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How do I Choose the Best Tree House Plans?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Building a tree house is more than a fun project, it requires various levels of prior planning to ensure it becomes a safe and durable source of entertainment. Some people choose tree house plans based on aesthetics alone without consideration of the building site, the types of tree or trees that will be supporting the structure, and type of construction. It’s important to remember that trees are not static structures; they move and grow and require a tree house that will allow the tree to expand and flex without jeopardizing the stability of the structure.

Most tree house plans should be quite general to allow the builder some latitude when designing the structure around the tree. Additionally, some plans are created for the do-it-yourselfer, while others are built by consultants who finalize plans only after visiting the building site.

Some tree house building companies give consulting advice. An expert can examine the building site and tree either in person or through photographs, give advice, and help avoid potential pitfalls. General carpenters and builders should not be used unless they are experienced in the special issues inherent in tree house construction and have experience building flexible systems.

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The tree house building site is an important consideration when planning to build a tree house. The tree should be large enough to support the structure or more than one tree may have to be used. There are one-, two- or three-tree house plans available. Since much of the construction should take place on the ground before being moved into the tree, the surrounding ground should be relatively flat and free of obstructions to provide a clear work area. Tree houses built in forests experience much less wind than tree houses built in the open.

Tree house plans should make allowances for the expansion of tree trunks and limbs. Although the tree house will not move up as the tree grows, it will need to allow room for limbs that grow thicker with time. Supports should not use nails or screws. Flexible bolted systems that allow for movement due to wind. Bolts and attachments should not be placed too close together or the health of the tree will be compromised.

There are a limited number of tree house plan websites on the Internet, mostly based in the U.S. and United Kingdom. Some offer free plans and others offer more complex plans for a fee. Good tree house plans will allow flexibility to add fun optional features, like rope-and pulley-systems, ladders, or swings.

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