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Building a treehouse: Tips & tricks

Every child probably dreams of having a treehouse with big windows, and getting the chance to play undisturbed with friends high up, and hidden in the leaves. A place where they can take a little break from the outside world. If you or your child decide to fulfil this long-awaited dream, there are a few things to consider.

Do I need permission?

If it is not a literal treehouse, meaning a guest house with sleeping facilities, water and electricity, you usually do not need a building permit. However, talk to your neighbours before you start building and make sure that they have no problems with your child’s new play area. It’s best to record this in writing so that no disagreements arise later.

Where should it be built?

Firstly, you need a suitable tree. Not every tree in your garden will be stable enough for the construction of a treehouse. You will need a specimen with strong branches that can act as load-bearing parts for the house. Make sure that the tree is healthy and has a strong trunk capable of supporting the treehouse. A maple, beech or similar tree species would be best if possible. If the branches bifurcate, this is not automatically a problem. However, you should make sure that the fork is shaped like a 'U' and not a 'V'. The latter is unsuitable as it makes the tree more susceptible to damage. Consider adding extra supports if the specimen of your choice has grown crooked.

What is a suitable location?

Choose between a single tree or a group of trees. If you choose a standalone tree, make sure that the treehouse is of an appropriate size. If it is too large, it will not only blow the roof off your head in the presence of a strong wind, but will probably suffer serious damage. Once you have found a suitable tree, you are ready to go!

Planning and construction

Now it’s time to think about what the treehouse should look like when you’re done. Make a plan with measurements and all the additional trimmings you want and need. How big should it be? Is a platform enough? What should the roof look like? These are decisions that need to be made beforehand.

Which construction type should you use?

There are many different ways to build a treehouse.

1. Stilts: The most gentle way to build a treehouse is to place the platform on stilts. This is built around the tree and doesn’t put the weight of the treehouse on its branches and trunk.

2. Steel cables: Alternatively, the house can be hung from the tree. This requires steel cables to support the structure. Due to the round slings used in this method, the tree is subjected to very little stress.

3. Beams: With the help of four beams, the platform of the house can also be attached directly to the tree. The beams clasp the trunk of the tree.

At what height should the treehouse be built?

Children often forget everything around them when they play, including the height of a treehouse. A wrong step or a loose railing can quickly lead to an accident. Even perfectly built treehouses are never completely free of danger. As the responsible adult, you should always be aware of this and attempt to reduce the risk of accidents to a minimum. For example, you should make sure that a platform is never further than 2 metres from the next platform or the ground. If you want to erect the treehouse at a height of 6 m, you should create two intermediate levels and connect each of them with a ladder, rope ladder or other type of access. In addition to construction, regular inspection of the treehouse is necessary. Storms as well as normal wear and tear can damage parts of the treehouse and become a source of danger if not monitored.

Which material should I use?

Not all wood is good wood. Pay attention to what you use and where. It’s not necessary to use new wood everywhere. However, it is essential to do so at load-bearing points. Otherwise, simple spruce wood will work. However, you should glaze it multiple times.

Wood that is impregnated green should not be used in any case. When using screws, it’s important to ensure that they remain rust-free. Stainless steel screws or hot-dip galvanized screws will be suitable for the task. You should also always keep in mind how and to what extent the materials used are subjected to stress.

Safety as a decisive factor

Safety should be the top priority at all times during this project, whether that’s during construction, which will most probably take place above ground, or afterwards, when children use the treehouse to play.

What safety measures should be taken into account when building the treehouse?

Since the house is located in a tree and children will play relatively high up, it is essential to take a few things into account when building the treehouse. To prevent your child from falling from the treehouse if they take the wrong step, you should attach a railing to the platform and make sure that it is well secured. Do not under any circumstances prioritise saving on materials. This may reduce costs, but your child's safety while playing is worth more than cheap wood. You should first think about what the railing you want to build should look like. It should be high enough that a child cannot climb over it easily. The long planks, which act as rods, should be placed close enough together that it’s not possible to stick your head through them.

How do I get to the tree?

A treehouse is always built at a certain height. Getting to that height is your first goal. Uneven ground can quickly become a frustrating problem, and a simple ladder leaning against the tree will not be able to meet your requirements. A stable ladder that stands firmly on any ground and overcomes unevenness is needed. If you need more space, a scaffold wouldn’t be a bad idea either. HAILO has just the right product for you. Whether it's a multi-functional scaffolding that combines scaffolding and ladder, or a sure-footed rung ladder for stable support at great heights - you can rely on us when building your treehouse! Whether you're planning on building a large or small treehouse for your garden: with HAILO, the realisation of your dream can begin!

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