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Build Treehouse Cost

The average cost of building a treehouse is $7,000.

In this guide

Area evaluation
Wood type
Building process
Ladders
Labor costs
Safety
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQs

How much does it cost to build a treehouse?

Treehouses can be magical places for children to spend time outside. They can be simple or elaborate and can be places to dream, create, read, or spend time with friends.

There are many ways to build a treehouse. Some designs incorporate electricity and glass windows while others are simple platforms with a railing 1. These variations in design, as well as the type of materials, lead to a wide range of associated costs. The average homeowner having a 10 x 10-foot treehouse professionally constructed out of basic lumber with a simple design that includes a roof and floor can expect to spend around $7,000.

Area evaluation

Not every tree is suitable for a treehouse. Trees need to be a minimum of 12 inches in diameter with branches that are roughly 8 inches in diameter, thicker if the tree is a softwood. Ideally, the tree should be a maple, oak, fir, beech, or hemlock because these are generally strong enough to support the house.

You also want to ensure that the treehouse is easy to reach. For safety, it should be no more than 8 to 10 feet off the ground but not much lower than 7 feet to avoid people hitting their heads. The tree should have enough space around it to accommodate the platform at this height, preferably without needing to cut too many branches.

It is usually a good idea to have the tree evaluated. Many professional treehouse building companies assess the tree for you to make sure it is a good fit. If you choose to have a carpenter or general contractor build the treehouse, you may want to hire an arborist to examine the tree to ensure it can handle the weight of the treehouse without harming it.

Wood type

Pressure-treated wood is generally not recommended for use in treehouse projects because the chemicals in the treated wood will come in contact with the living tree. Therefore, it is recommended that you use a naturally rot-resistant wood. There are a few good options to choose from:

Wood typeDescriptionAverage cost
Cypress

Durable wood

Rot-resistant

Water-resistant

Good for very heavy construction and framing

Inexpensive

$4.50 - $5.00/sq.ft.
Redwood 2

Most sustainable wood used for building

Rot-resistant

Water-resistant

Good for finish work

$5 - $17/sq.ft.
Cedar

Repels insects like termites

Rot-resistant

Water-resistant

Does not require staining

Fairly expensive

$8 - $20/sq.ft.


Building process

The building process for the treehouse depends a great deal on the type of treehouse you are building. There are several different ways for constructing a treehouse. Some methods involve building the treehouse on the ground, and then lifting it to the tree and building a frame below it for support. Another technique works with the tree’s natural shape, building around the trunk and branches and cantilevering the actual treehouse to the trunk to support it.

Some people may also build a frame around or beside the tree, and then construct a base and build up from there. Others put supports on the trunk itself, and then build around or beside the tree using the supports to hold the base rather than having footings 3.

The easiest method of construction may be a combination approach. Use footings 3 as support and bolts on the trunk as further support and build the treehouse so that it either wraps the trunk or is built just beside the trunk. With this approach, concrete footings will be sunk, like they are with decks, and a frame will be constructed ($1 to $2/square foot for the footings). Lag bolts ($100/each) are used to attach the frame to the tree and offer support on this end.

After the frame is created, construction proceeds a lot like it does when building a home with a wooden frame floor with standard joists ($10 to $15/per joist). First, the floor is constructed by laying plywood 4 ($25 to $40/sheet) over the frame. The frame is extended upward to support the walls and roof of the treehouse. Then, these are also covered in plywood, like you are building the walls and roof of a simple home.

From there, the walls are sided ($3 to $10/sq.ft), and the roof is shingled ($80 to $100/per square). The floor inside may be finished in a variety of ways, including simply staining the plywood, putting down an outdoor carpet, or installing another flooring material that would hold up well outdoors.

If desired, the interior of the treehouse can be finished or left bare. Most simple children’s treehouses remain bare inside with the frame showing. Windows and a door can be added if desired but are not necessary. Many treehouses for kids simply have openings. Accessories can also be added, such as rope swings, buckets, pulleys, slides, and other toys at this stage.

Ladders

The method you get into the treehouse varies depending on how much space you have, the shape and style of the treehouse, and the age of the children using it. Simple ladders can be constructed by attaching rungs directly to the tree, rope ladders can be built that can be pulled in when the children are inside, solid ladders can be used that can be removed or nailed into place, or you can choose to build a staircase leading to the treehouse. Ladders cost anywhere from $100 for a simple wooden ladder to $25 per square foot for a staircase.

Labor costs

Labor costs also vary depending on the type of treehouse, size, style, placement, and how involved the design and evaluation process ends up being. In most cases, the average cost, including evaluation and designs, are around $100 to $150 an hour to build the treehouse. 

A 10x10-foot basic treehouse, professionally constructed, using a partial footing frame, as well as tree bolts, costs around $3,000 in labor for a total of about $7,000 for the project.

Safety

When building a treehouse for children, keep safety in mind. They should ideally not be more than 10 feet off the ground, and any platforms not enclosed by walls should have a safety railing that is tall enough to prevent anyone from falling over. Make sure the tree is healthy and strong enough to support the treehouse, and use proper building materials and methods to ensure the safety of the treehouse going forward. 

Enhancement and improvement costs

Windows

If you want to make the treehouse more special, you can install glass windows in the walls. They cost around $330 each for vinyl, sash windows. 

Door

Some treehouses may have doors that can be shut for added privacy. Any style of door can be used like in a house. Typical doors for use in a treehouse cost around $100 to $200 each.

Decks

You may want to construct a deck around the treehouse itself. This can add to the amount and type of use that the treehouse gets. Expect to pay an additional $25 to $30 a square foot for the decking. 

Fireplace

If you plan on using the treehouse all year and for more than just a hangout for children, you can install a wood-burning fireplace. This will add costs of around $3,000 to $4,000 to the design. Also, the floor will need to be made of non-combustible materials, for an extra $1,000.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Trees are living things and will continue to grow after you build your treehouse. Invest in a design that takes the growth into consideration and does not use pass-through bolts or other materials that could harm the tree.
  • The tree itself must be healthy to have a safe and stable treehouse. Make sure it is not too young or old and is healthy and stable before beginning.
  • Get a building permit before construction, and check with your zoning board after plans are drawn. Some areas may require special permits, while some yards may not be zoned for treehouses.
  • Always call your local utility companies before digging for footers to ensure you do not hit buried electric, sewer, or water lines.
  • If the treehouse may impact your neighbor in any way, make sure you speak to them before proceeding.
  • It is possible to build a treehouse that you could live in, complete with heating, electricity, insulation, and finished interiors. Costs are around $75,000 to $100,000 for these projects.

FAQs

  • Do you need a permit to build a treehouse?

This varies by city, but in general, yes you need a permit to build a treehouse. Check with your local town or city hall for more information.

  • What kind of wood should I use to build a treehouse?

Cypress, redwood, and cedar are the preferred woods for treehouses.

  • What is the best tree to build a treehouse in?

Maple, oak, hemlock, fir, and beech are the best trees. Make sure they are at least 12 inches in diameter, with branches at least 8 inches in diameter. ​

  • Do treehouses kill trees?

Treehouses can be constructed such that they do not harm or kill the tree. This may involve consulting an arborist, as well as a specialized company who understands the process.​​

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Railing: A long bar designed for a person to hold onto, giving them support. They are usually found on the sides of staircases, and can also be found in bathrooms, for example, to help persons with disabilities
2 Redwood: Tree with reddish colored timber
glossary term picture Footing 3 Footings: A support for the foundation of a house that also helps prevent settling. It is typically made of concrete reinforced with rebar, but can also be made of masonry or brick. It is usually built under a heavier part of the house like a wall or column, to distribute the weight of the house over a larger area.
glossary term picture Plywood 4 Plywood: An engineered construction material manufactured from thin slices of wood glued together in alternating grain patterns for strength

Cost to build a treehouse varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

picture related to the guide

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Appleton, WI
+3%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Arvada, CO
-3%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Aurora, CO
+10%
Austin, TX
+13%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Berthoud, CO
-6%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Burlington, NC
-17%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Cleveland, TN
-20%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Concrete, WA
-4%
Cumming, GA
+2%
Dahlonega, GA
-31%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Gilbert, AZ
-2%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Hammond, LA
+3%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Kimberly, ID
-42%
Kissimmee, FL
-20%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Long Beach, CA
+16%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Nashville, TN
+21%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources