Ready to Have Some Fun?
People do many things to have fun. Among them, there is this specific portion who tries to have fun in a meaningful way. And among them, building a tree house must be one of the best! It is a fabulous way of having fun together with your whole family. Making a tree house will help you to create precious memories with your family, learn new things, give you a great workout and provide enormous fun for everyone!
Now get ready to experience them all! Because today I am going show you how to build a tree house by your own. And you know what! The best thing about this tree house is, to build it, it won't actually matter if you have a real tree or not! Isn't that amazing? Most of you should have kept this tree house idea buried since you didn't have a suitable tree to build it on. But now... It's not a problem anymore! It’s totally up to you to decide whether to build this tree house on or off a tree.
Locating a Site for Construction...
Select a place somewhat away from your real home, any drainage and other utility services. Pick a stable ground, not too soft and waterlogged. This is important because these factors directly affect the stability of your tree house.
Designing the Tree House
This is something that you have to come up with your whole family. You are not building this tree house for your own, so ask for ideas from your family members when designing it. Pooling all your ideas together will result in giving the best and the coolest tree house design. The only limitation here would be the budget which you are willing to spend on this project. But remember, it’s not about how much you spend. I have seen so many simple tree houses designs built with a small budget, but beating up most of the costly ones. So you will never regret spending some time on designing it nicely and creatively; optimizing all the resources you have. You can sketch the design by hand or use a simple CAD software for it. Google Sketchup might come in handy for this work.
Deciding the Size
This is also a fact that you have to decide after careful consideration. Since we are focusing on building a tree house compatible with 2-3 kids, this won’t be a huge one. We will be using standard sheet material sizes, which you can obtain from large DIY stores. Before finalizing anything, talk with your family and decide the size. Your final decision may also depend according to the materials you willing to buy or already have. Whatever the size would be, ensure to provide strong support at all the joints when setting up the upright supports for your tree house and also make sure not to place them further than 120cm apart.
Taking Safety Measures
Safety always comes first! Having confidence to some extent is good, but it is bad to overestimate your skill level. When you are going through this process, even though you are following my guidance, I strongly advice you consult advice of an experienced person whenever you feel unsure at any stage of building this tree house. Also use your common sense to think further on whatever you do. If you are unable to sort out your non-sureness in any means, feel free to comment below for further advice.
For this DIY project, you will have to use various types of equipment, that could be dangerous if not carefully used. So make sure you have a sound idea about how to use them and always get safety precautions first. I advice you to use a hard hat, safety boots, safety gloves, safety glasses and a dust mask at all times.
Equipment You Need:
- A Printed Version of this Tree House Building Guide
- A Shovel
- A Spade
- 1st Fix Panel Saw (rough cut)
- A Long Spirit Level
- A Hammer
- A Bucket
- A Drill & Wood Bits
- Sand Papers
Materials You Need:
- 35mm Galvanised Nails
- 50mm Galvanised Ring Nails
- 2 Hooks
- 1 Ready-Made Wooden or Rope Ladder (for Tree House)
- 16 100mm M8 Coach Screws
- 4 Joist Hangers
- 2 Pieces of 2.4m Lengths of 50mm x 150mm Timber
- 4 Pieces of 2000mm x 100mm x 100mm Pressure Treated Timber Posts
- 2 Pieces of 2.4m Lengths of 25mm x 25mm Timber
- 14 Pieces of 2.4m Lengths of 50mm x 100mm Timber
- 4 Pieces of 1200mm x 2400mm 18mm Plywood Board
- 6 Bags of Ready Mixed Concrete (Poscrete or any similar)
- Wood treatment
- Shed Felt
- Shed Felt Adhesive
- Shed Felt Underlay
Constructing the Base Structure
- On the site you chose to build it, dig 4 holes in a square with 400mm diameter to place the upright support posts. Keep them 1000mm apart from each other. Usually a 1500mm high support post will need a 500mm deep hole. Make sure to dig the holes deep enough to support the height of the tree house. Higher and larger tree houses need more substantial upright support.
- Nail scrap timber struts to the support posts in order to temporarily hold them together and to the surrounding ground. Use your spirit level to ensure they are level and plumb.
- Pour your ready mixed rapid setting concrete into those holes. Leave 40mm from the top of the hole when putting concrete so that you can cover the concrete with grass and soil (or any ground material) after it sets up.
Building the Main Base
- Around the outside of the top of your supporting posts, build a frame around with 50mm x 150mm timber pieces. Make sure that the frame is perfectly leveled using the spirit level.
- At the end of each timber piece, drill 2 holes and bolt them in place coach screws.
- Now nail 2 joist hangers to inside of the inside of your new frame on opposite ends at equal centers – which are set up to receive the joists. Keep them 100mm away from the top of the frame edge.
- To set up a firm floor for the tree house, cut 3 lengths of 50mm x 100mm timber pieces to fix them into the hangers.
- Place your plywood board on top of the 1200 x 1200 square platform you just built (measures may vary according to your accuracy) and nail it to the frame and joints in 300mm intervals.
By this time, you will be able to evidence your tree house gradually building up! You have just made a steady - strong base for it to grow on. Sit back for a moment and take some time to admire your hard work!
Constructing the Main House Structure
Let’s setup the walls for your tree house! Now you need to build a box shape using 50mm x 100mm timber pieces. You can nail these together with 100mm nails. This box needs to have the same size footprint as the frame you just built.
- Build a 1200mm x 1200mm square base plate nailed together with 100mm nails and a 1200mm x 1200mm top plate. Join these two plates using upright timber pieces at each corner.
- Out of the 4 wall of your tree house, 3 of them should have 2 supporting vertical studs in the gap spaced equally. The opening will be placed in the final wall, so fasten the studs to leave a 600mm centre gap and place a horizontal stud between in the centre to make the opening 800mm high.
- The height of the box we build should be 1100mm.
- Take a timber piece of length 50mm x 100mm and nail it on edge on top of the frame over the entrance. This will make the pitch of the roof for tree house, allowing water to go off.
- Now in order to create the roof support, cut 5 triangles of plywood and nail 3 of them equally spaced following the slope from front to rear.
Setting Up the Roof
- Cut two pieces of plywood with dimensions 1400mm x 700mm.
- On the sloping timbers you have formed, attach the 2 roof sections by nailing them on to the timbers and make sure to maintain a 100mm overhang all around. Now using a shed felt and underlay, cover the roof and fasten up with nails. (follow manufactures guidance for this step)
- Cover the felt around the bottom of the roof overhang and nail 25mm x 25mm strips of timber from underneath of the overhang to hold it. This will also help to prevent whatever going down inside of the tree house roof.
Assembling the Structures
With the help of someone else, lift the house structure and the roof to the top of the platform we initially built for the tree house and nail it to the place through base plate timber using 100mm nails in 300mm intervals.
Treating Timber to Last Long
To ensure the long lasting aspect of the tree house, you can apply a wood preserver on the outside of all timbers used. Use sandpaper on the inside of timbers to get rid of any splinters. It will also give a good smooth and rich look for your newly built tree house.
Doing the Cladding
- Cut out two plywood panels to the size for the sides of the main tree house structure. These should be close to a dimension of 1200mm x 1270mm. Make them lap over the base structure for a tidy and uniform look.
- When nailing these panels to each side, if you correctly followed all the steps, it’s likely to notice a triangular gap left at the top on each side. Use the left over plywood from roof supports to fill these gaps (or cut them out from a new sheet, it’s up to you)
- To make a panel for the rear, you will need to cut 2 pieces of plywood since the dimensions would be about 1233mm x 1271mm. Ensure to join the two pieces over a stud, making it a secure fixing. Setting up the front panel is easy and use appropriate pieces of ply to cover it up leaving the tree house entrance visible.
Establishing Tree House Access
Now we have reached to the last step! Buy a new wooden or rope ladder to fix into the entrance. I strongly advice you not to make one by your own. Please buy it from a store or ask a professional to make one for you. Securely fix it at the top, just under the entrance using large strong hooks screwed in. This way, you can remove it whenever you want.
(You can place the ladder in the correct angle by putting it at your toes and holding it with arms fully straightened to the front.)
Building it on a Tree
Like I said at the beginning, the best thing about this tree house we built is that we actually didn't need a real tree to build it on. But at the same time, if you have a suitable tree which suites your requirements in building the house, using the same procedure above, you can set it up on that tree. Then you can build the tree house structure in a similar way, but make sure not to rely on the tree for it. Same time, make sure not to harm the roots of the tree while installing the upright support posts.
Furthermore, when building it on a tree, the shape of the frame of your tree house and the cladding will depend on the shape of the tree which you decide to build it on. Carefully design the tree house ensuring no damage is done to the tree whatsoever. Build your tree house around the trunk branches, without making any disturbance to its natural growth.
Now, that’s all there is! You have your brand new self made Tree House, waiting for you to step in!(actually for your kids that is) I must mention, it wasn't an easy task to complete. But the fun you had when building it and the satisfaction you feel after successfully completing it, you will never feel the same doing anything else. Now just sit back, relax and enjoy the fruit of your hard labor as your kids enjoy their new home …
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© 2013 Pandu B
Gerry Glenn Jones from Somerville, Tennessee on June 23, 2018:
Great articles - I built our youngest daughter one 16 years ago. She was only 5 but tried to help any way she could.
benchmarktimber on December 10, 2016:
Thanks for all the guidance. I'm going to make a start in the spring. I think i will use cedar shingles on the roof.
Pandu B (author) from EarthRealm on November 11, 2014:
Thanks a lot Nadine! It great to hear that you enjoyed reading this.. And thanks for voting this up :)
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on June 19, 2014:
Since I'm a great fan of tree houses and have several books with great photos on tree houses so i loved your post. Voted up
prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 17, 2014:
Wow...this is a great hub. I learn many things here. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up!
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 17, 2014:
This is a terrific hub. I love tree houses. Thanks for this wonderful presentation and guide.
Pandu B (author) from EarthRealm on August 25, 2013:
Thanks for your nice feedback Andrew!
Andrew Channing from UK on August 25, 2013:
Wow, I'm very impressed
Pandu B (author) from EarthRealm on August 23, 2013:
Yes Indeed! And thanks a lot for your energetic feedback bestofeverything! You really seems to have experienced and shared great 'tree house memories' with your brothers during those days. This is why I put all my effort in creating this hub, doing my best for it. Just like you, I strongly believe that every kid must have this experience, at least once in their lifetime. And if you have the will power, this project will be just a piece of cake! I wish you all the luck in making your tree house for your kids. They are lucky to have you as their mother! And as I advice everyone, Be sure to keep Safety Measures to the Highest Level! :)
Bob Miller from Georgia, USA on August 23, 2013:
Thanks for this amazing hub. I really do think that it's so amazing. I loved going into my bothers tree house when I was younger. I will have my husband make a tree house for my kids. A tree house is a must for every kid.
Pandu B (author) from EarthRealm on August 22, 2013:
Thanks Zoey for the appreciation. So happy to hear that someone will actually make a use of this hub! All the best with your Treehouse Project! keep in mind, "Safety always comes first!". If you face any difficulty, please don't hesitate to ask help. :)
Zoey from South England on August 22, 2013:
Great hub! We are actually thinking of building a tree house or our 3 boys, so I found your hub really useful. Thank you for sharing :-)
Pandu B (author) from EarthRealm on August 20, 2013:
thank you very much IslandBites. Glad u liked it! :)
IslandBites from Puerto Rico on August 20, 2013: