What Does a Greenhouse Cost?
You can build the simplest of greenhouses in your backyard for less than $100. Or, you can go pro, hire a contractor, purchase the most durable of materials, and drop more than $10,000 on your greenhouse. In the middle range, you can spend a few hundred dollars or a couple of thousand dollars on a DIY greenhouse kit. The final cost of your greenhouse project depends on who is building it, how big the structure is, and the materials you use to make the greenhouse.
Breaking Down the Cost of a Greenhouse
You can expect to pay the most if you work with a professional builder when making your greenhouse. Greenhouse kits typically cost less, but you might end up spending more of your time and energy assembling the actual greenhouse. If you're just getting started as a gardener, putting together a simple cold frame or hoop house can be your least expensive option.
Cost of a Basic Hoophouse
The simplest of greenhouses, known as a hoop house, provides some protection from the cold and harsh winds. The structure still lets in light to keep plants warm and to allow them to get the sunshine they need.
Since they don't use a separate heating system and are usually barebones, hoop houses often have the lowest price. Depending on the size of the hoophouse, it can run you anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars.
The video above demonstrates how you can build a small hoophouse for less than $50. The finished product isn't big enough for you to stand or work in, but it gets the job done when it comes to keeping your plants warm.
For a few hundred dollars more, you can make a slightly larger hoophouse that is big enough for you to stand in. At Naturally Living Ideas, writer Tim O'Neill created a 300-square-foot greenhouse structure for less than $500.
He created a wooden frame for the base of the hoophouse, then used PVC pipe to make the hoops. The center of the greenhouse features a wooden frame to provide additional support.
Cost of a Greenhouse Kit
A greenhouse kit allows you to build a structure that's sturdier than a basic hoophouse. A greenhouse you build from a kit is usually smaller and less expensive than one that a professional contractor would make for you.
How much a kit costs depends on the size of the greenhouse and how complex it is. You can find a kit that makes a small structure, about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide, for about $250. The kit produces a greenhouse with a wooden frame and polycarbonate panels.
If you want something you can work in, not just a structure to keep your plants warm and toasty, you can expect the price to jump considerably. For example, a kit that makes a 6-foot by 12-foot structure with polycarbonate panels and a wood frame can cost around $2,000.
When looking for a greenhouse kit, it helps to ask yourself a few questions first, so that you purchase one that meets your needs and fits your budget. There are two things to look at when buying a kit, both of which influence its cost.
One thing is size. If you have a small garden, purchasing a kit that produces a petite greenhouse can make the most sense. You might want something closer to a cold frame, a simple box that you place over top of your garden or plants to provide warmth and protection.
A larger greenhouse kit will give you enough space not only to grow your plants but also to pot or repot them, to start seeds and to perform other gardening tasks.
Second, you want to look at the materials in the kit. Wooden frames can be more pleasing to look at, but also tend to cost more than aluminum. Wood can also be trickier to work with or manipulate and will wear out more quickly than aluminum.
Hiring a professional to build your greenhouse has its benefits. You'll get a custom-made product that fits your needs perfectly. But, it will come at a price. Homeadvisor estimates that a professionally made greenhouse can cost you anywhere from $3,500 to upwards of $25,000.
The average cost to build a greenhouse in 2016 was $13,893. If you look at the cost of a greenhouse in terms of price per square foot, the average is $25 per square foot, according to Fixr.
The pricier greenhouses often have the most square footage, anywhere from 500 to 1,000-square-feet. As the cost of a professionally built greenhouse increases, so does the number of special features and amenities it includes.
For example, you can expect a greenhouse that costs $13,000 or more to include a decent heating system, rather than relying on the heat from the sun's rays. You can also expect the greenhouse to include insulation and a ventilation system to keep the temperature and humidity within an acceptable range.
When you go pro, the materials you choose still influence the final cost of your greenhouse. The glazing you choose for the walls of the greenhouse, the framing material you pick and the humidity, lighting and temperature controls you decide on can all vary in price greatly.
For example, polyethylene sheeting is the least expensive glazing choice, costing around 12 cents per square foot. Glass is the priciest option, costing about $2.50 per square foot.
Polycarbonate is usually the most popular glazing material, according to Mother Earth News, due to its relatively low cost, flexibility, and durability. It usually costs in the neighborhood of $55 per 4-by-8-foot sheet.
Steel framing materials are usually the costliest and can be around $2.50 per linear foot, compared to around $1 per linear foot for cedar wood. Steel might not look as pretty as wood, but it tends to be much more durable, which can make it worth the higher price for some gardeners.