A question I’m asked a lot is “Why’d you build the greenhouse before the house?” The short answer is being protected from the cold and rain makes building the house a lot more comfortable. The longer answer is there are other reasons – one was apparent from the start and the other became apparent as materials and tradesperson delays mounted.
Just Get Started Already
After waiting 9 months for my permit and then 2 months for the excavation contractor to be available, I was rabid to just begin construction. So when we started the excavation in November 2021, we would have pressed forward with either path, the house first or the greenhouse first, whichever was ready to go first. The preference was to erect the greenhouse first and that’s how we proceeded because the greenhouse package arrived at the right time and the installers were ready at just the right time.See videos below
Admittedly, having the retaining wall and house foundation in place made it difficult for the greenhouse installers to move the lift around, but it would have been much worse if the house had been there. On the flip side, all of the building trades are having an easier time building under the greenhouse’s cover.
The real win from the greenhouse first, however, came with the electricians. Due to a fire at the exterior door company’s manufacturing plant, there was a long delay to receive the exterior doors. But, a house has to be dried in before the electrician can start. With a standard house that means the walls, roof, doors and windows are in place. Without the greenhouse we’d have been waiting for the doors to arrive and to be installed before the electrician could start. With the greenhouse we’ve been able to proceed with rough electrical and inspections before the doors even arrived on site. Because all the rest of the interior finish is dependent on passing the electrical inspection I’m guesstimating this saved about a month or more of delay.
Carpenters and Storage
By the time the doors arrived, the carpenters had run out of work at my house so have gone to another project and won’t be available again for a few weeks. Meaning, the greenhouse avoided more schedule slip having to wait for the carpenters to be back to install the doors.
In the meantime, the greenhouse provides covered and secured storage for materials that arrive ahead of their installation window without having to store them inside the house or incur the added cost of a storage container. In this case, not just the exterior doors but also tile, lights, kitchen and laundry appliances, plumbing fixtures, and dozens of other materials. Here the doors are being stored where the potting bench will go – eventually.
After the electrical passed inspection, the next trade is insulation. A standard house would be dried in for insulation because it had to be dried in for the electrician. But we are able to, again, press ahead for insulation even without the exterior doors installed. Which is a good thing because all residential building trades are super busy these days and/or there are long lead times due to material shortages. Meaning, if you miss your window in any trades’ schedule, who knows when you’ll get another opening.
This is the case with insulation for my house. Because the exterior walls are 2×4 framing, the only way to get the R-value required by code is with sprayed closed-cell insulation. Fortunately my builder got on the insulation schedule far enough in advance that they have the material for my job. If we’d missed our window in the schedule, then the insulation crew would have moved onto the next job and it’s 6-8 weeks to get the material.
Building the greenhouse first saved about 2-3 months of schedule slip.