Building a Treehouse

You may not have realised just how versatile a treehouse in your garden can be. For children, they provide fantasy and adventure playhouses.

For adults, a treehouse offers relaxation and escape from the pressures of the day. If your garden is blessed with the right kind of tree, designing and building a treehouse is well within any budget. And if your budget can handle it, the sky’s the limit.

Finding a Location and Constructing a Treehouse

Of course the first thing you need for a treehouse is a suitable tree in your garden. Large mature ash, oak and elm trees are generally considered the best trees for a treehouse, as they are hardwood and strong. Trees should be strong enough and they must be healthy.

Treehouse construction ranges from rustic utilitarian using reclaimed materials to fully equipped summerhouses with furnishings and electricity.

Self-built treehouses for children may be constructed largely of materials found around the garden or in the neighbourhood. Storage areas and garden sheds can be treasure troves for treehouse construction. Fully developed adult treehouses often include amenities like electricity and running water.

One option you have is to self build. You can find a wide variety of tree house plans online. Of course, no two treehouses will be identical because no two trees are the same. However, all treehouses share certain fundamentals that will make the building job easier and the end result more satisfactory.

So by studying available plans and adapting them to your particular situation, you can avoid the need for trial and error learning. Also, if you have a chance to talk to someone who’s already built a treehouse, you can probably pick up some good pointers, or at least find out what they would have done differently.

If your treehouse desires go beyond your DIY capabilities, you can hire one of several bespoke treehouse builders.

These companies offer a full range of services, including site survey, design, 3D rendering of various design options, and construction.These providers report that about half of their projects are designed specifically for adults. Decks for relaxing in the trees are popular with adult customers.

Regulations for Treehouses

A traditional treehouse is normally considered a temporary structure for planning purposes. Therefore, in most cases, you won’t need to get planning permission before building one. If you live in a conservation area, or if your proposed treehouse is quite close to a neighbour or a public highway, you might want to check just to be certain.

Keep in mind that the more amenities you add to your treehouse, the more difficult it will be to sell the “temporary” label. You also might be concerned about a tree preservation order. Fortunately, as long as you are not cutting off branches or felling a tree, you should be fine.

When properly designed and built, these tree-supported playhouses are quite safe. Some of the greatest danger of accidents comes during construction, so make sure that you or workers you hire are well-versed in proper procedures.

If you opt for windows overlooking the garden, make sure to use poly-carbonate instead of glass. Using screws instead of nails for fastening will increase the strength of the wood joints. Make sure any open decks include railings.

A garden hideaway nestled in the trees is a fanciful place for children and adults. With good planning and a healthy dose of creativity, you can construct a floating summerhouse that will provide enjoyment for many years.

Planning Permission – Reader’s Comment

One of our readers is a planning enforcement officer and has sent the following comment: “The reference to ‘temporary structure’ is erroneous in terms of planning permission. Whether it’s temporary or permanent doesn’t have any effect under the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) 2008. Under new planning rules for domestic buildings in gardens, all tree houses ‘appear’ to need planning permission. See Class E.1 (in Part1).