Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Sunroom Evolution

our first try at building an attached sun room in 1996
it is attached to the eves of the flat porch roof

We purchased the  "LITTLE RED HOUSE" about 1996.  It was located just north of our vegetable farm and when it came up for sale, we decided to buy it.  It was previously owned by people from Vegas who would come up during the summer to get out of the heat.  It sat empty for 5 years before they decided to sell it.  After purchasing the house, our first project  was to start construction on a south facing sunroom.  Using all secondhand materials,  large double-paned  glass windows, sliding glass doors, and large cedar post collected from the mountains behind us, we constructed a wonderful sun room that would conduct heat into the house all winter through a opened sliding glass door.  I would save the rinse water from doing dishes to water the plants growing inside for most of the year.  The earthy smell that permeated the house on those cold, snowy, blowy, winter days was a comfort and promise that spring would be along soon.
One foot off the ground, the large windows were placed on a 45 degree slant for the best solar retention.  The floor measured 12 across and 20 feet long, a small brick patio placed just  outside the door leading into the house and a center walkway were installed.
Plants were grown on both sides of the walkway.  The small patio was just large enough for a comfy chair to sit in during the day and daydream.

I found that the slant of the windows caused overhead problems not allowing for enough room to work the vegetable beds, and did not allow for the growth in height of the plants.  The  next sunroom we built,  we attached it to a friends house.  Realizing we needed more space (height) along the bottom edge, we used 3x3 foot windows along the bottom and then large windows at a 45 degree sloping up to the roof.  For the roof we used plastic sheeting that was built on about a 33 degree incline.  This sun room worked out wonderful.  Enough over head space to work in and plenty of height along the edge for plants to grow.  When we revamped the sunroom on the little red house about 7 years ago, we tried something different.  Because the house is small we wanted to turn the porch area into a couple of rooms and so we (meaning my son) re-roofed the house placing a slanted roof over the flat roof of the porch.  The old flat roof was not waterproof and it rained inside every time it rained outside.  He added a gable, because mom decided she wanted one half way through the project.  We put up the sun room walls (windows) vertical instead of slanted to allow for more room.   The roof is 8 feet long and hooks into the 4 foot roof eve overhang which makes the width of the sunroom about 12 feet. This gave  us a nice space to garden in.

thank-you Shelly for the tall, narrow, 1 foot  windows
the larger windows were purchased from a thrift store.......
recycled brick and cement sidewalks make a nice pathway and patio

The support beams are sitting on cement pads that go 4 feet into the ground

plenty of room for the plants to grow
the bed on the left is close to the house,
 covered with plastic during the day and a blanket added for the night,
 it provided chard, spinach and lettuce
through the winter months

In the south west corner of the sunroom, I had a spot for my farm office
read an earlier post about my......

Here is what I have learned in the process of building several sun rooms.

If I am looking to pull heat into the house as a supplement heat source, the windows draw more heat on a 45 degree pitch. I also think the plants do better.   Allow for height, at least 3 feet, along the bottom edge for growing plants. It also heats up better for night heat retention.

 I spend a lot of time in the sun room as a living space so I prefer the vertical windows all around.  For the roof use the plastic sheeting you can purchase at a lumber store, it is very expensive but will last a long time.  Do not use fiberglass for the roof, it does not hold up in the wind.

Use a brick or rock pathway as a heat collector.

Have windows that open on each end for cross ventilation.

I know there are a lot of good books out there about building sun rooms and green houses.  Please tell us  about your experiences building a sunroom.

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