Building a treehouse is an interesting undertaking. You have to have a solid understanding of some basic carpentry skills, but still feel like a kid enough to want to build a treehouse. I’m sure most of my friends and family would easily agree that I act like a kid more than just feel like one, so that part was easy. Buying the plans, gathering the correct hardware, rounding up the massive tools and then forging ahead can be intimidating. Hopefully my process and findings can help you in your journey to build your own treehouse.
The treehouse has had a resurgence thanks to Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet. Pete Nelson, of Nelson Treehouse and Supply, is a cooky dude and I love him for it. Their show is a joy to watch for me for multiple reasons, but watching new treehouses get built weekly is certainly the best part.
I have always enjoyed building things. My wife calls me handy and I peruse Google for fun DIY building plans. I then build stuff for us, as gifts or just to sell for a few bucks on the Internet. That knowledge was a huge help while building the treehouse. When working on a project where you are venturing into new territory, you have to rely on your problem solving skills more than anything else. You may have never mounted a TAB before into a tree, but you’ve seen it done a few dozen times on TV or YouTube. You have to have enough confidence in yourself to take that knowledge and then implement it on your own tree. If you’re ok trusting yourself with tasks like that, then why not build a treehouse for yourself!
Where Did I Start
I started with a lot of research. I read books, I read blog posts, I watched way too many YouTube videos and then I finally bought a plan. I knew I would be altering the plan, but I wanted to have a generic plan to work with to make sure the base for what I was building was solid.
Knowing I was going to use a single tree, and that I didn’t want to have extra posts for support, I googled around for single tree treehouse plans. The closest I found to what I wanted was in the Marblemount, on Nelson Treehouse. A nice general platform that used two TABs and four knee braces. Sounds easy, right.
After ordering the plans and studying those more than I ever studied anything in college, I knew it was time to buy hardware. Per the plan, I need two TABs and four knee braces. Being my first attempt at building a treehouse, I wanted to use the proper hardware for the job. The hardware on Nelson Treehouse is CRAZY expensive compared to other sites. Supply and Demand though, the guy has a TV show and his name means treehouse. After some googling, I found Treehouse Supplies. Right on their homepage is a call to action for Treehouse Kits. My search quickly came to an end.
The marblemount is a hexagon platform, exactly what Treehouse Supply was selling a kit for; I had found a winner. This kit came with everything I would need to mount on the tree to make a treehouse platform. They also rent the bits you will need that work with this exact kit. Very handy for those of us who only want to build a single treehouse in a 5-10 year span. If you haven’t realized it yet though, these kits are not cheap. I spent just under $1,000 on the kit and the rental of the bits. The cost of the other materials will be further below.
Acquiring the treehouse hardware is a big step, but there are specific tools you’ll need to get the job done properly and safely. For measuring out the opposite facing TABs, you’ll need a water level. You can buy one or make one, I made one from some tubing. Drilling the holes into your tree will require a massive high torque drill. On a lot of readings, the Milwaukee Hole-Hawg Heavy Duty Drill (½ in & 7.5 amp) had a lot of praise for price and quality. I purchased this without the case from Home Depot. Once the holes are drilled, you need to tighten the huge lag bolts and nuts into place. I did this with the largest crescent wrench I have ever seen in my life. Though it’s huge, I still had to use a cheater bar on it at times to tighten the bolts to fully sink into position.