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Picture of Treehouse Build

I started my treehouse project one year ago, and in that time I've learned that the TV show, Treehouse Masters, has made everyone an expert... or so they'll tell you. But there isn't a standard code book for treehouses, and there are a couple different ways of doing most things. For the most part, this treehouse is a stickbuilt house on top of a timber frame foundation, bolted to a few trees.

This Instructable will show you the way this treehouse was built, some design and fabrication challenges unique to treehouses, and what each step looked like.

Step 1: Planning Ahead

Picture of Planning Ahead

The most critical part of building a treehouse safely is planning ahead. I spent a few months planning. I read Home Tree Home by Pete Nelson and a bunch of blogs on treehouse building and design (some of which are alarmingly unsafe). I took a ridiculous number of measurements. I drew and revised plans. And I ran a bunch of calculations, but I won't go into too many details about calculations.

I selected a stand of five Douglas Firs for the placement of the treehouse. I fell two of the smaller trees (about 12" and 18" diameter) and milled them in place with an Alaskan Saw Mill. The beams from these trees would become my main supports spanning between the treehouse attachment bolts.

When it came to the design, I wanted something that efficiently used building materials, was lightweight, and had a loft and small deck. I ended up foregoing the covered part of the deck that's shown in the drawing, making minor changes to the timber frame foundation, and changing window sizes during the construction process. But otherwise, the original design survived.

Weight of the structure would be an ongoing theme. It's important not to overload any of the load bearing elements of the treehouse: the attachment bolts, timber frame, cantilevered floor joists, and the trees themselves.

Wind is a major concern for any treehouse. The higher in the tree, the more wind will have an effect. Mine is relatively low (about 10' at the attachment bolts), but even then I had to consider the pressures from wind pushing on the structure and how much each tree will sway during a wind storm.

Amazing work, well done! How much building experience did you/do you have prior to building this?
peterbrazil (author)  motherearthmark2 years ago

Thanks. I used to teach architectural drafting and a little construction for high schoolers.

MatthewN322 years ago
Do bees ever get in, what wood did you use, I would use cedar, but its pretty pricey
peterbrazil (author)  MatthewN322 years ago

I haven't had a bee problem... yet. I have had a tweety bird living in my eave, though.

I used Douglas Fir for most of it - framing, timbers, etc. CDX plywood for all sheathing, and Cedar planter box planks for the decking.

Its awesome are creative .

KariF82 years ago

This is amazing. There's definitely a market for this creativity right now. You should have classes. I'd sign up!

Chuck6662 years ago

thank you for sharing an incredible project. In such a large undertaking there will be other ideas; they too will be vulnerable to criticism. Nice work!

Mtdv2 years ago

Nice one. Thanks for sharing with us.

NatanZ2 years ago

Very good project! I have idea about roof light, You should try to make bleach lightbulbs [] <- Its easy and cheap option ;)

I've planted a nice elm tree will be able to build something like this if I'll be alive at age of 100.

pemazzei2 years ago

Espetacular! Ótimo trabalho. Pena que não temos estas grandes árvores aqui pelo Brasil! Parabéns!

You don't have large trees like that in Brazil? Muy triste.

Epic tree house, I like that you have an actual sofa in there!

Really Cool Project!

Leviathan172 years ago
Really Cool!
Kajnjaps2 years ago

Woow! Magnificent, and from the photos it looked like you guys had heaps of fun too!

tomatoskins2 years ago

This is amazing! Beautifully made tree house!