»  John Derbyshire's Treehouse

View from the north


[April-May, 2004] After much importuning by my kids, and as part of the never-ending quest to find something that holds more interest for them than computer games and TV, I agreed to build a tree house in my back yard. I kept a record of construction progress on these pages.

Progress was slow. I have a living to make, and couldn't give this a lot of time. I promised the kids they'd have a tree house "for the summer," which my legalistically-minded little Americans decided to interpret as "by Memorial Day." I met the deadline.

I must say, the project was very absorbing. It brought out the inner engineer lurking in my soul (and, I suspect, every other guy's). I am not actually much good at the handiwork aspect of the thing. I made a lot of mistakes — things didn't line up, my judgments about material strength turned out to be faulty, and so on. What took over my life was the planning and design. How can I get this piece up there? What's going to support that? Can I make this fit? I spent more time thinking about things like that than I did actually sawing and nailing. It was fascinating, fascinating. I should have been a civil engineer. (One of my great-grandfathers was, and one of my nephews is.)




Each of the pages listed below gives a progress report, with pictures.


  • Phase 1:    Getting a basic support framework in place.
  • Phase 2:    Making the floor.
  • Phase 3:    Building walls.
  • Phase 4:    Putting the roof on.
  • Phase 5:    Finishing up.
  • Phase 6:    Grand opening.
  • Phase 7:    Later developments.