Summer is fast approaching and with the better weather comes the excitement of exploring the outside world. One of the most popular summer activities is building a tree house. To ensure health and safety without spoiling the fun, it’s a good idea for you and your kids to build this tree house together.
Finding the right location for the tree house is half the battle, and is very much dependent on your garden. If you have a large tree with several potential building points that aren’t too far off the ground (anything between 3 foot and 6 foot is a decent height, and depends on the age of your child), then you have the perfect tree house tree and can skip onwards to material. Chances are though that the majority of you won’t have this perfect tree, but there are two more options. If you have three medium sized trees that are growing closely together then the tree house can be built along the trunks of these trees. Your final option is to ‘build’ your own tree, meaning build a wooden construct which replaces the tree option. If building your tree house among in an actual tree, be sure to nestle it as close to the trunk as possible and use the branches to support its weight. Wire and rope can be used for extra support. If you are constructing your own tree, be sure to build it in an area of the garden that is protected from the wind but not too close to other buildings.
The size of the tree house is up to you, but consider using 6×2, 8×2 or 10×2 metre timber beams for the base of the house. Timber is a well suited material as it is a strong hardwood which can withstand harsh weather, especially when treated correctly. Eye-bolts with round washers are most suited for this build, but be sure to pre-drill the eye-holes. The plan for the tree house will need to be in place before you start drilling. For extra stability, consider adding box brackets to the frame. The walls of the tree house can be built out of other wood types such as pine or cedar, again with some varnish to protect them from wood rot. These planks can be thinner than the timber beams. A slanted roof is best if possible as rain water can run-off the roof easily thereby preventing a large amount of standing water gathering on the roof and endangering the build. To test the stability of the tree house, go in yourself and shake both walls and roof. If the tree house can endure the weight and pressure produced by an adult, then it is ready for a child.
Next, the final touches to the tree house, the design. Windows and secret entrances are essentials to a tree house. The secret entrance should be easily accessible wherever it is, and you can consider having a rope ladder lead to it. Alternative exits are a must safety-wise, so creating a wooden ladder leading to the main entrance or a window is an important feature as well as the secret entrance. To add some colour to the design, consider attaching wooden shutters to the windows and painting them in fun and bright colours such as blue, orange, red or yellow. These shutters will can also protect the tree house in a storm (while your children are home and not in the tree house), and keep the kids cool in the hot summer sun. For the interior consider adding old-furniture and rugs, as well as a blackboard for writing down plans. Your children should be chief designers when it comes to the inside of the tree house.