Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do I need to worry about building regulations?
Yes, you should be aware of how you might be affected. Every property will have legal restrictions on what else can be built there other than the main dwelling. These restrictions vary from area to area, and are particularly influential in built up areas within large towns/cities or suburbs. It is usually possible to build on your own land in rural areas without any interference. The only definite way to know what you can and cannot build is to ask the local building authority. It is also worth asking your neighbours before you start anything, as complaints often start from a neighbour who feels the treehouse is ugly or overlooks their property. Approaching people beforehand shows that you respect their opinion and that you are willing to compromise if necessary. If you take no action before building, you can risk fines, lawsuits or demolition orders. All waste time and money and will be much more stressful than getting the information before you start building.
What are the main restrictions that affect treehouses?
1. If the tree is on a protected list you cannot build in it at all. This restriction is sometimes called a Tree Preservation Order.
2. Treehouses are generally classed as 'temporary structures', like a garden shed. In this case, there will be a maximum height restriction of around 4m (16 feet) - this is from ground level to peak of roof, so it easy to exceed when building a treehouse.
3. No part of the treehouse should be built within a set distance of the boundary line, usually around 3m (12 feet).
4. Permanent electrical or water connections may change the classification of the treehouse, as it could be considered habitable. You are very unlikely to be able to build a treehouse that will meet building regulations for a habitable structure. Running an extension cable or using a temporary water connection are ways to get round this.
How do I find out what restrictions are in place in my area?
Contact the local department responsible for planning and building regulations. They will usually be part of your local council. It can be wise to make an anonymous enquiry to begin with, so you can prepare yourself for any paperwork you need to fill in.