How to build a Kids' Playhouse

boy holding hammer in front of sign reading now grownups allowed

Every child dreams of having their own special hideaway, a home away from home hidden deep within the ‘mountains and jungles’ of the backyard. Playhouses are great for imaginative outdoors play and what’s more, they’re also a great investment. Not only will this weather-tight playhouse stand up to the rigours of play, a simple change of furnishings will transform it to suit the changing needs of your growing family; from a six-year-old’s top secret clubhouse, right through to a teenager’s art studio, book nook, or creative writing retreat.


Let’s get started...

Begin by gathering and assembling all of the supplies and equipment listed in the materials and tools checklists. Identify the site where the playhouse will be situated, then check that our plan and the dimensions of the playhouse fits your site. If not, the size of the playhouse can be adjusted to suit your family’s needs. For reference, the length our playhouse is 2.4 metres, the width of the base is 1.160m, and the wall frame height is 1.160m.

DIY child's playhouse drawing

Tools checklist

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Power saw and lead
  • Drill
  • Tin snips
  • Crescent
  • Ear muffs
  • Safety glasses


Materials checklist

  • Galvanised roofing nails with washers 60mm (50 pack)
  • Galvanised decking nails 75mm (2 kg pack)
  • Galvanised flathead nails 90mm (2 kg pack)
  • Galvanised multi-grips 20
  • Hinge tee 150mm (for door)
  • Fence paling H3.2 rough sawn, 35 lengths of 1200 x 150 x 25mm
  • Fence rail H3.2 rough sawn, 24m of 100 x 50
  • Fence rail H3.2 rough sawn, 35m of 75 x 50
  • Construction ply H3, three sheets 2400 x 1200 x 17mm
  • Roofing: 1 x clear corrugated sheet 1800 x 860mm, 3 x galvanised corrugated iron sheets 1800 x 762; 1 x galvanised ridge 3.0m


Step one: Flooring base

Materials required: fence rail H3.2  100 x 50 – three lengths at 3m, two lengths at 1.160m; galvanised flathead nails 90mm; multi-grips; fence palings; galvanised decking nails.

Nail the base framing together using 90mm flathead nails. Add extra strength by nailing multi-grips between joining timber.

Ensure the frame is square by comparing diagonals (they should be the same), then nail down 150mm fence palings using galvanised decking nails. Note that the width of base is 1.160m, which allows for the ply on the side walls to extend below the level of the finished floor.

kids playing in wooden playhouse

Step two: Walls

Materials required: fence rail H3.2  75 x 50; top and bottom plates cut to 2.400m; 10 studs cut to 1.060.

Measurements: The height of the wall frame is 1.160m. This suits the construction play size and also allows for the ply to end up lower than the finished floor level.

Please note that the four walls are constructed separately but the two side walls are the same.

Place the top and bottom plates next to each other and mark out the studs at approximately 600mm spacings.

Fix together using nails and multigrips.

The front and back walls are constructed by cutting four top and bottom plates to 1.00m and six studs at 1.060m.

Fix together, check diagonals, then form the roof frame by cutting angled top plates at approximately 30 degrees, which will fix to top of each end frame. This can be complicated, so a bit of trial and error may be required. Use one rafter as a pattern, as all four rafters will be the same.

The window and door on the front wall can be positioned in between the framing to suit your requirements.

Stand the frames and nail together through the corner studs, and down to the floor through the bottom plates.

Attach construction ply to the walls using decking nails. When the door is cut out, the off-cuts will be enough to fill in the angle formed at the top of each end wall.


Step three: Roof framing

Materials required: H3.2  100 x 50 4/3.0m

Nail two rails to each side of the roof, positioning the bottom rail as low as possible to side wall, and the top rail as high as possible to roof apex. The rails should be flush with the back wall and extend over the front wall creating an overhang.


Step four: Roofing

Materials required: one clear corrugated sheet; three galvanised corrugated iron lengths cut to 800mm; one galvanised ridge; galvanised roofing nails with washers.

Use tin snips to cut the roofing sheets, taking care not to cut yourself on the sharp edges.

Place the iron sheets on the roof framing with the cut edge at the top as later it will be covered by the ridge flashing. To keep the playhouse watertight, crease the valley corrugations upwards using a crescent (this will also be covered by the ridge flashing).

Starting at one end (and making sure the overhang over the top plate remains the same), nail every second peak of the iron in place (clear sheeting should be pre-drilled). Nail the bottom of the sheet first as the top will be fixed when the ridge flashing is nailed.


Step 5: Door

Materials required: 150 x 25 fence palings; hinge tee 150mm; four uprights cut to 1.090m; one diagonal cut to 1.100m.

Use power saw to cut one length of 150 x 25 in half to use as top and bottom rails. Cut to measure the width of door opening, less 20mm.

Fix uprights to rails and scribe/mark the angle brace. Start angle brace from bottom of hinge side of door and angle upwards. This will help prevent the door from sagging.

Fix 150mm hinge to door and then to playhouse leaving good clearance on all four sides.


Step 6: External corners

Materials required: two H3 fence palings 1200 x 150 x 25

Use power saw to cut boards in half to 75mm. These boards can now be used to form the four corners of the playhouse and also the four covers for the ends of the roof (gable).

One at a time, hold the board on each corner and scribe/mark the angle of the roof and the required length.

Nail each corner pair together, and then fix to the playhouse.

For the gable trim, hold in desired covering position and scribe/mark to roof angles on the bottom edge of gable trim. Cut to limit sharp edges.


Step 7: Finishing trims

Materials required: H3.2 fence palings 1200 x 150 x 25.

Use power saw to cut six boards into 50mm strips (three strips per board).

Fix as an architrave around the door and window, and to sheet joins and down studs on side panels.

If you require extra windows, cut these into the side panel as desired.

kids playing in simple home made playhouse


Voila! Your playhouse is completed. Now all you need to do is to round up the family in some old clothes and paint or colour-stain the playhouse to blend in with your family home. Once done, the interior can be decked out with bookshelves, old furniture or kids’ tables and chairs. To add instant charm, string up some gingham curtains, knock up a window box or two, or place pots of brightly coloured geraniums at the door.  


Safety first

Remember to wear safety glasses whenever using power tools, and ear muffs when using noisy hand or power tools.


Contact Zones

Want to create a professionally landscaped outdoor area for your family to enjoy? Get in touch with Zones to arrange a free consultation.  

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