My Treehouse Project Part 1 - Inspiration

Philip Miller, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson

Peter Pans Treehouse by matteobassini

Peter Pans Treehouse by matteobassini

Ever since I was a kid I told my parents I wanted to be "a builder of forts" (treehouses). I remember being 7 years old and falling in love with the story of Peter Pan and Swiss Family Robinson. I loved how Peter Pan could fly and that he lived in a magical place called Neverland and had a hideout in a tree. But most of all, I loved the treehouse in the Disney Swiss Family Robinson movie. I think I watched that movie several times a week for years till the VHS tape could no longer be played.

The Disney Movie "Swiss Family Robinson" Treehouse

The Disney Movie "Swiss Family Robinson" Treehouse

Well I never did get the chance to go to Neverland or be shipwrecked on an island but I had lots and lots of trees. I grew up in Kingsland/St. Marys, GA. I was blessed with parents who gave me a hammer and nails and said the forest is all yours you can build anything you want. My imagination ran wild, I would often find a place in the woods next to my house and just sit there looking up at the trees. I would imagine rope bridges, Tarzan rope swings and a network of treehouses all connected together.

I built a lot of treehouses and forts as a kid. I can't even recall all of them. I asked my mom to send me photos of the forts and treehouses I built. I will post them at the end of this blog post. I have included one of my favorite treehouses below. I built it exclusively for myself (my brothers were not allowed in my treehouse!). I built and designed it after the Disney Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. As an adult I look at it now and think to myself it looks nothing like the one in the movie. But as a kid you have an imagination and I believed it because it had a straw roof.

My Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

My Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

When I Grew Up

Unlike Peter Pan I didn't get to stay a kid forever but I did tell myself when I have kids of my own someday I am going to build them the most amazing treehouse! Well, that day has come. I have started with a basic idea of building a treehouse between the trees to sit on four stilts. Below you can see my SketchUp model. It sits on a basic deck/platform and the clubhouse will sit on the top. There is a fireman's pole on the back corner and there will be a dutch door for the front and a sliding barn door on the side. I have a detailed list below.

3D SketchUp Plans For the Treehouse

3D SketchUp Plans For the Treehouse

Treehouse Features for - Phase 1

  • Bucket for pulling stuff into the clubhouse. This will be attached to the overhang on the right
  • Loft for the kids to play in and camp
  • Chalkboard inside the cabin to sketch and draw battle plans
  • Windows to allow for light and looking up at the stars at night
  • Dutch door to allow privacy
  • Sliding door for the left side of the cabin for a quick escape to the fireman's pole
  • Fireman's pole
  • Hammock under the deck for relaxing
  • Zipline for quick escapes
  • Swings for just having fun with friends

Future Features for - Phase 2

  • Second story platform
  • Bridge to a tower
  • Water cannon for tower
  • Cargo nets
  • Water cannon for main deck
  • Trapdoor in the clubhouse

The Design and Look of the Treehouse

I knew I wanted the treehouse to look as natural as possible so I did some research and found the photo below as my inspiration.

Shaker Shingle Treehouse

Construction of The Treehouse

8in by 3ft deep footing for the stilts

8in by 3ft deep footing for the stilts

The first thing I had to do was calculate the materials for the treehouse. Once that was done I had to build the footings for the stilts to sit on. I had some issues digging the footings because the land around my home consists of hard clay. My brother-in-law was able to help me with his gas auger but that even had a hard time. One hole took us about an hour to dig. One tip/trick we discovered when digging in rock hard clay is to fill the hole up with water. This helped the auger cut through the clay...it was a mess but worth it. You have to wait about 2-3 days to add the base plates to give time for the concrete to cure. I went with a 4x6 plate to hold the 4x6x10 stilt. Next you have to install the stilts and brace them.

Braced 10ft Stilts on 8in footings

Braced 10ft Stilts on 8in footings

My next post will show how the deck is assembled and the joists are hung, read about Part 2 here.

After I finish building the treehouse I will post a video to my YouTube Channel. You can subscribe to it by clicking the below subscribe button. I post a lot of DIY videos and showcase the projects that I work on around my house.

To inspire you and give you a bit more background into my childhood check out the below section.

The Miller's Treehouses and Forts

My building adventures were always with my brothers. I guess I was the ring leader and at times I was told I was bossy and I probably was. I was just a visionary, doing what no one else had done. We built everything ourselves and my parents rarely helped. I had the ability to motivate my brothers and we had lots of fun together.  Here are some of our memories.

The Miller Boys Philip, Aaron and Nathanael

The Miller Boys Philip, Aaron and Nathanael

One of the first treehouses we built.

One of the first treehouses we built.

This was one of the largest forts we built. It had a door which opened into the jail.

This was one of the largest forts we built. It had a door which opened into the jail.

Clubhouse with drawbridge that connected to the main platform.

Clubhouse with drawbridge that connected to the main platform.

Main Treehouse and Climbing Rope

Main Treehouse and Climbing Rope

This picture was take from the tallest tower which had a working elevator

This picture was take from the tallest tower which had a working elevator

This was taken in the winter and you can see how the forts span across the woods. You could get from one end to the other without even touching the ground

This was taken in the winter and you can see how the forts span across the woods. You could get from one end to the other without even touching the ground