Step 1: Find a reason
15 years ago, I had an awesome reason to build a tree house. My best friends and I had recently created a Best Friends Club and we thought it befitting of our elite group to have a place of our own. When our first two club house options proved to be too great a construction task, we defaulted to a tree house. Because come on, how hard could it possibly be to build a tree house?
Step 2: Find a tree
A tree house requires a good tree for a base. A good tree will have a wide and sturdy trunk, strong and low enough branches, and will be located at a central spot on good, flat terrain. Our tree was none of the above. We chose a skinny lime tree with a thorny trunk and branches, on a rocky slope in my best friend’s backyard.
Step 3: Gather building material
Lumber is ideal. However, when the University woodshop has a scrap pile, the pieces found there will make do. Lots of nails will be necessary, or handy at the very least, especially when found in an office undergoing construction at the University. Depending on your location and the scope of your project, zinc could also come in handy. If said zinc is already being used as a shack for a farmer down the street, simply run at full speed and kick down said shack. If the pieces of zinc are much bigger than you anticipated, grab the farmer’s crate and run away from the scene.
Step 4: Be flexible where building plans are concerned
It could prove quite difficult to actually get up into the tree, so be prepared to build the tree house beneath the tree. The trunk can be used as a central column, and the space between the trunk and the lowest branch makes for an ideal kitchen window.
Step 5: Build!
On the off chance that your building plans change and the foundation of your tree house is a gravelly slope, a paved floor is the first order of the day. In the absence of actual cement, marl and stones will substitute poorly. In any case, mix marl, stones, dirt, sticks (and anything the shovel picks up) in an old wheelbarrow with a gaping hole in the center. Pave floor as best as possible and leave to dry. Next is the wall. Nail one single piece of board to the trunk. If there is additional lumber, another wall (or 3) would be strongly recommended.
Step 6: Decorate and add finishing touches
Take a single pane of glass from your own kitchen window, without your Mother’s permission. Also take one kitchen towel to use as a curtain. Wedge the pane of glass between the trunk and the lowest branch and nail the kitchen curtain across. Step back and admire the handiwork, then go home because it’s been a long day and your parents will not appreciate you getting home after dark.
Step 7: Treasure the memories
About a week after we built our tree house, it was destroyed in a hurricane. It could also have been a very strong thunderstorm that completely unhinged our wall. In any case, our window stood firm. We didn’t have much time with our tree house, but it was a magnificently fun adventure and we will forever treasure the memories.