Playhouses must follow a design for safety

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ July 15, 2011

You can find some of the most interesting home improvement ideas by looking at the designs for children's play houses. If we could consider safety when we improve the big house with the same concern for our little ones, imagine how few shortcuts we'd take or details we'd omit.

Look around the Web. There are prefab playhouse and construction companies that design and sell schematics, many offering plans free of charge. Like your home, a playhouse foundation reins in the dimensions and options. In playhouse construction, the most important element is getting sufficient lumber for framing and building a solid base. This is one step where skimping is a poor idea.

Cate Morgan-Harlow recommends that you determine from the start whether the playhouse will be collapsed later and moved to a new location or backyard, or a more stationary, sturdy permanent mini-dwelling that remains in place. A third option is creating a design for a raised foundation that is durable, but can still be moved if necessary.

The writers at Secrets of Shed Building remind us that designs don't necessarily have to reflect standard houses. Let your imagination fuel a playhouse design that will delight as well as stand up to weather and rough play.

Are you going to build it yourself or buy a kit? There are pre-built plastic play houses for those who are on a tight budget. But you know you want a hand in things!

Prepping for safety

Finding a location where children are safe from nearby protruding limbs, posts and wires seems obvious. But if you're building out of wood for safety, remember you should round off all corners, sand and treat all wood against splintering, sink your screw heads and use non-rusting metals.

Lowes begins its play-home improvement project at the true first step: site preparation. Choose a level spot of land with excellent drainage. If you need to, follow plans for installing a deck draining system.

Once you have your floor frame, lift one edge or move it away completely and cover the level ground with sheets of polyethylene film to keep out vegetation and child-biting bugs.

Writers at the Do It Yourself Network favor a 6' x 8' deck that's supported by two center joists and covered with decking planks. Lowes prefers installing an exterior-rated plywood floor atop the frame/foundation, attaching it to the joists with coated deck screws.

The best part of using wood is that you can do a play-home improvement project later on to accommodate more kids or kids that have outgrown the original.

And for heaven's sake, have fun!

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