Living in a Greenhouse Makeshift Home

With winter coming on and no roof over their heads, this family learns and shares their experiences living in a greenhouse makeshift home.

| November/December 1982

  • 078-164-01
    I knew that the greenhouse makeshift home would be sufficiently roomy, fairly easy to erect, sturdy enough to withstand our area's weather, and relatively inexpensive.

  • 078-164-01

With winter coming on and no roof over their heads this family learned how to improvise by living in their greenhouse makeshift home. 

Living in a Greenhouse Makeshift Home

My wife and I are strong believers in the old saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way" . . . so once we decided that the time had come to adopt a simpler, more natural back-to-the-land lifestyle, we just plain up and did it. We quit our jobs and moved—four children and all—to 40 acres of Ozarks complete with pasture, woods, hills, and running water (a creek and a small river).

And true to our expectations, we soon found ourselves leading much more enjoyable, relaxed lives. Now I don't mean that ate worked less, mind you (in fact, quite the opposite!), but as we put the trivial concerns of our old existence behind us and focused our energies on the fundamental challenges of homesteading—such as putting a roof over our heads—our lives became simpler. We learned to be patient, to be flexible in our thinking . . . and to approach problems creatively.

Therefore, when the construction of our earth-sheltered house was delayed (leaving us unable to do more than complete the initial excavation before winter hit), we weren't particularly discouraged . . . we simply borrowed a tent and determined to live in that for a while. However, as the season grew colder (and the creek—our bath-tub—became icier), we recognized the need for a warmer and more substantial temporary home.

And our solution to the problem was, I must admit, anything but conventional: We bought and erected a 20 foot by 45 foot Quonset-style greenhouse covered with a double layer of polyethylene! Since I had built and worked in such structures for several years, I knew that the makeshift home would be sufficiently roomy, fairly easy to erect, sturdy enough to withstand our area's weather, and relatively inexpensive. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Prices for models of similar size and design vary widely . . . from about $1,000 up.] Furthermore, my wife and I figured that if all of us could survive living together in a tent, we'd do just fine in our more spacious "plastic house".

Well, as time has gone by, we've become convinced that we made the right decision. In fact, we've lived in our greenhouse for more than a year now, and it has unfailingly provided us with warm, dry shelter. We have 900 square feet of living, storage, and work space all in one long room . . . and because we've simply used our furniture to separate the various areas (the bedrooms, kitchen, etc.), we've been able to avoid the uncomfortable cramped corners or heat traps that walls sometimes create.

12/24/2007 4:18:28 PM

I thought this was a great article. I'd really like to hear much more about this type of effort. Imagine living inside your own greenhouse, the education would be endless and having never done something of this nature one can only surmise it to be very rewarding. The financial returns would also be incredible. If you owned the property all you would have to worry about would be land tax. It sure has me dreaming about it. Best Regards, Rick


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