Understanding the Basics of Designing a Tree House
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2017)
Have you ever noticed how often a tree house, or other kind of play house, seems to be a feature in neighborhoods that have children? In many ways this can be seen as a right of passage for many children, and for many adults. However, before you begin going out and purchasing a bunch of lumber you need to make sure that you know what you are doing, and that you will be able to safely fulfill your child's dream. The best way that you can do this is by understanding the basics of designing a tree house or play house. While it may not seem particularly hard or difficult, there are a few things that you should keep in mind to ensure that the house is not only safe for your child, but that it will be legal, and fit into your landscape design. That is where these simple guidelines come into play. As you sit down to begin designing a tree house, keep in mind that while these are guidelines, the only real limitations to this project is your own imagination.
- Know your local regulations. Not many people stop to think about the need to check local regulations and ordinances when they begin to build a tree house. Before you begin to build your tree house, take the time to check the local ordinances, and ask for permission when, or if, required. Otherwise you may find yourself needing to remove the tree house due to "safety" concerns.
- Choosing the style. There are many different styles that you can choose for your tree house. Traditionally, the two most common types are going to be a deck or platform style, as well as one that looks more like a house. Looking online with a simple browser search can help give you some many ideas. Talk over the various ideas that you find with your child to see what kind they like the best, as well as which ones will be the easiest for you to build.
- Choose the right tree. When making a tree house one thing that you cannot overlook is the tree. While it may be nice to try and go as high as possible in a tree to build your tree house, try to keep some safety in mind as well as the fact that your children are the ones that will be using this the most. Try to choose a tree that will allow you to build up about 10 feet off of the ground, and which has a branch thickness of between 8 and 12 inches. This will give you the proper amount of support for your tree house. Be sure that you also inspect your tree for any damage that may cause it to be unsuitable for use, for example dry rot or other kinds of damage.
- Plan the tree house carefully. Make sure that you plan out your tree house carefully. Whether you are going to be creating your own blueprints, or using some that some one else has made, make sure that the result will be able to hold the weight of the children who get in it. When looking at the blue prints, keep in mind that there should be a minimum of four support points that lead directly to the tree. In addition the floor should be strong enough to hold the entire weight of house.
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