Save Some Green: Here’s How Much Greenhouses Cost

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated July 12, 2017
A little greenhouse in a yard of a house
Photo: snowflock / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Greenhouse styles vary from no-frills to beautiful built-ins.

  • Kits and basic greenhouses can be weekend DIY projects for two (or more).

  • Consider the climate where you live when choosing materials for your greenhouse.

  • Make your plant shop more convenient with plumbing and electricity.

  • Building a greenhouse close to the house or garage can save on costs.

While the average cost to build a greenhouse is $10,000, your actual cost will depend on how many plant babies you want to accommodate. You could create a smaller greenhouse from a kit or with reclaimed materials for $500. Larger greenhouses to accommodate your personal farm could go as high as $35,000.

National Average Cost: $10,000

Average Range: $7,300–$29,000

Minimum Cost: $500

Maximum Cost: $35,000

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Greenhouse?

Expect to pay about $25 per square foot for your materials. The biggest factors in the cost of your greenhouse project are how big you want your plant home to be and what materials you use. 

TypeCost
Greenhouse kit$500 – $5,000
Hoop house$5 – $10 per square foot
Glass A-frame$25 – $35 per square foot
Geodesic$10 – $25 per square foot

Greenhouse kits

Prices and styles vary and can range from about $500 to $5,000.

Ordering a kit can be an easy way to build a greenhouse in a weekend. With a variety of sizes available, kits have pieces that click together. Many have polycarbonate walls with an aluminum frame. Be sure to read the description carefully; some greenhouses require disassembly for the winter.

Hoop House

Expect to pay between $5 and $10 per square foot for a hoop greenhouse. That means you can build a small backyard hoop house for about $300. If you have bigger aspirations, you could go 90 feet long and spend about $54,000.

Hoop house greenhouses are the half-tunnel-shaped ones you might have seen on a Sunday drive down country roads. Made of steel frames and inexpensive plastic film, they are a no-frills way to extend the growing season.

Three-sided 

Attaching your greenhouse to a side of your house takes advantage of what’s already there to save you money. If you want plumbing or electricity in your greenhouse, it’s easier to tap into the house than to run a line to the middle of the yard.

Because one wall of your greenhouse is already sturdy enough to hold up your house, the other materials don’t have to do as much work, so you can opt for a less expensive frame ($1 per linear foot). The materials you choose determine the cost.

Geodesic Greenhouses

These greenhouses are round domed structures that let light in through plastic or glass panels held up with a steel frame. Because they are tall in the middle, they can house layers of plants. Expect to pay $10 to $25 per square foot, depending on materials chosen.

Glass A-frame

Expect to pay $25 to $35 per square foot. Glass is heavy, so it requires a steel frame (starting at $2.50 per foot) and concrete slab ($6 per square foot) to hold it up.

The classic glass A-frame greenhouse uses more expensive materials so the structures are sturdy enough to withstand snow and allow you to grow your vegetables into the winter. 

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Greenhouse per Square Foot?

 A mature woman watering plants inside a greenhouse
Photo: Carol Yepes / Moment / Getty Images

The cost of your greenhouse largely depends on the materials chosen for the flooring, structure, and sides. Here is a breakdown of material costs.

Foundation

If your greenhouse will be a permanent structure rather than one you take down at the end of the season, you might need to start with a foundation of gravel, brick, or concrete.

The cost of having a concrete slab professionally installed is about $6 per square foot on average.

Gravel costs $1 to $3 per square foot. Expect to pay $5 to $8 to have it professionally installed.

Basic bricks start at $8 per square foot but can increase based on the design you choose.

Another option, particularly if your greenhouse is a temporary seasonal solution, is just to roll out a weed barrier. Get a 100-foot roll for about $80.

Flooring

The greenhouse flooring you choose should prevent slips, be comfortable to stand on while you work, and keep weeds from moving in. You’ll also want to think about drainage. Rubber is a good, customizable choice. 

Choose a roll, tiles, or mats; each starts around $2 per square foot.

Frames

Wood or steel frames usually support greenhouses. Expect to pay about $1 per linear foot for wood. Steel costs $2.50 per linear foot.

Walls

The wall material should let sunlight bathe your plants while giving them protection against cool air.

Polyethylene, or plastic sheets, is the least expensive option at about $0.12 per square foot. This comes on a roll and is a popular choice for hoop houses.

You can cut fiberglass to fit your greenhouse. At about $0.70 per square foot, it’s a more rigid-but-expensive option than plastic sheets.

Polycarbonate siding is lightweight but provides some structure to the greenhouse. It costs about $1 per square foot.

Glass is arguably the most attractive option and also the most expensive at $2.50 per square foot.

Greenhouse Cost Breakdown

The cost of your greenhouse will depend on the materials you choose, features you add, and who does the labor.

Materials

A greenhouse with the most expensive materials, including a steel frame and glass walls, could cost $35 per square foot. Hoop house-style greenhouses are $5 to $10 per square foot. See above for a closer look at the cost of various materials.

Labor

The cost of labor depends on what you want from your greenhouse. To hire a contractor, expect to pay $300 to $500 per day. For a project like building a greenhouse, the contractor will likely bring in help at a rate of $150 to $250 per day per person

Additional Greenhouse Cost Factors

Some greenhouses have electricity, fans, and plumbing. Going beyond basic adds to the cost. Here are some costs to consider.

  • Electric: Hiring an electrician costs between $50 and $100 per hour. Running electric lines costs about $2 per linear foot for the materials and $4 to $12 per linear foot for trench digging. Add the cost of light fixtures or other electrical components.

  • Plumbing: A plumber costs $45 to $200 per hour. Then add the cost of the desired sink or irrigation system.

Cost to Build a Greenhouse Yourself

If you have basic aptitude with tools and a free weekend, building a greenhouse is a good DIY project. You could build a greenhouse from a kit or a basic model in a weekend. You’ll need a friend or two to help since this is a big project that involves holding walls in place. You’ll just incur the cost of the kit or materials, which starts at around $500.

Cost to Install It Yourself vs. Hiring a Contractor 

You’ll save on costs if you can build your greenhouse yourself. The cost of hiring two pros to build the greenhouse could be $750 per day. You might need to bring in pros to install a larger greenhouse or add features like plumbing and electricity.

The cost of hiring a plumber is $45 to $200 per hour plus the cost of materials for an irrigation system or other greenhouse needs.

If you need to run electricity to the greenhouse to power lights or a heater, expect to pay between $50 and $100 per hour to hire an electrician.

If you need to level the yard to accommodate your greenhouse, expect to pay $50 per hour for grading.

How You Can Save Money on Your Greenhouse Project

There are a few ways to cut the cost of your greenhouse installation.

  • Build a three-sided or lean-to greenhouse using an existing wall of your house. This allows you to use less expensive materials for the other three walls while taking advantage of nearby plumbing and electricity.

  • Build as close to the house as possible to save on the cost of running plumbing or electricity to the structure; expect to pay per linear foot.

  • Choose less expensive materials, such as a wood frame and plastic sheeting for the walls.

Greenhouse Questions and Answers

Should I buy a greenhouse kit or build from scratch?

The choice is really yours. Greenhouses available in kits can make the job go quicker. You can find greenhouse kits to match your style and size needs. If you enjoy designing and planning, you can build your own from materials of your choosing.

What should I consider when planning a greenhouse?

Don’t forget to factor in the climate where you live. If your area is prone to bitter cold and heavy snow, you might want to invest in stronger greenhouse materials like a concrete slab, steel frame, and glass walls or plan to take your greenhouse down for the winter.

What other projects should I do at the same time?

As long as you’re building a greenhouse, consider the overall look of your backyard. Could it benefit from stone walkways or grading? As long as you’re hiring a hardscaping pro to lay the foundation for a greenhouse, you could tackle those other projects to give your whole yard a glow-up at the same time.