How to Build a Treehouse
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!