I made another trip down to the Surrey massive this week carrying 97 sheets of glass many at 2.5m long (8ft in old money) to make a start on the structure of this greenhouse.
I glazed most of the roof and sides and all 3 gable ends. However, I wanted to mock up the valleys on site so I could work out the angles of the glass before ordering these up. This will be completed in the final visit where I'll complete the roof and sides, cold frames along the front, fit the ridge and install a set of work tables and shelving for what will become a gardening school.
I made a good start on the alleyway greenhouse. The gap is wedge shaped - getting wider at one end so I made sure all the timber was oversized so I could cut it down to fit on site. Finally I could measure up for all the different glass shapes for the roof. I was delighted at the eventual height - it feels much more spacious inside and the doors are almost 2m tall.
I'll return to the workshop to order the glass and build the doors now and return here in a couple of weeks to complete.
I spent most of this week building and painting another "Steve" greenhouse in accoya. I won't install it for a few weeks yet as I need to build the walls, and order up the glass beforehand but most of the structure can be made from plan in readiness.
I'll be on the road, and sleeping in my van, for the next 3 weeks - first to a greenhouse over an alleyway in Gloucestershire, then back to that really large one to put the structure up before laying the base for this "Steve" greenhouse in Surrey.
This one's massive - 8m long by 4m with a porch and long cold frames along the front. I've spent some time producing and painting most of this greenhouse beforehand so I can deliver a lot of it when I go down to build the walls. The photo above shows the roof rafters laid out after painting in the sunshine.
For the first time in years, it tool me two separate visits to complete this base build. There were a few snags - the wrong engineering bricks were delivered (which they swapped over) and I found the soil here was very loose - not compacted enough to build walls on. I ended up digging out the whole area around 18 inches deep (barrowing out around 30 tonnes of soil) to reach compacted ground hard enough to start the foundations.
The inside floor will have an intricate tiled design undertake by local contractors at a later date. As preparation I laid and compacted quarry stone blinded with sharp sand so they have a solid base to work on.
I'll build this greenhouse in two further stages. As most of the structure is completed and on site already I will install the glass for the roof and sides and then return to complete the valleys, cold frames and shelving shortly after that.
There are planning restrictions which apply even for greenhouses - the main one being if you build within 2m of a shared boundary the roof height should not be greater than 2.5m. I have built a few designs where the roof height is under 2.5m and the Richard is one. You can find lots of useful guidance and rules which apply on the planning portal website - the link is given in the box below.
Although small, it still feels roomy inside with plenty of space for shelving and height for growing up from the ground in pots or on the 2 tiers of shelving space. There is plenty of ventilation with 2 auto-opening roof windows and two manual windows in the sides which can be left open. This greenhouse has a lot of detail and bags of character.
Just incredible and way beyond our wildest dreams.
Anne and Chris
I added 2-tier painted shelving either side of the main porch and over a "Monty Don" style potting bench. I was also asked to build a work table which can be moved outside or around as needed.
This was a large project for me. I really enjoyed it - it really feels like one of my best. Working for Anne and Chris was a real pleasure and great fun.
"It has been a pleasure from start to finish and we love it, thank you very much!"
Anne and Chris
This was a tricky build - not least because of the sloping ground requiring an extra 3 courses at one end and compacting of material to bring the floor up to the new levels. But also the old barn wall was very uneven and sloped away from the greenhouse by over 2ft from the base to the top of the ridge. I was also hampered by rain throughout and lost 3 days of inactivity due to constant heavy downpours. The bright side was this job was very near home so I could carry on back in the workshop after having to leave site again each day.
But I got there and I'm extremely pleased with the end result and I'm sure the owner will have many happy years enjoying this accoya greenhouse. I added a row of cold frames at one end and a brick sided raised bed inside - which will be perfect for growing tomatoes direct into the ground. Instead of the usual paved flooring I was also asked to lay the brick setts which worked out really well in a t-shaped pattern - leaving a gravel edge for standing pots on or as a water run off from watering plants.
This one is a "Mark" greenhouse but the owner want another doorway at the back. We looked at 3 options drawing up plans for an in-line porch, a canopy, and a porch which mirrors the front one but with double doors.
They chose the last one with double doors at the back and we decided to add cold frames in all four corners.
Most of this accoya greenhouse is built and painted - and I brought most of it with me this week to store on site ready for my return in a couple of weeks.
My constant companion Pablo died this morning*. I'm adding this small homage to him as thanks for all his company and happy, playful and inquisitive ways.
We'll all miss him terribly.
Pablo whilst I'm trying to type and work in the office.
I collected Pablo in Oct 2013 from my customer Jean - offsetting the cost of the puppy against the greenhouse. Thanks for everything mate.
* I'm writing this after the event of course. Pablo was run over chasing after a farm trailer.
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