Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Finished Treehouse

last week, I left the treehouse looking like this

I had gotten a lot of work done, but it still wasn't quite finished.

Monday and Tuesday I had other things to take care of, but I had set most of Wednesday aside to work on the treehouse. So naturally, it rained during the time I was available, and didn't rain during the times I was doing other things. And the same thing happened on Thursday.

It rained early Friday morning, but not the rest of the day, so while everything was a bit damp still, it wasn't soaking wet and it wasn't raining on our power tools. Sunshine and I did schoolwork in the morning, then I spent the afternoon working on the treehouse. I was concerned about over-doing it since I had the 5k the next morning and needed to be mobile, but I also really wanted to get the treehouse finished.

after several days of rainclouds, some real sunshine!

Friday I installed most of the balusters on the upper deck- I ran out, so I wasn't able to completely finish that part. The balusters required some bending and twisting on my part to screw them in place from the outside. I had thought I could do it while standing on a ladder, but I realized that just wouldn't work. The ground is not level and the ladder I planned on using wasn't tall enough for me to reach the upper portions of the railings. I could have used our other, taller ladder, but it weighs a lot more and since I was going to have to move it every couple of feet around the perimeter of the treehouse, I didn't want to mess with it. So I settled for bending and twisting from the upper deck rather than going up and down the ladder and moving it over and over. Either way it would have been time consuming, but I think it was a bit quicker doing it the way I did.

balusters almost all the way around the top, climbing ramp frame in place 

When I installed the railings I extended the height of the original 4x4 post a couple feet by securely screwing a 2x4 on the inside in multiple places to both the old and new 4x4's.
Friday I attached mending plates to the three sides not touching the 2x4 for added stability and security. It's very solid.

Once I ran out of balusters, I moved on to starting the upper climbing ramp that connects the upper and lower decks. I constructed it similar to the lower climbing ramp- 2x4 frame with decking attached to the face. I only got as far as building the frame before I was done for the day. The upper climbing ramp ended up being almost vertical, so it's really more of a climbing wall than a climbing ramp.

Saturday after the race we stopped by Lowe's to pick up the extra balusters I needed and the rope for the climbing ramp and wall.

When we got home, I changed and got working. I knew if I sat on the couch and rested, I wouldn't be getting up again. Which is totally what happened when we went inside after finishing up for the day- I could barely move, I was so tired and sore.

I secured the climbing wall in place, then screwed the deck planks in place. I also attached some decking pieces to the sides of the ramp, closing it off. I didn't want little boys trying to fit in that small space. The climbing holds I'd ordered were delivered while I was attaching the decking, which I thought was great timing. I thought I was going to have to wait a few more days to finish that part, but was able to finish it on Saturday.

because of the post on the right, the side piece extends up further on the left than the right, hence the uneven plank lengths on either side at different heights.

While I was working on the balusters and climbing ramp, Mr M attached the climbing ropes to the tops of the climbing ramp and climbing wall.

ropes in place

He then built a 2x4 frame for the slide and attached it to the treehouse frame. The frame adds stability to the slide, and makes it a bit safer. The top of the slide is attached to the treehouse with carriage bolts.

slide frame in progress

slide in place, needs to be cleaned still

While I was working on the balusters and the climbing ramp I also added lag bolts (in the corners) and carriage bolts (on the sides where I could attach nuts on the backside) to all the railing posts. When I originally installed them, I had screwed the posts in place so there was some play, which allowed me to make sure they were as straight as possible when installing the 2x4 railings. Once the railings were in, I would better secure the posts in place. Drilling holes through 4x4's is tough on our rechargeable drill batteries, so I spaced it out with my other tasks so I could recharge the batteries as needed. 

After I finished the climbing wall we started on the hand rails for the stairs.  The lower posts are just 2x4's lag bolted to the stair stringers and screwed to the decking treads for extra stability. The hand rails themselves are treated 2x2's cut to fit and screwed to the 2x4 lower posts and the 4x4 upper posts.

River wanted to help with the lag bolts, but he didn't want daddy helping him- he's pushing daddy's arm away

such a big helper!

That's phase 1 of our two level treehouse completed. It's not super fancy, but it's definitely useable. Mr M and I are super pleased with how it turned out and the kids are excited to play on it. And we still have six weeks till my due date, so I still have time to finish up some more projects. Though they're much smaller and less ambitious than the patio and the treehouse :)

Phase 2 involves several more details that will make the treehouse more fun and a bit fancier. 
  • Build a small playhouse on the upper deck
  • Build a plank floor below the upper deck, level with the ground (to cover the unevenness of the ground and  the tree roots)
  • Landscape around the treehouse- delineate a "treehouse area", remove brush, level the ground as much as possible, and fill in with shredded bark or mulch to cut down on the mud mess
  • Install a bucket on a pulley
  • Install a swing for the little boys (we have one, just need to figure out where we'll put it)
  • Install gates for the slide, lower ramp, and stairway
  • Install a ziplane from the back deck to the treehouse if we can find safe attachment and loading areas.

Right now we have to wait till we have more money available for these projects (all that wood costs money), but hopefully we can get them done this fall when the weather cools. In the meantime, the kiddos can still get lots of use out of the treehouse.

When we buckled down and worked on it, we made massive progress in less than a month. Too bad it only took us 3 years to finally get going. 

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