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Discussion Starter #1
I've been looking around for examples of what people have done to build hoop houses and it doesn't seem like there are many who document the entire process (not on forums anyways, I've found a few on youtube that are good examples) for people to find in the future who feel like embarking on the adventure of building a hoop house, so I thought I would start a new thread and document my build along the way.

I have already built a small 16x16 stick built "winter greenhouse" that I am running an aquaponic system in, I have a separate thread for that here so I won't go in to a lot of details about it in this thread, but being 16x16 and trying to run it year-round I have a lot of lost space to house water barrels, the fish tanks for the AP system, etc. So when it came to starting seeds this past spring we had seed trays set everywhere we could possibly set them and just didn't have enough space, so now that I have pretty much finished that project my wife and I decided we would put up a larger hoop house in the garden.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
First the planning stage. I am a mechanical engineer by trade so everything I ever build starts with a 3D assembly to create my parts list and to plan out my space.

Being that the hoop house will not be quite as secure as the smaller greenhouse I decided it needed to go inside of my garden fence. So initially I drew up a 16x32 hoop house which took up most of the free space in our 44x46ft garden fence aside from the existing raised beds (shown in brown). So once I showed the idea to my wife she agreed that I needed to extend the garden fence out... luckily aside from having to pick up a few more T-posts I had enough fence left to extend the garden over another 16ft so now the garden will be 60x46ft and I won't use up all of the space that we currently have vine crops planted in the ground. The other thing the wife decided was I should maximize the length since it wouldn't cost much more to extend the hoop house further, so it will be 16x40 instead.
gardenplan2018.png


One concern that I have had with PVC hoop houses is will it hold up to our northern winters / wind storms. I found a few examples of them surviving wind and snow, but I'm not sure if any of the examples have been as bad of winters as we get for snow or not. So I am planning on running a beam down the center of the hoop house to give the hoops support at the top, as well as the perlins and knee boards on the sides to tie everything together. I looked in to how much weight a 6mil greenhouse covering will hold and found one supplier tested it using about a 5ft section and it held about 580 pounds in that 5ft section, so I am comfortable that the plastic should hold up against wind and snow at least long enough for us to go out and clean it off.
secondgreenhouse.png
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Step one, reclaim part of the overgrown field to add on to the garden... brush cutting attachment on the weedwhacker hacked everything down, then hit it with the mower up high, picked up rocks, hit it with the mower down low, picked up rocks again.
IMG_20170825_201609604.jpg


Step two and three, extend the garden fence out to protect the new area. Cover ground with plastic / weed mat to kill the weeds.
IMG_20170827_114338777.jpg


I plan on purchasing the lumber and PVC this Thursday, but it will probably be next week before I start building (going away for the holiday weekend)
 

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well id suggest snoping around for a BIG bulk pack of the CROSSES & Ts and the pipe itself :) ---if you talk to the local stores managers lowes and HD and anywhere else nearby & let them know your looking for the lowest price they can do ----my design ive drawn up& cannot figure out how to post to the forums :( --im a computer idiot :( ---but id suggest either using stock lowes or HD gutters along the sides --or maybe find a local guy that can build you some full length gutters dwn each side to gater rainwater :)---when hes got freetime :) ---let him do it when he gets the spare time for a discount :)
if you or anyone wants too take a peek at my design I drew up on my 3d program --id be happy to text it to you from my phone 352 423 3666
 

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Discussion Starter #5
chaossmurf, I've seen a couple of examples where people used the PVC crosses / T's to tie all of their hoops together, but I was a bit worried about making that a weak spot in the design (I'm not sure if it really would be or not, but I thought keeping the hoops all together in "one" piece (really 3 pieces but no extra fittings) might be more beneficial than putting the T's and crosses in - so I was planning on just adding perlins on the inside (I haven't decided on PVC perlins or 2x4 perlins yet) and screwing down through them (which still makes a weak spot where the screws go through, but I was more concerned about whether the fittings would be brittle with hot/cold cycles... might not be any more than the PVC itself, but I will use PVC electrical conduit which is UV protected so hopefully it holds up well).

If anyone has experience with one way or the other being better I'll take that in to consideration!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Chaos, also I did consider adding some rain gutters to collect water... I think that will be a good idea once we get it up and running, but it will probably be something that would get added next year if I do. I bought some of the PVC gutters from Menards that I put up on the back of my small greenhouse which will eventually run in to a rainwater collection barrel (right now it's just to concentrate the rain water dripping down in one area of the back of the greenhouse instead of the entire greenhouse so I quit having a muddy mess on my nice white vinyl siding). The bottom part of the PVC hoop house I plan on being able to roll up, so I will have to see if I could come up with a way to incorporate the gutters and still be able to roll it up... should know more a few weeks from now.
 

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I would not recommend using connectors, from experience. We used metal spikes and that worked pretty well for keeping the pvc upright. We just slid the pipe on the end of the pipe. Did need some reinforcement, we rigged it with some 1x1 wood pieces and baling wire but I imagine you want yours sturdier than that lol!! The plastic sheeting didn't survive the winter, but the frame did.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
PlayingInDirt where are you from? Did you use actual greenhouse poly or just hardware poly? I did visit a guy who lives a mile down the road from me who gave me the idea of building a cheap hoophouse. He said his poly lasted 6 years (with a 4 year greenhouse poly product) and that it would have lasted longer if he had put felt over the PVC so it wouldn't rub, so I will add felt to mine to hopefully make it last 6+ years. For $220 worth of poly if I get 6 years that means it cost less than $40 a year so should be worth the cost of the better greenhouse poly.

I was planning on sinking 2" PVC about 24" long in to the ground instead of using rebar type of stakes for the PVC to stay in place. Actually it would only be a little bit over 14" pounded in the ground because it should be pretty much in line with the top of my 2x10's that I'm going to use for the base, so I guess there might be some lift in spring thaw, but hopefully screwing it to the base will help keep it from lifting up from frost heave.
 

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I'm in northern California. It snows a bit but not much. We did ours as cheap as possible, it was just very thin plastic so it's not surprising it didn't last the winter. Our garden area got quite windy though that's what really did it in. We used 1 1/2 inch pvc so maybe the 2" will be heavier enough, with the wood at the base.

We built ours hurriedly on uneven ground, and in a prime garden area because it's an inside fence area protected from deer which is great for any climbing plants. So it wasn't very air tight and it was taking up space that would be better for something else. Being air tight is obviously key, I'm sure you know.

So this year we need to find a better spot. I think a wood frame with pvc is the best, as long as you can get those connections air tight. Hopefully we can plan ours out better this year but we have a lot of projects so we'll probably end up rigging it up again.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm in northern California. It snows a bit but not much. We did ours as cheap as possible, it was just very thin plastic so it's not surprising it didn't last the winter. Our garden area got quite windy though that's what really did it in. We used 1 1/2 inch pvc so maybe the 2" will be heavier enough, with the wood at the base.

We built ours hurriedly on uneven ground, and in a prime garden area because it's an inside fence area protected from deer which is great for any climbing plants. So it wasn't very air tight and it was taking up space that would be better for something else. Being air tight is obviously key, I'm sure you know.

So this year we need to find a better spot. I think a wood frame with pvc is the best, as long as you can get those connections air tight. Hopefully we can plan ours out better this year but we have a lot of projects so we'll probably end up rigging it up again.
I know the feeling. This isn't really something I should be working on because I have enough other projects I need to finish, but it is one of the projects that I will actually enjoy working on, and it should make it so we have one more option for growing food. So we will have two different greenhouse environments, one running aquaponics and probably a little warmer in the winter while cooler in the summer due to the water barrels stacked in it and all the water in the AP system, the other greenhouse not quite so high tech but still a bit better protected so we can start seeds sooner and grow longer.

I am planning on leveling the base the best I can, but I am not a perfectionist by any means... I will bring in dirt to back fill anything I need to help close any gaps under the base. I'm only using the 1 1/2" PVC electrical conduit (gray) but I am hoping by adding the center brace and the purlins and knee boards along with a solid wood frame on both ends and the heavy duty greenhouse poly it will be strong enough to survive our winters.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So here is my materials cost so far...

Home Depot:
(28) 2x4-96" (not treated) $3.53 each = $98.84
(2) 2x8-16ft (treated) $18.88 each = $37.76
(8) 2x8-12ft (treated) $14.27 each = $114.16
(12) 2x4-10ft (not treated) $4.81 each = $57.72
(28) 1.5" Schedule 40 PVC Electrical conduit $5.22 each = $146.16
(1) 5 pound box of 2 1/2inch torx head deck screws $23.48 (I pay extra for these just because they are so much nicer to work with than phillips screws that they push over here).

so far the total is $478.12 for materials plus $28.69 (6% sales tax) for uncle Sam brings my overall total to $506.81

I will need to buy 8 sheets of plywood that I did not get yet, as well as the greenhouse poly that I have not ordered yet. I'll update the materials list and cost once I get those. For now this will give me enough to get most of the structure up. (I am estimating $80-100 worth of plywood -- I might have a few sheets lying around that I can use, have to look... and about $200 worth of poly, so I should be right close to $800 total for this hoop house at 16ft x 40ft is my current estimate)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Four hoops up. For future reference when PVC says it is not pressure rated that means you cannot pound it into the ground either. It's about as strong as half frozen butter when you take a sledge hammer to it... At least I didn't waste money on it, was something I had laying around... Have to run to the store for a couple more length of schedule 40 to finish pounding the lengths in the ground for the hoops to sit in.

 

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Finished putting the last hoop up just as it started spitting rain on me. My arms are so tired that my hands are shaking, but they are all up. Now I need to frame in the two end walls and put the beam down the center, but I need a break first.
 

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Have seen people starting to use the foam pipe cover (for cold weather) over the PVC to help protect the plastic cover. Have not seen how it works, so just a passing idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I do plan on using felt over the PVC because they say the plastic will rub on the PVC and fail faster if you don't. A guy down the road from me said he got 6 years out of a 4 year plastic before it failed but did say the reason it failed was due to the rubbing since he didn't use felt. I'm almost as far as I can go for now, I need to wait a couple weeks to get the money to order the plastic and the plywood to close the ends.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I put the knee boards on and boxed in the bottom of the center posts to keep soil off of them a bit more to try and make them last longer. I am about as far as I can go for now, need to buy plywood for the ends and then the plastic. Might be a few weeks before I can go farther.
 
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