I am located in Columbus, Ohio. I currently rent, but I am planning on buying a house in the next two years, and I want to get started on planning for this project. My wife is a houseplant enthusiast, and I want to build her a solarium / four seasons room / pseudo greenhouse. Since I don't even have a house yet, I want to keep my project vague / flexible in terms of dimensions. Additional note: I am not against hiring pros or trying to do the entire thing myself. Ideally I could identify which design elements are feasible, which require assistance, which bring undue cost / complications, etc.

My current conception for this project is something like this. The semi-circular design is greatly preferred, as that would maximize window area, but I am open to compromises if this is too. As stated earlier, the dimensions are not greatly important, but essentially, i would like a semi-circular solarium with roof with a radius of 12-15 feet, with a height of 16 or so feet (1.5 stories). The current design in sketchup involves taking 6x6 posts and cutting them at angles on each side (forming a trapezoid), and then making another cut to create a pentagonal post which would fit the windows square but take care of the angle change. Hard to explain, so see this picture. So that is the desire for the structure as a whole. Now I will list some of the specifications

  • High humidity environment - this room would be kept >70% humidity year round.

  • Water connection - I would have a humidifier in the room, and it would need to be connected to the tap water / plumbing

  • Constant temperature environment - the room would be kept between 72 and 75 degrees F year round. The house will always be at a lower temperature than this. In an ideal world, there would be some way for me to disconnect and reconnect the room to the house HVAC at will. I wonder if there is some kind of vent to accomplish this? I am a big smart-home person, and I am capable of building custom electronics to control a vent in the wall or something like that.

  • Draining or water tolerant flooring - My true desire would be to have a teak / cedar slat floor with a graded concrete slab / drain underneath, however I believe this would be extremely expensive. The ideal would be that a hose or watering can could be used very freely without water pooling. I am open to suggestions. Since the water would collect below the floor, I imagine a sump pump would need to be used?

  • Fixed windows + vents - in an effort to keep the cost down, i would prefer if the windows were fixed, but there could be a top layer of smaller windows with automatic venting to keep cooling costs down in the summer. Is there like a cheap supplier of windows that offices used for their large floor to ceiling windows? I know they would need to be relatively thick to hold any kind of insulating effect.

  • summer heat exhaust / heat management - since Ohio summers are hot and humid, I would like the ability to open the window vents and pull in outside air to replace the heated air escaping through the vents due to convection. I know people use large amounts of water to create a heat battery of sorts. any ideas on this would be great. Ideally, the room would never go over 85F, since that would limit the types of plants that could survive in that environment. Evaporative cooling would work to some extent, since the goal is to humidify the room anyways.

  • weatherproofing - I am not sure how moisture and similar considerations impact this. Since the room would be kept at high humidity, and the walls would be made mostly of glass and solid wood, I wonder how much of a concern this is. What measure could be taken to increase the longevity of the room in a high humidity environment

  • roof - I know that the semicircular design most likely complicates the roof. And I know very little about roofs. Any suggestions on tips to execute it well? Also, my father in law is a roofer by trade, so I would have some degree of professional help.

  • hanging rails - since this room is for plants, there will be many pieces of pipe installed in various ways for my wife to hang plants. If i can find a local shop willing to do so, I would have a piece of pipe curved to slightly less than the outer radius of the room (in a few pieces) and have a curved rail going around at multiple levels

  • (Idea) Curved librarians ladder - since there will be hanging plants, one idea I had was to build a ladder that could slide around the perimeter of the room, like a librarians ladder. My idea was to build a curved track, install it into the ceiling, and then attached a ladder with caster on the bottom. That way the ladder could be moved to different sections of the room for easy watering.

  • (Idea) hanging couch / seat - since the plants will be on the outside of the room, the inner area will have some seating. One stupid idea would be to build a hanging bed couch, allowing for some gentle swinging. Since this structure is essentially half of a dome, putting signifcant weight on the trusses near the apex of the dome shouldn't be much of a problem, however I know a lot of that weight would get redistributed in the wall the dome is attached to. I imagine to make this project work I would have to work with the existing house structure in a smart way, but since I dont have a house, I dont know how it will work.

So there is my over-idealistic project idea - I would love any and all feedback - even "are you crazy???". I am definitely aware that this is a pretty significant project and will probably cost me way too much money. Budget-wise I am very open but I would rather do something myself and struggle with it than shell out a ton of money and have someone else do ti for me, if that makes sense.

Thanks in advance for all of your input!

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Unfortunately, this is too broad of a question for our Q&A format. May 5, 2020 at 0:35
  • Break it down into single questions and you will probably get some assistance right now it is two broad.
    – Ed Beal
    May 5, 2020 at 18:44


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