The Next Big Thing

Building our attached greenhouse, Apr 6, 2004 - ???

Ever since I first saw The Big Sleep*, I have been obsessed with the idea of having a greenhouse.  A real live greenhouse that you can grow your own oxygen in 365 days a year.  Hot and steamy, with green green from floor to ceiling, everywhere dripping and wet.  And an enourmous floor drain so you can spray everything in site and not worry about it. 

So now I am doing just that.  Construction is underway in the backyard of a 10' x 12', 4-season, attached greenhouse.  This is a real cadillac of a room, with an insulated foundation, radiant floor heating, triple-layer polycarobonate glazing, and other phenomenon.  I am doing all the work myself, so far I have only needed assistance for the two concrete pours.  See below for details of the construction.


Digging the Trench 

Permitting and Budget 

Pouring the Foundation 

Pouring the floor

Here is a view from the AutoCad design I came up with.  The design principals came mostly from Andrew Shapiro's The Homeowner's Complete Handbook for Add-On Solar Greenhouses and Sunspaces.  Unlike typical 4-season or sun rooms that are popular today, this space is designed to maximize solar heat gain and distribute the excess heat to the house.  The goal is to at least provide enough heat to make up for the increased heat load on the house.  Under ideal conditions, a solar greenhouse can even provide a net heating gain to the rest of the house.

Here is how the backyard looked before I began work.

* The opening scene of The Big Sleep (1940)  takes place in a mansion on Hollywood boulevard.  Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is there to meet with Colonel somebody to learn about the case.  They meet in a steamy greenhouse where the Colonel wiles away most of his time.  He is too old and feeble to do much but complain about the smell of the orchids ("the rotten smell of corruption") and watch other people drink for him.  Anyway, for some reason this movie makes me want to have a greenhouse!

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