How to Build a Treehouse

DIY tips for creating your own treehouse from expert treehouse builder John Carberry.

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

Photo By: Image courtesy of John Carberry, Peacemaker Treehouses

It Starts With a Tree

This collection of black willow trees seemed like the perfect location to builder John Carberry's clients, and it was. When scouting the location for your own, look for a tree that affords good spaces, then call an arborist to make sure it's healthy and able to bear the weight of a treehouse.

Out On a Limb

Something has to attach everything to the tree and treehouse builder John Carberry recommends the Garnier Limb, which "minimizes tree damage, maximizes load safety and let's the whole thing move and grow they way it will, because it's a living foundation."

Foundation Studies

This foundation is approximately 15 feet off the ground and was installed from a ladder. If you plan to go higher, consider scaffolding and climbing ropes.

Going Up!

The Garnier Limbs are in, the beams are on, the foundation is in place and now it's time to lay down the deck. This is a standard elevated deck, perfect for DIY builders.

Safety First

In the interest of safety, install a rail to enclose the open areas, and be sure to check the industry codes for rail height.

Get It Together

Back to the drawing board: Where will your walls and windows go? Draw them out then build them as near to the treehouse as possible. Consider the thickness of each wall and, if you're confused about an intersection point, figure it out before you cut wood to fit. "Erasers are cheaper than two-by-fours," treehouse builder John Carberry says.

Lift Off

You've planned. You've drawn. You've cut. You've been to the hardware store countless numbers of times. But this is the day when your treehouse will start to look like a treehouse. If the platform is low, use a ladder—and a few friends—to get everything up in the tree. If it's higher, builder John Carberry recommends renting a construction lift.

Raise the Roof

Get ready to raise the roof, and we don't mean celebrating just yet. "Given how much they weigh, and that they need to be waterproof, it's really hard to pre-fab a roof," builder John Carberry says. "You'll likely have to do it the old-fashioned way: one stick and one shingle at a time."

Done Deal

Though this 240-square-foot structure complete with sleeping loft was the end of John Carberry's job, it was the beginning of many happy times for his clients' children, a pair of sisters with their own space to write and create.