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Build a DIY Cubby House

Last Updated Nov 22, 2016 · Written by

Kids Play Equipment

Kids love cubby houses and outdoor play equipment. Here's a step-by-step guide to building DIY cubby houses. If you're handy with basic building tools, it's not a difficult job. If you need help, a local handyman can help you build a cubby house.

You can build a cubby house with hand tools and let the kids help you with some of the work. If you use power tools, keep the kids away from the site while you're using them and put the tools away after you use them.

Inside this article:

  1. Start with a Plan
  2. Get Your Materials
  3. Build a Strong Foundation
  4. Build the Deck
  5. Build the Walls and Roof
  6. Finishing Touches to the Cubby House

Start by asking council if you need a permit to build a cubby house. If it's a small, inexpensive cubby house, you may not need a building permit. If it's large and expensive, you may need to hire a builder to help you. You can probably still help with the work, though. Two workers is enough to build a cubby house. You may be able to find a semi-retired builder in your neighbourhood who still has a builder's licence. They may enjoy having a small project to work on.

One: Start with a Plan

Think of a cubby house as a miniature house. The difference is that a cubby house doesn't need electricity or plumbing and may not need council approval if it is not too elaborate or expensive.

The first step to building a cubby house is a plan. You may be able to find cubby house plans online or at your local hardware supplier. If you can't find a plan, you don't need to be an architect to design a cubby house:

  1. Find the area where the cubby house will go.
  2. Measure the area you want the cubby house to cover.
  3. A good cubby house will have a deck and an indoor play area. Make the cubby house large enough for both.
  4. Draw your walls first. Don't forget to leave room for a door and windows.
  5. If you haven't done building work in the past, consider building a skillion roof. It's easier to build than a pitched roof.
  6. Don't forget posts, rails, balusters and capping for the deck railing. These are especially important if the cubby house is going to be elevated.

If you start with a detailed plan, the work will be easier and you'll know you are building a cubby house that will last. Cubby house plans will tell you the supplies you need for all phases of construction. Good plans will detail the widths and thicknesses of the timber components; the types of fastenings you need; and provide other important details.

If you can't find a plan that is the exact size you want, it's still a good idea to work from one. You can always modify the size of the cubby house, but you will know all the materials you need for sturdy construction.

Two: Get Your Materials

You need a plan so you don't leave out any of the materials. You may need:

  • Cement for setting the posts. If the cubby house isn't elevated, you may be able to use pre-cast foundation posts.
  • Treated pine timber of various sizes for posts, decking, the frame, cladding and the roof. If you're unsure of the sizes, a timber supplier can help you choose the right sizes.
  • Nails, screws, bolts and other supplies.
  • Roofing
  • Paint

Remember to account for timber waste. Whatever lengths of timber you buy, you will end up with unused off-cuts. If you use treated pine, don't burn the off-cuts. The smoke from treated pine is toxic.

Three: Build a Strong Foundation

A cubby house doesn't carry as much weight as your home carries, but it still needs a strong foundation. Start by laying out the area. Use a string line to make sure everything is straight and rectangular.

Now dig your holes using a posthole digger. The holes should be at least 600mm deep. If the cubby house is elevated, they should be even deeper.

Get your posts ready first. If the ground is sloping, leave them long enough to cut off later to create a level floor. You should also treat the end of the posts where they are going into the ground to make sure they don't rot.

Now you're ready to mix cement and install the posts. Use a level to check that the posts are plumb. You may need to prop them to keep them plumb while the cement dries.

Four: Build the Deck

Attach beams to the perimeter of the posts. Use sturdy bugle batten screws instead of nails. Make sure each beam is perfectly level as you go. After you've attached the beams, attach bearers to the interior of your rectangle. When you're done, trim the posts. If the cubby house is elevated, your posts may need further reinforcement.

Now you can lay your decking boards or plywood flooring.

Five: Build the Walls and Roof

If you have a firm foundation and a level floor, building the cubby house will be much easier. The deck is a perfect place to build your walls. If you are building a skillion roof, start with the two sloping walls. Double check your drawings. You may want to extend the roof over the deck, so you want to be sure the low end of the walls is high enough to continue the slope and allow headroom.

If you are building a pitched roof, all of the walls will be the same height. The easiest way to erect the walls is to first fix two opposite walls and then attach the walls perpendicular to them.

Now you can build the roof and clad the walls, leaving space for the door and windows.

Six: Finishing Touches to the Cubby House

Now you're ready for the finishing touches. If you're installing windows, it's best to leave them for last. Depending on the plan you use, you will need to build:

  • A deck railing
  • Stairs or a ladder
  • Add play equipment after you've painted the cubby house

If the cubby house is elevated, the kids will need a ladder or stairs to get into the cubby house, but you can also provide them with other fun ways to get into and out of the cubby house. For example, you can:

  • Build a climbing wall
  • Install a slide
  • Install a rope climb

If there is headroom under the cubby house, consider installing a sand pit. There will be plenty of shade in the summer and the sand won't get too wet when it rains.

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