7 tips for building a summer home on a budget


Courtesy Of: Janis Nicolay

The day my greenhouse came down was as emotional as the day I laid eyes on it. 
A wedding gift built by my husband, the little wood-and-glass structure served me well for 15 years. But thanks to a gang of burrowing moles and three befouling ducks it was beyond repair. What saved my heart from breaking was the promise of something new, something bigger and better that the entire family could enjoy. 

So the greenhouse came down. In its place, tucked between the vegetable garden and chicken coop, a “green” house of a different kind—an outdoor art studio—was built from the wreckage. 

Though fresh pressure-treated lumber was purchased for the foundation, the windows and most of the framing materials were salvaged from the old greenhouse. The large three-pane window came from my husband’s soon-to-be-demolished childhood home; the front door and deck materials were donated by a neighbour. What wasn’t close at hand—the skylight, cedar siding and insulation—was snagged from Craigslist for a song.

The studio took longer to build than a conventional kit-based shed, but the result truly blends in with its surroundings. It’s not perfect or fancy, but that was never the goal. It’s a place where my husband and I can take coffee breaks, crank music and enjoy overnight campouts with our six-year-old daughter, Lily. And Lily can go there to partake in painting lessons with her grandfather, be creative and make a mess. Basically, it’s our summer vacation home—without the commute. 


By: Heather Cameron


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