Homemade, recycled treehouse, part 1

I’ve been meaning to post about the boys’ treehouse ever since we got started near the beginning of the summer. After much talking about it, we finally identified the perfect spot, nestled between two poplar trees by the creek and our berry shack. We needed a third post for the treefort design that we had in mind, and my husband – ever thrifty and on top of things – said “there is a dead tree on the ground by the pond that should do just fine”.

He was right; the fallen tree trunk was sound and just needed its bark scraping off before we could cut a clean nine-foot length from it. No pictures from that day, but it was a four-person effort and everyone in the family got their turn at one end of the crosscut saw. That saw itself is a great bit of recycling; we purchased the old saw at a local antiques barn for a song and it works a treat. Two-person sawing is one of my favourite newest discoveries. So, third tree trunk: check.

Then we had to figure out how to get the sucker about 250 metres from our pond to the treefort site. It took a bit of wrangling, but we got it tied up and balanced off the back of the little trailer that our ride-on mower pulls and off my husband went, sl-ow-ly. The back of the trailer was completely bent out of shape by the time he arrived, but it was a successful mission and he cheerfully banged the frame of the trailer back into shape.

Next up: hole digging.

Digging a post hole for a treehouse
We planned to dig a hole three feet deep, but the clay was so incredibly dry and compacted that we stopped at 30 inches. This is my oldest son trying not to disappear into the hole as it became deeper millimetre by millimetre.

Raising a post for a tree house
Raising the post was probably more nerve-racking for us than it needed to be, but the tree trunk was incredibly dense and heavy and we had no previous experience with erecting totem poles or suchlike! "Stand back kids!"

Raising a third post for a tree-house using two trees and an additional post
Phew!

Boy hugging a tree
Apparently we have tree-huggers in our family.

Installing a supporting beam in a treefort design
This photo reminds me of how incredibly tall my oldest has suddenly become. Not only does he have the biggest feet in the family, but he's about to outstrip both parents in height. Anyway, here he is helping to install a cross-beam once the post was safely in place.

Young boy using a level on a supporting beam of a tree house
Making sure the beam is level.

Pouring concrete into a post hole for a treefort
Then it was time to pour concrete mix and water into the hole (and gently stir).

Tamping down concrete around a post hole for a treehouse
Wearing just your socks is quite comfortable when it comes time to tamp down the concrete.

Young boy smoothing concrete around a post for a tree house
Smoothing the concrete around the post.

Post installation for a tree house
Surveying the day's work.

Since these photos were taken we have:
– installed all three supporting beams on the base triangular structure
– built and installed a (square) platform, including a small “porch” footprint or entry area
– framed the structure of the tree-house, including a dormer window on the southern side, a regular window on the western side, and two horizontally placed french doors (southern and northern sides) for lots of light
– nailed hardboard over the rough platform floor
– installed screens in several windows

Still to do:
– install the roof
– install walls
– “skin” the treehouse walls in scrap metal (the boys are thrilled that the finished treefort will look more like a bunker and it will mean that we don’t have to stain or paint the walls)
– finish installing mesh screen on several window openings
– build and install a door
– find and install a slide on the “exit” side of the entrance porch
– build and install rope-handled stairs on the “entrance” side of the entrance porch

What I really like about this project is how much recycled and repurposed material we’ve been able to use, including:
– dead tree trunk for the third post
– scrap lumber left over from our own house construction plus some donated by our builder from his own supplies
– scrap nails, screws and hardware from our house construction
– two old, peeling french doors (given to us years ago by a neighbour in the building trades – thanks again Phred!)
– two second-hand windows found for $15 a piece at a local antiques shop
– scrap metal of various types sourced from one of the junk heaps on our land (ie inherited junk)

Part 2 coming soon.

3 thoughts on “Homemade, recycled treehouse, part 1

  1. What a great family project – my kids would be so envious – we never did build a tree house as all our trees are so old and decrepit, it would have been dangerous – when it finally occurred to us to build a fort around a tree, as in last year, they told us they were too old. Sigh. I’m not….
    Looking forward to part 2!

    1. The one thing I’ve learned as our family has moved through the years (I’d like to say I’ve more, but I’m a bit slow!), is that you can’t do more than a fraction of the things you’d like to do, and that you have to be making choices all the time. I look at other families who do things that I wish we had time for, and then I realize that we do well with our choices as they suit us. Your family life sounds lovely and very balanced and I bet you missed out on the treefort experience for good reasons. If you haven’t outgrown the idea, though, I’d highly recommend building one anyway! I had no idea how much I’d love having it as a destination, even when my kids are off doing other things 🙂 Thanks for the kind words!

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