How to Build a Treehouse

Before you get your plans underway, consult this expert advice on how to build a treehouse.

| August/September 2001

A treehouse is a place where you can give free rein to your individual creativity. But while there may be almost as many types of treehouses as there are types of trees, some general principles do apply when it comes to building a treehouse. (For creative examples of custom treehouses, see Treehouse Living: 4 Custom, Eco-friendly Options.)

Before you begin your treehouse plans, check with your local planning authorities about whether there are any restrictions on building treehouses. In some places, if a structure is below a certain size and not used as a permanent dwelling it will not need planning approval, but there may be restrictions on height or on windows overlooking adjacent properties.

Safety is vital during construction. Always use a safety harness, and firmly tie it and any ladders to a strong branch. Think before you act, and keep a first aid kit handy. Most importantly: Have fun!

First Steps

First, you need to choose a tree and decide on a position within it for your treehouse. Think about what you want from your treehouse: Will it be an adult hideaway or children's play area? If you are considering a treehouse for children, keep it close to the ground: 5 feet (1.5 meters) is fine, and seems much higher when you are up there.

Consider whether you want your treehouse to be hidden or visible, and make sure it will not disturb other people.

Choose a mature, healthy tree with no special protection orders on it that may affect pruning. When selecting a tree it is best to consult a qualified arborist, and if any pruning is necessary have this done professionally. Decide how you want to access your treehouse and what materials you want to use. Whatever you decide, it's best to start small and simple.

9/15/2015 4:38:18 AM

Hi there! Anyone got suggestions of a platform where I can find a nice overview of tree houses? I have checked out but I'm sure there are more places with greater content. All suggestions are welcome!

11/22/2014 6:29:45 PM

My freind and me are building a treehouse on an oak tree and its one tree witn four branches. I cant find blueprints to help me in theaid of this buiod. Pls help. Branches move slightly outward from each other

12/2/2010 3:01:24 PM

This article severely misses the mark in terms of providing the necessary information to embark on building one's own treehouse. If you think you are ready to build your own treehouse based on this article, I urge you to think again. Some minimums to consider: Many professional treehouse builders advise minimum 3/4 inch lags for anchoring to the tree with at least 4 inches of penetration. 2x8 floor joists, spaced 16 inches on center are typical for minimum dimensions for adequate weight tolerances depending on the size of house you want. Never attach fixed anchors to two different trees as the trees movement in the wind will shear off one of the anchors. If you are not in a position to apply these types of common sense construction principles, please consult a professional. If you are dead set on building your own, do more research. This article fails to identify several causes of tree death.

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