How to Build a Treehouse Part 2: Planning

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As you read in part one of our treehouse series Part 1: Getting Inspired a simple treehouse wasn’t going to cut it for us.  So now we had to condense all of these dreamy ideas into an actual tree house that could work.  This is where the planning, drawing, approvals by the boss, aka-Mason (after all this is his birthday present right?), revisions and more we settled on a design that fit our extra space really well.

If you make the decision to make a treehouse an awesome addition to your yard, here are some ideas that may help you in the planning process.

Resources for Starters

With the dream in place and your hopes high, there are lots of resources available to learn more about how to make it a reality.  We hit the local library and checked out about 5 different books on building treehouses.  There are some serious people out there who have some pretty innovative ways of building tree houses.  For instance when I was a kid, we just hauled wood up the tree and started hammering.  But did you know that there are many ways to support your treehouse up in the tree but still allow it to shift and move as the tree gets blown in the wind?  Who knew.  Here are a few books that elevated our game plan of making the idea become a masterpiece.

Source – Amazon.com




 Build your own treehouse : a practical guide by Maurice Barkley







Source – Amazon.com



Build your Kids a Treehouse by Philip Schmidt






Source – Amazon.com





A Treehouse of Your Own by John Harris







Finding the Perfect Tree

There are some trees that are better than others. Hardwood trees and bigger trees are obviously better.  Depending on what you have, you may have to add additional support if your chosen tree isn’t going to support the Swiss Family Robinson house. Go big and use more than one tree if available. Also be aware of privacy of your neighbors and other restrictions your city may have.

How High is Too High –

This is up to you.  The higher, the more effort, finesse and safety you may have to address.  Also, the trees will move more in the wind the higher you go, so you will have to take the movement of the tree into consideration if you don’t want your treehouse pulling apart soon after you’ve spent all of the time to get it built. So plan accordingly as to how high you want your little adventurers playing and how high you are comfortable building.


Is Bigger Better?

Cost, time and awe all go into the size factor.  Most tree houses are a basic platform and are just fine.  But if you are feeling like being the hero to your kids, maybe bigger might be better, I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the coolest fort or play place in the neighborhood?


Holding it All Together –

How much support will your structure need? Often you can build a good-sized platform up in the tree  with braces going down lower on the trunk of the tree that will support your treehouse and give you more flexibility on height and location.  Other times, your dreams get big (like ours did) and you just can’t support the whole thing on the tree alone.  That’s when supports from the ground come into play, so design away and let your imagination go.  With the books and resources mentioned, you are likely to find some ideas of how to make it work.

Drawing Your Plan –

Sketch, resketch and plan away.  We had a huge split in the tree about six feet off of the ground in the tree we used and we talked over and over again about how we would use it.  Would we go higher, lower. etc.  This is where the design and thought process really helped to draw it all out.  Ultimately, we decided that using the split as a transition between levels gave us a much more options and opened up two platforms of fun.

Measure, Measure, Measure

Before you take a trip to the hardware store, make sure that you know your measurements and what you’ll need. After the plans are laid, list out the items you’ll need and have fun.  We gave Mason much of the material beforehand, but since he got input into the design, we got to do a few more trips and he was totally loving the whole processes.


Most importantly, just plan to do it!

There are many more resources like websites like this.

Popular Mechanics – How To Plans

Instructables – 17 steps

The anticipation kept building and unlike other yard projects that can be a drag, this one we looked forward to because we knew it would provide a family escape and offer fun for years to come.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

1 thought on “How to Build a Treehouse Part 2: Planning”

  1. This is a great and wonderful idea on how to plan out the treehouse without getting confused. I just can’t wait till we start building mine.


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