January 13, 2022 6 min read 0 Comments
Don’t start shopping for a hoop house without reading this first. Learn about available add-ons, options to consider and how to avoid hidden costs on the backend. Don’t get surprised by hidden costs! We will show you what to look for when buying any greenhouse but particularly hoop house style greenhouses.
Comparing apples to apples when buying a hoop house, is that even possible? We are here to tell you right now it's not. When you look on the internet at hoop house kits the different levels of what is included can be so extreme. You could get a quote for a 20’ by 100’ high tunnel from one company and a quote for a hoop house of the same size from another company and there could be a $5,000 difference. One of these could be half of the structure of the other one. One could include everything; vents, trusses, doors on both ends, circulation fans, polycarbonate sides, ETC. The other one might be, like our DIY high tunnel kit, a very basic kit and you're going to need to purchase additional supplies locally*.
The central differences between all three of these are generally what and how you will be growing inside the structure. All three will extend your growing season and help you to optimize your growing environment. Which one is best for your farm will depend on how intensely you will want to modify the growing environment and how much investment you are willing to make.
Hoop house kits can be used to build a greenhouse or a high tunnel. High tunnels are an offshoot of a hoop house that typically describe taller sidewalls and bigger doors for larger equipment. This term also usually applies when you will be growing in the ground. The terms: hoop houses, poly tunnels, and high tunnels are interchanged a lot when referring to these types of structures.
Greenhouses typically have hard side endwalls made of insulated polycarbonate and are heated or cooled as needed. Greenhouses may employ multiple features to modify the growing environment; like powered gable vents, wet walls, exhaust fans, thermostat or computer monitored controllers, gas heaters, and some type of shade deployment. In use greenhouses are often intended for year round mono-cropping and ready to serve an existing revenue stream.
Not all kits are created equal. One difference in kits we see frequently is that some include all of the hip boards and baseboards while others expect you to provide that at your build site. Our kits include all of the hardware you will need; nuts, bolts, screws, washers and the like, while some kits will expect you to purchase all of these locally.
Another commonly overlooked difference is the gauge of metal used when building the hoops. The hoops are where the true strength of your structure comes from. Our All-Metal kits use 16 gauge galvanized USA made steel with Flo-Coat® added for extra water resistance. There are kits on the market that use a lighter gauge of metal that ultimately just isn’t as capable of withstanding the elements.
Definitely look at the different options you want and make sure that any kits you are comparing have all the options you need. Many companies, like us, will provide you with resources to help with your decision making. Know before you order what, if anything, you will need to purchase locally to complete the build.* Take into account the cost of any locally purchased items as well as the value of your time when comparing the price of various kits. With the current supply chain issues and shortages we recommend that you ensure local access to any items you may need before you order. Nothing worse than holding up an entire build for want of a few nuts and bolts.
Depending on what you plan to grow and what the weather is like where you are, you may need very different customizations to your hoop house kit. The first things we ask anyone who calls in looking to purchase a greenhouse:
These are the most important factors when it comes to deciding what additional items you will need to budget for when purchasing a kit.
If you are living in a climate where Summer temps reach into the 100's you are going to need shade cloth and roll up sides for ventilation. If you are growing crops that are susceptible to thrips, spider mites or aphids, you will want insect netting to cover the rollup sides.
If you live in an area with high winds or snow loads you may need additional purlins or an added truss kit. Some companies will offer additional purlins, trusses and wind bracing to complement their standard kits.
The simple answer is because you may not need it. Growers are using hoop house style greenhouses in widely different growing environments for very different reasons.
A farmer growing tomatoes in the Texas heat is going to need the added ventilation of roll up sides to keep their crop healthy and cool. Meanwhile, someone propagating seedlings in the midwest may need a double layer air inflation kit to add those vital extra degrees of warmth in early Spring to extend the growing season.
We have a variety of resources available to help you review differing uses of hoop house kits.
Some companies like us will include the cost of shipping with their kits. For other manufacturers the shipping cost will be in addition to the listed price and may be a significant expense. When comparing the cost of various manufacturers it is vital that you know what shipping will cost you up front.
When it comes to shipping costs it is important to consider what you will need in terms of add ons in the future.
Depending on how the kits are built you might get a hoop section that is 4 to 5 pieces that can be put in a box and easily shipped. Some companies manufacture their greenhouses with hoops that are fifteen to twenty feet in length and will require an individual trucking company with a 40 foot trailer to deliver it to you. If this is on top of the price that they're quoting make sure you look at that and consider the distance involved and cost.
Is the manufacturer close to you? What is it going to cost to have something the size of a greenhouse kit sent to you? All these factors add up. Keep in mind that just because a supplier's address is in a particular place doesn’t mean that it is where the kit will be shipping from or where it is manufactured.
A supplier’s location could be in Ohio but it doesn't mean that the actual tubing or the metal that is used in the greenhouse is made in Ohio. It could be made in Texas, where we are, or it could be made overseas. Some companies fulfill all the parts of an order in house while others may be drop shipping parts of your order from multiple suppliers and locations.
The labor involved in putting one of these together is not a cost that is going to be included in the listed price of your kit. A few companies may offer building support or services if they are local to you. Most reputable companies will be able to give you an idea of how many labor hours are involved in building one of their kits. It will always vary depending on your skill level and that of your helpers.
Don’t forget to account for the lunch and beverage budget to keep those helpers happy. If you will be hiring workers or paying your staff to help with the build, make sure to factor those costs in as well.
Comparison shopping is always a good idea when you are getting ready to make any large purchase. As you go through and compare make sure you are truly looking at comparable things. Review resources available from suppliers and online to help you decide what add-ons you may need.
*DUE TO SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES AND RAPIDLY FLUCTUATING PRICES BUYING SUPPLIES LOCALLY FOR BUILDING MAY BE FAR MORE EXPENSIVE THAN EXPECTED. If you are intending to build a DIY High Tunnel Greenhouse Kit please check availability with your local suppliers ahead of time to ensure you will be able to purchase all of the items you need. Lumber choices may be limited by location. Redwood, cedar or pressure treated are the best choices for any structure that will be exposed to moisture.
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