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Play house/tree house?
Old 12-14-2011, 02:25 PM   #1
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Play house/tree house?

My olde daughter has been campaigning for a tree house or play house in the back yard. I feel free to ignore this, but I was wondering if there is a way to do this for a small amount of money. Obviously I could just buy one, but they are surprisingly expensive. I looked into kits, but these seem to be quite elaborate and expensive. My carpentry skills can best be described as somewhere between "non-existant" to "rudimentary" but hey, I have a graduate degree and letters after my name how hard can it be? Any suggestions on how to plan and build something for cheap?
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:30 PM   #2
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I've built several tree houses over the years, from scraps and leftovers and a couple of inexpensive sheets of plywood and a few long 2x6s.
Do you have a suitable tree for a platform? Important to anchor it to the tree with something that will allow continued growth of the tree.
One thing is that our tree houses (designed and built by and for adults) have been pretty high off the ground. Safety concerns?
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:32 PM   #3
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I don't have a suitable tree, so this is definately going to be on the ground.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:47 PM   #4
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This materials list & instructions seemed to be pretty simple and cheap.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-log-cabin-Playhouse-for-under-$300/

We've always just built stuff without a real plan, making it up as we go, but I could see how having a list of supplies might be helpful. I wouldn't bother with anything for a foundation like gravel, but would find a level spot and tamp it down a bit. And I'd paint it rather than stain it, depending on what sort of fence panels I found cheapest.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:54 PM   #5
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Thanks, Sarah. That looks like something I might be able to do with some help.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:45 PM   #6
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You could possibly look on Craiglist for a used Rainbow playhouse. They are generally well made and durable (we had one for several years for our kids) but can often be acquired used as kids outgrow them.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:28 AM   #7
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IME, parents get/build playhouses and the kids play in them about two weeks. Then the thing sits there for 20 years before they take it down (about time for the grandkids to come play on it!). And some are an eye-sore.

And not to get too 'nanny-sate' here, but safety is an issue. I recall looking into building one, and was surprised at all the guidelines they gave in some articles. Things I never would have thought of. One I recall was avoiding having a brace angle in such a way that a kid could get caught where the braces come together (think of the top open angle in a capital letter "K"). A kid climbs, falls, catches their arm/leg/head in there and it gets caught/twisted, and you've got a trip to the ER (or worse). IIRC, they would fill those open angles with a piece of plywood or something, to avoid a pinch-point.


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Old 12-15-2011, 02:05 PM   #8
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How about using simple PVC pipe with connectors to make an upright frame, and using tarps or sheets of opaque plastic for the sides? It would be a good exercise for your daughter to learn how to design, sketch out, make a list of parts needed, and assemble things together from basic pieces of material.
If the ground is damp, use a common plastic tarp for the "floor".
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Old 12-16-2011, 07:38 AM   #9
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Why not use a tent?
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:15 AM   #10
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Since you don't have a tree I would suggest a sunflower house. Sunflowers are really easy to grow, as is corn. Back in the day, we thought about doing this but ended up planting bamboo instead. The kids loved to play in the bamboo, which got to be over 18 feet tall in only a couple of years. The problem with bamboo is that it kind of takes over if you don't keep it confined. And it's really hard to get rid of.
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