It can be fun perching in a miniature abode at stellar heights. But it's important to make sure you're protected in the event your tree house befalls a less-than-stellar event.
does homeowners insurance cover tree houses?
They're the stuff of childhood dreams — but enjoying the high life does come with its share of risks. According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy, about 2,800 children are treated in emergency departments each year for injuries involving tree houses.
So before you begin your design, you may want to think about how a tree house holds up with your homeowners insurance.
Standard homeowners insurance could help cover tree house-related injuries. But if your tree house is damaged in an accident, you may be responsible for the repairs. Also, tree houses fall under a category known as an "attractive nuisance". These potentially hazardous items increase injury risks, and, thus, liability, meaning your home insurance rate may increase as a result.
Because coverage can vary from company to company, you should speak with your insurer to be sure you have adequate protection and that you're not in violation of your policy, which could lead to cancellation or non-renewal.
7 tree house safety tips
Even though tree houses aren't comparatively high-risk, they still pose a multitude of dangers. What's more, your tree house could become the most welcoming structure on your property.
But if you do decide to build one, make sure you do everything you can to eliminate obvious dangers to ensure it's as safe as possible.
1. Choose a strong, healthy tree
Find a mature and healthy tree that doesn't need any special pruning. Make sure large branches haven't fallen off, and that the tree itself isn't too dry. If you are unsure of a tree's health (infestation and disease are not always immediately noticeable), you may want to consult an arborist in your area.
2. Build the tree house low to the ground
Obviously, most injuries result from falling out of the tree house. For this reason, a tree house that is more than 10 feet off the ground is probably too high. Many experts recommend starting from the ground up as much as possible because it's easier working on the ground than on a heavy suspension of wood.
3. The fewer the holes, the better
Remember, the tree is alive. Drilling too many holes can harm the tree and, therefore, render the tree house unsafe over time. Rather than many smaller nails, consider affixing your tree house using a large bolt with a pilot hole.
Another effective way to reduce drilling is to utilize an artificial limb system to create the tree house's basic structure.
It's important to note that chains and straps will often harm the bark and could end up slowly strangling the branches or trunk of the tree.
4. Use ladders, not ropes
Make sure there is a safe way to get up and down the tree house. Strong ladders are important, as ropes and chains pose strangulation hazards.
5. Build on, don't build in
Boards should be placed on top of tree branches instead of nailed to the tree. Keep in mind that the tree is going to continue growing and expanding, and you want the tree house to form a sturdier bond with the tree over time.
6. Check for wear and tear
In the same way your home braves the elements, so, too, will your tree house be dramatically affected by weather. Rain, wind, and snow can loosen nails, warp wood, and shift beams. Check for any uneven surfaces, and make sure nothing is loose. If you find that some surfaces have started to splinter, be sure to sand them down.
7. Make sure an adult is always present
Adult supervision is highly recommended, especially for children younger than the age of 6. You may also want to limit the number of kids playing at a time and institute quiet hours.
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