Building the Rion Hobby Greenhouse

Holy cow. We did it. We built a greenhouse this weekend!

Slide show!

I have daydreamed about having a greenhouse for almost a decade. I’ve talked myself out of one for years – first, I didn’t own the land I gardened. Then, the expense. Then, I had the money but thought I should do something more practical, or save it “just in case.” I hope I’ve made the right decision…but I tell you, it sure feels right at the moment!

Here’s an amazing picture Suzie took – the rest of the details are after the cut.

It took us pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday, with teams of 3-4 people each day. On Saturday, three of us built the foundation (ok, Dan and Scott built, and I pointed a lot) while Jennifer sorted through the boxes (conveniently labeled “front,” “back,” and “middle”), laid out parts, and started assembling the base. Dan had to leave after lunch (venison chili, with meat courtesy of the generosity of the folks I killed chickens with) and Scott and Jennifer and I worked until 5pm snapping together the roof and getting about half the polycarbonate panels in place.

Sunday, Bob and Suzie came over and helped. We finished the roof, set the walls in place, and in one somewhat tense go of it – Bob essentially holding the roof overhead by himself – we settled the roof onto the wall posts and panels. A few minutes later, the wind started gusting. Had it done so half an hour earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to build the greenhouse – panels and posts would’ve scattered and there would have been no way to keep the roof from turning into a sail. So thank the weather gods for that! Once the roof was on, the boys worked on the door assembly – rather tricky and perhaps the least well-planned part of the greenhouse – and on weatherstripping the panels. After about 5 hours, we couldn’t take any more and headed out for dinner and pie. There are 7 pieces of weatherstripping and a few odds and ends left, but it is essentially up, and done, and waiting to be filled with good soil.


The kit is very well-planned. The instructions are very good, though not perfect, and we only had a couple of mishaps. By far the worst part was snapping the tracks onto the roof to hold the glazing panels, and then snapping the strips on that hold the panels down. Weatherstripping was tedious but not frustrating like the roof. The 4-mil twinwall polycarbonate panels are a little flimsier than I’d expected (my coldframes have 6-mil, I think) but on the whole, it’s well-engineered and I’m pleased with it. I got the 8’x12’ model, and after weeks of telling myself not to be disappointed because it would feel small, I discovered to my delight that it actually feels bigger inside than I’d expected. I’ll put 3’ wide beds all around the outside edge, leaving a single path about 2’ wide in the middle.

The takeaways:

  • Four people can build this in a weekend.
  • If two pieces absolutely won’t go together, pour boiling water on the joint and try again.
  • You can build the entire 8’x12′ roof assembly in a 2-car garage (take the cars out of the garage!)
  • Two strong people can carry the roof from the garage to the build site.
  • Four people is the absolute minimum for raising the roof. Six would have been even better. One of those people must be very strong.
  • Wind is not your friend in this endeavor.

I want to thank everyone for their help. Dan, for his confidence in constructionand ease with a circular saw. Jennifer, for diving into and making sense of the boxes that were frankly daunting to me (and for figuring out the thing with the screws that had me stymied). Bob, for taking the weight of the roof on his shoulders. Suzie, for getting us up off our butts this morning and out to the garage to build, and keeping us going when I thought we’d quit for the day, and for doing half the weatherstripping so I didn’t have to. Elph and Jillian, for letting me soak in their hot tub Sunday night. And my sweetie, who hates this kind of work but did it anyway.



  1. October 27, 2008 at 9:24 am

    The Rion Greenhouse looks great. All your pictures came out clear and the detail about the assembly are nice. I know you will enjoy it. Yes it takes a few dollars go get it and the assembly time, but now you will be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Keep me posted on the type of plants and how it is working for you.


  2. Momster said,

    October 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Wheee-yoot! Laura Ingalls and her self-sufficient family would be proud!

  3. Leasmom said,

    October 27, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Wow…thanks for building it for me. Now when can you deliver it-lol.

  4. Jen in MI said,

    October 28, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    This is very, very cool. You’ve really been meeting your goals.

  5. Emily said,

    October 29, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Butch (Greenhouse Guy) is where I got the greenhouse, if anyone else is interested.

    Momster – Glad you don’t think your kid is nuts!

    Leasmom – *pbfltfltflt!!*

    Jen – Hey, that sounds so much better than “I’ve been indulging myself silly this year” *grin*

  6. hobby car said,

    May 14, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I’m sure this has already been on digg at least once this week.

  7. Greenwall said,

    May 26, 2009 at 11:05 am

    The Rion Greenhouse kits you built, looks amazing, and they are very durable as well.
    As the distributer of Rion in Canada, we are very proud to be part of the Rion family. Enjoy the Greenhouse.

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