A treehouse is one of the pure joys of childhood. If you're fortunate enough to have mature trees in which you could build a fort, castle, laboratory or space station, here are some tips to help you get started.
Assemble on the ground
If you want your treehouse to have clean, square lines and a symmetrical finish, assembling it overhead might not be the best solution. If you want to make sure you have all of your walls plumb and the flooring level, it's a good idea to construct your treehouse on the ground. Once it is assembled, it's time to take it all apart again for fitting in the tree.
For lifting wall or roof panels, or even just heavy timber, a block and tackle set up is a great idea to ease the strain of heavy loads.
Trees are sturdy things, but without the proper support your treehouse could be leaning all over the place, or worse yet, collapsing. Using solid fasteners to secure decking is essential. Look at large stainless steel bolts and an appropriate fastening tool, rather than a nail gun for this - although one of these is essential for putting together your framing.
Aside from securing the deck in a cantilevered fashion, add some bracing. Go diagonally from the edge of the deck to the trunk of the tree in three or four different spots to create a really solid and stable platform - especially with the added weight of walls. Use a compound mitre saw to achieve 45-degree cuts for bracing ends.
Spread the load as well - if you're able to. It would be wise to build your platform between two or more trees, or even add in extra supports.
Allow for growth
When you assemble your treehouse, remember that the life of the tree dictates how long your treehouse will stand. Try and cut into the tree as little as possible, while allowing for solid construction and fastening. Every time the bark is broken off, another area is created that could be susceptible to bacteria or disease, which could fell a big tree quicker than you think.
Include the kids
If you ever had the good fortune to construct your own tree fort when you were a kid, you'll know that building it was half the fun. It's important to remember that your kids will also want this experience. Although your design may be a bit more complicated than it was 20 or 30 years ago, involving the kids in the process and considering their input will help them to enjoy the treehouse more when it is built - and treasure the memory of building it for a lifetime.