How to Hire a Treehouse Builder: Everything to Know

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated February 24, 2022
Kids spending their time on a treehouse
Photo: Alina / Adobe Stock

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A treehouse can add a whimsical touch to your yard while offering a unique place for kids to play (or adults to slip away for some quiet time). While you can DIY a treehouse, many homeowners prefer to hire a professional to create a structure that’s just right. To build a treehouse, a contractor should be licensed as a residential builder or carpenter. Look for contractors with specific treehouse building experience. 

Check out our treehouse builder hiring guide and be sure to get quotes from at least three different contractors before settling on your pro.

How to Find a Treehouse Builder

You can search online for a vetted treehouse builder, professional carpenter, or general contractor and compare rates and reviews. You can also go the word-of-mouth route and ask family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors for recommendations. Aim to find a company that offers treehouse building expertise and ask to see examples of their past projects. 

Before Hiring a Treehouse Contractor

Having a vision for your treehouse can help you understand what skills to look for in a contractor. You’ll also want to check the pros’ credentials and ask key questions before signing a contract.

Plan Your Treehouse Project for Accurate Quotes

Put together a general plan for your treehouse so you can match up with the best contractor. The cost to build a treehouse ranges between as little as $400 for the most basic prefab kit to $15,000 for a high-end insulated kids’ treehouse.

Estimated Square Feet

The size of your treehouse can help determine if a contractor has the skills and bandwidth to take on your project. 

Approximate Height

Treehouses for kids are usually six to 10 feet off the ground. If you want your treehouse constructed higher up in the tree, make sure your pro has the skills, tools, and time to do it. 

Complexity and Style

A simple treehouse design with standard straight walls can be completed by a pro who has a year or two of treehouse construction experience. An intricate design with curves and multiple stories requires a treehouse expert with many years under their tool belt. 

Type of Roof and Siding

Many homeowners choose basic wood or raw building materials for their treehouse siding, while others desire a more finished look with wood shingles or vinyl. Treehouse roofing can be made of plywood boards, regular shingles, galvanized flashing, or tarp. 

Knowing what exterior finishes you want can help determine if the contractor can handle your design elements.

One or More Structures

Do you picture one treehouse or a couple connected together by bridges? 

Finished Interior

If you want electricity, plumbing, flooring, and windows, these all play a role in the project’s scope and your contractor’s ability to handle the job.

Once you have a rough idea on these key elements, get at least three quotes from different treehouse builders to determine their pricing and skillset.

Check Your Treehouse Builder’s Qualifications and References

Ask potential treehouse builders about their qualifications. See if you can speak with client references who can vouch for their work and look online at the contractor’s local reviews. Request to see a portfolio of their past treehouse projects, and if possible, go see the work in person.

You should also ensure that your contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured, and knows how to handle the permit process. 

Questions to Ask Your Treehouse Contractor

Before you chat with a treehouse contractor, prepare a list of questions. Here are a few to ask: 

  • How many treehouses have you built? Could I see a portfolio of your past treehouses? Focus the discussion on either treehouses for kids or adults, depending on what you’re wanting. 

  • How long will it take to build a treehouse, and when would you be able to start?

  • What types of subcontractors do you regularly work with? If you want a treehouse that’s livable with plumbing and electricity, it’s important to know if your contractor can line up the right subcontractors. 

  • What is your process for building a treehouse? Get a good idea of how the contractor works, how thorough they are, and if your personalities mesh.

  • Do you provide a written estimate and contract? Steer clear of contractors who won’t put your agreement in writing. 

Hiring Your Treehouse Builder Tips

A man building a wooden treehouse
Photo: Stanislaw Pytel / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Before signing a contract, interview your treehouse master and ensure they have the licenses to back up their claims.

Interview with Your Treehouse Builder 

Talking with more than one treehouse builder can help you find a contractor you feel comfortable with. Not only do you want a reasonable quote, you want a pro who is trustworthy and easy to get along with. 

Ask for a Background Check 

Request to see a background check, so you can be at ease with the contractor being on your property and around your family. You’ll also want to make sure they have the proper licenses to do carpentry or building work. Your state, county, or municipality has rules about which licenses a building or carpentry contractor must carry.

Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Treehouse Builder

A signed contract ensures you and your pro are on the same page. It also offers you protection and some leverage should something go awry during the build. 

Your project contract should include:

  • Treehouse project description and scope

  • Start and finish dates (plus penalties for missed deadlines)

  • Payment terms and timeline (avoid paying in cash so have a paper trail)

  • Permits that contractor handles

  • Terms for changing any orders on the project

  • Material and labor costs, including total project cost

  • Verification of insurance and bonding, and licensure

  • Protection terms, such as a lien release if the contractor fails to pay subcontractors

  • Contract termination terms, in case of poor work quality or long delays

Keep Records of Your Custom Treehouse Project

Make notes and take photos during the building and finishing process. Keep track of the approximate hours the contractor works and any concerns. If you end up needing to address an issue, you’ll have records to support your case. If you sell your home, it’s nice to have details about your treehouse project.

Look for Red Flags and Prepare to Troubleshoot

If you notice any warning signs when working with your contractor, it’s best to address them sooner than later. Watch out for these red flags:

  • No reviews, references, or portfolio of past work

  • Quote is much higher or lower than other bids

  • Won't sign a contract

  • Wants to be paid in cash or asks for a large down payment (such as over 15% of the total project cost)

  • Doesn’t show up when they say they will

  • Skips permit processes

  • Performs low-quality work 

When you approach your contractor about your concerns, try to remain calm and refer to your written agreement. Talk through the details and see if you can come up with a solution together. You should follow-up any verbal conversations with a text or email and ask that the contractor respond with a “yes” in writing so you have proper documentation. 

As a last resort, you can consider hiring an attorney or filing a case with the small claims court, but most contractor issues can be handled without taking legal action. 

After Your Treehouse Builder Has Finished

Before making your final payment to the contractor, check out your new treehouse thoroughly, from inside to out. You should feel excited and happy with the work that you see. 

If you have concerns about the quality, finishes, structure, or any other aspect of the treehouse, discuss them with your contractor and reference your contract if needed. Give your contractor an opportunity to make any issues right.

Once you're satisfied with the work, make your final payment and leave a review to help other treehouse dreamers find the best pro.

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