The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.

Melisa Rana
Melisa Rana


How to Build a Treehouse Without Hurting Your Tree

 February 5, 2024 |  DIY, Safety |  landscaping, home exterior, kids

As a kid, there’s nothing like spending the summer hanging out in your own custom-made treehouse, looking out over the neighborhood like you’re on top of the world. Many homeowners have a nostalgic attachment to their own childhood treehouses or miss the treehouse experience they never had.

For the ambitious homeowner looking to get their kids to spend some extra time outside or to give themselves a more unique hideaway, a DIY treehouse project can be an exciting endeavor. However, treehouses can have the unintended effect of harming your tree if you don’t take the right precautions. To create a memorable hideaway that doesn’t sacrifice the health of your tree, keep these points in mind.

Note: Check with your local building authority, HOA, and your neighbors before getting started. Certain areas may require special permits, and it’s always a good idea to talk with your neighbors before building something that might block the view!

Pick the Perfect Tree
No matter your building practices or your comfort with larger scale projects, the success of a treehouse DIY project lives and dies by whether you’ve identified the right candidate for the foundation. A stable and safe treehouse needs a tree that’s matured, with well-established roots, and a large canopy overhead. The best options are any hardwood tree (oak, maple, or beech, for example).

If a particular tree catches your eye, perform an informal check-up to get a better handle on its health. Trees that are in good shape shouldn’t be marred with discoloration or other damaging marks, covered in mushrooms, or losing dead branches frequently. Some pests that weaken otherwise healthy trees can be easily overlooked! Consider consulting a tree doctor or arborist if you’d like to give your tree a clean bill of health before getting started.

Note: Certain treehouse designs utilize more than one tree, to spread out the expected load. Remember to also consider the view you’ll have when all is said and done - that’s half of the fun of a treehouse!

Build Your House, but Limit the Stress
Treehouses can be very custom, or homeowners can draw closely from a design that they’ve purchased. For a treehouse that lasts the test of time, reducing stress on the tree is absolutely crucial - though this means reconsidering some of the classics. For example, ropes, cords, and wires wrapped around a tree branch can actually cut off circulation, which limits the flow of vital nutrients and water. Tire swings may be fun, but installing them in this way can lead to weakened or dead limbs.

A tree trunk is extremely important for the overall strength and health of a tree, so try to limit any punctures or holes whenever possible. Treehouse Attachment Bolts (or TABs) are heavier duty hardware designed to handle more of the load and limit damage to tree trunks in the process. Additionally, treehouse designers recommend leaving extra space around branches and tree trunks to allow for natural growth.For kits, hardware, and treehouse plans that limit damage to the tree, check out!

Take Precautions, and Keep the Risks in Mind
Starting a more advanced DIY project can be exciting, but when it comes to building a treehouse, keep in mind what can go wrong if you cut a few too many corners. Trees, especially large, strong trees, offer tons of benefits for a treehouse. In the summer, the shade doesn’t just provide a cool area to beat the heat, but the coverage also increases your home’s energy efficiency and extends the lifespan of your siding.

During storms, trees are excellent windbreakers as well, and as tree roots die, the added organic matter provides great fuel for the rest of your yard’s ecosystem (learn more about the benefits of adding trees to your lawn from experts over at Make sure your treehouse project results in the perfect club house for your kids - not a call to your local tree removal service.

Did you know that tree roots can cause damage to your main sewer line? Ask your local NPI inspector about a sewer scope to learn the condition of your key systems!

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