Everyone knows a tree that’s begging for a treehouse. Pete’s dream tree lived at his parents country house in Western NY. He decided that it was time to act on the dream once I began to disassemble the existing deck that was on the back of my house, as I had a lot of extra lumber laying around — little handy-girl was going to get her own fantastic recycled treehouse using the scrap lumber from my demo project! The tree he had in mind was blessed with 5 strong branches growing outward, and after doing some quick sketches and measurements, we figured that this was something we could do ourselves (with his parent’s help and permission of course).
The first thing he planned to do was to cut one of the 5 branches down to serve as a base underneath the main platform. Once that was down, we could really begin to identify and mark where the other branches would have to be notched to support girders and joists (note: each branch was very thick and healthy – we wouldn’t have notched into them if we couldn’t rely on their strength). The girders sit snuggly in the shallow notches, and were then nailed and bolted into the tree.We decided early on to try and cantilever one edge of the treehouse (cool balcony) and because none of the deckboards I had salvaged were long enough, his parents sacrificed an old swing set to serve as essential framing.
The joists of the treehouse base went up just like the joists on the deck were installed – the hangers supported many recycled 2×6 boards, and created a solid and level (very solid, and very level) frame that would come to support the floorboards.
The old deck on the back of my house had been stained red, a color which neither of us really liked… so when it came to laying the new floor on the treehouse frame, we decided to use the un-stained underside of the floorboards. Many of the boards went on effortlessly (custom cut by Pete), but the edge at one edge required quite a bit of extra work in order to make sure the floorboards were properly secured to the joists. In the end, it really turned out looking beautiful.
Building the ladder and handrails were our last steps – the railing posts and rails were easy – all materials were reused from the railings on my old deck. The ladder was also a quick afternoon project, although I must point out that we did buy new lumber for it because we didn’t have scraps that were the correct length. The ladder is secured to the tree, the treehouse, and positioned soundly on a level cement step in the grass.
It turned out nicer than I could have imagined – it’s very solid (not only able to hold handy-girl, but many adults could fit up there as well). The final structure measures 10-feet off the ground, and is 12′ long, end to end. The width of the balcony end is 8′, and the other end is 6′ wide, meaning that the total size of the treehouse is about 84-square-feet. Not shabby.