Vitavia Hera 9000 Hexagonal Metal Greenhouse

Prices Around: £1399.99
Size: 3.30 X 3.80m
Review By:

This large hexagonal metal greenhouse is extremely attractive and will grace any garden positively. You can even choose between three frame colours of silver, green and black. This means you have the ultimate in practicality and choice for your greenhouse.

The hexagonal design ensures that you have plenty of headroom for the taller plants that you have to cultivate and help to grow. However, one of the key features of this greenhouse is the generously sized double doors. These allow you to get any plants of pretty much any size through the doors and ready to grow.

What we rate

  • Three frame colours Silver, Green & Black
  • Polycarbonate roof
  • Double doors
  • Hexagonal Design

What we slate

  • High cost
So, How Does It All Stack Up?
Ease of assembly
76% Complete
7.6/10
Affordability
75% Complete
7.5/10
Quality of construction
100% Complete
10/10
Longevity of material
84% Complete
8.4/10
Storage size
85% Complete
8.5/10
8.5
Overall Score

Prices around: £1399.99
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  • neil manners said...

    It looks nice in the photos, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled. This is a badly designed, poorly engineered piece of rubbish. The metal is thin and flimsy, it’s a nightmare to assemble, and the instructions are awful. And if – sorry, when – you get into difficulties, don’t expect any help from the company. They will be happy to sell you replacement parts at grossly inflated prices: beyond that they don’t want to know.

    That’s the summary. This will be a long review, as there is so much wrong with this greenhouse.

    So: your beautiful new greenhouse has arrived. You’ve unpacked the parts, looked at the instruction manual and are ready to go. You start with the metal base – it looks a bit flimsy, but it locks together easily, no problems there. Then the sides. They are too big to assemble indoors, so you lay them out on the lawn or patio, and though it is time consuming and fiddly you don’t mind that, as they slot together without too much difficulty. Next comes the roof. And here is something you may not have considered. The roof, naturally, takes up the same area as the frame. And the roof must be constructed as a separate unit – you cannot add it piecemeal to the frame. This means that you need to have twice the actual area of the greenhouse to work in, because when you put the sides together, you will need to have the roof adjacent, or at least somewhere with no obstacles between it and the frame. So bear in mind that if you only have an area in your garden big enough for the greenhouse, you will have a huge problem when you come to the assembly – especially as the roof is heavy and very unwieldy.
    The roof is not so easy to assemble. You are asked to measure down each of the six roof bars and make a pencil mark where the ring beams are to go. Why? These measurements should be pre-made, with not only a mark but a small lip, so that you can get the crosspieces in exactly the right place (and they need to be exactly in the right place). But you do this, and you get the roof assembled. Then, with help, you attach the sides together, and you have a completed frame.
    Except for the six plastic eave ends, which fit into the guttering at the six corners. These, according to the instructions, simply slot in. In reality they don’t, because they are too big. No matter how you try, even by slackening off the corner joints, you will not get them in. You will need to use all your strength just to press one wing in (they clip in under a small ridge in the guttering). In trying to get the second wing in you will break it. There is no way around this. I was unable to fit a single one without splitting or breaking it, so patched them with bitumen tape. Zero out of ten for design.

    But it’s now that your problems really begin. The instructions say blithely: “Two people should now lift the assembly onto the roof. Connect roof bars onto each corner.”
    Sounds so simple. But the reality is that this is close to impossible. You will get two corners attached, then with luck three. The rest will be hanging in the air, half on, or to one side of, or in front of, the corresponding corners of the frame. With a great deal of adjusting, pushing, pulling and heaving you might get the fourth one on. After that, no amount of slackening-off and re-tightening, no amount of heaving and straining, will help you to get the others in place. You might come close with one: but every time you are almost there, the bolts which connect the roof to the base will drop out and you will have to start again.
    The problem is with the design. You have to slot two bolts into the channel in the sloping roof bars, position them over the two corresponding holes in the frame, then slot them together. There are two issues with this: one is that the holes don’t quite align, making it hugely difficult to get both bolts to slot in at once (they need to align precisely, they are about 1mm out and there is no play whatsoever in the holes). The second issue is that there is nothing to keep the bolts in the sloping channel, with the result that over and again they slide out. And if you get only one bolt in you have to lift off the roof bar and start again, you cannot get the second bolt in without removing the first.
    Frankly this is appalling design. There are so many ways this problem could be avoided. As things stand you have to resort to ingenious ways to try to hold the bolts in place. I tried blu-tac, tape, string and wire. Wire worked best: but to hold it you need another hand, and you already need both hands for manoeuvring the frame, and for trying to lever the bolts over the misaligned holes.

    It was at this point that I gave up. I knew I could struggle with this for days and be no further on, so I called on the services of two experienced fitters. Even for them it proved a nightmare. Eventually they got the roof on by putting wooden beams along the top of the frame to support the roof, then using ropes and a winch to pull the frame into position.
    Not something your average DIY fitter could or should have to do.
    Not something there was any warning or even hint of in the advertising material.

    But, you’ve got the roof on and you think surely the hardest part is over and the rest will be plain sailing. Wrong.
    The roof dome is fairly straightforward, though you have to stand on a stepladder which is higher than that listed in the instruction manual.
    The glazing is also fairly straightforward: the polycarbonate sheets slot in easily, the rubbers slot on the frame easily, and the glass clips in via plastic strips without difficulty. In fact, this was the one and only time during the assembly where I actually thought the design was good – an improvement on the metal clips which are widely used.
    This part of the construction is marred, though, by the design of the small brackets which fit over the bottom of the polycarbonate sheets to hold them in place. They are fixed by means of small self-drilling screws. Anyone who has ever used such screws knows that they are difficult to get started – even ones with sharpened points need a pilot hole. These are not sharp, and there are no pilot holes in the brackets. So you have to stop, and drill 24 pilot holes before you can complete this task.
    Then you come to assemble the opening vent windows.
    I should have mentioned before that in numerous places the instructions are unhelpful. The diagrams are small, it is difficult to see which way round a part fits, and the text, which is very brief and limited, does nothing to clarify things. (Nor is there any online help) You will frequently find you have fitted a part the wrong way round and have to re-fit it. This is the case here – it will take a lot of head-scratching to work out exactly which part goes where. One reason for this is that there are two channels into which the glass might slot. Into one it slots snugly: the other seems too narrow, and the glass will not fit. Unsurprisingly it is into this latter channel that the glass must be made to fit.
    But first you have to put the rubber seal around the edges of the glass pane. Seems straightforward, but in fact it continually slips off. The only way to get it to stay on is to tape it every couple of inches – not something you are warned about in the manual.
    Then you have to get the glass into the aforementioned narrow channel. But it won’t fit. You try pushing – no good. After much swearing and cursing you come to the correct conclusion: that the only possible way is to put oil on the outside of the rubber, then use a rubber hammer to knock the glass pane home. A hammer? On glass? Believe me, it’s the only way. But… you get one side on, you turn the frame on its side to get the second on… and the first, which is only gripping about ¼” of glass, slides off. Again after much trial and error you realise that not only do you have to tape on the rubbers, you also need to tape each side of the frame onto the glass before you proceed to the next.
    When you get all four sides of the frame in place you have to fix them with four screws. In each case screwing from the sides into very small plastic channels. The sides have to be precisely aligned – more tapping with the hammer. And it’s easy for them to slip off the glass at one corner: in which case you have to take off the whole side and start again.
    Frankly, if a GCSE Art and Design student came up with this as a window frame design it would be F for Fail.
    Mercifully, fitting the window into the greenhouse is straightforward.

    When it comes to the sliding doors the designer must have gone on holiday and left it to the cleaner, because they actually assemble without too much difficulty. With one exception: the lock assembly comes in three sections: two fit easily, but the third cannot be fitted because the screws fastening it to the frame are too short! I know, I couldn’t believe it either. What to do? The only option is to remove the padded backing from this section of the lock. It is not meant to be removed. It is glued on, and once removed cannot be replaced. But when removed it will give you that extra couple of mm needed to secure the screws.
    So those done, you are in the home straight. Just need to hang them and the thing is finished.
    Only before you do so there are one or two bits of finishing off required.
    The glazing spacers screw in reasonably easily.
    Then come the six door guide bars, (oddly named as only one guides the door) at least one of which must be fixed before you can fit the sliding doors, because the guides at the top of the doors slot into it.
    The designer has saved his best for last. So far you’ve encountered the difficult and the very difficult. Now comes the impossible.
    You are instructed to fit these door guide bars via self-drilling screws. You are told to drill down through a tiny metal ridge – at an angle – and through another thin vertical piece of metal where it joins a horizontal piece of metal – all the while standing on a stepladder and leaning against the roof.
    It cannot be done. These pieces can not be fitted in this way. Not only is the design insane, it is dangerous. The screws slip off the metal every time, meaning the electric drill slips against the roof and you slip with it. The screw simply will not engage the metal as required.
    So you take the metal door guide bars back to ground level and drill some pilot holes. One look at what is required of the screw and common sense tells you it is crazy – but you go ahead and try it. Back at the roof the screw still won’t stay in the pilot holes, but slips everywhere and won’t engage with the metal. You apply a bit more force – but only succeed in damaging and rendering useless the screw head. And of course there are no spare screws.
    All that is needed to fit these pieces of metal are some pre-drilled bolt holes into the sides. Instead, this insane screw-into-thin-metal nonsense designed by a moron and passed by his less-intelligent colleague in Quality Control.
    I gave up, drilled my own bolt holes (which admittedly compromises the smooth appearance of the frame), and completed the job.

    So, you’ve done that and, perhaps with your partner who has had to put up with weeks of cursing and swearing, you finally fit the sliding doors. They seem to work. They slide as they are meant to slide. You breathe a huge sigh of relief. At last. Triumph over adversity. You enjoy you moment.
    Then you step back. And your sense of triumph withers and dies. Because, unless you have been very lucky, you find that the doors are not aligned with the frame. There is a gap at either the top or bottom of each door, and a gap in the middle. The doors will not meet in the middle. They cannot be closed and locked.
    How can this be?
    It is because, when using ropes, winches and brute force to get the roof attached to the frame, you will have pulled the frame out of alignment. Only slightly, not really enough to notice or bother about, especially as you are just so relieved to have got the roof in place. And not enough to cause a problem with the fitting of the glazing, which is only one or two mm out of alignment.
    But enough to affect the hanging of the sliding door.
    So now you are stuck. With the roof and the glazing assembled the greenhouse is immovable, even if you have not concreted in the base.
    And as the full horror of the situation dawns on you, you will realise, if you had not realised before, that after all the sweat and tears and money you have expended you will now have to live with what is, in effect, a useless pile of sh**e.

    To sum up: this greenhouse is not fit for purpose. It should be withdrawn from sale until all these design problems have been addressed. If that does not happen, Trading Standards should get involved to ensure that it is no longer foisted on an unsuspecting public.

    Note: I’ve omitted details of the emails and letters I exchanged with the company. Let’s just say they are in denial about the greenhouse’s shortcoming.

    Scores

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