Treehouses are beautiful additions to a home both for young children and adults to have memorable fun away from the house. Treehouses serve a variety of functions aside from recreation, even as far as deputizing as office spaces. Your kids, especially, will be eternally grateful to you for this amazing facility.
The ideal treehouse is beautiful, safe, and durable. The common wood used includes cedar, maple, and beech. When properly constructed, a treehouse can last decades. Also, the tree itself should be protected from the resultant damage from the construction.
Building an adorable treehouse is more than having an artistic eye. This involves the right choice of material and tree, smart budgeting, and weight capacity. Many are also curious about the taxability of treehouses, that standard life span, and if it will add value to their home. Let us learn everything you need to know about having that stunning treehouse that is equally safe and durable.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Treehouse?
The design of your treehouse majorly determines the cost of the treehouse. If you want comprehensive and luxurious designs, you can spend as high as $235,000.
However, there are far more basic and simplistic treehouses which would cost you around $7,000.
Kid treehouses on an average cost anywhere from $7,500 to $14,500. Moving up, you can get more posh treehouses ranging from $27,000 to $58,000. This type of treehouses is residential.
Anyway, if you want a high-class residential or commercial treehouses (furnished with your typical home accessories), you can spend as much as $260,000.
Many factors contribute to the design of your treehouse. Typically the height of the treehouse from the ground, the grade of materials deployed in the finishing the size of the treehouse, electrical costs as well as the septic facilities affect the design.
How Long Does it Take to Build a Treehouse?
The design, function, and size of the treehouse equally determine the time exhausted in the construction. If you are going for the simple treehouse design just for your kids, you should spend 5 days averagely. This can even take as quick as 2 days.
For more complex designs which would feature more comprehensive accessories like rope bridges (or even more than one treehouse platform), or generally treehouses with a significant height from the ground, you can spend a month on the building averagely. For fully residential treehouses or commercial treehouses, you can spend 8 months – 1 year in the building.
What is the Best Type of Tree to Build a Treehouse in?
The right choice of tree support for your treehouse not only contributes to its durability, but it also determines how sturdy and strong your treehouse is.
The support of the treehouse should be built from mature wood (which can be coniferous or deciduous). There are many excellent options like hemlock, oak, ash, cedar, beech, and ash.
Deciduous woods are structurally stronger than their coniferous counterparts. Coniferous woods have more rapid growth than deciduous woods; they have lesser density than deciduous woods as well. Deciduous woods are therefore recommended for treehouse construction.
Oak, cedar, and beech are the favorite options. These woods have more resilience to weather elements. Such density and strength are invaluable, given that you would be drilling bolts into your treehouse to aid its stability.
Do Treehouses Need Permits?
This is majorly dependent on the jurisdiction of the area where you are building your treehouse. Most non-permanent structures don’t require permits before they are constructed.
If you are building a simple treehouse possibly for a kid, such small treehouses will unlikely need a permit.
For bigger or more comprehensive treehouses, like the commercial and fully residential treehouses, you may need a permit to build such.
Can You Legally Live in a Treehouse?
To legally live in a treehouse, you need approval from the local authorities. This will ascertain the conduciveness and safety of the treehouse for sustainable human habitation. These authorities will also determine if the treehouse is within the legal perimeters allocated to you.
Nonetheless, so long you have ownership rights to the land on which your treehouse is built (or you have express approval from the landowner or owner of the treehouse), you can legally dwell in the treehouse.
What is a Good Size for a Treehouse?
The size of your treehouse depends not only on the purpose (what you are using it for) and what load capacity it will be accommodating, but also the size of the tree and its placement on the tree.
For your simple kid treehouse, the tree can have a trunk radius of 6″ in the case you are using a single tree. This kind of treehouse can be around 8’x8′.
If you will use multiple trees for the support of your treehouse, then the diameter doesn’t have to be that much. Also, if you are using deciduous trees that are naturally denser, they can support heavier loads even with lesser trunk radius.
How High Should a Treehouse Be?
The height of the treehouse directly affects the safety of the treehouse. Agreed, there are frequent cases of falling from treehouses. Of course, such falls can be hazardous, especially for little ones. This explains why it is advised that treehouses for kids shouldn’t be too elevated from the ground.
If your treehouses are built for adults, the height isn’t too consequential. But for that fun adventure treehouse for your kids, the treehouse should have a maximum height of 6 ft above the ground.
How Much Weight Can a Treehouse Hold?
The ideal weight capacity of a treehouse design should have many times the weight it should hold. The weight capacity of your treehouse should not only accommodate the live loading weight of the people that will be in the treehouse, it should also account for the dead weight.
The weight a treehouse can hold also depends on the type of tree in terms of its strength. A treehouse should ideally hold more than 20,000 pounds of weight if there is an even distribution of the load on the treehouse.
For the treehouse to be able to take on more load, it should be fitted with diagonal bracing. Such bracing goes a long way in enhancing the support for uneven loads. Also, strive to obtain maximum proximity of the platform of the treehouse to the tree’s trunk.
It is ideal to level the central platform when building majorly on one trunk. This can be achieved by supporting the beams and cantilevering them.
Putting the load on one side of the tree is improper and would affect the long term stability of your treehouse. The load should be distributed evenly over the tree’s base. If you are building really heavy treehouses, then it would be more optimal to spread the weight of your treehouse across at least two trees.
What is the Best Wood to Use for a Treehouse?
Western cedar and cypress are undoubtedly two of the best wood types to use for your treehouse. You can also use sequoia and eastern cedar. These wood types are inherently resistant to rot and can weather several climate types. This gives you that necessary longevity for your treehouse.
Note that the type of wood you use for your treehouse depends on the section of the treehouse you are using it for. Typically for the walls, boards made from red heartwood of eastern cedar or eastern cedar is fine. This is durable and weather resistant.
Nonetheless, boards are vulnerable to expansion and retraction. This can be suppressed by overlapping the boards.
For framing, you don’t need much wood density so as to reduce the stress on the treehouse. Your regular lumber is just beautiful for the frame. You can go for two-by-three lumber or choose two-by-two lumbers.
What Should I Use for the Treehouse Floor?
For the flooring, exterior plywood is a great option. Plywood has enhanced resistance to moisture, twisting, and dampness. This plywood can be made from cypress. The disadvantage, however, is that you wouldn’t get much drainage or ventilation from plywood.
With this in mind, reduce the possibility of water collecting in unroofed areas of your treehouse. This will make it more durable.
What Do You Do in a Treehouse?
There is this traditional conception that treehouses are just kid play stuff. However, contemporary treehouse designs are becoming far more comprehensive. Treehouses can now perform a wide berth of functions as there is just so much you can do in your treehouse.
Let us explore some exciting unorthodox things you can do in your treehouse today.
- Do you know you can have a treehouse kitchen?
Yes, you can build a fully functional kitchen up there in a tree in the form of a treehouse! The design can be made expansive to fit all the necessary equipment you have in your standard home kitchen. You can try out those tasty recipes up there in your treehouse.
- You can have those memorable social gatherings in your treehouse
Looking for an out-of-the-box solution for hosting your gatherings? Your treehouse can be that ideal social gathering resort. You and your peers can hang out and have all the fun in the air!
This treehouse can be furnished with entertainment features like electronics, sound speakers, or even fire pits for that perfect gathering.
You can enjoy some great meals and wine up there with your clique in your treehouse, creating eternal memories.
- How about a treetop office?
You may have not considered it, but your treehouse can also fill in as your mini office. You can fit your working facilities in your treehouse. This would involve furnishing your treehouse with an internet connection, ventilation and insulation, and electrical fittings. This can be the perfect inspiration when you appear mentally drained: working aerially!
Your treehouse can also be your studio.
Your treehouse can rightly deputize as your studio, giving you that perfect creative outlet. Being surrounded by trees, and closer to the whooshing wind and rustling leaves, inspiration shouldn’t be farther off to create those fantastic artworks.
You can also use your treehouse for yoga and other fitness functions. Medium fitness equipment can be loaded into a big residential treehouse with no worries. This is so long the structure and design are sturdy enough.
How Long Will a Treehouse Last?
The durability of your treehouse is dependent on the type of materials used, the strength of the support, your maintenance regimen as well as the weather conditions. If everything comes together perfectly, your treehouse should last at least 20 years.
Take note that your treehouse can last as briefly as 6 years if you don’t maintain it well, or if it is made from poor materials or even if weather conditions have been consistently extreme. Treehouses will not also be that durable if they are not mounted appropriately.
The material of the treehouse is paramount. Avoid going for the cheapest option and prioritize quality. Premium materials like pressure-treated pine, mahogany or cedar can last 15 years and more. Aside from the material makeup, your maintenance practice also matters.
Treehouses that are periodically maintained without failing last far longer. If possible, apply stain to the wood of your treehouse. This increases the resistance of your treehouse to insect invasion, erosion and UV rays. Your treehouse should be periodically sealed or stained. Staining every five years is fine and gives the wood durable protection.
Are Treehouses Taxable?
The taxability of treehouses depends on where it is built. In most localities and cities, treehouses are classified as non-permanent structures, just like your gazebos, sheds and pergolas. Hence they are not taxable.
In some regions, any structure without a foundation and less than 100 square feet is classified as temporary structures generally. In some other areas, you may be taxed if your treehouse has residential facilities like a toilet and kitchen.
Will a Treehouse Kill the Tree?
If your treehouse is properly built, it shouldn’t immensely damage the tree. Nonetheless, it is true that the treehouse will add more stress to the tree. This stress can be damaging. Some practices can help you limit the distress to the tree.
The bark is the most commonly hurt part of the tree. When building your treehouses, avoid removing significant amounts of bark from the tree. In general, desist from unnecessarily cutting off branches or slicing open the tree (ridding off the bark).
Such exposure makes the tree more vulnerable to disease infestation due to the absence of its protective cover, which is the bark. Puncturing the bark should be minimal.
Rather than having to puncture multiple holes with smaller bolts into the bark of the tree, it is safer to use just one big bolt. This reduces the damage done to the bark.
Ropes admittedly cause significant damage to the bark of the tree. In most cases, ropes kind of strangle the tree. This damage is amplified when the tree is growing or experience shifts. Use ropes as minimally as possible. It is preferable to go with bolts.
If you must use ropes in the design of your treehouse, put in place a structure to relieve the ropes. Taking them off say once in twelve-fourteen months can reduce the pressure on the tree, relieving the bark.
Are Treehouses Safe?
Cases of people falling from far above treehouses or treehouses collapse create a distortion that treehouses are unsafe. The safety of your treehouse depends on the materials used in the building, the height of the treehouse above the ground, the support and not forgetting, environmental conditions.
To improve the structural support of your treehouse (especially bigger treehouses) and make it safer, it is advisable to use stilts. Handles also reduce the frequency of accidents. These handles improve your aerial stability, sustaining your center of gravity.
It is risky to do without handles in your treehouses if you have stairs to climb to it. Handles are not just restricted to higher treehouses, even shorter treehouses (that are closer to the ground) need harnesses.
Also, rip-outs threaten the safety of your treehouses. The possibility of rip-out can be reduced using bigger screws, especially the RSS models.
Can You Build a Treehouse in a Dead Tree?
Yes, you can build a treehouse on a dead tree. However, this depends on the size of the treehouse you are building and the viability of the support of the dead tree. Dead trees have weaker trunks and may not be able to put up with the loading of bigger treehouses.
If you are going to build big treehouses on a dead tree, you may want to use other living redwoods to back the anchoring up. When constructing tree houses on dead trees, stability is a major concern.
This can be assuaged by using lag screws or quality bolts. Additionally, platform support could be needed. Tying 4×4 posts to the floor joists can achieve such support.
Can You Drill a Hole Through a Tree without Killing It?
Drilling holes into trees, if done indiscriminately, can no doubt kill the tree. Trees don’t boast the same regenerative properties animals, which enable the latter to heal.
When trees are damaged by extensive puncturing of holes from drilling, it compartmentalizes.
This way, the tree abandons that part of it that has been damaged from the drilling. It stops supplying nutrients to the damaged parts, dedicating the nutrients to the growth of the unhurt parts. Eventually, those parts of the tree which have been significantly drilled will die.
Compartmentalization can be reduced by reducing the drilling on a tree in terms of the number of punctured holes. Try to use as minimal screws and bolts as possible. Agreed, drilling is a necessity. However, the punctured holes should be sparse and well-spaced.
This reduces the concentration of the holes and the consequent intensity of the damage from the drilled holes on the tree. If it is possible, strive for a 12″ spacing between punctured holes (both vertically and horizontally).
Does a Treehouse Add Value to a Home?
The truth is that your treehouse will not directly affect the value of your home. But just like other non-permanent structures like backyard sheds and pergolas, a treehouse will make your property more attractive to a particular class of prospective buyers.
Families with younger kids would be more attracted to your home because of the treehouse. Of course, they know their kids will love them. On the other hand, some parents may not be too comfortable with the heights of the treehouse based on the safety of their kids.
Others are worried about the possible maintenance rigors that come with treehouses. Nevertheless, if your treehouse is attractive and in good health structurally, then it should make your home more compelling to younger families. Note that this will not necessarily prop up the value of your home.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare