children's playhouse

Before taking on this project, it is probably a good idea to sit down in your favourite chair with a nice hot cup of tea, lean back, relax, close your eyes, and ask yourself- ‘Do I honestly have the skills to build a playhouse?’ Some of the skills required involve concreting posts into the ground, being at least a bit competent with a saw and hammer, and being able to cut roofing material to fit. Timewise, unless you are a professional builder, a project this size you should realistically expect to take a number of days to build- you will not be able to finish it in just a weekend. You should also keep in mind the cost of materials. It doesn’t look like much, but when you start counting the number of lengths of timber, how many sheets of roofing material, the price of plywood, etc and price it up, you may have second thoughts.


Materials and Tools

Here is a list of possible materials and tools you may need. It is up to you whether you wish to go for the more rustic look of rough sawn weatherboards or smooth dressed timber, or even simplify things by cladding it in plywood sheets. The choice is yours. Likewise, the tool list is merely there as an indication. If you are going to use plywood for the roof, then you obviously will not be requiring tin snips. You also may find the use of a mitre saw very handy for cutting 45 degree angles for the window frames, but then again you may be quite capable of doing this with a circular saw as well, or you may even be lucky enough to own a bench saw.

A degree of common sense is also definately required for this project.

4x posts/poles (length should be the height you want the corners to be + approx 600mm (or 2 ft))

a couple of bags of ready-mixed concrete

a good stash of rough sawn fence palings (or similar) for weatherboards

some 75x50mm (3x2in) framing timber

a sheet of plywood for the floor (remember you’ll possibly need an offcut for the door)

some roofing material and fasteners (ask at your hardware store)

a box of long nails for the framing (galvanised or stainless)

a box of medium nails for the weatherboards (galvanised or stainless)

perspex squares for the windows

dressed (smooth) timber for the window and door frames

hinges and handle for the door


spirit level


circular saw

mitre saw



tin snips



Step 1

Figure out whereabouts you’d like the playhouse to go. You may need to check your local council regulations as to whether you are permitted to build a playhouse, and whether concreting it in to the ground defines it as a permanent structure. Or in my case, just not worrying about it.

Dig some holes in the ground to a suitable depth. Not too shallow. Remember this is to anchor the playhouse to the ground, and you don’t want to be liable if little Johnny gets 20 of his mates over and they manage to topple the thing and squash someone. And you wouldn’t want the playhouse to blow away with a good gust of wind either. Figure out how big you want the thing to be. Dig some holes. A good way to make sure the holes are squared up is to lay down the sheet of plywood for the floor and use as a giant set square.

Chuck a post in each of the holes. The posts can either be round or square, doesn’t really matter. Use a spirit level or a good keen eye to stand them up straight. Pour in some ready mix cement from the hardware store, add water, check the posts are still standing up straight, and once you’re happy then leave them for a day or two. The posts should stay up straight once the cement mix is added as it doesn’t take long for it to start setting, however be mindful that young Johnny doesn’t come out when you’re not looking and try climbing them.


Step 2

Notch out the posts if you are using round ones. This is much much stronger than just banging on some bits of timber on to the sides with a couple of nails. I know it’s just a playhouse, but always consider the possibility that little Johnny could be hugely popular with his schoolmates when they hear about this, and like I mentioned earlier, what’s going to happen when 20 little tikes are jumping up and down on this thing. Use a spirit level and a straight length of timber to make sure the notches are all at the same height.

Construct the floor. Do this directly on the posts- don’t try to make the floor and lift it in to place. Yes, this sounds obvious, but some people, you know.... The method on the left is stronger but less pretty.

Here’s another method for constructing strong joints- notching out the timber prior to nailing. However, do remember which beams will be taking the load, so don’t notch too much out.

End result something like this...


Step 3

Construct a basic frame between the posts. Create openings for a door and windows. Easy.

Bang up some simple roof trusses. If this all looks a bit too hard, why not just make it
a single sloped roof.
Don’t get too worried about the level of finish, at the end of the day it’s just a
children’s playhouse- unless of course you’ve just got sawdust all over a freshly
cleaned load of washing on the clothesline and you think you’ll be spending a few days
living in it.

Start nailing on the roof. If you choose to use corrugated roofing, follow the manufacturer’s
instructions and use the appropriate nails/screws.
Otherwise, just slap on some plywood or whatever, keeping in mind that it should be
as weathertight as you can make it, plus will feel the full force of the sun and wind.


Step 4

Start nailing on the weatherboards.
You can use whatever material you’d like, however one good option is
rough sawn fence palings. Or once again, you could always use plywood.
Make sure you nail through both boards at the same time, otherwise when you come
to bang the nail home flush you will more than likely split the boards.

Construct windows as illustrated or similar. Slide perspex into the frame from the inside and glue into place. For obvious reasons perspex or clear plastic is preferable to glass. Create a doorframe in a similar manner.

Slot the constructed window frame into the openings you have made and nail in place.

By this stage your confidence should be so good that you’ll be able to make an opening door and any other features without assistance. Otherwise, there’ll be a big bonfire tonight in your backyard. Go buy some marshmallows.


The finished product