Convert a Mobile Home into a Portable Greenhouse

MOTHER's latest practical, low-cost country living idea is to convert a mobile home into a portable greenhouse, includes diagrams and step-by-step instructions.

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    We found the trailers foundation to be anything but permanent. The steel-beam frame simply rested on concrete blocks that were half-buried in a thick bed of gravel.
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    Diagram: Detail of converted mobile home.
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    Diagram: Bow section construction.

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Mount a mini garden room on a portable deck by converting a mobile home into a portable greenhouse. (See the mobile greenhouse diagrams in the image gallery.)

MOTHER's newest adventure in practical, low-cost country living is the renovation (and eventual relocation) of an old, but sound and serviceable, house trailer. (That's what a "mobile home" was called back when our '79 Skyliner was built.) Built on a river valley hillside, the trailer's west elevation (the front) is more than 4 feet above the ground and the old, wooden front steps are rickety.

There's also a sliding-glass door in the living room with nothing in front but a 4 foot drop and a hill that falls to the river. No insurance company will underwrite a hazard like that, so the first major improvement we'll undertake is an 8 foot by 20 foot deck along the west side between front door and slider. We'll top the deck at the front stairs with a roofed entry, and where it runs in front of the 8 foot wide slider, with an 8 foot by 12 foot combination greenhouse/screened sun-porch: a garden room.

We intend to use the trailer as a truly mobile home the way many of MOTHER'S readers have over the years. They buy a trailer that's sound and fully functional—but old and inexpensive—and live in it on the cheap as they save every penny to buy their piece of rural land. Then they mount the trailer's wheels, haul it to the country, and live in it while they build that dream log cabin.

But . . . how do you convert a mobile home into a portable greenhouse—an all-season deck/garden room that's as mobile as a trailer or motor coach? Most published sources recommend decks that satisfy building codes of the elite suburbs that surround major metro areas: footings a yard or more deep, heavy stud-built construction, and one side permanently fixed to the house.

Make it Portable

The answer: design deck and sun space-to-be that are code-designated as "temporary" or "portable" structures ...just like gazebos, privies, tent-screen rooms, wood-framed sheds, chicken houses, pole barns, and metal lawn buildings that are not attached to a permanent structure. They can be moved easily and are code-exempt (though some may be prohibited by zoning or public health ordinances).

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