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        DIY treehouse for a beginner Sign In/Join 
        posted
        My children would like me to make a treehouse for them. I am not a woodworker but I've been doing more DIY things lately so this pumps me up a bit. The question is - is this something worth trying as a DIY thing. I'd like *detailed* instructions and some library books I have flipped so far on this topic seem to make a lot of assumptions about the expertise of the builder. Are there books that explain how to build a treehouse from a beginners perspective - gory details and lots of diagrams etc.

        Thanks !
        Photobuddy
         
        Posts: 5 | Registered: Jan 02, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Posts: 1756 | Location: Applachain | Registered: Feb 27, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of joecaption
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        A tree house is nothing more then a deck with a shed built on top of it.
        I have built many a tree house when I was a kid, there was not a job site for miles around with any left over wood when we showed up. lol
        It can be a fun project to get the kids involved in so you all can learn something they can use in real life later on.
        The princibles used in building it can be applyed when building a shed, closit, or even a whole house.


        joecaption
         
        Posts: 18026 | Location: Hartfield VA | Registered: Jan 31, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Be careful if you live in a neighborhood with an association. They generally frown on this type of thing. We built many a forts/treehouses as kids as it appears Joe did as well. Wood scrap piles at construction sites were a favorite source of supplies, no adult supervision required. We also never built them on our own property, we'd find an out of the way place to build it. Probably a lot tougher to do today.


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 726 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        the good stuff tends to disappear as well. when I was a kid, back when there were 17 letters in the alphabet and algebra was solve for "A", about a mile down the road during the transition from flax field to housing development, a bunch of kids stole plywood and 2x4 and made a huge network of caves. buddy and I rode down a few times to play around. the last time, we got stomped by the constructors.

        dad bought a little playhouse when I was closing in on the teens, and I added a lean-to and then a second story to it. little shaky in the wind, but good enough to pull yourself up.

        along the lakeshores there are some really bodacious tree houses, built like they were architected and inspected. they've been up 20+ years.

        grin when I see one of 'em.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: swschrad,


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5734 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of eric_hern
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        Make it a group project..with the kids!


        I'm a drywaller not a plumber. Leave it to me, most kitchen repair jobs should be left to the pros.
         
        Posts: 7 | Location: Bethesda, Maryland | Registered: Apr 02, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of lesliemorris85
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        This brings back a lot of happy memories. Smile

        Like what everyone said, there is really no difference in principle when it comes to building a tree house. Build as you would a real house: make it sturdy and safe yet comfortable too. Involve the kids, ask them for design ideas and preferences, then use your structural and DIY knowledge to transform their imagination into reality and see those priceless smiles on their faces. Good luck!

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: lesliemorris85,
         
        Posts: 15 | Location: Dallas, Texas USA | Registered: Jan 21, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of JJFerrero
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        On January 28, 2012 I started to build my very first tree house and I am not a "wood worker". It is now 10/24/13 (I'll let you do the math as to how long I have been building) and you can see with the fall leaves down, what has been done.

        To get a better idea of scale (so far):
        The car is just over 16 feet long, (yes, it is a real car - 1946 Triumph 1800 Saloon (right hand drive) automobile.

        From the front of the car to the back of the castle is over a 100 feet,

        From the top of the steeple on the church to the ground is 32 feet, and it is over 40 feet wide!!

        If you would like to see more, google me under "Tree Creations in Geneseo".

        I have so much to say, I could write for days (be it the car, or the elevator I am building for people to ride up into the trees, or any of the details I am adding, etc) so feel free to ask me anything, and I can tell you how I have done it as a new guy just getting into tree house construction.

        Best,

        ~Joe Ferrero
        Geneseo, NY[FLASH_VIDEO] [/FLASH_VIDEO]

        photo of my children's back yard playground
         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Oh, I forgot to mention, We have the "Car de Triumph", the veranda, the village square, the tea room, the wizard's den, the Margrose Castle, and the church (non denominational of course).... and these are the tree houses so far (with lots more planned - such as an observatory and a music room (where I am building a tunable / playable pipe organ to be one of the instruments in the music room, and others) - this is just the beginning and if you are ever in Geneseo, NY stop by and lets play!

        Best,

        ~Joe
         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        JJ - I hardly know where to begin.

        Comment #1: OMG!!! That has got to be the most fantastic "tree house" that I have ever seen.

        Comment(s) #2 Do you have kids? Is this for their use? What do they think of it?

        Comment #3 You have way too much time and money on your hands.

        Comment #4 Referring to comment #3 above - If building that makes you happy, keep on building!

        Comment #5 What do your neighbors think?

        Comment #6 If that can be seen from the road, I guess it's really easy to give directions to your house.

        Comment #7 I am saddened that it's doubtful that I'll be traveling to Geneseo, NY. But if I ever head that way I'll look you up.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jaybee,


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10314 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
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        Wow! That's more than a tree house, it's a tree village, or at least the start of it.

        I'm curious...how did this village morph into a complex creation from its start as a tree house?

        Do you decorate it for Christmas? I imagine it would be the star attraction for miles around.

        What did you use to support the Triumph? I see some large pillars beneath the platform.

        And on a curious but practical note, were you able to get your HO insurance increased to cover this? I would think it's worth quite a bit and should be insured.

        I'm really speechless at the complexity and diversification of your creation.

        Edited to add that I've just spent some time on your website and discovered the Fairy Garden. As a gardener, I just love it!

        Now, I have a special request: could you update The Complex section with a photo comparable to the one in the post so I can refer some gardening friends to view it?

        Thanks for sharing!

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1914 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of JJFerrero
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        Hi Jaybee and GardenSprite,

        First, I am sorry - this is a long one.

        There are a lot of questions and I am new to this (and a slow typer) so I will try to address each question one by one! Smile

        Comment #1: OMG!!! That has got to be the most fantastic "tree house" that I have ever seen.

        Thanks. I still have plans for a bunch more, but it will take some time. (I'll elaborate a little later on)

        Comment(s) #2 Do you have kids? Is this for their use? What do they think of it?

        I have two children (ages 6 and 4). This is their "backyard playground." My wife and I are just inviting the world over for a "play date." Our kids seem to love it! I honestly think they love meeting new people / new friends... otherwise, it is like living next to Niagara Falls. If it is always there, you often take it for granted, but when you visit it is an awesome sight!

        Comment #3 You have way too much time and money on your hands.

        Not really, but I have changed my focus in life a bit. (I'll explain a little more on this later as well)

        Comment #4 Referring to comment #3 above - If building that makes you happy, keep on building!

        I think there is a symbiosis going on here, People are happy from what I have created (so far), and I am happy making others happy too - So I guess, yes! Building thus makes me happy so I will (for as long as I am able).

        Comment #5 What do your neighbors think?

        Everything has been positive (so far). In the spring and at the start of the summer, I had the Castle and the Car in the air, and some pieces on the ground, but based on the slow speed of the cars going by, I believe the neighbors were kinda curious.

        There is a road near us that has adopted our home into their annual street party. This year there was more of a push to have the street party at our place, and I believe it was to get a closer look as to what it is that we have been building.

        At the end of August, we had the adults and children from the street in the trees and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
        (at least no complaints yet)

        Comment #6 If that can be seen from the road, I guess it's really easy to give directions to your house.

        We generally leave the headlights on, so often you can see the car from the road, but honestly, once the leaves are on, it is difficult to see everything. Smile


        I think this touched upon just about everything Jaybee had in his post, now for GardenSprite...

        Wow! That's more than a tree house, it's a tree village, or at least the start of it.

        I'm curious...how did this village morph into a complex creation from its start as a tree house?


        I started these Tree Creations in 2012 by accident. Really, there was an accident (this requires a bit of a back story).

        I was on the telephone when a freak accident happened and a projectile took the eyesight from my left eye. The doctor said I was about a half inch from being six feet under. Soon after, my oldest daughter had asked for a tree house after seeing one on television, and I had remembered a place I visited when I was in college that had some cool tree houses. So all of my future "grandfather projects" became "father projects" and I got to work.

        January 28, 2012 I started to build our castle themed tree house. While in construction, I went visiting my in-laws on Long Island (about 6.5 hours away - I am about an hour and a half from Niagara Falls)and we went to a museum of play with our children. We saw some car parts roughly in position of a car that kids were playing with, and the children seemed to be having a blast, so I looked at my wife, and we got the idea to put a car in the trees as a tree house.

        Once these two tree houses were underway, I got thinking of my own mortality and how I would be remembered when I'm gone. I am a Mechanical Engineer by trade, and most of what I have done will get filed away with little remembrance, (but a lot of the local towns people will remember the guy with a car in the trees!) That's when I realized how good the town has been to me and my family (I'm a 4th generation resident of Geneseo) so I wanted to give back to the community in my own special way.

        I decided to contact my inspiration for the tree houses (Maurice Barkley in Henrietta, NY) and invite him over for dinner. I wanted to let him know the positive result he and his tree houses had on my life. In our discussion, he said, "Joe, I am almost 80 years old and I cannot maintain my tree houses. I like what you are doing. Would you be willing to take on my tree houses?" I was honored, and my tree house complex tripled in size.

        We have been asked, "How do you pay for all of this?" Right now, all funding has been out of our own pockets. This is a private residence and technically, the tree houses are the playground for our children - we just would like to invite everyone over for a play date! We have been scrapping a few cars to gain money to help fund these tree houses. Metal scrapping, tree house maintenance, tree house building, grounds keeping, safety checking, etc becomes almost overwhelming at times, and family, friends and volunteers have come over and helped lighten the load. We also like to encourage volunteers to build, create, and try something that they would like to explore.

        My woodworking skills I acquired in my high school tech / shop class. Many of the volunteers that I get from today's college generation haven't seemed to been exposed to power tools. "In class, we were given toothpicks and told to build a bridge that will hold weight... and that's it." So this has been a way where I have been able to share some basic skills that these "kids" may use if they become a home owner one day.

        I guess the change in my life events have changed my look on my family, my community, and how I am able to do for others. Life's short - don't wait, do good now! (whatever your "good" may be).

        I couldn't do this without the support of my wife Heather, (not many women would allow an automobile in the trees).

        We have plans for many more tree houses in the future:

        We are working on a music themed tree house where we are building a pipe organ from scratch, as well as other instruments for inside the tree house for children to play.

        We are gathering parts and pieces for a pirate ship (where we acquired a 1957 Thompson speed boat and we will be doubling the length and triple the height to create the body of the ship, we will use telephone poles to help support the middle as well as double as masts for the ship, and then when kids "walk the plank" we would like them to hook onto a zip line and "zip" to a future "light house" at the end of roughly a 100 foot run.

        We are holding a "contest" for the best idea of how Galileo's Observatory would look, and we will try to build the winning design. This tree house design would have a walkway from the village square to the open southern sky to have a full, unobstructed view of the stars! This observatory would be of the "popsicle" variety (better known as supported by a post from underneath) so that we can get it a bit of distance from the tree branches that might get in the way.

        We also want to pay tribute to some of the community staples, like to our warplane museum by building a WWI Bi-plane tree house, a Train Depot tree house (in honor of our local park's depot), and more!

        The ideas keep coming from all sources, but it is for our kids, our family, our friends, and friends we don't even know we have yet.

        Do you decorate it for Christmas? I imagine it would be the star attraction for miles around.

        Well, last Christmas we had the car in the air and the structure of the castle up, but nothing else was up. This year, we have a lot more in the air, but it still isn't done yet... so I am not sure how this Christmas will go, but I hope maybe by next year we can be "cool"!

        What did you use to support the Triumph? I see some large pillars beneath the platform.

        Here, I was able to acquire telephone poles via Craigslist. I figured they are treated poles so I won't have to worry if a tree should ever become unhealthy and die (especially due to the size and mass of the car). Each pole is sunk into the ground below our "frost line" so they shouldn't shift from the cold, and the steel tubular cross frame of the vehicle is secured to each of the poles, as well as a wooden frame was constructed just below the car to insure the lack of shifting and movement on this structure.

        And on a curious but practical note, were you able to get your HO insurance increased to cover this? I would think it's worth quite a bit and should be insured.

        I am not sure how our homeowners policy works with the tree houses should they get damaged. In planning this project, we were more worried about visitors getting hurt (this is our backyard - our primary/only residence). We purchased a separate liability policy to protect ourselves, and we have visiting groups sign waivers for added protection. We try not to let the uncertainty interfere with our enjoyment of welcoming visitors.

        I'm really speechless at the complexity and diversification of your creation.

        Thank you. I try to work with what I have, and what I know, but a lot of the credit can go to my kids (for ideas). When I first started with the Castle, my daughters and I would sit at the kitchen table and talk and sketch what would be in a Castle, and how it would look, and so on. As a problem solver, I just wanted to see what I could do to make their ideas happen.

        Edited to add that I've just spent some time on your website and discovered the Fairy Garden. As a gardener, I just love it!

        Thank you! I am new to gardening as well! A friend of mine (Beth Nichols) just finished a degree in landscaping, and she has helped us out and done most of the creation with this one! She taught me that gardening is more than just putting a plant in the ground and letting mother nature do the rest... but you actually need to water the garden! I am still learning what plants are in my garden as well, because I have also been taught that not all plants like shady areas!! (go figure?!?!) We even have some carnivorous plants in the garden too! Over the winter we hope to be able to make a "garden map" that says what plants are in the garden and their locations (for those that may be looking beyond "the Fairy Tree".)

        Now, I have a special request: could you update The Complex section with a photo comparable to the one in the post so I can refer some gardening friends to view it?

        Sure! No problem! I notice that the programming format of the message board is an earlier programming style (where HTML is required to do things such as bold text, and picture file sizes are limited, etc) so it may slow the uploading process, but I will attempt to put pictures of both the tree houses and gardens on the page for anyone's viewing pleasure! (I am sorry that this may take up a lot of space, I would love to point to an album with a link - If I am allowed - but I am not yet sure how to get this permission since one of the rules of the forum was that we are not to post up websites, etc.)

        Thanks for sharing!

        The pleasure has been ours! (More photos to come!)
         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Here is a "way before" and a "mid point" (with the "after" photo as in the trees. This is A 1946 Triumph 1800 Saloon Renoun. According to the Triumph Club in England, This car is one of 14 left in the world and the only one in the United States. Since I can't get parts to restore to a driver, and since I have too many other car projects - it is better to be used in a tree than to be used for scrap.

        It now gets more attention than it ever would if it were on the road. Look for it in the trees, we actually leave the headlights on. Smile

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Here is the same tree line with leaves from about the same vantage point. When you view this from the road, you barely see the front fenders of the car and the headlights, while the leaves block the view of the wizard's den and the veranda.

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        As you go down our "yellow brick road", you come to a fork where our "Welcome Garden" resides, you can go to the left - our "high road" to the "Troll Bridge", or go to the right - our "low road", or "the road less traveled" where you see the start of the construction to our elevator shaft.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: JJFerrero,

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Here you can see a closer view of the Triumph in the air. Below, we hope to put a dinosaur garden - where we take the scientific puzzles that creates dinosaur skeletons, and enlarge the puzzle pieces on pressure treated plywood to create kid size dinosaurs.

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Behind the car you can see our "Veranda", a plesant place to read, play checkers, or enjoy a cup of coffee. To the photo's left, you can see some of the knots we tied in our rope bridges. Smile

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        The Veranda connects to our "village square", (just over 16'x20'). This Village Square has a place for adults to sit, a dumbwaiter, and is a central hub that will hold the entrance to our future observatory, our future music room, our tea room, our future "house of illumination", and the access point to our church tree house and the others that we are about to describe.

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Here are some of the other tree houses. You can see the Wizard taming the dragon on the outside of the wizard's den, (moving clockwise) you can see some of the church (which you can clearly see in my initial photo when the leaves were off of the trees), a portion of the village square (just prior to the railing being installed), and the lower (further back) blue tree house is our tea room, and our castle can be seen just behind the wizard's den.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: JJFerrero,

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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        Here is our tea room while it was being assembled in the trees from the inside looking out...

         
        Posts: 21 | Location: Geneseo, NY | Registered: Oct 24, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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