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Building an Outdoor Playhouse

I'd like to build an outdoor playhouse for my kiddo. I'm envisioning something I can build myself. I'm picturing a sand box below an upper floor (the actual "playhouse"), which would have walls and a ceiling, of course. Perhaps a slide would come out, perhaps a lower deck, and of course a ladder to get up into the playhouse.

I don't need (nor do we have the room for) a swingset off to the side. We have about 9' x 20' in the back yard for the playhouse.

These things seem to cost about $800-$1000. I'm thinking I can do it for a lot less. Has anyone done something similar? Are plans, materials lists, etc. available online somewhere (even if they cost money, though free would be ideal of course)?

3 Responses to "Building an Outdoor Playhouse"

  1. We picked up the $1K set at Sam's earlier this year for our kiddo, but it has a swing portion which you don't require. If I recall correctly, Lowe's has a section in the outdoor/garden center where you can find various pieces to assemble yourself in to a playset of "your own design". I have no idea how much it might cost in total; I just remember walking by the rack of items when I was there looking for a deck box.

  2. I highly recommend CedarWorks. It is a little pricey but it is worth the money. The wood is extremely high quality, better than anything you could buy yourself at a lumber yard. It is delivered all cut and drilled with pretty easy instructions to assemble.

    I have the Gazebo, which is what you would want. It has a sandbox beneath, with a platform above to which you can attach ramps, rockwalls and slides. I also have a swing ladder attached, but their stuff is all mix and match and they have a Flash-based configurator that knows what works and does not.

    I do not recall their prices, but I think just a gazebo will be over $1K. However, this is something that will easily last for more than 10 years. The cedar ages gracefully enough, and it assembles/disassembles so well, that you could even resell it. Whatever you buy will get a lot of use over the years, so I think having quality wood is worth it. You cannot get a splinter from this wood if you tried. It is also naturally insect-resistant and we have had no bugs after having big problems with bugs on our plastic stuff. I have seen other sets that are 6-7 years old from them and they still look great, the wood really weathers nicely.


  3. Last time I was at the big box hardware store, I priced (10) 2 x 4 x 8 studs and (2) 4 x 8 sheets (This would make a typical 8 foot square wooden wall, with studs at 16 inches apart, around 100 dollars per wall, or floor unit... A simple cube of six of these would be six hundred bucks. I may have specified pressure treated.

    You would probably want thicker beams if actually supporting weight, such as a floor for the little one, but I think the 10 studs and 2 sheets for an 8 foot wall unit is a useful rule of thumb to consider. I was thinking of a walk in shelter to feed the pets outdoors at the time.

    The type of play unit you are describing could actually have a lot of open walls and save a bit on this estimate- may want to play around in OmniGraffle or such to figure a rough idea to guestimate costs, then see if what actual existing plans beat that.