Family life

DIY: Building the perfect treehouse

Jennifer decides to improvise when her kids beg her for a treehouse in the backyard.

By Jennifer Pinarski
DIY: Building the perfect treehouse

Isaac and Gillian in their treehouse.

Despite being tasked with most of the “blue” jobs around the house, I’m not a handy person. We own a cordless drill, a hammer and a level. This means that I can hang pictures — but any home improvement projects beyond that simply don’t get done. Improvising a backyard swing for my kids in the spring using the power drill and rope turned me into a construction queen to my kiddos, and since then they have been begging me to build them a treehouse. They’ve both outgrown the plastic toddler play structure and they can climb trees like monkeys. And now that they are getting older and play well together, they want their own secret space to play in. 
I looked at plans and kits and all are out of our budget and beyond my skimpy skill set. I dreamed of building a treehouse like this Popular Mechanics dad did — but then there is that annoying lack of sawhorses and skillsaw problem. And play structures are out of the question — our cottage country lot doesn’t have a level spot on it and there is no way even the simplest play structure would be safe.
So I did what I do best — make stuff up.
Last summer, Hydro One was in our community cutting down "nuisance" trees — older trees that could interfere with lines and cause power outages. We were all so sad at the time when several large pine and spruce trees were cut down. Because of the size of the trees, all of the deadwood was left behind on our property — huge trunks that are nearly impossible for us to move. Being the daredevils they are, Isaac and Gillian immediately started climbing the trunks, making me rethink the concept of a treehouse being in a tree. Who said the perfect treehouse has to be up in a tree? Why can’t it be on the ground? 
Since then we’ve rolled the trunks together to build the kids a fort. It’s been a kitchen, spaceship, race car and boat. We’ve gone fishing from it, flew to the moon in it and one morning Isaac even made me crepes in it. Sometimes we hide from dinosaurs or Mola Ram (Isaac’s latest obsession is Indiana Jones). Our latest addition is a bridge that keeps us safe from crocodiles. Our perfect treehouse didn’t come in a box, nor did it need a single nail or power tool. Just a lot of muscle and a little imagination. I can’t wait to see where our treehouse takes us next.

What projects have you had to improvise for your kids?
This article was originally published on Oct 29, 2012

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