A backyard hideout is a childhood wonder. It’s a grown-up free haven where kids are free to call the shots. If you always dreamed of your own tree house as a child, consider fulfilling that wish by building one for your own kids.

Draft a Plan

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Crafting a plan is an absolute necessity. It’s much easier to do the actual work of building when you have set out a picture on paper first. Sketch a picture of what you want your tree house to look like, and keep the proportions even with how they’ll be in real life. Drawing out a visual helps you perfect the aesthetics, identify problem areas and turn your thoughts into a concrete reality. You can even build a 3D model.

The simplest tree house plans involve four straight walls and a flat roof, but some people prefer to shoot for a fancier design. However, the more complicated your blueprint, the more building work you’ll have ahead of you.

Finding a design book on the subject can provide good inspiration. And, of course, purchasing ready-made plans is another option.

Do Your Homework

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Rules about the necessity of building permits for backyard tree houses vary among townships. In some areas, they are an absolute requirement, but other places don’t require a permit at all. In many areas, the necessity depends on the type of tree house you plan to build.

The only way to know the regulations in your area is to call your town and ask. It’s better to do your homework ahead of time and follow the rules in your area. Otherwise, there’s always a chance that you’ll have to tear down all of your hard work just because you didn’t file the necessary paperwork.

Gather the Supplies

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Quality materials and the proper tools are the key to a successful build. Of course, the first necessity is a tree. The one you choose should have a minimum diameter of 12 inches. One with a V-shape is ideal.

Other important supplies are:

  • Lumber: Wood purchased from a lumberyard will be more uniform in size and possibly stronger than self-harvested wood.
  • Quick-dry concrete: Support posts set in concrete will remain firmly in place.
  • Ladder: There must be a way to access the tree house. You can purchase a pre-built ladder or build your own ladder or staircase.
  • Wall enclosures: For safety’s sake, there should be no way for children to fall out the side of the tree house. For the walls, you could use plywood, boards, fence pickets or strong metal mesh.
  • Window panes: These are optional and can be made from glass or plastic.
  • Drill and screws: Opt for rust-proof screws, so your tree house will weather well.
  • Other basic tools: A hammer, nails, a saw and a nail gun are other helpful tools. In most spots of your tree house, you’ll probably want to reinforce nails with screws, but a nail gun is great for quickly holding pieces in place.

Work as a Family

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The next step in the tree house process is to start building! As much as possible, make this a family effort. Children will learn practical skills and gain a sense of ownership when they are involved in the construction process. Of course, adults must understand that tree house-building is a big job and most of the actual work will probably fall on them. However, the more kids can get involved, the better.

With parental supervision, kids of all ages can help. Child-friendly jobs can include:

  • Providing opinions during the design process.
  • Handing tools to an adult.
  • Learning to use tools, such as a hammer.
  • Holding boards in place.
  • Painting the finished tree house.

When all is done, you’ll have a building masterpiece that your whole family can be proud of and enjoy for years to come.

Meghan Ross is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.