget. Land preparation entails:

  • Clearing and leveling the area
  • Grading and installing drainage
  • Pouring a foundation or installing a gravel floor

A permanent greenhouse foundation typically costs around $4 per square foot but provides stability and helps regulate interior temperature.

Greenhouse Framework

The framing or foundation of the greenhouse structure makes up a significant portion of the total cost to build.

For a hoop-style greenhouse, curved PVC or metal hoops cost $2 - $4 per linear foot. The hoops are secured into the ground and braced with purlins.

A gothic arch greenhouse with rigid arched rafters averages $15 or more per square foot.

For an a-frame greenhouse, 2x4 or 2x6 wood rafters cost approximately $1 per linear foot. Aluminum or steel frame materials may cost $4 per linear foot or more.

Other considerations for the greenhouse framework include structural reinforcements for wind and snow loads based on building codes for your area.

Greenhouse Covering Material

The skin or outer shell of a greenhouse is known as glazing or cladding. Here are some common greenhouse covering options with estimated material costs:

  • Polyethylene film - $0.10 - $0.50 per sq ft
  • Fiberglass - $1 - $2 per sq ft
  • Polycarbonate panels - $1.60 - $3 per sq ft
  • Glass panels - $2.50 - $3.50 per sq ft

Greenhouse film lasts 1-3 years, while more rigid polycarbonate and glass panels last 5-10 years. Lifespan should factor into your covering material decision.

Additional considerations like thermal efficiency, light transmission, humidity control, and safety may affect your choice of greenhouse glazing materials.

The key differences between common greenhouse covering options are highlighted below:

Glazing Material Cost per sq ft Lifespan Light Transmission Insulation Value
Polyethylene Film $0.10 - $0.50 1-3 years Moderate Low
Fiberglass Panels $1 - $2 5-10 years High Moderate
Polycarbonate Panels $1.60 - $3 5-10 years High High
Glass Panels $2.50 - $3.50 10+ years Very high High

Doors and Windows

Typical greenhouse doors with aluminum frames cost $250 - $750 depending on size and features.

Greenhouse windows or vents can be:

  • Hinged glass panes - $100 - $300 each
  • Louvered vents with polycarbonate - $80 - $150 each
  • Roll-up sides with polyethylene sheet - $4 - $8 per linear foot

Having the right number and size of vents and fans for proper ventilation and temperature regulation is key. This affects the heating and cooling costs of the greenhouse.

Benches and Shelving

Greenhouse benches maximize your growing space and make working in the greenhouse easier. Benches range from:

  • Wood slat benches - $100 - $300 each
  • Metal and plastic benches - $200 - $600 each
  • Rolling benches - $500 - $1,500 each

The length and quantity of benches or shelving units needed depends on the greenhouse's interior dimensions.

Climate Control Systems

Maintaining proper temperatures in your greenhouse may require some type of heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidity control system, which can add $2 - $6 per square foot.

For heating, propane gas heaters or a hot water piping system cost around $1 per square foot. In-floor geothermal systems average $10 per square foot.

Evaporative coolers and exhaust fans cost $200 - $2,000 each depending on capacity. Automated vents run $40 - $100 each.

Greenhouse ventilation is key. Depending on size and airflow, fans usually cost $100 - $300 each.

Dehumidification units run $300 - $1,500 depending on the square footage they can handle.

Lighting

For supplementary light, LED growing lights cost $100 - $300 per unit, while HID grow lights average $200 - $500 per unit. Lighting may add $2 - $5 per square foot.

Irrigation Systems

A basic greenhouse irrigation system costs $3 - $6 per square foot for PVC piping, timers, emitters, and rain barrels. More advanced automated systems can be $10 per square foot or more.

Greenhouse Tools and Equipment

Stock your greenhouse with all the tools you’ll need for planting, pruning, trellising, etc. Hand tools, hoses, wheelbarrows, racks, and workbenches cost a few hundred dollars.

Ways to Reduce Your Greenhouse Building Costs

If your budget is limited, here are some tips for keeping greenhouse expenses in check:

  • Opt for polyfilm glazing which costs 80-90% less than glass. Polycarbonate is also cheaper than glass and fairly durable.

  • Choose an inexpensive hoop house or DIY Quonset hut greenhouse design with simple PVC framing.

  • Purchase a greenhouse kit that includes pre-cut parts for simplified DIY assembly.

  • Use wood framing which costs 50-70% less than metal framing.

  • Insulate the north wall and foundations to reduce heating costs.

  • Install energy curtains to reduce heat loss at night.

  • Orient the greenhouse to take advantage of natural light and ventilation.

  • Grow crops in raised beds instead of concrete flooring or benches.

  • Stagger your build so you can expand later as the budget allows. Focus on key components first.

  • Shop end-of-season sales for discounted greenhouse materials. Buying in bulk also lowers costs.

Bottom Line

Building a greenhouse is a significant investment, but the long-term benefits can make it worthwhile. A thoughtfully designed greenhouse with efficient components like insulation, curtains, and ventilation can yield abundant produce year-round, offsetting the initial costs over time. Carefully weigh the intended use, crop output, potential energy savings, and your budget when planning your greenhouse build.

FAQs

How much does it cost to maintain a commercial greenhouse?

Post-build costs, or the cost to maintain a greenhouse, can greatly vary. The overall cost may include routine maintenance, system updates, temperature control, plant care, pest control, and necessary improvements to keep the greenhouse functioning optimally. The size of the greenhouse, type of the crops, and the location can further influence these costs.

What might influence the cost of building a large commercial greenhouse?

Several variables could influence the cost of building a large commercial greenhouse. Labor, type of greenhouse, materials used, size, location, and additional features can all add to the overall cost. A larger greenhouse will require more materials and potentially more specialized labor which raises the price.

How much would it cost to build a greenhouse from scratch?

The cost to build a greenhouse from scratch greatly depends on factors such as size, design, type of greenhouse, materials used, labor charges, and specific requirements. On average, it might cost anywhere from $10 to $25 per square foot. For highly customized features, prices may rise significantly.

What can reduce the overall cost of a greenhouse project?

The overall cost of a greenhouse project can be reduced by opting for DIY construction, using cost-effective greenhouse glazing materials, taking advantage of natural sunlight to minimize heating costs, and efficient planning to maximize the space of the greenhouse. Buying a greenhouse kit can also help reduce the cost, as they usually come with all the necessary materials and plans.

Are there any benefits of building a greenhouse in terms of cost efficiency over time?

Despite the initial cost of building a greenhouse, there are long-term benefits that can make it a cost-efficient decision. These benefits include year-round crop production, better pest control, the opportunity to grow specialty crops, and less dependency on weather conditions. This can lead to increased produce yield, quality, and potential income if you're selling the produce.

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