Building Wooden Playhouses

To a child, there’s something magical about having their own playhouse. Whether you have it in their bedroom, playroom, outside in the back yard or up in a tree, it becomes a place to let their imagination run wild. It also becomes their special place that is their’s alone. Wooden playhouses are more like the homes we live in than their plastic counterparts. Whereas the plastic playhouses are generally more transportable and less expensive, wooden playhouses are generally more attractive and can easily become part of your landscape.

Check first!Before making any sort of investment in a wooden playhouse, make sure your rental agreement and/or property covenants do not prohibit the building of outdoor structures. If there is any doubt, you may be far better off buying a plastic playhouse for your children. It would be terrible to build the playhouse of your child’s dreams, only to be told by a landlord or homeowners association that it must be taken down. Additionally, you may be required to obtain a building permit from your municipality depending upon the size of the finished playhouse.

Wooden playhouse construction costs can vary. The options go far beyond size and style. You can opt to build the entire structure on your own, use a specific project plan, utilize a book of project plans, buy just the hardware or buy a complete DIY kit.

But, before you buy anything, consider the costs and time involved with the options open to you when building your own wooden playhouse.

What Building a Wooden Playhouse Entails

To get a good idea of what building a wooden playhouse from scratch entails, consider the materials list of a cute little playhouse project on the Lowes website. Does your workshop have a handsaw, miter saw, circular saw and framing square? How about drills, various screwdrivers and a construction-grade hammer? The roofing materials, not including the wood, will cost around $150 and the paint will cost around $140 (depending on the brand). Then there’s the wood, the windows, the nails, the screws and everything else you’ll need.

I mention that to put the prices of pre-fab wooden playhouse kits into perspective. Building it yourself allows you the most options. If you already have a well-stocked workshop, you might be able to construct your own wooden playhouse for less than you could buy one. You might be able to pick up the windows, door and shingles at your local Habitat Restore or other reclaimed building supply store. You might have several gallons of paint left over from painting your home. And, you might even have a source for low-cost lumber. But, if you have to buy everything brand new, it could become a very expensive DIY project that might require more skills and patience than you have. When comparing prices of the DIY wooden playhouse kits vs building your own playhouse from scratch, consider the costs of the things you won’t have to buy along with the items you are getting.

You can get project ideas and construction help for building your own wooden playhouse. There are a number of books on building playhouses on Amazon. However, a constant complaint among buyers is that they do not go into enough detail for true beginners.  The most popular and frequently mentioned playhouse guides are written by David And Jeanie Stiles.

DIY Shed Bracket Kits

One option for families is to consider purchasing what could best be described as a bracket kit. The idea behind these kits is to allow someone to build their own shed/playhouse, with their own lumber, but without needing to make fancy angled cuts. The brackets help make the needed angles while also helping to make it easier to put the entire structure together.

These kits are designed to build backyard storage sheds. However, add a window and some other personal touches and you could very easily turn them into a playhouse. Costs will vary depending upon the quality of wood you choose to use. Several who have gone this route mentioned that they spent $400-1,000 on the lumber and materials for the foundation; depending upon the size of the building they constructed. While many mentioned that the price rivaled that of a complete DIY kit, they also believed that they were able to use a higher grade of lumber than what is thought to typically be found in the kits. (We haven’t worked with one of the complete wooden playhouse kits, so we do not know how valid these claims might be.)

Basic Shed Kit, Peak Style Roof
Shed Kit, Barn Style Roof

We found two of the bracket-style kits on Amazon; one with a peak-style roof and another with a barn-style roof. Each kit includes enough connector brackets to build a 7 by 8 foot structure. (Additional kits can be purchased to make larger buildings.) Both kits come with detailed instructions and cut lists.

Wooden Playhouse Kits

A number of manufacturers make wooden playhouse kits. These are a great option for families who do not have a workshop full of tools or have limited carpentry skills. The wood is all pre-cut and the kits generally come with everything you need to complete the playhouse. We’ll talk more about them in our article Buying Wooden Playhouses.

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