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How to build a treehouse for your kids

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 07-10-2020
treehouse for kids

Do you want to encourage your children to spend more time outside? If so, you should seriously consider building them a treehouse. It may demand a lot of time and effort on your part, but this is one of the best things that you can do to entice your kids outdoors.

You don’t necessarily have to be good at DIY to perform this task. If you put the advice laid out below into practice, you’ll stand a chance at being able to build your kids the treehouse of their dreams.

Is your tree suitable?

The tree that you opt to build your treehouse upon will play a major role in the success of this venture. Quite simply, you can’t just use any old tree. It needs to be tall enough, strong enough, and thick enough to withstand the pressures of the building work that you perform on it. So before you get started on drawing up plans and digging out the toolbox, think about the following:

  • What type of tree do you have? For example, apple, oak, fir, ash, and beech are perfect choices
  • Will the treehouse cause trouble with your neighbors and block their sunlight or view? Be sure to take the boundaries of your premises into account. 
  • How old is your tree? 
  • Is the tree safe? A tree that is diseased or damaged (these types of trees aren’t stable, which ultimately means that building a treehouse upon them could endanger your kids)

Other stuff to worry about before selecting your tree

The tree is key, as they say in the treehouse business. Acuitlaly, I just made that up, but if you’ve found the perfect tree, you need to consider several other factors:

Do you need a  building permit

Do you need approval from a homeowners association? It always feels like homeowners’ associations are set up to destroy any possibility of fun. Make sure they are okay with what you are doing.

Will you require additional insurance for this type of structure? Some insurance carriers will require certain safety measures before adding a treehouse to your coverage.

A better option than a house built in the tree?

If you don’t have a tree that can safely hold even a small structure, consider a raised platform treehouse that is either built around the trunk of the tree or sits right below the branches. This design in many ways is a better choice. 

  • Easier to build 
  • Safer
  • Will hold together longer as the tree grows

You’re going to need a plan

You can easily find treehouse plans online, ranging from super-complicated to simple four posts platforms.  In fact, a quick search at Home Depot or Lowes on “tree house” yields prefab structures that can be fairly easly adapted to fit around a tree. 

If you go the full-on handyman route, get ready for some planning and construction. A fun project like this can be a fun time to involve the kids, especially if you have an older child who can truly assist without becoming a safety risk.

You can find literally thousands of treehouse plans with a simple search. Warning: you can spend a lot of time dreaming of the perfect tree fort. If you haven’t built a lot of things, keep it dead simple. 

We like the plans at morningchores.com/tree-house-plans because they include a list of every item you’ll need on your lumber yard shopping list. Their drawings are also detailed so you are measuring and cutting everything to their standards.

Equip yourself with the right tools

Once you’ve pinpointed the perfect tree, it’s time to get to work. No matter how ‘handy’ you consider yourself to be, you aren’t going to be able to perform this DIY project with your bare hands. If you want to build the perfect treehouse that is both safe and aesthetically appealing, you need to equip yourself with the right tools for the job.

This is the perfect time to buy a whole bunch of tools you’ve always wanted, but now are really going to need for this job. Sure, you can use handsaws and even manual drills, but you’ll qukcly fnd that doing it really old-school will not only be exhausting it will be time-consumign as well. Our advice is not to turn this into a 5-year project. There’s nothing like an unfinished construction site littering the backyard to create havoc even in the best marriages. 

In terms of tools, here are the basics you must have:

  1. Power drill and screwdriver attachment
  2. Power saw
  3. Hammer
  4. Pliers
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Saw horse
  7. Clamps
  8. Measuring squares
  9. Level

One tool that often comes in handy is a planer. A planer can customize the thickness of the wood that you use to build your treehouse. It also will come in handy if you need to make pieces fit together when measurements are off by just a tiny bit. 

There are plenty of planers out there on the market today. We like the DeWalt DCP580B 20V Max Brushless being one of the very best. To find out more information about this impressive piece of equipment, be sure to read this article from Home Fix Hobby. They have other tips as well.

Get your kids involved

Your kids are going to be the ones spending the most time in the treehouse, so why not involve them with the building process? Let them come up with their own fun designs and draw it out for you on paper. Although you might not be able to do everything they want, try to incorporate as many of their ideas into the final build as you can. If nothing else, this will be a fun experience that you and your little ones can share together. This could even encourage them to take up projects like this in the future.