HOW IT ALL STARTED
This all started with a trip to the doctor. I know, not exactly what you were thinking. I have struggled with weight loss my entire life. I owned a weight loss clinic at one point and lost a ton of weight, but here I am, struggling again. I finally got frustrated and went to my doctor for help. I joined the YMCA Kingsport and started working out. I finally began to feel motivated and better about myself. I woke up one morning and decided I would love to have a greenhouse. I looked on Facebook Market Place and found a few people selling windows. I bought 30 and thought I had a lot. Spoiler alert! It was not enough.
I went to our local building codes department and secured a building permit for the greenhouse. That was a little more involved than I thought it would be. I had to have my plans to show them and an estimate of what I thought it would cost. Yeah, I was incorrect on my cost assumption. I don’t know why I thought I could do this for under $1000. Probably because all the Pinterest and YouTube posts and videos I had researched portrayed it as an easy, inexpensive project. Maybe if you don’t care if the building lasts it could be cheap, but I wasn’t just building to grow plants, I wanted a nice building for photography.
I asked my dad if he would like to build the greenhouse with me. He isn’t in the best of health, but he said yes, and we decided to get started. We watched several YouTube videos and thought we were ready to get started. I thought this would be completed in a few days. Wow! I was WRONG! I used YouTube videos for my supplies list, only to find their supplies list was seriously lacking. I made so many trips to Lowes I lost count.
The first greenhouse we looked at didn’t have a floor. I thought we could do this, but I wanted to use props and leave my antique couch in the building, so I decided I needed some type of floor. We had some old bricks leftover from when our house was built, but after researching how to make a brick floor I decided I wasn’t skilled enough. I called a concrete company thinking I could do a concrete floor, but it was a little more expensive than I thought. Finally, after watching a ton of videos and discussing it we decided to build a solid shed floor.
I went to Lowes and handed an amazing employee my shopping list and he loaded it all onto a cart for me. Then after checking out another employee loaded it all onto my trailer for me. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it all. I have an 8ft trailer and I was purchasing 16ft boards. We made it work and secured the boards. Thankfully I only live a little over two miles from Lowes.
Finally, I felt like we were ready to start building.
We unloaded the supplies and I decided I should probably paint the wood before starting the build. I hate painting, more than anything I hate painting! I am so glad I did. Painting the boards first made it so much easier when the project was finished because I just had to touch them up. While the boards were drying, we decided to measure and mark our area to build.
We decided the building should be 12ft by 16ft. I’m not sure how we came up with this size, but it worked out for us. To level the building, we used Solid Cap Concrete Blocks with 1 in limestone gravel underneath to keep the building from sinking. We started with (2) 2x6x16 and (2) 2x6x12 boards. Here is something I didn’t realize; boards are not exactly the size they say they are when you buy them. We had to measure and cut each board to the exact length we needed. These were painted white and we used self-drilling wood screws to secure them. After making our frame we positioned it where we wanted the building. We then crossed measured to ensure the frame was square. After squaring the frame, we placed one concrete block at each corner. We then used a shovel to dig just the depth of the topsoil and the size of the concrete block. We then filled those holes with our 1in limestone gravel. This allows for water to drain through and lets our frame have a little wiggle room when we put it back on. After laying the concrete blocks on top of the limestone we placed a straight edge board on the blocks and checked to see if they were level. For the ones that weren’t level we either removed or added limestone and, in some cases, we added a few more concrete blocks. We also added concrete blocks at the 8ft mark under both sides of the 16ft boards. We placed the frame flush with the concrete blocks and checked again to make sure everything was square and level. This process took a lot longer than we anticipated.
It was time for my next trip to Lowes. This time I needed the floor. I again found an amazing employee that loaded up my cart with everything I needed. I got (9) 2x6x12 boards, (6) Plytanium 23/32 Cat Ps1-09 Tongue and Groove Pine Subfloor, Application as 4 x 8, (7) 2-in x 6-in 18-Gauge Triple Zinc Face Mount Joist Hangers, and a box of Fas-n-Tite 1-1/2-in 9-Gauge Galvanized Steel Exterior Joist Hanger Nails (1-lb).
We started screwing the joist into the frame. We doubled up the boards on the front and rear of the frame for better stability. The other boards were spaced 2 feet apart. We screwed them in with two screws on each side then nailed the joist hangers on the ends of each board. We then decided it was time to lay the subfloor. Once again, I was headed to Lowes. We needed (6) Tongue and Groove Pine Subfloor; Application as 4 x 8. After unloading this latest haul we placed them on the frame. I didn’t secure them yet because I wanted to paint the bottom before putting them on. I painted one side of the boards and let them dry.
The paint was dry, so we flipped the flooring boards over and pushed them together. We went ahead and screwed the boards to the floor joist. This step was time-consuming, but easy because the boards were marked for where we needed to place the screws. I used a large roller to paint the top of the subfloor. This doesn’t seem like a lot in one day, but it was getting dark at this point, so we called in quits for the day.
We laid out the now 36 windows I had and quickly realized they were not enough. We started building the frame for the windows. Yes, another trip to Lowes, (28) 2x4x8 boards. We then measured and cut 35 of the boards to exactly 8ft. The front and rear of the building were framed using the 8ft and 4ft boards. The rest of the building was framed with the 8ft boards.
This day I realized I had to get more windows if we were going to ever finish this. While I was out shopping for windows my daddy built the corners of the building using (2) 2x4x8 boards and toenailing them into each corner. Yeah, toenailing, it’s a thing, look it up. He also measured the windows and started framing those. My biggest regret at this point? Not finding windows that were the same size. We had to shave some of the windows down to match. Some we just couldn’t use. We placed the windows on top of each other and screwed them into the 2x4’s on each side. When moving to the next windows we could only screw into one side of a 2x4 board, we had to use the toenail method to secure the windows to the other side. We were only able to get two rows of windows up today before nightfall.
Ready to go and with a better idea of what we were doing we began putting in the other rows of windows. It ended up being five rows of windows on one 16ft side of the building. We didn’t quite have enough to finish the rows, but that side of the wall started getting heavy and swaying with the wind so we decided to go ahead and add some windows to the front and back corners that connected to that wall and add a 2x4 to brace the wall as you can see in the photo. At this point, we were at a standstill for a few days. I needed to find doors and I didn’t want to start adding anything on the front or back until we knew what size doors we would be working with.
Here we are 3 days later, and the awesomeness starts to happen. My husband came home from work and started helping us. He acts like he doesn’t know what he is doing when it comes to building, but he is truly amazing at it. This day was spent correcting some of the work we did. We had forgotten to level the 2x4’s that we were putting in to hold the windows. So, we had a lot of work to undo and redo. 🙁 Make sure to constantly use a level as you are building. So very important! We finally got the doors hung and called it a night.
We realized we needed to go ahead and add the top of the frame to the building to make it more secure. Using (2) 2x6x16 and (2) 2x6x12 boards we created the top of the frame by screwing them into the 2x4 boards that were already up. We realized we needed to double up on the boards on the front and the back for stability. We added 2 more 2x6x12 boards to the front and the back.
The rest of the day was spent with my husband and dad shaving down the windows and building the frame for them. While they did that, I was chipping off the old cracking glaze from the windows and reglazing them. I also gave my 6-year-old a paintbrush and told her to get after it. She had fun and honestly, everything at this point was being painted white so there wasn’t much to mess up.
With daddy and my husband both working they were able to finish hanging all the windows we had. There were still a few spaces that needed windows. Some spaces were too small for windows, so we found this 1-in x 6-in x 16-ft Tongue and Groove Unfinished Spruce Pine Fir Board at Lowes and used it to create a shiplap look on the back walls and around the border. We had to measure and cut these boards to fit the area we were doing. My husband was in a hurry so I couldn’t paint these before they went up. That really made painting a pain. I wish I would have painted them first. We knew we wanted to start on the roof the next day, so I made another trip to Lowes to buy some of the roofing materials. I bought (20) 2x4x8 boards, (8) 1x4x8 boards, and a 2x6x12 board. I also decided I wanted to have some contrast with all the white, so I purchased some stain for the roof. I went with Cabot Tintable Neutral Base Semi-Transparent Exterior Stain and had it tinted Cordovan Brown. I stained those boards that night and let them sit overnight through the next day (it was Thanksgiving).
Time for the roof. We took one of the 2x4x8 boards and cut it in half; those served as the front and rear braces for the roof. We then cut another 2x4x8 into fourths and added two to each side of the braces of the roof.