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How to Build a Treehouse

Updated on October 30, 2012

You've got a long holiday weekend ahead of you and you want to do something fun with the kids. You've been planning forever to get outside with them and build a treehouse that the can play in. You've got fond memories of your own tree house from childhood and want to make sure that your kids don't miss out on this special part of life. But you can't actually recall how to build a tree house. Looking back, you're fairly certain that the one you threw together as kids wasn't particularly safe. You'd like to spare your children the possible emergency room trips by building a better one this time around. How do you do it?

There are three main components to building a tree house: the foundation, the posts and the rest of the structure. You'll want to make sure that you attend carefully to the building of all three areas to make a tree house that is both sturdy and fun for the kids. The foundation and posts will be important to keeping the treehouse safe and functional. The design of the sides and roof of the structure will be what you can play around with a little to give a creative appearance to the tree house and make it picture-worthy. Combined together, these will make for a tree house that the kids will love and you'll feel safe letting them play in.

First you'll need to make sure that you find a sturdy tree. Even if the one that you have is great, you won't want the tree to support the entire weight of the tree house. This is where the posts come in. Assess the tree to determine how much of the weight of the tree house it can hold. You don't need exact numbers, just decide whether the tree itself will be the main post support for the tree house or only a supporting leg. You'll want to create a basic structure with four posts for the legs of the tree house. This keeps is sturdy. The tree may be one of these posts. Or you may design the four posts around the tree with the tree growing up through the center.

Second, you'll need the foundation. Your best bet for this part is to order some basic tree house plans (or find them at a local bookstore). There are many different ways to build the foundation of the tree house. Your choice will depend on the materials that you are choosing to use and the size of treehouse that you want. You can make something really simple by laying flat boards across the posts that you've installed and nailing them all together. Conversely, you can make something more elaborate. Find a design that you like and that also looks easy enough to construct.

Once you have the foundation and posts, you can be creative with the rest of the design. Consult your kids about what they would like. Come up with some neat salvaged materials, make some quirky angles and shapes. Test it out with your own weight (cautiously) to make sure that you haven't created anything that's too heavy for the foundation and posts to hold up. Consider an open-air model that protects the kids from elements while up there but doesn't necessarily keep them entirely enclosed. The point of being in a tree house is that you're in a tree.

These are the basics to building a tree house. Don't forget the perks as well. For example, you'll want a ladder for your tree house. It can be a rope ladder or a wooden one, a free-standing ladder or one that scales the trunk of the tree. You'll also probably want to help your kids make a sign for the tree house which labels it as their own. It might be a little too chilly now to make much use of the new tree house but the kids will be excited about it anyway. And come spring, they'll have a place to play that the neighborhood will be bragging about.

Don't forget to be kind to the earth when building your tree house. Use natural materials and salvaged woods for the construction. And don't put nails directly into the tree. Green building starts with small projects like this one!

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  • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

    June Parker 2 years ago from New York

    When I move back home to Hawaii I have been thinking about building a livable treehouse on my property instead of a conventional house. Great article with good advive and I pinned it to my "Alternative Housing" board at https://www.pinterest.com/konagirl.

  • carcro profile image

    Paul Cronin 5 years ago from Winnipeg

    Great hub, I always wanted a tree house especially as a kid. Amazing there are actual instructions for building a live-in style tree house, thanks for sharing! Voted Up and interesting...

  • Jamie Brock profile image

    Jamie Brock 6 years ago from Texas

    What a cool treehouse!

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    denzeltan998 6 years ago

    good looking hub :)

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    Mini Greenhouse Guy 6 years ago

    Wow, incredible! I found this hub from your sofa advice one, id love to be able to build that in my garden!!

  • matthewjason profile image

    matthewjason 6 years ago

    As usual a greatest hub.I am voting it up!

    Had a great fun to read this hub.

    i will definitely try your tips.

    Really it takes me into my past when We had a tree house!

    And I am fully agree with Richard Stephen point!Plant more grow more and save environment.

    Great Hub.Regards!

  • profile image

    Richard Stephen 6 years ago

    What a great hub! I have 3 kids that I would have loved to build a hub for. I have such great memories of my odl tree house. Unfortunately, the preponderance of tract homes today is killing chances for most kids these days. Tract homes just don't have trees you can build a tree house in. Sure, you can plant your own trees but your kids will be grown before the tree is big enough! Sigh!

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    Ana(: 6 years ago

    Hey Lily! I'm thirteen too, but you know what? I think you can never be too old for a treehouse! Hahahaha(: Ok, well, just saying, about the whole thin trees thing, you could always build it on metal or wooden poles, but you could build it right up there in the trees, so that you could really get the feel that your up in one! And you could always let a few branches come through and stuff! You could even use one of the trees as one of the poles!(:

    Kbye!

    Ana

  • profile image

    Lily 6 years ago

    hey im only thirteen and i know im a little too old for one, it's always been my dream to have a treehouse.You make it sound so simple. I deffinately want to build a treehouse now, one of my biggest problems is a sturdy tree. I live in Indiana so I am surrounded by trees(actually i practically live in a forest) but many of the trees are just too thin and not sturdy enough. If you have any advice please post. thx

  • animal-backpacks profile image

    animal-backpacks 6 years ago from Brighton

    It is my absolute dream to one day be able to follow these instructions on my own land. Until such time I'll just have to bookmark this page and look forward to a time when I can have one of my own.

    Thanks for a great read.

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    Zoe 6 years ago

    This really halped for my speech it counts for 20 % of my grade THANX!!!!!!!

  • profile image

    Janae Nichols 6 years ago

    Awesome idea!!! I have always wanted a treehouse and now i really want to build one!! Better go start planning and working away!!! All i need to know is what are the basic miterials and where to get the flat wood you would use, and the other things.... oh well... i wish someone could help me with those. Also it would be nice for those things to be found in plano texas. Thanks...

    Great idea, and that's a pretty awesome one in the picture!!! :)

    - Janae Nichols

  • Spirit Hugger profile image

    Spirit Hugger 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

    LOVE this! Great page... inspires me to get really creative and write lots more (I'm new to HubPages--just joined yesterday, and feeling both excited and a little overwhelmed!) You've got lots of great subjects you've written about. Looking forward to reading more!

  • lender3212000 profile image

    lender3212000 6 years ago from Beverly Hills, CA

    Sounds like fun! Makes me want to be a kid again.

  • thehands profile image

    thehands 6 years ago

    When I was a kid, I wanted to live in a tree house.

    Actually, I still kind of do.

  • dugger62 profile image

    Deborah Dugger 7 years ago from Colorado

    That is a beautiful tree house! Love the pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rosscarmalt profile image

    Rosscarmalt 7 years ago from Halifax

    o yes im sure going to build a tree house and its not going to be for any kids its MINE! lol. you've got me on one now haha thanks

  • profile image

    jasmine 7 years ago

    hey i like all of the tree houses a i would to have one could u build me one

  • festersporling1 profile image

    Daniel Christian 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

    Smart. I wish I knew all this when I was a kid. :)

  • profile image

    ante 7 years ago

    Great tree house. Unfortunately, I don't have a big tree to build on it. Hmm... maybe, I'll plant it for my son

  • bengriston profile image

    bengriston 7 years ago

    These are some amazing tree houses. My kids have been bugging me to build them one. I am afraid my carpentry skills are not capable of creating something like this though.

  • johnr54 profile image

    Joanie Ruppel 7 years ago from Texas

    Sure beats the treehouse we had when I was a kid. A part of an old fence panel nailed up in a tree. But it sure was fun!

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    jonty 7 years ago

    This is really nice .......

    what a treehouse builder....

    keep up the good work ......

  • profile image

    Georgia 7 years ago

    luv the pic but its so hard 2 make it!!!!!

  • RKHenry profile image

    RKHenry 7 years ago from Neighborhood museum in Somewhere, USA

    What a great treehouse and hub.

  • profile image

    MoRgAn  7 years ago

    i want a tree house i no i am 15 but oh well

  • profile image

    SuZaNnE 7 years ago

    i am trying to build a safe tree house for my kids but it is nto working out the greatest i have a briken arm because of it and one of my sons had a nail through his thumb

  • profile image

    sandy 8 years ago

    oh my god!! i love tree houses

    because of this article my dreamm came truee to build a tree house

  • profile image

    Erick Smart 8 years ago

    I just got some property with my spouse and this is an excellent idea for our children and for a fun family project this spring.

  • AshleyVictoria profile image

    AshleyVictoria 8 years ago from Los Angeles

    That treehouse in the picture at the top is nicer than my apartment. Perhaps I should stop paying so much rent and look towards the wild for my living needs! Fun hub :)

  • AchieveMarketing profile image

    Kate L Williams 8 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    I'd just like to come over and play in yours without trying to build my own! It has always appealed to me to spend a week in one of those resorts that have tree houses.

    Kate

  • stanleyreese profile image

    stanleyreese 8 years ago from Alabama

    Thank you, thank you! This is on my "to do" list now before my wife even mentions it. The kids will love it as they get older!

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    boom huis 8 years ago

    I found your page to be interesting and inspiring, so inspiring that I decided to build one with my daughter this summer! I even started a blog to track my "progress" come on by!

    http://thisoldtreehouse.blogspot.com/

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    I love the idea of a tree house, I have always wanted to play in one. :)

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    janestanley 8 years ago

    What a great lens. I never realized a tree house would need a foundation. I always just assumed that you would use the tree and hope for the best. In building my own house, however, we had to dig deep trenches for our home's foundation. We used an excavator for the project. I found this site to be quite helpful http://www.excavatorsguide.com/ There is a lot of useful information about excavators and other building equipment. Drop by and check it out.

  • 2patricias profile image

    2patricias 9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

    When I was a child my Dad built a tree house that was offially for my sister and me - but really it was for HIM. We enjoyed it all the same.

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    ElizabethParker25 9 years ago

    Excellent tips on building a tree house! You make it look so simple! I prefer my house on solid ground though. Even if I have to dig deep for the foundation. They make for more sturdy and stable structures. Of course, I'll use proper construction equipment such as excavators and to make my job easier. For anyone interested, ExcavatorsGuide -- http://www.excavatorsguide.com -- has a wealth of information about excavators and other building equipment. Feel free to drop by!

  • profile image

    Mochacho 9 years ago

    this was ok, I guess but what an amazing picture!

  • RainbowRecognizer profile image

    RainbowRecognizer 9 years ago from Midwest

    This is really nice!

  • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

    Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

    Excellent idea! What fun!

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