What child doesn’t want a treehouse? Treehouses have been part of many childhoods; where dreams and wishes are created, frustrations and anxieties are eased, and the soothing feeling of being hidden amongst lush foliage high above the ground is one of the best feelings a child can have. Why, even adults want treehouses these days.
However, when your child asks for a treehouse you might have no idea where to start. Pre-fabricated kits are available and some even come with the carpenters to install them, but those can be very expensive.
With a little ingenuity, the right tools, help from your kids, and the right tree, you and your kids can work together to create a space they’ll fondly remember for the rest of their lives.
It all starts with the tree
What would a treehouse be without a tree? You will need a mature tree with branches that are stable enough to hold the weight of the treehouse and not so high that the ladder becomes precarious. Oak, maple, beech, and cedar trees are all good candidates for the perfect treehouse.
Before you begin, you need to seek the advice of a tree specialist to assess the age, health, and strength of your tree. They can also assist with any pruning that might be necessary. Have your kids present when the tree specialist comes so they can learn about the tree and what is required when choosing the best tree for their house.
Draw Up Your Plans
The internet is full of professionally created treehouse plans that specify exact dimensions, the lengths of wood you’ll need, and other materials to finish the job. Unless you have experience drafting plans it’s best to choose one that’s ready to go. Go through the plans with your kids and discuss them.
An 8 foot by 8 foot floor plan is the norm. Ask your kids if that’s okay with them. Do they prefer one window or would they want two? Explain about wood sealant and paint, and how these will help protect the treehouse from the elements. Tell them about supports and how they work. And of course, let them know that they’ll be involved every step of the way.
Order Your Materials
Once you have your floor plan in place, it’s time to order your materials. Many treehouse manufacturers recommend green oak for treehouses as it weathers nicely and is very strong. However, you’ll need to consider the weight of the wood.
After all, you will be raising beams and framed walls seven or eight feet above your head. For something lighter in weight, treated pine boards work really well as they’re resistant to rot and insect infestation.
You’ll also need plywood for the floor and the walls if you wish. Boards can be used for the walls as they do look nicer. But they’ll need to be built with a technique called shiplapping, where the boards overlap each other as they descend to prevent rain damage.
Of course you’ll need nails, bolts, fasteners, cables, and other materials to build the structure. So head down to your local home supply center, with list in hand and kids in tow and order your materials.
Of course it’s not a good idea to let your 9-year-old handle a circular saw but there are plenty of ways they can help. You’ll probably also want to enlist the help of a neighbor or family member to join the building party. Kids can help by handing you tools and learning the use of each tool.
They can also use magnets to sweep for dropped nails and help hold boards in place as they’re fastened. If you plan to paint your treehouse, they can get started on that while each completed section is still on the ground. To a kid all these little steps might seem like they’re taking forever, but it’s a great lesson in patience and teamwork.
When the finished product is complete and they climb the ladder for the first time, you have a priceless moment on your hands.
Treehouses are fantastic creations and any child would be very lucky to have one. If you’re prepared for the task, be sure to get your kids involved so they can appreciate even more that hard work can lead to a dream come true.