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How do I Build a Tree House?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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Children and tree houses are the perfect combination for creating lasting memories. Whatever it is about the prospect of having a tree house, very little else excites a child like climbing up a tree to the sanctum of a place all their own. Though it takes a little time and basic construction know-how, you can build a tree house in a weekend with proper planning and preparation.

Before you begin building a tree house, you must overcome the greatest obstacle, which is finding the right tree. A tree house needs a mature, strong tree with a thick trunk and solid supporting branches. If you don’t have this kind of tree, your only option is to build a stilt-frame house or ground level playhouse. However, if you do have a suitable tree, or even a group of trees that could share the load-bearing weight of a tree house, you need only to begin your planning.

A tree house needs a well-built frame foundation for the platform to rest upon, and you will need to use pressure treated lumber for the entire construction process. Using decking screws rather than nails to attach the lumber to the tree will provide additional security. You should also consider the life span of the tree house and allow for accommodations in construction that will not interfere with the growth of the tree. If you are concerned about preventing damage to the tree and allowing for healthy growth, consult an arborist before you begin building.

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Provide as level a foundation as possible for the tree house floor. You may need to notch out sections of the frame or floor joists to achieve a level surface. With the foundation in place, attach pressure treated plywood that is cut square or rectangular, allowing for as much room as possible.

If you want an all-weather tree house, you will have to construct walls and a roof. If you are simply going for a platform tree house, you can install deck railing as walls and leave the top exposed. Be sure to comply with safety standards regarding height of the railing and spacing of the rails. Also, consider the access to the tree house and whether you should build a ladder, install footholds directly to the tree, or purchase a rope ladder. Make certain you take great care to provide safe and solid access for ascent and descent.

If you are having trouble deciding what type of tree house to build, inspect a variety of plans, which you can find in books from the library or by searching online. The complexity or simplicity of the design is really up to you and should be based on what your ability and budget allows. If you just can’t muster the confidence to tackle a tree house on your own, don’t let a perfectly good tree go to waste; find a competent carpenter and hire the construction. In the long run, it isn’t likely that the child or children you are building the tree house for will care very much about the floor plan or how it was built; they will simply enjoy the many opportunities the finished product has to offer.

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anon167005
Post 3

You might want to think about doing a course on this. There's this amazing guy called David Parfitt who does online courses (he's an artist/sculpture - from Brighton I think).

anon60069
Post 2

Tree houses are great fun - but when children are involved it's important to think about safety.

habura
Post 1

Thanks for the tips. I always wanted a tree house and these tips will help me build one for my kids.

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