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Can I convert a Greenhouse to a house  RSS feed

 
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Hi,
I newly acquired a land and I don't have a permit for a building yet. The land is located In the Northwest of Turkey, have a terrestrial climate, summers are hot; winters are cold and with snow fall from time to time.  Temperature difference between summer and winter seasons are big. Average precipitation rate is around 600-700 mm. per m2 in a year.

And I will have to wait at least a year for permit because I have to go to court first. The land is registered as an agricultural land and I think it is possible for me to erect a greenhouse for growing plants.

So, Here is the idea:
I want to build a greenhouse and then convert some part of it to a living space. In this case I have to build the walls from inside with insulation. So it would look like greenhouse from outside and functionally a house with an attached greenhouse.

Do you think it is possible. What can I use for insulating the living space from inside. 

I need suggestions as to what kind of materials should I use.

I have some ideas like metal posts, plastic sheeting, and rice hulls bags from inside to insulate... What would you do?

 
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hey mehmet and welcome to the forums,
can you get a permit for a shed, barn or workshop? that would be easier to convert to a living space than a greenhouse

Did you look into tiny houses on wheels? Or a camper/trailer or "camping truck"? Something mobile to live in...

 
M. Tok
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Tobias Ber wrote:hey mehmet and welcome to the forums,
can you get a permit for a shed, barn or workshop? that would be easier to convert to a living space than a greenhouse

Did you look into tiny houses on wheels? Or a camper/trailer or "camping truck"? Something mobile to live in...



Thanks Tobias for your suggestions,

Permit for any type of building is impossible for the time being. I will probably be able to get a permit after I go to court. Anyway that is why I want the structure look like a Greenhouse. And I want some of it to be a Greenhouse.
Houses on wheels is not what I want to spend my money now because I want to live at this land and the Greenhouse is supposed to be kind of provisional and serve multiple purposes after I quit using it as a house.
You say that it is hard to convert a Greenhouse to a living Space. You are right but I think maybe I can use stronger materials so that It can hold some additional weight during conversion.
 
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Mehmet Tok wrote:
Anyway that is why I want the structure look like a Greenhouse. And I want some of it to be a Greenhouse.

I'm not sure what your climate is like, but it would be tough to maintain a nice livable temperature in most places. It's an interesting dream, but seems challenging. Have you thought about building housing below the greenhouse? Like a cave or hobbit hole of some sort?

 
pollinator
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Now that's an idea. Dig a pit house and roof it over with a greenhouse. I love it.

-CK
 
M. Tok
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Chris Kott wrote:Now that's an idea. Dig a pit house and roof it over with a greenhouse. I love it.

-CK



And that is possible indeed because I have a land with slope. Still I need insulation for the roof, i.e. the greenhouse. And do you have any suggestions as to the materials to be used.
 
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What materials are near your place that you can get plenty of?
- Trees?
- Straw bales?
- Stones?
- Clay?

Walls: Stone on the side that faces the slope?
Structure: Wood?
For the roof, I have looked at polycarbonate and ETFE
Inner building: Straw bales with plaster?
 
M. Tok
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Sebastian Köln wrote:What materials are near your place that you can get plenty of?
- Trees?
- Straw bales?
- Stones?
- Clay?

Walls: Stone on the side that faces the slope?
Structure: Wood?
For the roof, I have looked at polycarbonate and ETFE
Inner building: Straw bales with plaster?




The land is next to a forest  and the villagers are mostly looking after  animals so that they grow wheat and barley.
So I can easily fing wood, strawbales and stones too... I am not sure of clay... I took soil sample for analysis.
 
Tobias Ber
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another thought: what about tent in summer and camper in winter. Perhaps somebody has a camper for rent that he wont use in winter...

or what about a greenhouse earthship style?
 
pollinator
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Mehmet are you sure can't build anything? You can build structures up to 2 percent of the total area as long as it is intended for "agricultural purposes". The phrasing of law is a bit vague. I don't know the procedure to follow so you might want to ask around. Hope it helps.  check for article12 - in turkish
 
M. Tok
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s. ayalp wrote:Mehmet are you sure can't build anything? You can build structures up to 2 percent of the total area as long as it is intended for "agricultural purposes". The phrasing of law is a bit vague. I don't know the procedure to follow so you might want to ask around. Hope it helps.  check for article12 - in turkish


Thank you for the link. But unfortunately it has changed. The new version: webpage By the way I had communicated with the relevant public officials and so they say I need an official road to my land and That's why I will go to the court anyway. Now I don't want to wait for the court and make something provisional.

 
pollinator
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I like the book Solviva about living in greenhouses:  http://www.solviva.com/

It might give you some ideas and is just inspiring in many ways.

 
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Some sections on permies that might be useful
Wofati & underground housing - https://permies.com/f/75/wofati-earth-berm
Nomadic housing options - https://permies.com/f/223/nomadichouse

Barns are also agricultural building in many parts.  I know a couple that built a yurt inside their sheep barn while they waited for building permits for their house (a four year wait).
 
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IT is possible to build a greenhouse that can be converted to house.
You just need to think about it before you start.
Both benefit from insulated north facing walls, both can have an insulated floor if need be, one with a drain perhaps for the green house function that would not cause a problem with the house function.
Both can deal with doors and windows.
Ok, the house function may not need the greenhouse style windows, but shades etc can be set up to convert the full width windows to something smaller.
If you use materials that suit both applications, deal with waterproofing to suit housing the whole thing should not be a headache.

Just think laterally!
 
gardener
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Along the lines of John C. Daley's suggestions, what if you built the greenhouse with one end being for supply storage, if that would work then you would be able to build that supply storage portion to house standards then convert it back to storage later.

If that would be an acceptable method, you could then use a rocket mass heater to heat both the greenhouse end and the "storage" end and that would make wintertime growing pretty easy at the same time.
 
M. Tok
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Along the lines of John C. Daley's suggestions, what if you built the greenhouse with one end being for supply storage, if that would work then you would be able to build that supply storage portion to house standards then convert it back to storage later.

If that would be an acceptable method, you could then use a rocket mass heater to heat both the greenhouse end and the "storage" end and that would make wintertime growing pretty easy at the same time.



Thanks for the suggestion. I surely need a supply storage part and yes I can do that.
What I am trying to find is what materials I can use to do this changes. For insulation etc.
 
gardener
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I've lived in a house with an attached greenhouse for the past 20 years. I would find it very uncomfortable to live int he greenhouse though. It gets way too hot in the daytime on any sunny day, and way too cold at night. The great thing about the attached house is you close the windows when the greenhouse is too extreme. And in our case, we remove the greenhouse entirely for the summer, when it would be so hot that it would cook the plants.

Even the Solviva system is a house attached to a greenhouse, though they don't remove the greenhouse and don't close windows between the greenhouse and the house. They have a fairly elaborate ventilation system to prevent overheating. I visited it.
 
John C Daley
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Where do you live ?
Availability of materials will be a core issue for a start.
Are there modern insulation materials available where you are?
If not. what has been used recently in your area.
Wool is a good insulator as is straw, mud and water in barrels.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Insulation can be anything that will put a dead air space between the outer skin and the inner skin.
Even air impermeable bags filled with air work as insulation as would things like small soda pop bottles stacked inside a wall in two rows with some sort of divider between those rows.
This would give a layer of dead air that doesn't connect all the way through the wall, which is what makes any insulation work in housing or any type of building.

Usually what most people think of today is manmade, fiberglass, foams, rock wool and then there are the natural fibers like cotton (shredded denim) wool, jute, sisal, coconut coir.

This is where you can use imagination to come up with a best for you fit of material to design to availability, there are even some papers that when crumpled or folded can offer some insulation value, sawdust has also been used (cordwood building) between the mortar strips.

Redhawk
 
John C Daley
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Sawdust was used in the early days of refrigeration as well
 
pollinator
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How about borox treated corrugated cardboard?
I have also wondered if layers of mud and cardboard  could work as insulation/mass.It would need to be kept dry of course.
Cement. concrete, soil cement,  might also work layered with corrugated cardboard.
I have used carpet atop plastic sheet of my coop roof.
It protects the plastic from sun and debris, while keeping it in place.
Strawbales might work for insulation, if they were outside of the greenhouse envelope.


 
Chris Kott
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I think that if one could keep the borax-treated cardboard dry, the only downside would be the potential flammability. No matter how airtight the package, as soon as anything starts to burn, that cardboard is a liability.

But if batts of bundled, borax-treated cardboard were to be sealed by thick layers of waterproof natural plaster, that would work, and probably very well.

-CK
 
M. Tok
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Thanks for the suggestions...

I was thinking of using rice hulls filled bags for wall which is a good insulation. It is not so cheap though.

I can find straw bales very cheaply at the village but I dont know  the technique of building with it. If you think a novice can do it by reading books I can try that.

Does anybody know how to treat cardboard with borax. How can we treat a material with borax. And I've read conflicting information about the toxicicty of borax. Does anyone know the answer to this controversy.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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The toxic part of Borax is Boron, while it can be toxic in large amounts, you would need to ingest it or inhale the dust, when using a lot of dry borax it is recommended to use a good dust mask.

Treating cardboard is best done with a spray bottle of well dissolved powder to wet the surfaces then you let it dry before using it.

Wood needs to be soaked well, I use a piece of 8" pvc pipe with end caps, I assemble the length I need then cut the pipe so I have a trough to soak the wood in.

The powder (I use 20 mule team borax laundry soap) can be sprinkled in post holes as you are back filling, I do this in layers with a final sprinkling over the top layer, then I pack in the back fill and if there is enough room I do a last sprinkle then top off with back fill.
This will prevent termites and carpenter ants from making your post their home.
 
Chris Kott
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Hau, kola Redhawk.

I have done the pipe treatment a little differently, although I had some pretty great scrap at hand, and a great set of tools.

I was treating lengths of wood out of which I was building a raised bed. These were obviously to be exposed to the elements, so a surface treatment wouldn't do.

I had an appropriately long bit of threaded steel pipe, reclaimed from I don't remember where, I think it was salvaged from a sprinkler system. It would just accomodate the 2x6s I was using. I capped one end, drilled and tapped a secondary pressure release valve into it, and drilled and tapped a quick-release for pressurized air into the other cap, along with the primary pressure valve. I put a bit of hose over the primary and directed the end into a bucket at my feet.

I had to do the long pieces one at a time, but I basically put in the wood, filled the pipe with borax until, when on its side, the wood was just submerged, sealed it up, attached the air hose, and slowly ramped up the pressure until the primary pressure release valve went. Rinse and repeat.

This might have been a bit overboard, but I got the technique from looking at how pressure-treated lumber is processed, and I figured that it would work with borax as well. The proof is in the pudding; the raised bed has been out in the weather for five years now, and I have only noticed some slight surface decomposition at the soil-wood interface.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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That would be the best method Chris, good method indeed that is.

 
Tobias Ber
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mehmet, what about straw light clay / slip-straw?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Mehmet, there are several really good books complete with very good photos of how to build with Straw Bales.

strawbale dot com

green homebuilding

Those are my go to sites, I consider the information they contain to be the best I've ever found.

Redhawk
 
M. Tok
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Chris Kott wrote:Hau, kola Redhawk.

I had an appropriately long bit of threaded steel pipe, reclaimed from I don't remember where, I think it was salvaged from a sprinkler system. It would just accomodate the 2x6s I was using. I capped one end, drilled and tapped a secondary pressure release valve into it, and drilled and tapped a quick-release for pressurized air into the other cap, along with the primary pressure valve. I put a bit of hose over the primary and directed the end into a bucket at my feet.

I had to do the long pieces one at a time, but I basically put in the wood, filled the pipe with borax until, when on its side, the wood was just submerged, sealed it up, attached the air hose, and slowly ramped up the pressure until the primary pressure release valve went. Rinse and repeat.

-CK



Hi Chris,
Thanks for your explanation. However I could not visualise exactly your procedure. I think due to the fact that I am new to these things. As much as I understand ; You put the the log into the pipe.. and fill it with borax... And apply a pressure in...

Is it a dry method or do you use water at any stage?
 
Chris Kott
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Sorry, that was unclear. I meant to specify that I would fill the pipe with a borax solution.

The increased pressure surrounding the wood forces the borax solution into all available spaces within the wood.

-CK
 
pollinator
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yeah i want to do this too...but also do a large underground cave section attached to it. half cave, half wrap around greenhouse =)
where mostly the greenhouse pops up from the ground/is visible- looks like a greenhouse, but actually has a tiny house embedded within it.
where theres a below ground level, built into a hill underground section, and to soak up all that extra warmth and stabilize the temperature extremes.

i like the above suggestion, and i was thinking to say it too - light clay straw.
one issue is moisture, though...another thought is slip form stone.
and more slip form stone work

actually those two methods are very similar...light clay straw needing a post and beam frame...but both being a form of SLIP FORM.
light clay straw uses slip clay and straw stuffed into the boards/form...the other using stone and concrete.
 
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Chris Kott wrote:I think that if one could keep the borax-treated cardboard dry, the only downside would be the potential flammability. No matter how airtight the package, as soon as anything starts to burn, that cardboard is a liability.

But if batts of bundled, borax-treated cardboard were to be sealed by thick layers of waterproof natural plaster, that would work, and probably very well.

-CK



I knew a technically-homeless guy who lived in a cardboard house he'd built from appliance boxes. It had two full-height rooms and running water, and was stable enough to be reasonably weatherproof. Quite impressive. Also, corrugated cardboard is a terrific insulator.

As you say the downside is flammability, and cardboard burns like nothing else. Get a fire in a mass of corrugated cardboard and ... some years ago in Los Angeles, a warehouse full of baled cardboard boxes caught fire. And that baled cardboard burned so hot that in half an hour it VAPORIZED a steel-framed warehouse, half a block large, down to the concrete. (And we're talking 18 inch truss beams, not just the shell. I picked up boxes there when I worked downtown, so I knew the building.) There was no stopping it; the fire dept. had all they could do to keep the whole neighborhood from bursting into flame.

When I had a trash incinerator made from a chunk of culvert, I'd fuel it with corrugated cardboard, and it'd get so hot the culvert steel would glow white, aluminum cans would go *POOF* (amazing to watch), and it fused the dirt six inches deep.

So while cardboard is wonderful stuff, I'd definitely treat and seal any used inside a structure.
 
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I’d think twice about actually living in a green house.  Having a separate solarium attached to your house would be awesome.

Think about what goes on in a green house.  Lots of watering.  Molds, mildews, fungus all thrive in a moist humid green house environment.  My goal is to get in, do my work and get out.  I wouldn’t want the health risk of 24/7 living in a green house.

The other thing green houses can have are wild explosions of insect populations, specifically ants.  If you’ve ever had ants in your green house, and most have ants, then you know it is real hard to iradicate them.  The ants belong in that green house, but you have a choice.  And if you choose to fight the insects,, what can you do if you live inside the green house?  Are you gonna constantly fumigate the place?  That ain’t good.

My advice don’t plan to live inside the actual green house.  Solarium great...  Nearby sure...

Also don’t forget good green house design depends upon lots of air circulation, a good amount of air exchange with the outside, minimal external heating for cost control and humidity control.  It is difficult to seek quiet enjoyment in a drafty, cold, loud and transparent box.
 
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Do this

(maybe sans the living roof - cuz you'll want to collect rainwater to water your plants)
Greenhouses should be underground otherwise you have a tons of cold air rolling in at night. Berms hold in the heat. Sun only comes from the east-south-west.
Put together a 'plant processing center' (under the radar talk for 'kitchen') - sink, counter space for cleaning plants, etc..
Put in a rocket mass heater to keep the greenhouse warm in winter (under the radar talk for 'stove')
Put  bed in there cuz sometimes you work late (under the radar talk for your bedroom).
Build lots of storage and a root cellar for storing plants and canned stuff - and sometimes you have to keep your clothes there. (under the radar talk for 'closet')
Get internet - cuz sometimes you need to ID weeds for edibility and medicinability (is that a word?) or pests, etc (under the radar talk for 'internet')
Tell 'the man' you live somewhere else and use a friend's address as your residence.
Don't tell your neighbors anything. They'll think you just live there. Legally you just work there. You just work a LOT.
 
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@ M. Tok - May I ask if you're a native citizen of Turkey or did you come from outside of Turkey and buy this land?

I'm trying to better understand the delay or issues in you getting a building permit and what troubles you're running into and why.

Thanks
 
Tobias Ber
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you can build a greenhouse unto the hillside (halfway between walipini and earthship). then have a sealed area, like a compartment of the greenhouse (like with a sealed glass wall and glass doors) which leads to a small, dry part of the greenhouse. this leads into your cave... you can hide the door into the cave by building a wardrobe around it... it s common for people to disappear by walking through a wardrobe... to Narnia or something....

Instead of slip form stone you might use rammed earth, maybe mixed with some cement (like clay-soil-cement oder cement stabilized compressed earth blocks)

i think, you would need an electirc dehumidifier inside your cave, alongside with other measures to reduce air humidity

i still think, a camper would be the best option
 
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