How Much Does a Custom Treehouse Cost?
Tree houses cost between $9,000 and several hundred thousand dollars. Why the big range? Here are the primary considerations in determining the cost of a custom tree house project:
1. Size & scope
Some tree houses are about 6′ x 8′ (or about the size of a small powder room). Others are over 400 square feet approaching the size of a small apartment. As the size increases, so does the potential live loading on the structure. That requires more lumber, more labor, and stronger tree attachment systems.
2. Number of Platforms
The term, “tree house” can refer to a single platform, or a project full of many platforms. Most of the hardware, planning, and design that goes into a platform must be repeated for a second or third platform. However, if you are going to ultimately have a multi platform tree house project, then you do save money by building it all at once. Your savings come from areas such as traveling costs, design trip costs, and setup/wrapup costs.
We don’t mean to pry by asking your city, state, & country before we give you a cost estimate. We just have to know approximately what our traveling costs are going to be from our hometown of West Chester, PA. The primary location costs relate to covering mileage on our vehicles and paying our employees for their travel time. A tree house in Texas or California is going to cost more than a project within commuting distance of West Chester. Even still, with only a handful of expert tree house building companies in the United States, we do travel great distances every season.
4. Height above Grade
The higher the tree house is, the more labor hours it will require to build it. Even a simple change from 8 feet high to 12 feet high makes a significant difference in the building time. At 8′, we can reach the platform from the ground or a short step ladder. At 12′ or higher, we will need bigger ladders, ropes, and/or scaffolding. For projects at 15′ – 20′ or higher, the height can become the primary factor in the overall cost. But sometimes the view is worth it!
Typically, tree house accessories don’t cost very much. Swings, rope & bucket, flags, etc for kids tree houses are in the $10-150 range each. Fireman’s poles, cargo nets, and small zip lines are in the $300-1000 range each. Bigger zip lines and cable bridges cost $2000-8000 depending on various factors. So only the more serious accessories can start to make a significant cost difference in a treehouse project.
6. Access to the Building Site
We can sometimes drive our pickup trucks right up to the work site near the tree. Other times, we have to walk half a mile through the woods to get to the work site. Some of our projects have involved crossing multiple streams on washed out trails impassable by trucks. We had to canoe back and forth to install a 250′ zip line across a river in Pennsylvania. Once, we rigged a 200′ zip line to lower materials down a steep wooded hillside where it wasn’t safe to carry anything down by hand. Some of the more difficult projects required as many man hours to get tools & materials to the site as they did to actually construct the tree house! Many of our customers let us use their ATVs to help mitigate the costs associated with difficult site access.
7. Engineering & Design
We will occasionally build a simple platform or tree house without making a site visit first. This means that there is a limited design phase which will be free or low cost up front. But normally, we will visit the site which involves some traveling expense and perhaps some design or drawing fees. This costs $100-3500 for all areas within the continental USA. We can also follow through with complete plans prepared by an engineer which can cost around $1500 – 10000 for either a simplified review or a complete set of code & permit ready plans.
8. Quality or Rarity of Materials
We can use reclaimed lumber, locally harvested & milled, recycled products, or use whatever is on the shelf at the local building yard. For example, the cheapest decking is usually pressure treated wood. Composite wood or Ipe may cost 2-5 times as much. This can amount to differences of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the project. Other products may increase labor costs as well. That’s why a tree house equal in all other ways could cost $20,000 or $45,000. The cheaper one is safe & functional, but the more expensive one is going to look magazine cover ready.
9. General Difficulty of the Project
A few examples of this random category could be working on uneven ground (where ladders are difficult to set), where the trees have a lot of branches that pass through the walls or roofs or interfere with normal working space, or if there aren’t good places to set safety or rigging lines.