The playhouse is going to go in an unused corner of our yard. There is currently a little tree and a couple of bushes in that corner. I’m going to keep the tree and one bush, but relocate the other bush. All of the landscaping in that corner was put in new a few years ago. But the bush that is getting transplanted never really did well there. So maybe it will be better off somewhere else anyway.
In an ideal world, I would have used poured concrete footings as the supports for the structure. But I’m not too concerned about minor shifting around. So I’m just going to have the whole structure rest on pavers, on grade. The first step was to take up all the grass where the structure will go. After the playhouse is all done, there will be planting beds around it, so I’m not making final lines around the grass. I’m just scraping up enough grass to have room to work.
After pulling up all the grass and digging out the bush, I put down heavy grade landscape fabric underneath where the final structure will be. Before putting down the fabric, I leveled the four spots where the pavers will rest. I stapled down the fabric and put down the pavers.
Next I built the floor frame. It is pressure treated 2×4s, resting on two pressure treated 4×4s acting as skids. I made sure the 4×4s were all leveled prior to building the frame on top of it. The main frame is 9’ wide by 6’ deep. There is a little 1’ x 3’ bumpout in the front where the kids’ door will be. I just built a separate little box and screwed it onto the larger frame. Ideally, I would have actually ran joists all the way through the main box, and cantilevered them out to make the bump out. But structurally speaking, I’m confident that the way I did it is plenty sufficient. The plywood flooring will be continuous pieces that cover the larger box and the bumpout. That is some extra support. And the wall framing will all interconnect at the corners, providing more rigidity. And finally, the exterior sheathing will run down the walls and overlap the floor box/frame, thereby further tying everything together. It will be fine.
I made sure the frame was squared up (measuring diagonal corners and making sure the two measurements were identical), and then attached the floor joists to the 4×4s by toe-screwing the joists to the 4×4s.
Finally I screwed down the 3/4” tongue-and-groove subfloor and cut off all the overhang with a circular saw. Sure enough, the bumpout is plenty strong. I’m about 185 pounds, and when I stand on the bumpout, I don’t see, feel or hear any sagging, creaking, etc. It will be fine for my two kids who both weigh probably less than a fifth of what I do.
It is supposed to rain all day tomorrow (Sunday), so I don’t plan on making any more progress this weekend, hence the tarp in the picture above. After this upcoming week, I’m off from work for a week. I plan on hopefully finishing the whole project, or at least getting close to finishing it, during that week off. Until then.
-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ, www.pankowoodworks.com