How to Build a Really Inexpensive Log Cabin Playhouse for Your Kids in Just a Few Short Hours

Build a low budget playhouse for your kids for less than $100.

Every kid wants a cool fort when they’re growing up. We would make them all the time out of cast off wood, cardboard, and even once out of an overturned giant tree stump. But one of the coolest forts I’ve ever seen was one my uncle built for my cousin. It was a twelve by twelve room built nine feet off the ground with windows and a skylight. Pretty cool, especially for the early eighties when it happened, and we used it quite a bit.

Now there are companies who will come into your backyard and build pirate ships which raises the cool quota to a whole new level. But that’s only if you have a couple of thousand bucks to drop on child’s play. That’s not in most of our budgets. But if you have a Saturday morning to spare, and about a hundred bucks, you can create a really cool kick butt playhouse for your kids in your backyard. The best part is you don’t have to possess the “handyman” gene to turn out something your kids will remember forever.

You’re going to need a circular saw, and a drill, but never forget the most basic of rehab accessories, the screwdriver and hammer. Other than that, you should be good on tools. Like I said, it won’t take much to build this quick cabin playhouse for your kids.

First drop by the hardware store pick up eight sheets of plywood, and wood screws. You’ll also want a tarp for ground cover and to make the job even easier, get some metal connectors that are angled at 45 degrees. Pick the paint color of your choice, and get some brushes and rollers. This is the best way to get the kids involved, let them pick out the colors for the inside and exterior and grab paint brushes for them as well. You have a real opportunity here to let your kids go nuts and paint murals and create their own cave art.

Once you are back home lay the tarp out in the spot where you want to set up the playhouse. Next set six sheets of plywood on edge on their sides and connect with the metal connectors. You’ve just created a hexagon shape with four foot high walls, perfect for your kids. Before you put the roof on, drill a hole and cut out a window in every other section.

Now cut the other sections of plywood on a diagonal from one corner to the opposite corner. Assemble those pieces in a slightly conical shape. Cut a few skylights into the roof sections (don’t worry, we’ll rain-proof them later), and then get some help to lift it onto the walls. Once you have it situated, screw it to the walls. Then cut the door.

You are almost done. Give the kids paintbrushes and turn them loose to create the playhouse of their dreams. As a good parent you can do the broad brushstrokes and let them take care of the details. Since you are a good playhouse building parent you want to cover the skylights so rain won’t soak the interior. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can get Plexiglas and cut it to size, then install it. But that’s way too complicated for what we want to do. Go to a big box discount retailer and get a clear shower curtain liner. Cut to size and tack across the skylights, and then trim it out with a wooden frame. One word of warning about water. It will find a way past your barrier unless you waterproof it. You can get a silicone caulk gun and lay a bead around the trim, or when you visit the big box retailer get a tube of superglue. When you tack the clear vinyl across the skylight, run a line of superglue around the edge to seal it. After you trim it out, run another bead of superglue around the frame.

You can create clear curtains for the windows out of the remaining shower liner and tack them up on the exterior of the playhouse. Your kids can roll them back when they’re playing to allow air to flow through.

There it is, a quick easy yurt like cabin playhouse you can build for your kids in less than a day and for under one hundred dollars. This design can be used as emergency shelters during times of natural disasters. This particular shelter can be built fast and easy from existing materials pulled from dilapidated or damaged structures. Or the material can be dropped quickly from a helicopter or C130. A fast cheap solution to an emergency like Haiti can give people options quickly.


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