How Much Does a Treehouse Cost to Build?
Building a treehouse is a tremendous way to add a captivating and versatile attraction to any property. Treehouse cost ranges from $6,075 to $16,200, with an average cost of $11,150.
- The typical cost range to build a treehouse is from $6,075 to $16,200, with a national average cost of $11,150.
- The main factors that affect treehouse building costs include the size and shape of the treehouse, the type of wood used for construction, the accessibility of the building site, the complexity of the project, and the cost of labor.
- Having a treehouse in the backyard has several benefits, including privacy, outdoor recreation space, versatility, extra play space for children, and increased property value.
- A homeowner may be able to build a basic treehouse on their own using a prefabricated kit; however, it’s recommended that homeowners have a professional build a treehouse to ensure that it’s safe and meets permitting requirements.
Treehouses are what childhood dreams are made of. From the Magic Tree House books to Disney’s The Swiss Family Robinson attraction, kids grow up hoping they will have their own treehouse to explore as well. Fortunately, there are endless types of treehouse designs for any budget. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs between $6,075 and $16,200 to build a treehouse, with a national average cost of $11,150. From a simple low-cost treehouse for kids to a livable treehouse filled with amenities for all ages, there is something for everyone.
Whether a homeowner opts to build a treehouse as a DIY project or hire a professional for the design and construction, it is important to understand all the factors that impact the cost of the project. This guide will discuss the main considerations that drive cost, ways to save money on building a treehouse, questions to ask contractors before hiring one, and the many benefits that treehouses bring to all who have the opportunity to enjoy them.
Factors in Calculating Treehouse Cost
Building a treehouse—whether it’s a playhouse for kids or a place to live (or rent out on Airbnb) with lots of amenities—is a complex project with several factors affecting the final price. Square footage, shape, type of wood, extra features, and accessibility will drive the price. The type of contractor and even the company hired to work on the project will impact the budget as well.
The cost of building a treehouse depends a great deal on size, which refers to the size of the footprint of the structure. In general, the larger the footprint, the more materials, labor, and time are required. Therefore, costs increase the larger the treehouse gets. Homeowners can expect to pay between $75 and $200 per square foot to build a treehouse. The following are some price ranges of custom, professionally built treehouses based on dimensions.
|Treehouse Dimensions||Average Cost|
|6 feet by 6 feet||$2,700 to $7,200|
|7 feet by 7 feet||$3,675 to $9,800|
|8 feet by 8 feet||$4,800 to $12,800|
|9 feet by 9 feet||$6,075 to $16,200|
|10 feet by 10 feet||$7,500 to $20,000|
|11 feet by 11 feet||$9,075 to $24,200|
|12 feet by 12 feet||$10,800 to $28,800|
One of the characteristics of a treehouse that makes it stand out is its shape. Treehouses can be designed using typical shapes, such as a square or A-frame, or unusual shapes, such as a hexagon or octagon. They can even be double-decker, adding more intrigue and usability. The more complex and unique the shape, the more expensive the project will be. Elaborate treehouses typically require additional material and take more time to design and construct. Square treehouses are the most common and least expensive, ranging from $6,000 to $15,000. A-frame treehouses are also very popular and cost between $10,000 and $25,000 to build. They start with a square base, and the roof extends from the peak down to the edges of the floor so there are no walls on two of the sides. Hexagonal and octagonal designs are impressive but pricier given the labor involved. Hexagonal treehouses cost between $12,000 and $30,000, and octagonal ones cost between $15,000 and $35,000. Finally, a double-decker treehouse is the costliest, with a price tag of $35,000 to $100,000. It needs to be much larger overall to have two stories, so more material is necessary.
Treehouse pricing also depends on the wood used for construction. Homeowners can expect at least 40 percent of the overall cost of building the treehouse to go toward materials including lumber. Naturally rot-resistant wood is recommended for treehouses as opposed to pressure-treated wood, which contains potentially harmful chemicals. Therefore, the best types of wood are cypress, redwood, and cedar. While the cost of wood depends on location and subtype, there are average price ranges for reference.
- Cypress is typically the most affordable option, costing between $6 and $9 per board foot (12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch). To build a 10-foot by 10-foot treehouse with a roof and walls from this material, homeowners can expect to pay $7,000 to $15,000. This widely available softwood is very easy to work with and moderately durable, and it comes in a light yellowish-brown shade.
- Redwood is a very popular softwood with a rich color and light weight that costs $9 to $20 per board foot. A 10-foot by 10-foot redwood treehouse costs between $10,000 and $25,000. This type of wood will not shrink or expand as much as other types, making it very durable.
- Cedar is the most expensive option at $10 to $20 per board foot. To build a 10-foot by 10-foot treehouse out of cedar, it will cost $12,000 to $35,000. Cedar is typically the best material for resisting insect activity and rot due to moisture. It’s also easy to work with and readily available. The only drawback is that cedar requires a primer before painting because the sap in the wood can bleed through paint.
While there are local contractors who can complete the project, there are also a couple of national companies that specialize in treehouses for children and adult treehouses as well. These companies customize the design based on the tree, site, and goals of the homeowner. Fees entail a site visit, detailed drawings, and construction. The Treehouse Guys, for example, is a company that builds treehouses starting at $75,000; prices go up from there for more elaborate structures. The company is known to build dream treehouses and will take on projects as large as 2,500 square feet, such as livable treehouses. Homeowners will want to be aware that there is an additional charge $5,000 to $10,000 for travel and that projects with the Treehouse Guys are booked out months in advance. Nelson Treehouse, the company featured on the show Treehouse Master, is even more costly. This company’s treehouses start at $300,000, which covers travel, design, and construction.
If the site where the treehouse is located is remote, difficult to get to, or really high up, it could increase the price of the project. Building a structure up in a tree is an arduous task, so it makes sense that the higher up it is, the more the pro will charge for their time and effort. The further from the ground the treehouse sits, the riskier the job. Also, the team might need to bring in extra equipment like ladders and scaffolding to get the job done correctly. On the other hand, building a treehouse lower to the ground can save money. Finally, if the site itself is difficult to access, such as being far into the woods or up on a hill, it will be more challenging to transport all the materials, and the pro will probably tack on a fee.
There is a simple rule of thumb when it comes to the cost of building a treehouse: The more complex the build, the higher the cost. As already mentioned, height, shape, and accessibility can impact the complexity of a treehouse project. In addition, a prefabricated treehouse will typically be cheaper than a custom-built one. The construction process can also play a role. A treehouse put together on the ground and then lifted up into the tree could have a lower price point than one built at the height where it is to be located. A multilevel design for a treehouse will also cost more, since it requires more materials, time to build, and greater challenges regarding logistics, engineering, and safety. Finally, some homeowners opt for interior features that drive up the budget, such as plumbing, lighting and other electrical work, and built-in furniture.
It is common that the labor portion of the total cost of a treehouse project consists of 30 percent to 60 percent of the total budget. For assistance installing a prefabricated treehouse, labor will be around 15 percent to 20 percent of the total budget. Overall, it is hard to estimate the labor costs, since so many factors play a role: reputation and experience of the contractor, geographic location, size and complexity of the project, and amenities desired, to name a few. The consensus is that it will cost between $100 and $200 per hour for labor. Building a simple small treehouse without many features will likely take 20 to 30 hours. A more complex design could take upwards of 150 hours to build. Depending on the desired amenities, it may be necessary for a homeowner to hire an electrician for $50 to $100 per hour or a plumber for $45 to $200 per hour.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Besides the main factors that influence the price of a treehouse project, additional costs and considerations could pop up. Before making a decision about building a treehouse, homeowners are advised to consider add-ons like customizations, tree prep work, the choice between a prefabricated kit and the services of a professional designer, any permits necessary in the locality along with their cost, and the potential need for pest control services.
Prefabricated vs. Customized Treehouse
Fortunately, there are several options for building a treehouse. Homeowners can buy a treehouse kit to make the job easier and save up to 60 percent compared to the cost of using a customized design. Prefabricated kits typically include the design plans and all the hardware necessary, but lumber, tools, and any other materials will need to be purchased separately. These kits range in price from as low as $300 to as high as $6,000. On the other hand, to hire a professional to craft a customized treehouse for the yard can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars all the way up to $300,000 for Nelson Treehouse or other, similar custom-build models.
To build modern treehouses with all the bells and whistles, a specialized design service, such as an architect, may be needed. This is an additional cost for a homeowner to be mindful of, since the sky’s the limit with design. Architects charge between $125 and $250 per hour for their services. Keeping the design simple lowers the cost, but choosing a unique shape, pricey materials, and special features like interior stairs, railings, and built-in furniture will increase the price. These and other design costs can raise the total project budget by 5 percent to 20 percent.
Permits, which can add to the total cost of the project, may be necessary to build a treehouse. Homeowners will want to check with the local municipality for details about permitting such structures and ask the contractor if they can take care of permits as part of their services and fees. A building permit for a treehouse ranges from $1,200 to $2,000. It is more likely that a permit will be necessary for a large treehouse with special amenities like plumbing and electricity than a small, prefabricated one.
Tree Removal and Other Prep Work
Before any treehouse construction can begin, prep work like trimming and removing trees may be necessary to open up the space. If there are trees too close together or there are dead or dying trees near the treehouse site, it is best to remove them prior to construction. Tree trimming costs between $75 and $1,500 per tree depending on size, while tree removal costs an average of $750 and ranges from $200 to $2,000. Homeowners can search for the best landscaping companies or the best tree removal services to help with these projects.
It is also recommended that a homeowner hire an arborist to inspect the treehouse first to make sure it is healthy and strong enough to handle the weight of the structure. To hire an arborist, homeowners can expect to pay about $145; the service takes no more than an hour. If the arborist suspects a problem and needs to drill into the tree, it can cost $25 extra per drill. If a tree inspection report is required for a permit, homeowners will want to add another $250 to $400 per tree.
Pest Control Services
Since treehouses are out in nature, an unexpected cost could be having to deal with unwanted pests in and around the structure. One possibility is that a swarm of bees has decided to make the tree being used to support the treehouse their home. To remove a beehive from the tree will cost an average of $445; most homeowners will pay between $135 and $1,065. If wasps infest the tree area, homeowners can expect to pay somewhere between $212 and $875 to get rid of the nest. It’s advisable for homeowners to keep an eye out for any type of pest and call a professional to address the situation as soon as possible.
In order to build the best treehouse possible, some homeowners choose special enhancements or unique treehouse ideas that add to the total cost. For example, some may decide to add a deck around the treehouse to extend the footprint and provide more outdoor space up high. For a deck with a railing, homeowners can expect to pay an additional $25 to $35 per square foot. There also needs to be a way up into the treehouse, so adding a ladder is important. Treehouse ladders can range from a simple rope ladder to a permanently affixed one. The typical cost is between $100 and $200. Some people even go all out and include a fireplace in their treehouse, which costs between $3,000 and $4,000 plus another $1,000 to $2,000 for noncombustible materials on the floor and surrounding area. Other additions can include a rope swing for $30, a climbing net for $225, and a zip line for $380.
Treehouse Cost by Type of Wood
For those looking to build a treehouse, it is important to consider the type of wood used, since that can impact the budget. In fact, about 40 percent of the overall cost of building a treehouse goes toward materials, including lumber. Experts recommend using naturally rot-resistant wood for treehouses as opposed to pressure-treated wood, which contains potentially harmful chemicals. The best types of naturally rot-resistant woods include cedar, cypress, and redwood.
|Type of Wood||Average Cost per Board Foot|
|Cedar||$10 to $20|
|Cypress||$3 to $7|
|Redwood||$4 to $15|
Cedar, which usually has a reddish-brown hue, is the most expensive option at $10 to $20 per board foot. It is popular, resistant to insect activity and rot due to moisture, easy to work with, and readily available. The only drawback is that cedar requires a primer before painting because the sap in the wood can bleed through paint.
As the most affordable option, cypress costs between $3 and $7 per board foot. This widely available softwood is very easy to work with and moderately durable, and it comes in a light yellowish-brown shade.
Redwood is a very popular softwood with its rich red color and light weight. It will not shrink or expand as much as other wood types, making it very durable. Average prices are $4 to $15 per board foot.
Benefits of Building a Treehouse
What can a treehouse supply to a family? Treehouses not only look whimsical and intriguing but also provide countless benefits, including outdoor recreation, additional play space for children, privacy, versatility of the property, and even a boost in home value.
As children tend to spend less time outside these days, a treehouse is the perfect way to lure them away from their screens to get some much-needed nature time. Numerous scientific studies have found that spending time in nature boosts both physical and mental health. Between the fresh air, climbing, and quiet time to spur their curiosity, children will feel so much happier and healthier by having access to a treehouse right in their own backyard. It is also a wonderful spot to have a playdate and to make endless memories with siblings and friends.
Given hectic schedules and our 24/7 culture, many people crave a place to escape for some peace and quiet. A treehouse can serve such a purpose for all members of the family. Children can head out to the treehouse to unplug and do some reading or a creative activity like drawing or painting. It is the perfect spot for kids to use their imagination, see the world from a new perspective up high in a tree, and enjoy watching wildlife. Even adults can sneak out to the treehouse for some rest and relaxation. It makes the perfect space for meditating, journaling, and taking a break from the workday, especially for those who work from home.
Treehouses add a whole other element to a yard, offering more options for leisure and relaxation. With the addition of a treehouse, the property becomes more versatile to the homeowners, visitors, and potential future home buyers. Treehouses can be used for many enjoyable activities, such as birdwatching, reading, writing, drawing and painting, meditating, eating, resting, playing games, and more. Given their versatility, treehouses can appeal to people of all interests and ages.
Additional Play Space for Children
Not every family has enough space in their home for a playroom. A wonderful alternative is to build a treehouse to create an additional play place for the children. They can play games, work on art projects, have a picnic, and hang out with friends in this special nature spot. A treehouse is such a great way for children to build memories that will last a lifetime while encouraging them to engage with their natural surroundings in a playful manner. Plus, parents will always know where their kids are spending time and hiding out, since they are sure to make the treehouse their second home.
Increased Property Value
In some cases, having a treehouse can increase property value. When buyers with young children come looking at the property, they may view the existing treehouse as a benefit to their family. Many people are intrigued and impressed by treehouses, so they may consider this bonus in their offer to buy the home.
Treehouse Construction: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Designing and building a treehouse are more complicated than most people realize. While they can be done as a DIY project to save money, the work is still cumbersome and involves a great deal of skill, knowledge, strength, and equipment. Even if homeowners use a prefabricated kit, which runs between $300 and $6,000, they will still need to have the correct tools, know how to get a permit if required, and ensure that safety measures are followed to avoid a disaster. Even to build a simple treehouse, over $1,000 worth of tools are required.
For those who do not have the skills or are uncomfortable with heights, it is best to hire a professional to design and construct the treehouse. An experienced professional will also know how to manage the permitting process, order the correct materials, hire subcontractors for enhancements like plumbing, and troubleshoot any issues that may come up, like a pest infestation around the tree. Although hiring a professional will increase the project budget, it will ensure that the treehouse is constructed safely and securely to avoid any surprise costs in the future if something goes awry.
How to Save Money on Treehouse Cost
Looking to build a treehouse but concerned about breaking the bank? Fortunately, there are numerous ways to save money, from doing it yourself with a kit to borrowing tools to choosing less-expensive materials. The following are some helpful tips for cutting costs during a treehouse project.
- Go with prefab. To avoid labor fees, consider purchasing a prefabricated kit and making this a DIY project.
- Choose basic. Stick to a basic design and shape, and cut back on amenities and customizations like electricity and built-in furniture to keep costs down.
- Stay close to the ground. Building closer to the ground can keep costs lower, since height plays a role in labor fees.
- Tap into your network. Borrow tools from friends to avoid having to purchase new items.
- Skip the roof. Use a tarp for the roof instead of wood.
- Go with cheaper building materials. Choose less-expensive materials, such as cheaper wood.
- Try to find free or cheap lumber. Look for free lumber at construction sites, in lumber yards, and from neighbors.
- Keep the entrance basic. Opt for a simple entrance, such as a rope ladder.
Questions to Ask About Treehouse Construction
Before homeowners hire a contractor to design and build a treehouse, it is helpful to collect as much information as possible about the company and project. Knowing the right questions to ask during the vetting process will help save time and money and avoid any confusion. Besides making sure the contractors are experienced, licensed, and insured, homeowners will want to find out key points, such as how many treehouses they have built, when they can start, what materials they use, and what to expect with regard to budget. Homeowners can ask the following questions:
- Are you insured and licensed as a residential builder or carpenter?
- Do you specialize in building treehouses?
- Can you share a portfolio of your work?
- Do you guarantee your work?
- Will you provide a written estimate and contract?
- Can you work within my budget?
- Can you help with permitting?
- What materials do you use, and will there be options?
- What safety measures do you use during construction?
- Can you accommodate our goals and wishes for the treehouse with your design?
- How long will the project take?
When homeowners are exploring whether or not to build a treehouse and how to go about it, the following questions can offer much-needed guidance when they are evaluating all the details regarding the process and costs involved.
Q. What kind of tree is best for a treehouse?
The best type of tree to use for a treehouse should be mature and healthy. The safest options are hardwood trees, such as oak, maple, beech, fir, and hemlock.
Q. How much do treehouse companies charge?
Treehouse companies charge a wide range of prices to build a treehouse. The Treehouse Guys, for example, builds treehouses starting at $75,000, and prices go up from there for more elaborate structures. Nelson Treehouse, the company featured on the show Treehouse Master, is even more costly, at $300,000 and more. Other treehouse companies start at around $22,500 for a simple platform design.
Q. Are treehouses legal?
Yes, homeowners can legally build a treehouse on their private land in most jurisdictions. A permit may be required, so it is important that homeowners ask their contractor and check with the local municipalities.
Q. Do I need access to big trees to build a treehouse?
Any tree chosen for a treehouse needs to be strong and large enough to support the weight of the structure and the people inside of it. Trees with a trunk diameter of 30 centimeters or more are recommended.
Q. What is the life expectancy of a treehouse?
Treehouses typically last 10 to 25 years if designed and built with quality materials. Some tips to keep the treehouse as long as possible include regularly inspecting it, treating the wood with preservatives, and keeping up with landscaping and tree trimming near the tree so it has enough room.
Q. How high is too high for a treehouse?
According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, it’s safer to build a treehouse lower to the ground—ideally 10 feet or less. This can help reduce injuries such as fractures and cuts caused by children jumping or falling out of the treehouse.
Sources: HomeAdvisor, Angi, Fixr, LawnLove, LawnStarter, The Treehouse Guys, The Treehouse Shop