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Treehouses & Play Houses

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Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > House & Garden > Treehouses & Play Houses


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Looking for a carpenter with experience in treehouses

June 2010

We're looking at building a treehouse over the next two years, starting with a swing set partly supported by a large tree. Can anybody recommend a carpenter with experience in treehouses? Thanks! Kate


Hello, I posted the following recommendation a couple of times in the past months on BPN. Since the original posting, Idan has done a bunch of projects for me and a few of my friends whom I've recommended him to. I have not hired any body else to work on my house since I first hired Idan because I'm so pleased with his work and hid attitude and personality and whenever I hear remodeling and handyman horror stories from friends and colleagues I count my blessings for having found such a great contractor/carpenter/craftsman. Here is my original posting:
I highly endorse Idan Bearman of Bearman and Sons. He built a wonderful little tree-fort for my son in our backyard. He is a green builder and was more than happy to use the salvaged lumber and drift wood that my family has gathered for this purpose. He was also happy to let my 4 yr old son ''help'' him with the construction. He is very accommodating and pleasant to work with and I really appreciated his attention to details, cleanliness and punctuality. I originally hired him to replace a door and sash window. Because I was so pleased with his work, Idan was my 1st and only choice when I decided to get a tree fort for my son. Idan's tel # is 510 830 7927 and his email is
On a side note- the tree fort is my son's little sanctuary and he loves it. I highly recommend getting one. Aliss
We highly recommend John Henry Lionheart. He's great to work with, conscientious about the needs of your tree(s) and the treehouse he is building for us looks great! You can contact him at: John Lionheart FineTreehouseBuilding.com Berkeley, Ca 94708 510-910-0635 johnhenrylionheart@gmail.com
~ Parents of a happy six year old Erin

Custom shed with an open-air treehouse on top

Sept 2009

We're looking for recommendations for a carpenter/builder to tackle a job in a tight corner in our yard where we'd like to build (have built) a small shed or enclosed storage space on bottom with an open-air loft ''tree'' house on top. This is definitely a custom job and we need someone with a creative eye who can take our vision and build a sturdy structure from the ground up. Thanks for any suggestions! Michelle


I highly recommend Scott Montgomery of MSM Services for your project. His number is 925-382-4112. When you mentioned needing someone with a creative eye who could turn your vision into a reality, I knew Scott was exactly the young man you need. I have worked with Scott on many projects from a complete bathroom remodel to building out our garage into a laundry room, playroom and office space, and his ability to make an ordinary project into a custom one is amazing. I had a designer work with me on the bathroom and Scott was as, or more, helpful in coming up with unique design features as she was. I know it wouldn't have turned out nearly as beautiful and functional with any other general contractor. I spoke with him about your job and he was very excited. It is just the kind of creative project he enjoys and excels at. In addition, his prices are very competitive. Sorry for the long recommendation, but I just know he is the perfect man for your job. Please feel free to call me if you want more info...Dee
There are, of course, vast numbers of carpenters and 'handymen' available, and we have worked with many over the past 20 years. It is rare, however, to find one who combines the factors of **utterly reliable and honest **really versatile in many crafts **affordable, and, relevantly for your need, **a really creative and practical problem-solver. Our friend Lowell Hicks fits all the above, and as a result, we have not only used him for a dozen projects in our El Cerrito house (from building huge planter boxes to creating a new room out of rough basement storage), but also some joint venture projects involving 'rehabbing' entire houses. He's eagerly looking for work right now -- assembling IKEA cabinets is not his idea of creative fun. You can reach him in El Cerrito at (510) 528-4253. And/or, my wife Marina and I would be happy to talk or email about him. PS:: He donates much of his profits to worthy causes, recently a rural children's hospital in Honduras and a remote nunnery in Tibet. John
I know a great carpenter and a great contractor (and an electrician, a few plumbers, etc. just ask me!). Contractor: Glenn Larson 232-9122. Carpenter: Davey Bruce 510-541-0199 doghair@gmail.com Mailisha
Please call Aron Lewandowski with Woodsoul Design. (510)435-5419. He is a master carpenter and designer. He specializes in custom work like this and creates masterpieces. He is one of those guys who can fix anything, build anything, design anything and takes pride in the work he does. Good luck! happy with treehouse
If you are looking for a treehouse builder I have just the right man for you... His name is Ori Avital and he is a handyman/repair person and a carpenter. Ori is extremely talented in a variety of disciplines (woodworking, carpentry, painting, remodeling, dry-wall, tiling, light plumbing and electricity, and much more.). He is very kind, professional and neat at his work. I call Ori for every new project that I want to do in my house. Ori's phone number is: 415 632 2666. email: oriavital@gmail.com Daphny
I highly endorse Idan Bearman of Bearman and Sons. He built a wonderful little tree-fort for my son in our backyard. He is a green builder and was more than happy to use the salvaged lumber and drift wood that my family has gathered for this purpose. He was also happy to let my 4 yr old son ''help'' him with the construction. He is very accommodating and pleasant to work with and I really appreciated his attention to details, cleanliness and punctuality. I originally hired him to replace a door and sash window. Because I was so pleased with his work, Idan was my 1st and only choice when I decided to get a tree fort for my son. Idan's tel # is 510 830 7927 and his email is bearmanandsons@yahoo.com
On a side note- the tree fort is my son's little sanctuary and he loves it. I highly recommend getting one. Aliss

Who can build a tree house for us?

July 2009

Our 4.5-year-old daughter has started begging for a tree house in our back garden. We are lucky enough to have a big garden and I think the largest of our trees has some wide branches that could easily support a simple tree house, with a ladder up to it. I'd love to fulfil her request but neither of us (her 2 mothers) is that handy with lumber or building. Any ideas how we could go about finding someone to build us a nice but not too fancy tree house/platform and sturdy ladder up? Kate


Please, contact Cameron C. Habel at 510 531-4090 Click on his web site and then click the Gilbert Residence to see the tree house he built for my children. The kids love it. He is also a Certified Green Building Professional. Cameron C. Habel Construction, Inc. www.habelconstruction.com
Mr. G.

Looking for a Treehouse designer/builder

May 2009

My middle child is about to turn 8 and he is yearning madly for a Treehouse/enclosed outdoor space of his own. I am looking for a Treehouse designer/builder - this is above and beyond my and my husband's skills. The available space to do it is beyond our grassy back yard and is downslope - so not super easy. Also, if you could include the rough amount you spent that would be helpful. Hoping for a Treehouse


You're looking for a contractor to design & build a treehouse. I can't help you there, but here's our story:

We built a treehouse in our backyard plum tree ... it was a real hit with our two kids (and their friends) when they were about 7 to 11. The kids helped make it (especially the ropes and netting)

It was about 7 feet off the ground, with a homebrew rope ladder. We connected 2x4's to the limbs using rope and a several big screws & lag bolts. The floor was pieces of 1x6 screwed to the 2x4's We kept the sides open, but used netting to reduce the chance of falling over the edge. Cost perhaps $100 and a weekend.

The kids painted it with random housepaint (Mark's Paints on Telegraph Ave sells cheap quarts of wrong-mixed paint). Later, the kids added a twine pulley and basket to bring stuff up from below. Then we made a marble chute from a few 8 foot lengths of 1'' PVC tubing & couplings. And every July, we'd use the treehouse as a platform to pick the plums, and then make plum jam.

Because we used fir and other scrap lumber, the wood did not weather well, but it lasted 7 years. With the kids now well into teenagerhood - and the wood starting to fall apart - we've just taken it down.

Rereading this, it sounds like Little House on the Prairie. It was cheap, homemade fun and the kids learned a bit about construction. Cliff


Carpenter for backyard fort?

March 2009

We don't have any trees appropriate for a tree house, which is what we really want. So, we're trying to figure out how to build a structure NEXT to a tree, for a faux tree house.

We're looking for a carpenter who doesn't mind kids who will be very interested in the project. It would be a plus to have someone who's done something like this, so we have an idea of labor and material costs at the outset.

We're also interested in hearing from anyone who has advice -- should we buy a pre-fab fort (they seem more play structure than we need)? Are we nuts? Our trees are redwoods but we've been told that they sway too much for a tree house (there's a design which encircles a trunk) -- has anyone successfully built one in a redwood? thanks, anne


Definitely, definitely give Rick Patterson of Haven Builders a buzz--he remodelled a bathroom for us and, having two kids, it was remarkable to see how Rick managed to accomadate them with grace and humor while still working. He is a real craftsman and, I think, this is the kind of project he would really appreciate. He has a small daughter too and perhaps already has done some forts for her. Good luck! His number is 510-978-1786 and the email is rixmail1@gmail.com Sandy
Anne--try Rick Patterson--he's great with kids. He did a fireplace remodel for us and our kids were wrapped around his legs much of the time--he was great with them and his work was terrific too--Randy His email is rixmail1@gmail.com and the phone is 510-978-1786 Randy
For people who asked for a carpenter recommendation. We just had a beautiful bench done for our school auction by Lowell Hicks, his phone 510-612-9988. He works with all kinds of wood, exotic and not and his craftsmanship is amazing. He is very reasonable, very responsive, very skilled, knowledgeable and sensitive to your budget, and just really wonderful person to work with. If you want any additional information, you can contact me directly: lollaryabova@hotmail.com Lola
Give Matthew Muchnick at ROC Construction a call ... I found him to be hugely skilled, flexible, great at listening and realistically describing what to expect, considerate about cleaning up each day, and, although it was not for me, he has previous tree house building experience... his number is (510) 638-5284 Good Luck! Mary

Looking for someone to build a tree house or fort

Nov 2007

We are looking for someone to build a tree house or fort in our backyard for our boys. Does anyone know someone who does this for a living or on the side? Reasonable cost is a factor - did find one person that charged $25k! Not sure where to begin...thanks! hf


I am responding to your ad for a ''treehouse builder'' I know of one, his name is Norman Hull and he is great! His Phone number 510-228-2656 or email is normanhull@gmail.com

Affordable Wood Outdoor Playhouse

Sept 2003

I would like very much to get a small (6'X6') wood playhouse for my backyard. My initial search has not turned up much under $1,500. Yeow! I was hoping to find one for less money. Does anyone have any recommendations about where I can find an affordable wood playhouse for the outdoors? Thanks. Hilary


Costco has them twice a year and they vary in price from $1100- 3000. You may want to check their website: www.costco.com ara

Looking for a cute wooden playhouse

March 2003

We are looking for a large cute wooden playhouse for our girls. (around 6' x 8' w/ loft) Has anyone had any experience looking for one of these? I've been looking on the internet and most of the companies that sell these are back east...Also, do you need to obtain a permit in Berkeley to have a playhouse in your backyard? Thank you! Laura


Like you, I have wanted a playhouse for my child. The best I've found is a line of playhouses by Play Well, available at The Backyard Factory in Dublin. Here is Play Well's website for the clubhouses: http://www.play- well.com/PlayWell/PlayHouses/default.htm

They have a ''Safari Sam'' that has a footprint of 5' by 6', with a 3' porch. A larger ''Jungle Pad'' has a 6' by 8' footprint, with a 2' porch. Neither has a loft, but you can get an 11'' height increase, so maybe can build a loft yourself someday. I'm pretty sure the maximum height inside is 6'. At The Backyard Factory, they have the Safari Sam on the floor to look at. Costs vary depending upon the wood you choose, ranging from plywood to cedar. The summer 2002 pricing for the Safari Sam in cedar was $2,195 for the basic unit, $150 for the height extension,$75 for delivery, and $375 for installation. Not cheap, but I found far more expensive in my search process. Will be interested to see what others have to say. Amy


I missed the earlier posting but my favorite playhouse is at See's Candies. It's probably about $20 (it was less when my kids were little) and is made of strong cardboard. It lasts pretty long, especially indoors and if you attach a homemade cardboard floor. Plus, your child can color it in himself/herself! (A friend left hers outdoors and even with rain it lasted for months.) You could probably buy 10 of them for the price of one bigger, bulkier item, but your child wouldn't them around for that long! wb
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