Creating a Tree House

Reference Number: KB-02800
Last Modified: December 22, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier


I would like to design a tree house, how would I go about doing this?


Because tree houses are typically not built in the same manner as traditional homes, there are many special adjustments that you will want to make before you begin designing your tree house, such as wall types, ceiling and floor framing, roof materials and framing, etc.  Once the plan defaults are set, a tree house can be built simply by raising the floor of the structure off of the terrain and placing special tree trunk columns to build the structure off of.

Additional columns and pillars can be found in the
Columns and Pillars Bonus Catalog.

Additional recreation items can be found in the
Kids’ Recreation Bonus Catalog.

Both of these catalogs and more can be found in our
3D Library.

To create a custom wall type

  1. Create a new wall type for your tree house by clicking Build> Wall> Define Wall Types .

  2. From the drop-down at the top, select the Interior-4 wall type.

  3. Press Copy, then edit the name from "Interior-4, Copy" to something like "Tree House Wall".

  4. Set both layer 1 and 3 to an appropriate material, such as the "Tobacco Beadboard" used in this example.

    Note: Make sure that the Main Layer is identified as the framing layer of the wall. For more information on creating new wall types, refer to the Related Articles section at the bottom of this article.

To set plan defaults

  1. Go to Edit> Default Settings , select "Floor" and press Edit.

  2. On the Structure panel:

  • Set the desired Ceiling (B) height.  In this example, 85 1/2" was used.

  • Click Edit next to Ceiling Finish (J), delete both layers and press OK.

  • Click Edit next to Floor Finish (K), delete the second (Foam Underlayment) layer and click OK.

  • Click Edit next to Floor Structure (L), set layer 2 to the desired joist thickness.  In this example, 8 1/2" was chosen, for a total thickness of 9 1/4".

  • On the Moldings panel:

    • Click Delete to remove the default base moldings.

  • Click OK to close the Floor 1 Defaults dialog.

  • In the Default Settings dialog expand the "Walls" category, select "Exterior Wall" and press Edit.

    • On the Wall Types panel, set the Wall Type to the newly created "Tree House Wall" wall type.

  • Set any other defaults that you require, such as Door or Window defaults.

  • Click Done on the Default Settings dialog.

  • To create the terrain and set the height where the structure will be built

    1. Create the terrain by clicking Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter .

    2. Click Terrain> Terrain Specification  to edit the Terrain:

    • In the Building Pad section, uncheck Automatic.

    • Set Subfloor Height Above Terrain.  In this example, this was set to 120".

    • In the Clipping section, uncheck Hide Terrain Intersected by Building, then click OK.

  • Now that everything is set up, you can begin designing your tree house by placing tree trunks from the Columns and Pillars bonus library.
    • To align a tree trunk or column on top of your terrain, select the tree trunk or column and click Open Object in the bottom left toolbar. On the General panel, set Elevation Reference to From Terrain and set Terrain to Bottom to 0". 

    Beams can be drawn between the trees by choosing Build> Framing> General Framing  and clicking and dragging to draw the beams from one tree to the other, and can be opened and edited to be the correct size needed to support the tree house.

    Note: By holding the Ctrl key, or the Command key if you are using a Mac, you can draw or rotate your beams at whatever angle is needed to fit on either side of the trees.