Treehouse Building Permit & Regulations

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Legal situation, planning permission and local regulations for treehouse constructions: When do I need a building permit? Can I build a treehouse in my own forest? How big can a treehouse be on my property in a residential area?

The term “treehouse” has hardly been mentioned in the legal codes so far, and is therefore considered a legal grey area – we show what matters in detail!

1. Do I need a building permit for my treehouse?


The building permission is “the official authorisation by the building supervisory authority to erect, alter or remove a building structure”. Interesting for us are the “permission-free buildings“!

Whether a treehouse belongs to the “permit-free” or “permit-required” category depends on its size, use and the exact location.

No official building permission – “permit-free”


Building permission is usually not required for a small, private treehouse in a residential area which is used “primarily as a children’s playhouse“.


It should meet the following criteria:

  • Construction on private property
  • Playhouse character (uninsulated, no fixed sleeping places, no electricity, play elements such as swings & slide, etc.).
  • Small footprint < 10 m²
  • No sealing of the ground surface (no foundation)
  • Sufficient distance from property line (individual local building regulations)
  • Well hidden so that no neighbour can see it
  • No interference with neighbours (view, noise, shade, etc.)

Official building permission – “subject to approval”


If the treehouse on your property is going to be used as “living space”, you should think about going to the municipality or the local building authority – ideally before you start building.

This applies to:

  • Public buildings (treehouse rental, Air B’n’B, open to the public)
  • Treehouses with residential character (insulated construction, beds and furnishings, electricity supply, sanitary facilities, toilet, heating, fireplace, kitchen, …)
  • Gross room volume exceeded (e.g. Germany: building > 75 m³ gross room volume –> subject to approval according to BayBO)
  • Closely populated area
  • Treehouse very close to property line / fence / neighbour
  • Encroachment on neighbours (new visual contact, view, noise, …)
  • Community garden / allotment garden
  • Rented propertie

By the way: Tenants are not allowed to build a treehouse without the landlord’s consent!

2. Regulations – Treehouse Building in residential areas

If you want to build a treehouse in your garden in a residential area, the development plan is important: This contains the legally binding regulations of the respective municipality, e.g. roof shape, roof pitch, roof covering, railing height, building materials, building boundaries, colour design, permissible height, distance to the neighbouring property, …

The development plan can be viewed at the building regulations office, the municipal administration, the town planning department, and at many municipalities also online. Note: Some cities and municipalities also have their own tree protection regulations, according to which, for example, trees with a circumference of 80 cm or more are under special protection.

For large treehouses with residential character, we recommend that you inform yourself in detail about the local building regulations before building. In most cases, the building permit is similar to that for a regular garden house. Local architects and building companies can help you with the plans!

The gross volume of the treehouse [m³]

In many places, the decisive factor for planning permission is the so-called gross volume, that means the total size or volume of the treehouse.

You can see how this is calculated in the following example:


We will show you how different these building regulations can be from region to region, using the federal states of Germany as an example:

"Permit-free" interior area

Berlin, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia
< 10 m³
< 10 m³
Hamburg, Hesse, NRW
< 30 m³
< 30 m³
< 30 m³
Baden-Wuerttemberg, Lower Saxony
< 40 m³
< 50 m³
Bavaria, Brandenburg
< 75 m³

"Permit-free" extra-urban area

Berlin, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia
< 20 m³
Hamburg, Hesse, NRW
< 6 m³
< 10 m³
Baden-Wuerttemberg, Lower Saxony
< 20 m³
< 10 m³
Bavaria, Brandenburg

If the volume of the treehouse is below the limit, the building project falls into the category “permit-free”.

This is just one example for Germany! In other countries, too, building laws vary greatly depending on the individual state and municipality – get informed!

However, staying below the legal volume does not mean that you are automatically allowed to build everything you can think of.

As a rule, only small and simple structures are permit-free, e.g. garden houses, children’s playhouses, carports, tents, temporary structures.

Residential treehouses and obvious living rooms are still subject to permission. The residential character is created e.g. by fireplaces, fixed sleeping places, heating and sanitary facilities, water and electricity connections, hairdresser’s bonnet, Backstreet Boys posters, …

3. Attention – Treehouse Building in extra-urban areas!

Besides our residential or settlement areas, there are also industrial and commercial areas. And there are agricultural areas and forests – these often border directly on the settlement areas – they form the outer (extra-urban) area!

In the total outer area, the building regulations are often very strict: special permits are only granted in isolated cases; illegally erected treehouses can be reported and in most cases have to be demolished again – no matter how beautiful they are!

The situation is different on the close outskirts, i.e. on natural areas directly adjacent to the settlement. Here, depending on the region, the authorities are often more open-minded:

We often have experienced that municipalities are accommodating, especially with treehouse hotels that promote local tourism. They also might turn a blind eye to the private project if you have some “friends” in he building scene.

You can see whether your tree is in a settlement area or in an outdoor area in the “land use plan” – you can view this directly at the municipality and the public building authority.

Are children’s treehouses and small hideaways allowed in the forest?

Outdoor area or not – if it’s up to us:

YES! Every adventure needs its place!

If possible, it is of course better to build the treehouse in your own forest, as you already know the local forester, farmers and neighbours.


Keep building your lovely hideaways and simple treehouses in the forest! Create magical places where family and friends can come together and have a good time! What could be better?

Respect nature: don’t drag loads of building materials and rubbish into the forest. Use ropes instead of nails and respect the trees. Respect the forest dwellers and their peace as well as the foresters and landowners.

4. Our recommendation regarding “Planning permit for building a treehouse”

Building a treehouse is still a legal grey area.

If you build a small, hidden children’s playhouse, this is roughly the same as building a garden shed in terms of building law – no big deal, most people just build without a permit!

For larger projects (with a tendency to residential use), take your ideas and plans to the building authorities, or use the expertise of a local architect or building contractor.

Again, don’t panic, in our experience you will always find a treehouse fan in the community. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to convince the authorities. You should present the following information:

  • Use of the treehouse (playhouse, office, sauna, …)
  • Equipment (sanitary facilities, sleeping place, stove, …)
  • Size (volume, ground plan)
  • Exact plan of treehouse (windows, roof shape, material, …)
  • Location and orientation in the plot (ground plan, distance to neighbours)
  • Height in tree and height of roof ridge (highest point)
  • Fixing technique & statics (just use our website;)

Involve your neighbours – where there’s no plaintiff, there’s no judge!

In our experience, the most important thing (in such a legal gray area) is, that you inform all neighbours about your building project and the consequences. As soon as your neighbours are affected in any way:

  • Tell them about your treehouse project early on.
  • Show them the final designs and dimensions of the project.
  • and explain to them all the consequences of the new treehouse (children playing loudly, new eye contact, view when the tree is not in leaf in winter, new shade from the tree house, …).

This might save you and your neighbours some trouble!

More about building a treehouse

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Hi treehouse friends!

We will be happy to help you! Please check our FAQ section first – there, we have already answered the most common questions for you.

In order to be able to advise you optimally, we need:

  • Sketches (drawn by hand is OK)
  • Position and height of the platform
  • Position and size of the treehouse
  • Photos of the trees
  • Tree diameter ø at the height of the platform
  • Tree species
  • Distance between trees (if more than one)
  • Use of the treehouse (many people, public, …)
  • Particularly stormy or snowy region?


“Since I often hang in trees or work with loud machines, it's best to contact me via email. The more concrete your idea and the more detailed the description, the better I can help you – thank you!”

Vitus Wahlländer - Owner of TheTreehouse.Shop

+49 17623339648

Dürnbachstraße 16a, 83727 Schliersee, Germany

Kontaktiere uns!

Gerne helfen wir Dir weiter. Bitte check vorher unseren FAQ-Bereich, dort haben wir die gängigsten Fragen bereits beantwortet.

Um Dich optimal beraten zu können, benötigen wir:

  • Skizzen (gerne von Hand gekritzelt)
  • Lage und Höhe der Plattform
  • Position und Größe des Baumhauses
  • Fotos von den Bäumen
  • Baumdurchmesser ø auf Höhe der Plattform
  • Baumart
  • Abstand der Bäume (falls mehrere)
  • Nutzen vom Baumhaus (viele Personen, öffentlich, …)
  • Besonders Sturm oder Schneereiche Region?


„Da ich oft in den Bäumen hänge oder mit lauten Maschinen arbeite, kontaktiere mich am besten via E-Mail. Je konkreter Deine Idee und je detaillierter die Beschreibung, desto besser kann ich Dir weiterhelfen – Danke!“


Vitus Wahlländer – Chef 

+49 17623339648

Dürnbachstraße 16a, 83727 Schliersee, Deutschland

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