How Much Does a Greenhouse Cost?
A greenhouse makes it possible to grow plants all year round. It costs anywhere from $500 to $35,000 to build a greenhouse, with an average greenhouse cost of around $9,573.
- Typical Range: $500 to $35,000
- National Average: $9,573
Greenhouses are enclosed structures, usually built in a backyard, that provide a shelter for plants to grow. Since greenhouses isolate plants from the outside environment, gardeners can control the growing conditions, leading to healthier, happier plants. So, how much does a greenhouse cost? The cost to build a greenhouse depends on several factors, but according to Angi and HomeAdvisor, it ranges from $500 to $35,000, with a national average of $9,573.
Planning a greenhouse project requires a lot of decision-making. Greenhouses can be made from several different types of material and come in various sizes and styles. In many cases, homeowners may choose to hire a contractor to complete their greenhouse project. Therefore, knowing what steps are required to build a greenhouse and what questions to ask a contractor before starting is important. For those considering a greenhouse project, there are a few key points to be aware of before committing to the task.
Factors in Calculating Greenhouse Cost
While the national average greenhouse construction cost is a good starting point, it might not be accurate for each individual project. A new greenhouse could cost more or less depending on the factors listed below, including the size, style, materials, and labor required.
First and foremost, the cost of a greenhouse depends on the size of the structure. Expect to pay from $5 to $35 per square foot, with an average cost of about $20 per square foot. As the size of a greenhouse increases, more materials and labor are required to build it. For a small hobby greenhouse of 50 square feet, the cost would be around $1,000. A 500-square-foot greenhouse could cost about $10,000, and a 1,000-square-foot greenhouse could cost twice that amount at $20,000.
Greenhouses can be built in dozens of configurations, some more complicated than others. A straightforward greenhouse will be easier to build and maintain than a more-complicated one. For example, a simple hoop-style greenhouse costs $5 to $10 per square foot, while a more involved A-frame greenhouse costs $25 to $35 per square foot. Detailed structures will require additional labor to construct.
The frame of a greenhouse can be built with a few different types of material. PVC or plastic is often the cheapest framing material, but it can also be lower quality than other materials and may not last as long in climates with severe weather. Aluminum metal is the next best option and is usually a good compromise between cost and durability. The most expensive option is galvanized steel, which is stronger and lasts longer than aluminum but comes with a higher price tag. In some cases, greenhouses might use wood framing to achieve a certain look, but keep in mind this material does not hold up as well outside as metal does. These various framing materials have the following costs:
- PVC: $0.50 to $2 per linear foot
- Aluminum: $1 to $2 per linear foot
- Wood: $1 to $2 per linear foot
- Galvanized steel: $2.50 to $3 per linear foot
Greenhouse glazing is the material that covers the framing and protects the plants inside from the outside. The glazing will also control the temperature and humidity. For novice gardeners, the best plastic greenhouse sheeting, also known as polyethylene glazing, is an inexpensive and effective option. However, for those looking for a permanent greenhouse solution, rigid panels of glass glazing are the way to go. While this is the most expensive option, the material will last a long time and provide excellent temperature control. Corrugated fiberglass and polycarbonate are two other glazing options that are cheaper than glass and more durable than plastic. The cost of greenhouse glazing materials will fall within these ranges:
- Plastic/polyethylene: $0.10 to $0.50 per square foot
- Corrugated fiberglass: $1 to $2 per square foot
- Polycarbonate: $1.60 to $3 per square foot
- Glass: $2.50 to $3.50 per square foot
Foundation and Flooring Type
While many greenhouses use the ground underneath as the floor, some use another material for the floor or foundation. Placing gravel down to act as the greenhouse floor is the cheapest option, followed by rubber matting. Concrete pavers are a little more costly but easy to install and can create a more rigid, floor-like surface. More permanent greenhouse structures typically require a concrete slab foundation for strength and stability.
- Stone gravel: $1 to $3 per square foot
- Rubber mats: $2 per square foot
- Concrete pavers: $8 to $25 per square foot
- Concrete slab: $3 to $6 per square foot
If the plot of land chosen for a greenhouse isn’t clear and flat, site prep is required to make it so. A slightly hilly building location can be flattened with manual tools like shovels, but more considerable grade changes will require an excavator. Excavating land with just a little sloping and land clearing required can cost $3 to $6 per square foot. Very hilly land with lots of vegetation can cost $15 or more per square foot to clear and grade.
While labor pricing is usually not separated and is included in the greenhouse cost per square foot metric, labor to build a greenhouse will likely be around $300 to $500 per day. This cost breaks down to $150 to $250 per day per person. A simple greenhouse will take less than a day to construct, while a more complicated one can take several days, or even a couple of weeks. A landscaping contractor will likely charge between $50 to $100 per hour to build a greenhouse.
A building permit may be required when building a greenhouse if it is a more permanent structure or made of certain materials. Homeowners should check with their local planning department to determine if their greenhouse will require a permit. The cost of a building permit ranges from $100 to $600, but it will likely be on the lower end for a small structure like a greenhouse. The inspection associated with the permitting process will give the homeowner peace of mind that their greenhouse was safely and correctly built.
Additional Costs and Considerations
While the following greenhouse cost factors don’t apply in as many situations, they should still be considered when determining the cost of greenhouse projects. For example, if a greenhouse needs utilities, insulation or cooling, a particular type of door, or any other customizations, the total cost will increase.
Plenty of greenhouses do not require any utilities. However, electrical, plumbing, or heating access might be needed for more advanced gardening operations—electrical for lighting, plumbing for plant watering, or heating for temperature regulation. The cost for greenhouse utilities depends on how far away the nearest utility hook-up point is, most likely at the main house. The farther away the utility access, the more it will cost. Hiring specialty contractors to install these utilities will warrant the following costs:
- Plumber: $45 to $200 per hour
- Electrician: $50 to $100 per hour
- HVAC technician: $50 to $150 per hour
Insulation and Cooling
Extra measures might be needed to regulate greenhouse temperatures in cold and hot climates. For example, many homeowners install insulation in cold climates to retain heat in the winter, either with a thermal screen, base cladding, double-pane glass, or even bubble wrap. Another option is to create heat with one of the best greenhouse heaters. In hot climates, a greenhouse may need cooling measures to keep plants from overheating in the summer, including ventilation fans, air conditioners, or a combination of both. Insulation and cooling measures have the following costs:
- Thermal screen: $1.50 to $4 per square foot
- Base cladding: $1.60 to $3 per square foot
- Double-pane glass: $2.50 to $3.50 per square foot
- Bubble wrap: $2.60 to $3 per square foot
- Greenhouse heater: $60 to $300 each
- Greenhouse ventilation fan: $10 to $50 each
A greenhouse needs an entrance to allow people and plants to get in and out. Single-hung doors on hinges or single sliding doors are the most cost-effective options at $600 to $900, assuming the door material is either polycarbonate or glass. However, homeowners can consider installing a double door if they have large plants or require large equipment and supplies inside their greenhouse. A double-hung or sliding greenhouse door made from polycarbonate or glass ranges from $900 to $1,500. In some cases, homeowners may opt for an insulated roll-up door on their greenhouse costing between $700 and $1,000.
Adding custom features to a greenhouse will really make it into a gardening oasis. For example, for $10 to $50 each, install rows of shelving to store potted plants that aren’t planted directly in the ground. Incorporate bench seating for $50 to $100 each because every gardener needs a place to sit down and admire their work. For those with larger greenhouses filled with lots of plants, a watering or misting system can assist with daily watering tasks at and costs between $500 and $1,000.
Types of Greenhouses
Greenhouses come in all shapes and sizes, from hoop-shaped to gothic arched, and the cost of greenhouses depends a lot on the style. Choose from the following types of greenhouses when building a backyard greenhouse.
Hoop-style greenhouses are perfect for budget-conscious homeowners and are priced between $5 and $10 per square foot. Also called hoop houses, these greenhouses are a series of half-hoop steel arches set in a row with clear plastic sheets draped over the top. An entrance is located at one or both ends, made of a zipped enclosure or a wooden door frame. For a small backyard hoop house, expect to pay around $300. However, for grand gardening aspirations, a 90-foot-long hoop house could be as much as $54,000. Hoop greenhouses are great for wet climates as snow or rain easily slide off the top.
A rooftop greenhouse is the perfect gardening solution for homes, garages, or sheds with flat roofs. Popular in urban areas, rooftop greenhouses attach directly to the wall or roof surface on top of a building and cost $10 to $25 per square foot. The surface must be flat, so these greenhouses are not particularly popular in residential use; instead, they work well on commercial buildings. Rooftop greenhouses are simple structures usually made with a metal frame and plastic or glass panels.
Greenhouses with domed frames are known as geodesic greenhouses and cost $10 to $25 per square foot. These round structures feature a domed top with a plastic or glazed exterior shell supported by steel or PVC framing. The rounded shape maximizes the interior space available for planting and captures plenty of heat and light for superior plant growth. In addition, geodesic greenhouses are sturdy and can usually withstand intense winter weather. Geodesic greenhouses can also simply be referred to as dome greenhouses.
A-frame greenhouses epitomize the classic greenhouse look. The steeply pitched roofline extends from the very top to the ground, outlining the shape of the letter “A.” A-frame greenhouses are often made with glass-glazed panels, contributing to the higher price point of $25 to $35 per square foot. In addition, the steel frame must rest on a concrete slab to support the glazing, further increasing the cost. The steep angle of the roofline is perfect for rainy and snowy conditions as water slides right off and doesn’t build up. While the A-frame shape is ideal for exterior conditions, the harsh angles on the interior can restrict the airflow and limit headroom.
A barn-style greenhouse mimics the look of a barn and ranges from $25 to $35 per square foot. This greenhouse can be made with steel or timber framing and has a gambrel roofline—the roof has two separate slanted edges before it connects to the sidewalls. This roof style creates more headroom inside the greenhouse compared to an A-frame greenhouse. Barn-style greenhouses typically feature ground-level vents to promote air circulation and keep plants cool, making these greenhouses ideal for warmer climates.
Dome greenhouses are another way to describe geodesic greenhouses. Dome greenhouses feature a domed top and cost from $10 to $25 per square foot. The frame can be made from steel or PVC, and the panels can be either plastic sheathing or glass-glazed. The dome shape is perfect for capturing plenty of heat and light to help plants thrive. Unfortunately, dome greenhouses become more difficult and costly to support as they increase in size, so often, these greenhouses are small, manageable sizes.
Lean-to greenhouses attach to an empty exterior wall on a house, garage, or shed. Sometimes referred to as three-sided greenhouses, lean-to greenhouses share one wall with another building and have three walls of their own. Since a lean-to greenhouse shares a wall with another structure, the cost is a little less expensive than a stand-alone structure, at $10 to $25 per square foot. Often, lean-to greenhouses are constructed as more permanent structures and are therefore made of rigid steel or wood framing and glazed panels. Controlling the temperature in a lean-to greenhouse is a little more complicated—the greenhouse walls lose heat while the structure wall absorbs heat. Ideally, a lean-to greenhouse will be south facing to help regulate the temperature.
Consider a gothic arch greenhouse for a hoop-style greenhouse with a little more pizzazz. A gothic arch greenhouse features an arched frame with a point on top inspired by Quonset design and costs between $10 and $15 per square foot. Gothic arch greenhouses typically have galvanized pipe framing and a plastic exterior. As with a hoop-style greenhouse, snow and rain easily fall off the top, making gothic arch greenhouses a good choice for four-season climates. However, there can be limited headroom where the roofline meets the sidewall due to the arched frame.
A pit greenhouse is more than just a hole in the ground. At $20 to $25 per square foot, a pit greenhouse consists of a deep pit with a greenhouse roof over the top. On the cheaper end, a simple hoop-style greenhouse top works well over the pit, or a rigid roof can be used for a slightly higher cost. To ensure the pit greenhouse is safe, specific soil conditions have to be met—the soil cannot be too sandy or loose. The advantage of having a greenhouse embedded in the ground is the temperature control. The earth is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit below ground all year long. In other words, a below-ground greenhouse will stay about 10 degrees warmer than an above-ground greenhouse during the winter. The greenhouse cover should be slightly ventilated to keep the greenhouse from overheating in the summer.
Post and Rafter
A post-and-rafter greenhouse resembles a traditional home with a gable roof and costs $25 to $35 per square foot. These greenhouses are a popular choice because of their conventional look that pairs well with the main home, and they can even be built to match the style and colors of the primary residence. Large posts support the roof rafters, creating a strong greenhouse structure. In addition, there is plenty of space available inside post-and-rafter greenhouses due to the traditional roofline.
The cost of a greenhouse made in the sawtooth style is between $25 and $35 per square foot. These greenhouses look like a hoop-style greenhouse; however, one side has a straight wall section that extends upward. The straight, extended wall section is ventilated, allowing better control of the greenhouse’s overall temperature. Sawtooth greenhouses are usually built with metal framing, plastic sheeting, and solid panels on the straight section. For a more consistent look, homeowners can choose solid panels on the entire greenhouse. A sawtooth greenhouse offers plenty of headroom throughout the structure.
Solar greenhouses are the most costly at $35 to $45 per square foot due to the extra building materials often needed. Solar greenhouses can require insulation, HVAC components, and plumbing. The south wall of a solar greenhouse is shaped like an arch in order to absorb the sun’s rays. A section of material is positioned on the south wall that can be rolled up to allow ventilation. The north wall is built to maintain a constant temperature for plant growth and often uses building materials up to and exceeding 30 inches in thickness. During the winter, insulation pads made of straw are placed on the south wall to hold heat inside the structure.
Benefits of Building a Greenhouse
Avid gardeners know the benefits of a greenhouse—the ability to grow more plants in better conditions year-round. A greenhouse offers a serious leg up in the game to develop gardening skills.
Extended Growing Season
With the proper ventilation, the temperature inside a greenhouse can be modified to promote plant growth. Plants can grow year-round due to these regulated growing conditions. Growing plants outside during the winter is not an option in cold climates without a greenhouse. Additionally, fruits and vegetables grow well in greenhouse environments, allowing homeowners to enjoy fresh produce outside of just the optimal growing season in their area.
Improved Weather and Pest Protection
Plants are protected from the outside environment within the walls of a greenhouse enclosure. In other words, they are protected from weather conditions, like snow and rain, and pests that would eat them, like deer and other creatures. Protecting plants from pests and weather allows you to plant them earlier in the season and extend their life. While a greenhouse keeps pests out, pests can still become a problem around the exterior of a greenhouse. Consider hiring one of the best pest control companies if unwanted pests turn up.
Wider Choice of Plants
Certain types of plants are difficult to grow in some climates. A greenhouse keeps these tricky plants out of the elements and gives them the conditions they need to thrive. Sensitive plants that wouldn’t last even a few weeks in the outside environment can grow tall and healthy within controlled greenhouse conditions.
Building a Greenhouse: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
DIY greenhouse kits come with a set of instructions that allow homeowners to build a greenhouse with their own two hands. While the cost of DIY greenhouse kits may seem lower, these types of greenhouses are usually small, compact greenhouses or temporary ones meant for use just during the growing season. Permanent or larger greenhouse structures are a bit more complicated to construct.
Large greenhouses require concrete slab foundations—professional concrete installers know how to pour concrete so it doesn’t crack and creates a strong foundation for years to come. Working with greenhouse glass glazing is also a task best left to professionals. Glazing can be dangerous to work with if it breaks, and it can impact the temperature in a greenhouse if it’s not properly sealed. Additionally, a greenhouse may require utilities like electricity and a water supply, which should only be installed by trained electricians and plumbers. For these reasons, hiring a professional to build a greenhouse is often the best option for most homeowners.
How to Save Money on the Cost to Build a Greenhouse
Building a new greenhouse from scratch can be costly, especially those with high-grade building materials. To cut down on the cost of a greenhouse project, consider using one or a few of these money-saving tips.
- Get multiple quotes from contractors. Whenever hiring a contractor to perform work, always try to get at least three quotes to compare the cost of services and make an educated hiring decision.
- DIY just certain parts of the project. Most homeowners can contribute a few small tasks to a greenhouse project. These include clearing away small items from the building location or installing those extra finishing touches, like shelving, benches, or concrete pavers, on their own.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Homeowners can create a greenhouse project total budget and make sure they choose a greenhouse size and materials based on what works with the budget without straying from it.
- Use recycled materials. Homeowners can ask their contractor or neighbors if they have any materials that can be repurposed for the greenhouse project. Items like gravel fill, concrete pavers, or plastic sheeting could be useful.
Questions to Ask About Building a Greenhouse
Homeowners who have never constructed a greenhouse may not be entirely sure of what is required. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get more information on the greenhouse building process and to vet contractors before hiring. Consider asking the following questions before getting started:
- Do you have the proper licensing and insurance to complete this work?
- Can you provide references from similar projects?
- Is a building permit required for this particular project?
- What is the best location for this greenhouse?
- What materials do you recommend for this greenhouse?
- How long will the project take?
- What do you recommend for greenhouse ventilation, heating, or cooling?
- If there are any problems in the future, what is the process for fixing them?
There is plenty to know about building greenhouses and how to use them. Below are frequently asked questions about greenhouses that offer more insight into the process.
Q.Is glass the best greenhouse siding material?
Glass is one of the best choices for greenhouse siding material. Glass is a durable material that can last for 30 years or more as greenhouse glazing. It transmits light well and offers excellent curb appeal. The downside of glass is that it is a more expensive greenhouse siding material when compared to plastic.
Q.How much does a greenhouse home addition cost?
A greenhouse home addition costs anywhere from $13,000 to $35,000. Of course, the cost of a greenhouse depends on the size and materials used. Still, in most cases, a greenhouse addition is more expensive than a freestanding greenhouse due to the modifications required to the existing building.
Q. How long does it take to build a greenhouse?
It takes anywhere from a day to a few weeks to build a greenhouse. A small greenhouse can be assembled over a weekend, but a much larger greenhouse will take several more days. In addition, if a concrete foundation has to be poured, that can add extra days to the timeline in order for the concrete to cure.
Q. How do I start growing plants in a greenhouse?
To start growing plants in a greenhouse, follow these steps:
- Choose an easy-to-grow plant like radishes, lettuce, onions, or tomatoes.
- Start growing the plant seeds in containers or trays before planting them in the ground.
- Once the seedlings are ready to be planted in the ground, use sterile soil and add fertilizer.
- Learn to control the greenhouse temperature with ventilation, heating, and cooling.
- Understand the watering requirements for each plant, and be sure to follow them exactly as specified.
- Determine how much sunlight each plant needs and supplement with additional lighting as needed.
Q. Is it cheaper to build or buy a greenhouse?
Building a greenhouse is cheaper than buying a greenhouse if inexpensive materials are used, like PVC framing and plastic sheeting. Buying these materials separately will usually cost less than using the materials supplied in a greenhouse kit. Keep in mind, however, that the best compact greenhouse kits will come with step-by-step installation instructions.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr, CostHelper