How much does a greenhouse cost to build and maintain

How Much Does a Greenhouse Cost to Build and Maintain?

A greenhouse is one way to grow your plants all year round for food because it helps shield them from the elements while allowing sunlight to stream in and warm the interior. Your greenhouse cost can fluctuate depending on the size, material, location, and the type you pick out, but most greenhouses have a sturdy frame that you cover with a clear material. You can make them complex or simple, depending on your needs and budget. Some have fixed glass panels, removable sheeting, and irrigation systems, heating systems, or ventilation. They also come in sizes ranging from a tiny hoop greenhouse to a massive commercial setup. 

Your greenhouse costs can quickly start to climb if you want a larger or move in-depth setup, but you can control them rather easily and adjust it as you go to stay within your budget. This allows you to have a greenhouse on your land to use all year-long, and it’s especially nice in climates that see four seasons each year. It provides enough shelter from the cold and wet weather to encourage plant growth, and this includes both flowers and vegetables. 

Your average greenhouse cost range starts at $5,000 and goes up to $35,000. Most people will pay right in between at $10,000 for a standard backyard greenhouse that measures 10-feet by 40-feet and includes a gable roof. If you want a smaller hoop-style greenhouse that measures 10-feet by 20-feet, you could pay around $1,000. A commercial-style greenhouse that has ventilation and a heating system has a greenhouse cost of $35,000 for a 20-foot by 100-foot structure. Again, your final greenhouse cost will depend entirely on what you want for your home. 

But, how does the average greenhouse cost break down? What are the prices for the different options you have? Knowing the answer to these questions will give you a clearer picture of what your greenhouse cost will be, so we’re going to outline everything for you. By the end, you’ll have a very good estimate of your project’s scope, and you can scale it back or add to it as your budget allows. Let’s dive in. 

1 building a greenhouse
Smaller greenhouses are usually easier to set up with one or two people. Larger and more elaborate structures can be more time-consuming if you don’t hire professionals. However, doing it yourself is one way to save on your greenhouse costs because you cut out labor.
Greenhouse by kattebelletje / CC BY-NC 2.0

Greenhouse Cost by Style 

One of the biggest factors that goes into your greenhouse cost is the style you pick out. Ideally, your greenhouse will be able to utilize light effectively for your location. Also, if you live in an area that routinely gets heavy snowfall, you’ll want a greenhouse that can withstand the extra weight. You can get complete greenhouse kits if you don’t want to build from scratch, but you’ll have limited styles. The most popular choices are: 

A-Frame

To build this style, your greenhouse costs will range from $25.00 to $35.00 a square foot.This is a very common structure because it’s simple and only needs minimal materials to build it. You’ll get a very high pitched roof that comes down close to the ground and gives the greenhouse the shape of the letter A. 

You’ll find this style a lot in areas that get heavy snowfall because the steeper pitch of the roof allows the snow to slide off without causing any damage. However, there are corners that make air circulation less than ideal, and you want to put this style greenhouse facing the south for healthy plant growth. 

Barn-Style

This style greenhouse starts at $25.00 a square foot and goes up to $35.00 a square foot. They’re a favorite in areas where it gets very hot and humid during the summer or all year-round because they come with ground-level vents to improve the air circulation and keep the plants cool. There is also an edge where the roof will connect with the walls that are usually vertical or slanted. 

The roof on this greenhouse is very strong and sturdy, and it features a gable-style finish. You can choose from steel or timber frames with this style greenhouse, and you’ll get more headroom to move around because the walls are taller than other models. 

Dome

Dome or geodesic greenhouses are slightly more cost-effective at $10.00 to $25.00 a square foot. You’ll get a round greenhouse that features a domed top. You can make this greenhouse many ways, including having a rigid frame with plastic panels or a PVC frame with plastic sheets over it. 

The domed roof is ideal for capturing heat and light. It also gives you much more interior space to move around without taking up as much width or length. This is usually a smaller style greenhouse because adding to the diameter will increase the greenhouse cost, along with the size and height. This makes it hard to enlarge without driving up your costs. 

Gothic Arch

Per square foot, your average greenhouse cost for this style will range from $10.00 to $15.00. This greenhouse uses a hoop design with a semicircular frame attached. It almost always has galvanized pipe on the frame. It has a circular design to it with a higher peak than you’ll get with a traditional hoop-style greenhouse. 

This style usually has plastic sheeting to cover it, and it can come in various thicknesses. You’ll get a very simple design that is excellent at shedding rain and snow. It does have low sidewalls on it though, and this can restrict headroom and growing space for taller plants. 

Hoop

Hoop-style greenhouses come with a slightly lower greenhouse cost at $5.00 to $10.00 a square foot. You’ll use a series of half hoops that you bury the ends into the ground. Then, you’ll cover the hoops with a plastic sheet to help control your costs. You can easily make this structure as small or as large as you want without worrying about the greenhouse cost as much. 

You can design this greenhouse so it’s very low to the ground, or you can make it large enough to walk through with plenty of head room. The shape allows water and snow to slide off it easily instead of weighing it down. It also allows for good ventilation and air circulation. 

Lean-To

On average, your greenhouse cost will fluctuate between $10.00 and $25.00 a square foot for this style. It’ll share a wall with a garage, shed, or house. This is a very popular addition to many homes, and you form it using glass and a metal frame. 

Since this style greenhouse shares one wall with an existing structure, your greenhouse costs for construction will be lower. However, it can be difficult to regulate the temperature in this style greenhouse because the wall absorbs heat to make the greenhouse lose heat. You want this to be a south-facing structure. 

Pit

You’ll pay between $20.00 and $25.00 per square foot for this style greenhouse cost, and you build it by digging a hole in the dirt and building your greenhouse roof over the top of the hole. It has an early floor that will maintain a 50°F temperature all year-round. It can stay around 10°F warmer through the different seasons than your average greenhouse. 

It stays warm in the hotter months without needing as much ventilation as other styles to avoid overheating. You can pick almost any configuration to go over the pit with rigid roofs having the most greenhouse costs associated with them and hoops having the least. You will need to test your soil and keep specific conditions, and it’s difficult to safely build on sandy or loose soil. 

Post and Rafter

This greenhouse cost ranges from $25.00 to $35.00 a square foot, and it’s a traditional style greenhouse with a gable roof. It’s very common due to the durability factor, and the roof is made from rafters. It does have a very top-heavy design to it, and this means that you have to foot or anchor the base. It’s easy to build though, and this makes it popular with DIY enthusiasts. It has long side walls to give you maximum space for plant growth and placement. 

Rooftop

Rooftop gardens or greenhouses are more common on commercial buildings than residential buildings because they require a completely flat roof. However, it’s possible to build onto the walls of a condo or any building with roof access to achieve this style greenhouse. This helps you save in material costs, and your greenhouse cost will range from $10.00 to $25.00 a square foot. 

This is a very simple structure, but they have material restrictions. They usually use a metal frame and have solid plastic or glass panels. However, it’s a nice way to get plants or vegetables all year-round in more urban areas, and they’re common on commercial structures. 

Sawtooth

Per square foot, your greenhouse cost for a sawtooth style will range from $25.00 to $35.00 a square foot. It uses a hoop frame with one straight section that will extend upward on one side. This is where the ventilation system goes to help you control the interior temperature. 

You’ll typically have a metal frame with plastic sheeting installed to help control your greenhouse costs. You also need removable panels in the straight section for ventilation, or you can use solid panels instead of plastic sheets to give it a more cohesive look. 

Solar

This style has the highest greenhouse costs at $35.00 to $45.00 a square foot. If you can add a HVAC system, insulation, and water, you’ll end up on the higher end of the price spectrum. The structure faces south, and you’ll want a solid north wall to help control the temperature while lending strength to the structure. 

It has to feature building materials that exceed 30-inches thick, and the south wall has to be arch-shaped to absorb enough sun. The peak will reach between 12 and 18-inches tall, and you can roll up the south side’s material for ventilation. During the winter, you’ll put straw insulation pads on the south side to help retain heat. 

2 greenhouse styles
Picking out a style of greenhouse will give you your foundation to build your greenhouse budget on because the costs per square foot will vary greatly. There are several styles available in different sizes too.
Greenhouse 2 by A S Morton / CC BY 2.0

Greenhouse Glazing Prices

Glazing is the material that covers the greenhouse and allows sunlight into the structure while providing protection for the plants. Glazing helps control the humidity and temperature, and the type you’ll want depends on the crops you grow and the location. The materia’s longevity is important too. A lot of people choose opaque glass, but this can add to your greenhouse costs, so translucent material is more popular. 

Corrugated Fiberglass

These panels can increase your greenhouse cost by $1.00 to $2.00 a square foot. They’re larger panels that can cover up to 16-square feet at one time, and they’re usually two-sided. There is some space between them, and this improves your insulation. Depending on your climate and what you plan to grow, you  may not need more insulation with this glazing. They can be ventilated or fixed, and this works in many greenhouse styles. 

Greenhouse Glass

Greenhouse glass can work in sunrooms too, and your average greenhouse costs will increase by $2.50 to $3.50 a square foot with this pick. You can choose from a single or double pane design, but they’re easier to break and more fragile. It won’t last as long as other materials, but it will give you the most striking look. It offers crystal clear clarity to help boost your home’s curb appeal. 

Polycarbonate 

Your average greenhouse cost for polycarbonate ranges from $1.50 to $3.00 a square foot. It’s the most common glazing type in use, and it’s durable, thick, and can insulate using an air layer. You can get it completely clear or tinted for shade, and most kits will come with polycarbonate glazing. It will last longer than glass as it’s more sturdy. 

Polyethylene Cover

This has the least expensive greenhouse costs attached to it at $0.10 to $0.50 a square foot. It’s the tough but flexible plastic sheets you see on budget-friendly greenhouses. You can use it for a gothic arch, hoop, domed, pit, or other round greenhouse styles. It’s easy to install, and you can ventilate by rolling it up. You will find yourself replacing it more often due to tears. 

Frame Material and Greenhouse Costs

You can make your greenhouse’s frame out of different materials. PVC or metal are very common, but you can make some frames out of wood. Depending on the type, they can influence your greenhouse costs significantly. Some styles require much more framing than others, and this can make the prices fluctuate. 

Aluminum

Per linear foot, aluminum will add to your greenhouse costs by $1.00 to $2.00. It’s very lightweight and more versatile than PVC. This allows you to use it in more designs, and you can use it with plastic panels, glass panels, and plastic sheeting. It’s easy to dent though, so it’s not the best choice for busy yards or some climates. 

PVC

This type of framing will save you the most on your greenhouse costs since it costs between $0.50 and $2.00 a linear foot. It’s a nice pick for hoop-style greenhouses or if your greenhouse is smaller. It’s easy to move and lightweight, and it’s a great pick if you want a DIY greenhouse or you’re on a tight budget. You’ll typically use it with plastic sheeting over glass or rigid plastic, and it’s readily available in kits. 

Steel 

Per linear foot, steel will increase your greenhouse cost by $2.50 to $3.00. This is one of the most common framing materials, and it can last longer than aluminum because it’s more durable. You can form it into different styles and shapes, but you want to pick out galvanized steel for the frame because it holds up against humid planting zones than other choices. 

Wood

Wood framing will increase your greenhouse costs by $1.00 to $2.00 a linear foot. It’s not common because it doesn’t hold up well against humidity. You can combine it with PVC to create a ground frame for some style greenhouses, and it works decently for simple frames. You can use sheet plastic and panels with it without a problem. 

3 frame materials
Different framing materials have benefits and drawbacks associated with them. Metal is one of the most popular materials to have due to the durability factor, and it’s quickly followed by PVC and wood.
Greenhouse by Marian Dork / CC BY-NC 2.0

Greenhouse Insulation Price Points

Depending on the glazing type you choose and your location, you could choose to add insulation. It’s not 100% necessary, and many greenhouses skip it. However, you’ll want insulation if you choose to use the greenhouse all year round, and there are different types available. Each will impact your greenhouse cost slightly differently. 

Base Cladding

Per square foot, base cladding will add $1.50 to $3.00 to your greenhouse costs. You install it at the base row of glazing in your greenhouse to provide insulation at the ground level. You can substitute it for a thin plastic panel or glass, but you can’t use it with plastic sheets. You put it out in the fall and remove it in the early spring, and polycarbonate glazing works best. 

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap will cost between $2.50 and $3.00 a square foot. It’s a very thick sheet of plastic with air caught between two layers of larger bubbles. The air is what insulates your greenhouse, and you can use this in place of traditional plastic sheets on a hoop greenhouse in the cold months. You can also add it as a second layer on other greenhouses, and this allows you to get the insulation you need but easily remove it when the weather gets warm again. 

Double-Pane Glass

When you think of double-pane glass, replacement windows come to mind. However, they also work well in greenhouses at $2.50 to $3.50 a square foot. You’ll have to install these windows when you build the greenhouse, so be sure to map your greenhouse costs carefully. It’s a nice pick for more moderate climates and it’s a nice way to keep your greenhouse looking nice for a long time. 

Thermal Screen

A thermal screen will increase your greenhouse costs by $1.50 to $4.00 a square foot. It’s a thin layer of material that you can add to your greenhouse in the winter months. You can reposition it and move it as you need, and you can choose from different materials. Some are rigid panels while some are more flexible fabrics, and some brands and styles come with insulating values assigned to them. 

Foundation and Flooring Costs

Your greenhouse may not need a foundation, and you can build some style greenhouses right over a garden bed. However, some people like to have a floor or foundation under the greenhouse to make it more stable. This can be pavers like a patio or concrete pads. If you pick a solid concrete slab, you’ll have to install a drainage system on the floor. 

Per cubic yard, a concrete slab will increase your greenhouse costs by $90.00 to $100. Patio pavers cost around $1.00 a square foot, and gravel will cost around $25.00 a square foot. Anything you put down for the foundation or floor must be able to withstand higher temperatures and humidity levels while allowing you to have good drainage. 

Door Prices

Not every greenhouse will need a door, but you’ll need one to help control the temperature all year-round if you build a type with glazing on a rigid frame. Depending on the climate and greenhouse itself, you have several door options, including: 

  • Single Hung Door/Polycarbonate – $600 to $800
  • Single Sliding Door/Polycarbonate – $600 to $800
  • Single Hung Door/Glass – $650 to $900
  • Single Sliding Door/Glass – $650 to $900
  • Insulated Roll-Up – $700 to $1,000
  • Double Hung Doors/Polycarbonate – $900 to $1,200
  • Double Sliding Doors/Polycarbonate – $900 to $1,200
  • Double Hung Doors/Glass – $1,000 to $1,500
  • Double Sliding Doors/Glass – $1,00 to $1,500

Labor Costs

For most greenhouse projects, contractors will include the cost of the materials and labor together by square foot. However, you can also see how much labor costs by itself. If you require the site to get excavated to level it out or remove underbrush, you have to hire heavy equipment. Flat or moderately-sloped land will add between $3.00 and $6.00 a square foot to your greenhouse costs to excavate it. Hilly or sloped land with dense vegetation can easily surpass $15.00 a square foot to excavate. 

If you want to hire a contractor to build the greenhouse, you’ll pay between $50.00 and $100 an hour for labor to frame the greenhouse and apply the glazing. They could charge by the project or by the hour for their services. If you hire a handyman instead, they typically charge between $60.00 to $90.00 an hour. You can also hand-water your plants, or you can choose to run water to the greenhouse. If you run water, your greenhouse costs will increase by $50.00 to $100 an hour. Finally, an electrician can run a line for lights at $40.00 to $100 an hour. 

Where to Find Greenhouse Building Contractors Near You 

If you’re trying to figure out your greenhouse costs and you want to hire a company to build it, you want to go local. Local companies can be more cost-effective than a company that has to cover a good distance to get to  you, and they can give you advice on the best options for your greenhouse based on the climate. You can start looking for local contractors here: 

Frequently Asked Questions 

4 greenhouse cost faqs
Asking questions when you contact local companies can give you a better grip on this project and which material will work best for your location. This way, you can get a solid estimate for your greenhouse costs before you start it.
Greenhouse by Kai Hendry / CC BY 2.0

1. Do you need a permit to build a greenhouse in your backyard?

You should check with your local zoning regulations to see if you should factor permit costs into your total greenhouse costs. In some areas, you won’t need a permit. If you do, expect to pay between $300 and $1,000 for it, depending on the size of the structure. 

2. How long does it take to build a greenhouse?

The construction time depends if you’re hiring someone or DIYing the greenhouse. It also depends on whether you’re building from scratch or using a kit. It could take a few hours to a few days with most standard kits taking a day. The more elaborate it is, the longer construction will take. 

3. What is the average maintenance costs for greenhouses?

Once you purchase the kit, your average greenhouse costs run around $100 a year for maintenance. Some years may see a higher maintenance cost for glazing while other years are lower if you only need to clean it.

4. Do you need to ventilate your greenhouse?

Whether or not you need ventilation will depend on what plants you want, your area, and the materials. For a hoop greenhouse, you can ventilate it by lifting the plastic sides. If you have a glass greenhouse, you’ll want vents to help control the temperature. 

Bottom Line 

Your greenhouse costs have a large variety of factors that come into play, especially if you’re going to build it from scratch instead of a kit. Decide which type of greenhouse style you want first to get your base cost, and then decide on the size. This will give you a good idea of the material costs, and you can add it up to get your project total. 

Greenhouse cost 1 Greenhouse cost 2

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