It takes a lot more than a few boards, a hammer and nails to build a solid tree house. In reality it will take wood, tools, aluminum framing and a lot of know-how. But don’t fret—building a tree house can be done and your kids will thank you for it later. That being said, here are four simple steps to building a solid tree house:
Draw up plans
This is no simple task. There are plenty of websites online that offer downloadable blueprints to building different tree houses, like TreeHouseGuides.com. But if you’re the type of parent who would like to build your tree house from scratch, consider what kind of tree house you want to build. I would suggest one in which the base consists of an aluminum frame around the tree trunk and the walls made of wood. The makings are lightweight and the final product will be weather resilient.
Plan your project carefully
Plan the location of your tree house carefully. How high will your tree house sit? What will it be overlooking (preferably not the neighbors house)? If you place your tree house on the upper side of the tree you risk exposure to wind and other bad weather. But, a tree house too low to the ground will be not as fun. It’s important to plan the design of tree house very carefully. Consult with a contractor when necessary.
First, find a safe and sturdy tree. This includes one with a strong trunk, sturdy branches and roots that are firmly planted in the ground. Next, build a secure foundation and firm floor, preferably made out of wood. Then, consider how your child will enter and exit the tree house. If possible, use Plexiglas instead of glass for lightness and safety. Finally, if your tree house is reasonably low to the ground, use a rope or wooden ladder. But, if it’s much higher up, consider building a ladder with handrails.
Inspect your masterpiece
The last thing you want is your tree house to fall apart. Therefore, before you let any children enter it, carefully inspect the steps, walkways and ladders. If any damage is found repair it immediately. It’s also important to check for tree growth and movement annually. Trees, just as humans, grow continuously.
Tree houses can be an adventure, especially for young children. So, take your time when building your first tree house. The key element of a tree house is a secure foundation. Remember to have a plan and make safety a priority. And remember that inspections should be done annually.
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Jamie Aldson is a freelance writer and an aspiring engineer. Jamie recently installed the aluminum framing for a tree house in her backyard. It turned out very nicely for her five year old son, Johnny.