If you’ve been watching Treehouse Masters reruns, you may have a few ideas in mind for your own castle in the trees. Expect to pay around $7,350 to have a smaller, less elaborate treehouse built in your backyard. Pricing ranges from $7,000 – $15,000 but can be as little as $3,425 or as much as $225,000+.
Treehouse projects can be as fanciful or as simple as you make them. Treehouse builders specialize in complex, custom treehouses where your trees, your imagination, and your wallet are your only limits. Backyard projects are simpler but just as satisfying. Keep reading to discover the right size and price point for your ideal treehouse.
How Much Does a Treehouse Cost?
National average cost: $7,350
Typical price range: $7,000 – $15,000
Extreme low end: $3,425
Extreme high end: $225,000
On This Page:
- How Much Does a Treehouse Cost?
- Cost Estimator By Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Extra Services
- Cost of a DIY Treehouse
- Cost of a Treehouse By Location
- FAQ About Treehouses
- Cost of a Treehouse By Location
Cost Estimator By Size
Here we’ll consider a few standard sizes for common residential treehouse projects.
|Small (36 – 49 sq. ft.)||$2,000 – $8,000|
|Medium (64 – 81 sq. ft.)||$4,000 – $12,000|
|Large (100 – 144 sq. ft.)||$6,000 – $17,000|
Other Factors That Affect Cost
Treehouse builders stress the uniqueness of each project — no two are exactly alike. So, it is difficult to nail down how much each pricing factor will add to your total cost. However, the elements that increase your costs are similar across the board. Here are a few:
Size is a factor in any home improvement project’s final cost. In a niche market like treehouse building, it is even more of a factor toward your total outlay.
Building or remodeling a multi-story house is tricky enough. That increases exponentially if your first level is several feet off the ground (and is wrapped around a tree, to boot). Second and third levels present even greater challenges for logistics, engineering, and safety.
If you are building a large, multi-level treehouse that is 5 feet off the ground, this will cost less than if the same structure is built starting at 10 feet. Higher builds mean scaffolding, more safety precautions, greater difficulty pulling up materials, more engineering, and additional time.
|Base-Level Treehouse||Square, Rectangle, |
with a simple roof
|Advanced-Level Treehouse||A polygon |
with complex roofing
and interior features
|Fantasy-Level Treehouse||If it looks like Disney… |
Anything that is not
square, has mostly
curved lines, is
multi-level, or high
off the ground
The cost of building a treehouse will rise based on the level of difficulty of the project, such as if the location of your treehouse is difficult for builders to access.
Expect a cost increase if any of the following apply:
✓ You need to bring running water or utilities to the site
✓ The site is difficult to access (far from the road, for example)
✓ The company is not located in your local area or state
✓ Special engineering requirements
Your treehouse will depend on another living organism for its support, so you may want to have an arborist inspect your host tree to ensure it — and neighboring trees — are sound and healthy.
Trimming and removing trees are other common site preparation services.
An arborist to do a visual tree inspection (VTA) of your treehouse tree and neighboring trees. Expect to pay around $145 for this service. One company notes that VTAs usually take an hour or less to complete for small jobs. If your arborist needs to drill into the tree to do Resistograph testing for a suspected problem, you may incur $25 extra per drill.
If you will need an official arborist report, plan to spend $300 – $425 for one tree or up to $700 for multiple trees. As a residential homeowner, you may not need this document. If you have to present the results of your tree inspection to the city or another local authority, though, you’ll likely need one.
Your arborist may recommend tree trimming. If so, plan to pay an average of $475 per tree or anywhere from $315 to $700 per tree on average. Tree trimming can cost as little as $85 per tree or as much as $1,267 per tree.
If you need to remove trees from the surrounding area, plan to pay $630 per tree on average. It may cost as little as $150 per tree or as much as $1,935 per tree. The average costs range from $385 to $1,070.
At the very least, you may want to build a walkway to your new sky palace. Pea gravel, which makes a great walkway, costs $23 to $50 per ton from a bulk supplier. A heavy-duty 200-square-foot roll of landscaping fabric (as an underlayment) will run around $28. Pathway installation in general ranges from $8 – $22 per square foot.
If you need lawn mowing before you can get started on your project, plan to pay $33 to $70 per hour or $29 to $65 per lawn. You can DIY to save money, or hire a pro to save time.
After all, if your new treehouse will be in your backyard, you’ll want to make sure the area around the tree is mowed and kept neat.
Cost of a DIY Treehouse
If you’ve been dreaming of building a DIY treehouse but aren’t sure where to begin, let us help. Here is a quick overview from the pre-build stage to stargazing in the treetops.
Here is a basic list of tools you may need:
|Industry grade |
corded reciprocating saw
including blade set
|Cordless circular saw kit||$350+|
|Industry grade table saw/stand||$370+|
|Industry grade miter saw||$400+|
|Other Tools and Materials||Price|
|Level (2 ft)||$7+|
|Safety Equipment||$32+ total |
|— Safety glasses||— $2-$20|
|— Ear protection||— $3|
|— Gloves||— $10-$15|
|— Dust mask (5-pack)||— $17|
|Impact driver||$80 – $200+|
|Framing nail gun||$250+|
How to Build a DIY Treehouse
How to build a treehouse depends on the complexity of your planned backyard escape. If you have elaborate plans, you might not want to tackle this project yourself. For our purposes, we’ve outlined how to build a very basic treehouse.
According to Fixr, a tree platform is the least expensive type of treehouse to build. It’s also the simplest type of treehouse to build, which makes it ideal for a DIY project.
To further save on your treehouse costs, we’ll assume that you’ll build with posts instead of attaching the platform to the tree. Treehouse fasteners and attachment bolts are specialty items, and using posts on concrete blocks or set into the ground will save you money and limit the amount of specialty carpentry you have to do.
Pro Tip: If you are short on time, find a plan with as few cuts as possible. This will also save on labor and limit the chance you’ll make a wrong cut.
Planning your treehouse
- Consult with an arborist to choose a tree.
- Draw up, buy, or download a blueprint.
- Check with your local building code department, zoning department, and HOA to ensure you are following all guidelines and stipulations. Apply for a building permit.
- Call 811 before you dig.
- Make sure your homeowners insurance will cover your treehouse.
Set the foundation for your treehouse
- Set your foundation posts.
- Nail your bands and install the joists, braces, and decking to complete the platform.
Build walls and a roof
- Build the frame and raise the walls.
- Build the roof frame.
- Attach the siding.
- Attach plywood or other roofing material.
Finish off your treehouse
- Attach railings and ladder.
- Decorate for kids (or grown-up kids)
DIY Cost vs. Professional Service
Fixr says that a simple treehouse platform with railings and a ladder costs around $4,000 installed. Labor percentages vary widely but usually comprise at least 50% of the budget. Using a conservative 50% labor cost estimate, you can expect to pay $2,000 or less in materials for this simple tree platform with railings and a ladder.
Another option for DIY enthusiasts is treehouse kits. These start around $500 and go up from there. The simplest kits usually include the treehouse plans and hardware — no lumber. You can find DIY kits for the following accessories as well:
|Rope bridge kits||$70+ per linear foot|
|Zip line kits||$380+|
Note: These prices come from a specialty supplier. Other suppliers offer similar kits for zip lines, rope swings, bridges, etc. We have steered away from these sites thinking that a specialty supplier should offer the highest quality products for this niche market.
Pro Tip: Good quality accessories are only as good as their installation. Always consult with engineering professionals and an arborist to ensure safety. Expect to pay no less than $1,000 for an engineer to review your plans. You’ll pay more for more in-depth services such as code preparation.
Cost of a Treehouse by Location
As with most home improvement projects, a higher cost of living where you live means higher home improvement and labor costs. If you are hiring a professional treehouse company from outside the local area, you’ll need to factor in travel costs as part of your budget.
A final note on location: If the crew must travel over the river and through the woods to access the build site, this will cost more as well.
FAQ About Treehouses
The following varieties are common:
Consider hiring an arborist or engineer to help you pick the best tree for your project. Trees need a minimum girth and should be healthy and have a long life expectancy.
Treehouses built by companies such as Nelson Treehouse, which is featured on Animal Planet’s TV show Treehouse Masters, don’t come cheap. Pete Nelson and his team build projects that start around $300,000. Keep in mind that these are elaborate, custom treehouse designs.
Other treehouse companies start around $22,500 for a simple platform design and go up from there.
Absolutely. If you want to enjoy a luxury treehouse hideaway experience without the hefty price tag, take a vacation in one for a night or two. Just ask your favorite search engine about treehouse vacation rentals near you, and you’ll be an honorary member of the Swiss Family Robinson, if only for a day.
One famous treehouse retreat is TreeHouse Point, which is owned by Pete and Judy Nelson of Nelson Treehouse. Located just east of Seattle in Fall City, you can host events or stay overnight among the trees in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Building your own treehouse can be as simple or as pie-in-the-sky as you wish. The national average for a backyard treehouse is $7,350, with costs averaging from $7,000 – $15,000. You may spend as little as $3,425 or as much as $225,000+.
Remember to enlist the help of a trained arborist or engineer to help you pick the best tree(s) for your project. From there, there are no limits to what you can design and build.
Whether your goal is to add to your DIY portfolio or create a custom design the world has never seen, treehouse builds are infinitely customizable. Whatever your design decisions, at the end of it all, you’re bound to end up with a better view than when you started.
Main Photo Credit: Tony Guyton / Flickr / CC BY 2.0