Making a Rabbit Run from a Greenhouse Frame
Aviaries make great rabbit runs but a wooden framed one can be quite expensive to make and a bit daunting to build from scratch. One option is to use a greenhouse frame as the basis for your structure and then cover it in mesh, rather than filling it in with glass.
You may be able to find a frame second hand - particularly as you won't mind if the glass is missing. If you can't find one second hand, a 6'x6' aluminium greenhouse frame will cost around £130-150 new and are available at most DIY stores. Remember you only need the frame not the glass/polycarbonate panels so don't pay extra for those to be included.
Greenhouses are available in different sizes and styles, so measure up the space you have and think about where the door will need to be positioned to give you room for access. If you plan to place the run next to a wall, then a lean-to greenhouse maybe a good option. They are designed so that your house or garden wall takes the place of the back wall of the greenhouse. This will save you money as you will not need to mesh that side.
The greenhouse will need a level area to sit. Making a level base with paving slabs will make cleaning easier, but a level area of compacted ground would work too. If the run is on soil you will need to takes steps to prevent your rabbit digging out. As the aluminium frame of a greenhouse is quite light it is a good idea to use angle brackets to anchor it to the wall or floor. This will prevent it moving in strong winds and make it a sturdier. This is particularly important if you plan to cover any part with solid material to provide extra shelter, as this will catch the wind rather than letting it pass through like mesh does.
Many owners like to put a roof over all of part of their run; this provides shelter from rain for both the rabbits and you when you are interacting with them. A good option for this is either polycarbonate, as would be used with a greenhouse normally, or corrugated PVC roofing. Both of these materials come in transparent and solid colours. The transparent versions will allow light in to the run, particularly good in winter when light levels are low, however in summer they will act as they would on a greenhouse - heating the air below. This can be mitigated by covering the run roof with shading material in summer. Alternately you may want to mix solid and transparent materials or only cover part of the roof. Polycarbonate in particular is not chew proof, so although your rabbits will not be able to reach the roof, I would advise meshing underneath for security against predators chewing.
In addition to the roof, you may want to fit solid boarding to other areas for example the back wall or back section of the run. This is down to preference and will depend on the weather where you live, where you position the run and what other shelter your rabbits have - e.g. a hutch.
Once you have built the greenhouse frame and completed the solid areas, check how rigid it is. Because greenhouses get part of their rigidity from the square panels of glass or polycarbonate you may find without these it is not as sturdy as you would like. If this is the case, you can use diagonal wooden batons or triangular brackets at joints to give the frame more strength.
Meshing the Run
The final step is to fit the mesh to your run. The best type of mesh for rabbit runs is weld mesh - see information on types of mesh. Mesh is available on different width rolls, so try to obtain a roll the width of the panels in your greenhouse - this will make fitting it must quicker. A 6'x6' greenhouse will need approximately 25m metres of 60cm wide mesh (which will cost about £50), but this will vary depending on style so measure you greenhouse to get a more accurate figure.
If you have a wooden framed greenhouse you can attach the mesh with staples however most greenhouses have aluminium frames. The simplest way to attach mesh in this case is using cable ties. As the cable ties will be outdoors and subject to both hot and cold weather as well as UV rays from the run, makes sure you get cable ties designed for outdoor use. You should also check annually to make sure they are still secure and they may need replacing every few years if they become brittle.
Attaching the mesh is simply a case of holding it in place and attaching the cable ties, fitting the mesh to the inside will give a neater finish as the frame will hide the mesh edges. One area to pay attention to is the door, ensure you fit the mesh in a way that still allows the door to open and close smoothly.