From basic sheds with a few embellishments to miniature Colonial mansions sporting all the architectural details, you're bound to find a free plan for a do-it-yourself playhouse or treehouse project. A few of these projects are for patient beginners with minor carpentry skills, others state that the projects are difficult and require a certain amount of skill.
Include the lucky child or children who will be the new "homeowners"—it's a great way to teach kids DIY basics, give them a feeling of accomplishment, and share a hands-on experience together. Plus, you'll be the coolest adult in the neighborhood.
01 of 07
The instructions on the DIY section of Ace Hardware's site are fairly complete although you might want to enlarge them to better view details. They emphasize that the project is deluxe "with a capital D," which probably means that at least you or your child should be experienced in carpentry. It's also recommended that another adult help out during a few of the construction stages, like raising the walls and roof.
It's also suggested that you and your construction crew devote a long weekend, preferably three or four days, to the clubhouse project. Plan B: build it over two weekends (or maybe three), which will including final steps like roofing and painting. Kind of like a real house, on a much smaller scale.
02 of 07
Ever searched through the online collection of The Library of Congress' Historic American Buildings Survey? You never know what you might find, including original plans for your Shaker-style dreamhouse. You can always use one of the plans and reduce the size, adjusting the scale to fit your yard and child.
This Handwerker Gingerbread Playhouse, which was in Memphis, Tennessee, features Victorian architectural details. The basic floor plan exists, but you'd have to improvise—if you have super DIY skills, go for it! Search around the site for your favorite architectural style and let your creativity run rampant. Enjoy the archival photos.
03 of 07
Another structure from instructables.com for the more rustically inclined miniature home dweller. Includes a covered front porch for keeping an eye out for bears and other wild critters. This clever log cabin can be built for around $300, give or take a few dollars. Again, it's something that won't look like every other playhouse on the block, and you can retire to it when your kids have gone off to college.
04 of 07
A Wendy House is the British version of a playhouse. Other than the name, there really isn't any difference between Wendy and play houses: they are small, intended for children and are usually built in a backyard.
This particular house stands 78 inches high, is 92 inches long and 48 inches wide, with an additional 28-inch-wide porch or deck along the front. Instructions and blueprints are included on this site, but a downloadable version is available for a small fee.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
The projects featured on instructables.com are as clever and varied as their contributors. One thing's for sure—you won't find any cookie-cutter mini McMansions here! This project has received rave reviews from readers, and instructions are around $25, but you can't blame the guy who created the Jungle Cruise playhouse for wanting some reward for his efforts. Plus, if you follow his directions, your playhouse will be the coolest on the block. Make that the whole county!
This is probably for experienced DIYers or extremely talented beginners who catch on easily, interpret directions well, and are creative, to boot. When your kids outgrow the Jungle Cruise, you can turn it into a man cave or she shed.
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When you think about it, a treehouse is a playhouse in a—you guessed —it tree. Constructing a treehouse is going to be difficult; Popular Mechanics has always been the monthly bible for hard-core DIYers.
This is not the quickly assembled sheet of plywood wedged into the branches of a tree you might have built with your father or grandfather. It takes into account building a platform as a foundation, along with safety, movement of trees, preassembling pieces and framing on the ground instead of perched precariously on a ladder, one board at a time. A well-built treehouse is enticing to children and adults. Who knows? It might be where your in-laws ask to stay on their next visit.
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This colonial-style charmer can be used as a storage shed when your children outgrow it. Includes clear, detailed instructions with step-by-step photos. Also helpful is a "reader comments' section. Keep in mind that Popular Mechanics' readers are usually experienced and skilled do-it-yourselfers.
Good for those with basic or beginning do-it-yourself skills. If you can read directions, you can build a playhouse.