My ideal glasshouse is a near-free upcycled style utilising old wooden windows and building walls to support it. My planning was a decision process, what do I want to build, what do I want to grow in it, and where’s the best place for this in our yard?

The outcome really needed to be an improvement on our makeshift shed. I knew I had the skills to build and make a suitable space for growing plants. The needs were simple:

  • Over 2 metres tall with a mono-pitch roof
  • water catchment
  • Reduce the wind, control the airflow
  • Hedgehog proof non-muddy work area floor
  • and able to catch the morning and all-day sun

Here’s the simple build list – building to my next-to-nothing budget, ideally under NZD 100. Although the actual build cost was $320, the most significant cost was the Clearlite and lumber to support the Clearlite.

  1. Design, plan, and measure
  2. Find and buy cheap old windows.
    • Collect the windows ready for installation.
  3. Find and buy old wood for foundation and framing (< $60 total)
    • Collect the wood and materials needed.
  4. Start planning the size and considering the windows
  5. Demolish the old shed & save the screws for reuse
  6. Create the foundation
  7. Create the first wall
  8. Finish all the walls and structure
  9. Put the roof on.

Tools required:

  1. Circular drop saw
  2. Screwdriver and plenty of various-sized screws (75mm to 100mm)


  • I had seen before starting this project that old wooden windows were freely and readily available on TradeMe. It was easy to source old windows, and after a few bids for $1 (one dollar), I was on my way with a small collection of various-sized wooden windows.
  • What I had not factored in was that the glass was weighty, and the wooden frames were solid wood, which meant that I needed help collecting the windows.
  • I left buying the Clearlite roofing to the last task, as several other factors needed resolving.


  • Collecting all the windows was quite an ordeal. Travelling to many locations to pick up large and heavy old windows, some in poor condition, others in near-new condition.


  • Already occupying the preferred location was a makeshift woodshed. The shed comprised pallets and other recycled building materials, some of which could be reused in the glasshouse build.


  • After the areas had been defined and cleared, the next task was to level and establish the foundation.
  • The design that I had made used piles to keep the main frame away from the soil. However, fitting my limited budget, the piles I had access to included bricks and treated posts. I used the posts to make four corner piles, and supporting these were stacks of bricks.


  • The walls are 90% windows, which are very heavy.


  • Quite possibly the easiest part of the build.
  • I purchased lumber and Clearlite (clear fibreglass corrugated sheets) and screwed these into place.


  1. In the first year, I recovered the total cost of the build from fresh produce.
  2. Fresh organic tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and microgreens.