Important Note About Freight Costs from Norm

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With sudden skyrocketing fuel prices we can no longer guarantee freight costs. Any freight or courier quotes, at this point are an educated guess and would have to be confirmed at the time of ordering.

This applies to anything that has been quoted in the last 30 days as well.

We will be carefully monitoring all freight quotes from our suppliers and definitely favour those that give us the most stable pricing.

We hope that is a short-term problem. We also hope for a peaceful resolution to the problems that are behind this volatility.

We will keep you posted.

Norm

Why the Instruction Manual and Pick List are Important Partners in Your Structure Construction

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Every customer that gets a structure order from us will get one or more boxes of hardware. In these boxes are some important items that you must review before you get into the excitement of the actual building.

One of the boxes will be clearly marked that it contains the instructions. The instruction manual is a generic guide to building most of our buildings. The pick list you receive is specific to your building.

By using these together, you will make sure that your materials are properly accounted for and used in the proper sequence and manner.

This box will also have your name, a tag of coloured duct tape, and the number of boxes pertaining to that order. If there are 2 boxes, one will be marked as 1/2 and the other as 2/2.

The coloured tag will also be present on the bundles of your bigger hardware (hoops, purlins, etc). This is our way of colour coding parts of the order for our driver’s benefit to make sure you get a complete order.

The instructions consist of an installation manual and a pick list. You will get 2 pick lists. A “blank” one is inside the installation manual. The other one is marked and included in the pouch with your copy of the invoice.

The pick list must be used in combination with the installation manual. The pick list verifies the quantities and names of the different items you have received.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you have 30 days to report any shortages. If you know in advance that you will not be putting the building up for an extended period, please call us to let us know and we can provide that leeway.

If there are terms on the list that you are not familiar with, please reference the glossary near the front of the manual. Many of the items on the pick list will have an associated part behind them. i.e. what bolt goes with what bracket.

There will likely be some parts of the manual that do not apply to your order. It is important to go through the whole manual to familiarize yourself with the background information we have provided to ensure you have a long structure life since it has been properly installed.

We are here to help you with the process. We are better able and more willing to help those customers who have clearly taken the time to review the manual vs ones who have not. We urge you to call to clarify things if there is a question. Many customers will take a picture of the question item and then email it. This generally speeds up the process.

As mentioned, the second picklist is in the pouch with the invoice. The markings on this are the double and triple checks that we have done to make sure we have included everything you need.

We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing pictures of your finished projects. We do offer a referral thank you program for those who have the opportunity to share about our products. Call or email the office if you’d like to know more about it.

How to Manage Structures in Extremely Windy Locations

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How to Manage Structures in Extremely Windy Locations

One of the things which frequently comes up in the conversation with new customers is that they are in a very windy location. This is important to take into consideration when making suggestions for a building.

Occasionally we are faced with an intensely windy location. The question becomes, “Can I build a greenhouse in such a spot?” The short answer is “yes”. There are five potential suggestions which we make to improve the building so it is better able to withstand regularly brutal winds.

-Go with a lower profile shape since it catches less wind. Normally we recommend high profile since it sheds snow better but in super windy locations, snow is not an issue.

-Go with narrower hoop spacing. Going from 4’ to 3’ spacing increases the strength by 33%. Sometimes it is even worth going to 2’ spacing.

-Put in more anchors. There simply is no such thing as too many anchors! In super windy locations it is worth doubling up on the anchors. It is also important to double up on the fastener between the base beam and the anchor.

-Install cross ties. Cross ties tie the left and right sides of the building together. This means that when there is added pressure on one side, the other side is assisting by holding things back.

-Go with a double plastic cover with air between. It is amazing how the cushion of air acts like a shock absorber and stiffens the building.

Depending on the severity of your situation, adding a few of these to your building may help achieve the peace of mind you are looking for. We have had situations where a customer has added all five suggestions and been extremely grateful for the rigidity which has been gained.

As much as you, we want this building to serve your needs for many years with peace of mind.

Reporting and Discussing Structure damage

One thing that greenhouse operators don’t want to discuss is damage to their structure. With the increasingly regular occurrence of severe weather, it is something you need to be aware of to ensure a long structure life and service.

Being proactive is the best defense against the changes in our environment, controlling the variables we can.

At Multi Shelter Solutions we make every effort to make a superior and rugged product. We also inform our customers of everything required for the sturdy construction of these buildings.

Despite this, we strongly suggest a careful inspection after each major weather event, again, being proactive.

There is a level of satisfaction that comes after a structure comes through each storm. This is important, but if the structure has been severely stressed, this needs to be identified.

It will take less of a storm to do twice as much damage the next time.

A major warning sign would be things just not lining up the way that they used to. By sending us pictures, our experience will guide you to the areas that could be potentially damaged. To us, there may be flags which warrant investigation, that an untrained eye may not notice as an issue.

In worst case scenarios when there has been a structure failure, it is important to get us the pictures as soon as possible. It is important that details of circumstances are fresh in your mind.

When we ask questions, we are not trying to point any blame; we are simply trying to ensure, or at least significantly minimize, the chance of a repeat problem, when you do the rebuild.

We don’t sell you a structure, we help you buy one, and want to see your continued future success. Thank you for trusting MSS with your structure purchase and allowing us to share tips to increase your success and profitability

Adding a Softcover Structure to Another Building

There are two ways of adding a structure to the side of a building. It can be done as a lean-to (half structure) that goes parallel to the building and up to the eave, or it can be a complete building at 90 degrees to the existing building. This article applies to the latter option.

When considering attaching an MSS structure at 90 degrees to another building, there are some important considerations to be mindful of before the purchase.

The first is that these buildings are almost always considered high humidity (especially when it is a greenhouse). This means that you will be subjecting that wall to a higher level of moisture. Extra waterproofing should be considered. This high level of humidity should be an extra concern if the intent is to use the warm air as a source of heat for the solid building.

The other thing to bear in mind is the potential snow shedding patterns from the bigger building roof. If the height difference is more than 2’, measures should be implemented to slow the process of shedding snow. Without slowing the rate that the snow comes off the taller building, the force of the impact could be triple or quadruple the weight of the actual snow.

If there is a likelihood of significant snow levels being shed, we recommend reducing the rib spacing of the first 12’ of the building. Going from 4’ to 3’ spacing will increase the strength by 1/3. Going from 3’ to 2’ is a 50% increase in strength. This will give your building the added strength for the impact of shedding snow and the volume that would potentially be on the roof.

The third thing that needs to be considered is how the cover will be fastened to your shelter at the wall. For a stand-alone building, you would be on a ladder or platform off the end but this is not possible if the end hoop is right against the wall.

One option is to have the first hoop about 2’ from the wall and then cover that section with something solid (plywood, sheet metal, Lexan, etc.). This will give you a place to crawl up and secure the cover into the wirelock.

Another option would have you put the first hoop about ½” to 1” from the wall. The wirelock channel would be installed on the underside of that hoop. During the cover installation, you would slide the cover through the gap and then wrap the cover around to the bottom. The wire inserts would be installed from the underside. This option is a little more tricky when doing the double plastic cover. After the cover is installed, the gap can be filled with square foam strips which are available at the building centers. Extra care must be exercised to protect the cover from bolt heads and nuts.

The third option would be to install the structure as per normal but about 1’ from the wall. The covering would be done as usual and once this is complete, the building would be slid up against the wall. This process is a bit risky since the building is not secured to the anchors for a short period. The longer the building is, the more challenging this option is.

The last challenge which needs some attention has to do with the method of ventilation which will be used. Typical ventilation flows through the building. In this scenario, ventilating though the building would also mean that you have to go through the attached building. It can be done, but you would be best to get some additional advice on the process.

If roll-up sides are going to be used, it must be noted that the attached building will interfere with proper airflow.

The challenge with using forced ventilation is “where does the air get into the building. It would be best to create a sketch of the building with thoughts as to what you intend to do. We will use our experience to advise you.

It is important to understand and work through these challenges before you purchase. We are here to advise.

Aerodynamics Considerations on Greenhouses

Aerodynamics is a very complex concept in how it applies to greenhouses and similarly constructed buildings. The better that you understand these dynamics and how to deal with them, the better your chances of having long-term success with the structural integrity of your building.

In many of Norm’s presentations, he has compared the similar shape of a greenhouse to that of an airplane wing. The basic challenge is that you want the opposite result. An airplane needs to efficiently get off the ground while a greenhouse needs to stay where it is.

The greater the distance over a surface is (wing or building), the greater that the lift is. When height is combined with distance, there is a multiplier effect. That is why a pilot will extend the flaps on a wing when taking off and landing.

It is the vacuum on the backside of a structure or a wing that causes the lift. The upward force of the vacuum on the backside is actually double what the leading edge force is.

This effect happens exponentially even when a small change is made. Many people have suggested, “I am only lifting the building two feet (or some other relatively small amount)”. They do not realize that doing that small lift is sometimes adding 50% or even doubling the wind load on the building.

These forces must especially be considered when a structure is oriented so that the prevailing winds hit the sides of the building. Structurally, it is preferable to have the structure facing into the prevailing winds. If the lay of the land or the logistics of how you work in the structure do not allow this, there are ways that the stress on the building can be minimized.

The least expensive way to stiffen a building is to add crossties (also known as collar ties). Crossties tie the left and right sides of the structure together so that the load is more balanced in how it affects the structure. Reducing the hoop spacing will automatically make the structure stronger with a greater ability to resist the effects of external forces.

Ultimately, however, a structure’s ability to deal with the aerodynamics of a situation is only as good as the anchoring provided. Anchors provide stability for resisting up, down and lateral forces. There is no such thing as too many anchors.

These things add to the structural ability to handle things but it does not help the cover. Extra steps must be implemented to secure the sides of the cover. This includes but is not limited to adding extra and longer screws for the cover fastening system.

A discussion on aerodynamics is not complete without discussing windbreaks. The only effective windbreak is trees. Trees restrict the speed of the wind coming through and therefore minimize aerodynamic stresses on a building. There is an optimal distance from a windbreak. This is determined by the size, density and texture of the trees involved. Since this is something that changes with age and season, there is not a perfect formula.

One last note on windbreaks. Another building, especially a bigger building is not an effective barrier. If anything, this building will significantly increase the aerodynamic stresses on your building. Wind will be swirling in one direction and then a slight shift in wind direction will reverse the direction of the swirling.

Please note: We are not engineers and as such can not give structural opinions. The above points are simply items that should be considered and come from 40+ years of experience of watching what wind does to buildings.

Mitigating Climate Change with a Greenhouse

In a tongue-in-cheek manner, Norm has often declared that if it weren’t for crappy weather we would not have a business.

The plain reality of the fact is, people, use greenhouses to mitigate the negative impact of weather, and nature in general, on their food and plant production.

Greenhouses allow a person to control the local environment. The more efficient they are at that process, the more profitable they can potentially be.

The main areas of this control are heating, cooling, irrigation, disease and insect and weed control. When all of these areas are exercised efficiently, production can be significantly increased and the timing of production can be better controlled.

Heating is typically the number 1 expense in operating a greenhouse in colder climates in the wintertime. Numerous covers will reduce heat loss but it is often at the expense of light transmission. The cost of certain covers may not be justified in light of the heat savings they would create. There are creative ways that the area which needs to be heated can be reduced. Growers will often choose crops with lower heat requirements to reduce the expense. Even though the heating is usually associated with cold weather, heating can also be used when dew is present to reduce the risk of fungus diseases.

Cooling a greenhouse to acceptable levels is critical during warmer seasons. During warm times, this requires a minimum of one air change per minute. If the temperature goes about a plant’s high threshold, it will stop growing for up to two weeks. There is a wide range of options for cooling a greenhouse. Many of the passive methods are more economical to install but harder to control and fine-tune. Items like roof vents are extremely effective, and have a low operating cost but are costly to install and even more costly to automate. In addition to creating uniform air changes, it is equally important to have uniformly even moving air. Stagnant air fosters diseases.

Having an area covered with a greenhouse, allows the grower to control the water to the plants. Irrigation requires the proper timing and volume of water to the plants and also proper location. Many plants perform much better when the foliage remains dry.

Greenhouses can also protect plants from excessive rain during wet seasons. One often overlooked area of irrigation is existing groundwater. When there is a high water table, care must be taken not to over water plants.

Greenhouses provide management opportunities for disease and pest control. Especially with a proper irrigation protocol, the risk of diseases can be minimized. If insecticides or fungicides are being used, it is much more controlled in the controlled environment of the greenhouse. Systems of netting can be installed over the ventilation openings to prevent the entry of airborne pests. It is important to bear in mind that this netting does restrict airflow as well.

A greenhouse also allows for more control of the weed population. Weed seeds can be allowed to germinate in the beds and then rototill them under. In the protected environment of a greenhouse, it is easy to put down black plastic for a short period of time to kill off weeds and weed seeds. It is also important to remember that if netting is used over the roll-up side openings, this will restrict airflow. Proper airflow takes priority over weed control.

When all of the above points are worked together efficiently, the grower will be able to significantly increase his or her yields. There will also be the opportunity to control the timing of the harvest to take advantage of increased pricing. i.e having a crop ready 2-3 weeks ahead of field-grown crops will easily cover the added expenses of growing in a greenhouse.

Disclaimer: we are not professional growers. The above information should only be used to draw attention to the importance of certain concepts. It is critical to seek out the advice of a professional grower to work through issues.

If you’d like to read more about these topics, let us know. We hope to have a book about this put together in time for Christmas and Winter Planning!