Realize Your Childhood Dream by Building a House in a Tree

This article is also available in: French

Get inspiration, tips and resources to give your kids the best gift of all: A treehouse!

When children imagine their future home, they don’t take half measures: It will include an observatory for stargazing, a secret passage… and a treehouse!

Even if your priorities have changed, there is nothing stopping you from realizing this old dream and offering your own children a playground that will be the envy of the neighborhood!

Why only do one floor when you can do three? You can visit this house at The Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke, British Columbia.

You can visit this house at The Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke, British Columbia. Credit: https://www.enchantedforestbc.com/bc-family-attraction-kids-activity/

Choose a Tree

Take the time to inspect the trees that grow on your property. For security reasons, a treehouse should never rest over three metres above the ground. The tree must be neither too young nor too old. Its wood must be healthy, with no signs of disease or infestation, and its roots firmly planted on the ground. Maples, oaks, apple trees, firs, ashes and beeches make good candidates, but avoid fragile species like elms or American sycamores. The branches must be strong and able to support the house, even in high winds. The ideal tree has two large V-shaped branches that will support the structure.

It is strongly recommended to consult an arborist to make sure you make the right choice.

The unique Mirrorcube at the Treehotel in Sweden blends perfectly with the decor! Credit: http://www.treehotel.se/en/

Think About Your Treehouse’s Design

Your children are undoubtedly extremely excited about the project. Even if it is up to the adults to take care of its construction, invite them to participate in the design phase. Together, illustrate plans. Remind them that you may not be able to do their project as is, but see what elements of their vision you can incorporate into it. A slide, maybe? Or heart-shaped windows?

What will support the house? You have three choices. It can rest on posts planted on the ground, sit on beams nailed to the trunk, or hang from the branches by cables and chains. To minimize damage to the tree and allow your construction to support more weight, the first option is the best.

Then, how will it be accessible: Fixed wooden ladder, hanging rope ladder, staircases?

Regardless, whatever you decide, remember that your treehouse must adjust to the natural growth of the tree: Indeed, your tree will continue to grow! A little tip: Test your project by making a cardboard model first. You will be able to determine which branches interfere with your project and see if you want to adapt the design, or cut the branches completely.

Head to Whistler, Manitoba, to admire this home created by a passionate young carpenter. Credit: http://thehemloft.com/

Stay Careful While Building

Always think about the safety of your children and do not neglect any detail. It is imperative to build walls and ramps, and to layer wood chips, sand or any other cushioning material at the bottom of the tree. You need to stay safe while you’re working as well. Wear a hanging harness or rent a scaffold instead of using a ladder.

Follow these steps: Platform, deck, railing, stairs or ladder, walls, roof, door and windows. Now is the moment to add a touch of fantasy, if you want: Pulley system, planters, solar lights, swing… Some enthusiasts could even choose to turn their treehouse into a fully functional cabin with a water supply system, solar panels or even a dry toilet! Treehouses are a hit on housing rental platforms like Airbnb.

The sky (or rather, the tree) is the limit!

In MuskokaOntario, this lantern-like home is surprising! Credit: https://www.kos-arch.com/res-4treehouse

A Few Resourceful Links

Click on the following links for practical tips and guides!

The Minister’s Treehouse in Crossville, Tennessee, was built from used materials over a period of more than 20 years… It’s the largest building of its kind in the world! Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chucksutherland/3977773445

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