Picture of Build a log cabin Playhouse for under $300
I noticed that my 3 year old Son always gravitated toward the playhouses whenever we went to a big playground. So, I put Playhouse on my list of things to get for him.

Yeah well, after shopping around for a while I found that a Playhouse of any decent size was $1200 for a striped down, 4'x 6' box. Then there was the Log Cabin one that I thought was really cool but it was $3700, marked down from $4200 because it was a floor model!

Then came my inspiration, my Neighbors put in a Stockade fence this spring and were resting the panels against their garage until they used them. I walked outside, glanced over and thought... Dang, those look like the side to a log cabin! And so my planning began.

DISCLAIMER: This structure will be as durable as you make it. If you do a crappy job and it falls down on your kids head it's not my fault.

My Son has been using this playhouse almost every day, even when it's raining. When I pick him up from daycare all he wants to do is go into his playhouse, He has even eaten his dinner in there more than once. On several occasions I have had to carry him inside screaming in order to put him to bed.

Build note:
1. My Son for some reason has been leaving the front door open and he runs into the playhouse and bounces off the back wall. As a precaution I decieded to pre-drill and screw the slats on the back wall to the stringers. He didn't knock any slats off but I figured just in case.

2. My dog has been digging on the side of the playhouse and sniffing through the floor of the playhouse. I looked under and didn't see any animals I would suggest that you apply some metal mesh around the foundation prior to putting on the walls.

3 Year Update
I noticed that it's been 3 years since I created this playhouse so I decided to take a picture of it in it's current state.  It's had a lot of snow on the roof over these 3 years and a lot of abuse from my now 6 year old Son and my 2 year old daughter.  Picture 2 shows it's current state taken exactly 3 years from the original.  I think I need to stain the floor again, but the rest held up well.

The sunflowers were built from that same Neighbors old metal fence posts and the cut offs from the wall panels.  The center is actually a piece of plywood covered with left over roofing material.
HoboWhisperer made it!2 months ago

This thing is a great idea. I'm not yet finished, but the kids love it already!

I made a couple of minor changes:

- The 4 walls are PT fencing sections. They should resist rot a bit better. The floor is untreated because I have experienced firsthand the joys of PT splinters.

- I added more lengthwise supports under the platform. I used PT 2x4's, and notched them around the landscaping timbers. It firmed up the floor nicely, and eliminated the shims since the thickness in the notch matches the stringer thickness.

- I also coped in some 2x4 supports on the 'porch' area to beef up the roof overhang.

- I also added a 2x3 on the inside, bottom edge of the window, since my kids like to crawl through windows. I may do the same above the door frame as well.

These are all minor tweaks though - I wouldn't not have thought of this, and it would have been enormously more difficult without the guidance of this Instructable.

builderbrad7 years ago
Id like to Thank Mike O for the awesome plans here, I went to my local Lowes and got everything on the list, all for $249. However, I have shanged a few things...such as adding 2 feet to the floor length and 1 foot to the height. I also added a piece of 18"x24" plexiglass for the skylight Im putting in. (alredy had that). All in all, I used these basic plans and now I have a 7'x 4.5' x 6' with an additional two foot front porch. Thanks Mike!
MikeO (author)  builderbrad7 years ago
I would love to see it. any chance you could post a picture of it?
Yeah....Ill have it mostly finished this weekend, then Ill post. ;)

your weekend is up! lets see the pics if your still alive

Would love to see pictures!
MikeO (author) 2 months ago

Great job HoboWisperer, that looks fantastic! I'm sure the kids will have fun in there for years. Thanks for posting the picture

Though mine came out very different, I never could have completed it without this instructable. Thanks. Here's a link to mine:


Also, search craigslist for fence panels. Many people near me give them away when they redo a fence.
MikeO (author)  michaelalves3 years ago
VERY NICE, Thank you for posting a picture and the link to more.
Makes me happy to know more kids are having fun.
CJSudduth3 years ago
If you are tackling this or simular projects ... Lowe's & Home Depot give 10 %discounts to military & military retirees,,,. Also both usually do a buy 5 get the 6th one free on the fence panels ...
Simply amazing. Keep up the repair and when your youngest is to old to use it, Turn a hefty profit :)
anibioman4 years ago
this is a great instructable and im so doing this when i have kids. very good use of fencing.
Wow, a favorite for my grandson :)
dagwoody4 years ago
What a great job of both the cabin and instructable ! (stopping the saw to take pics) Bravo!
labrys75755 years ago
Going to attempt to build one of these Saturday with a group of friends. What is my material list i will need. A rough supply list would be great! I love this little playhouse you built from your son. Thanks Kim
I love the way you adapted the fence panels. That's just awesome and it looks great.
 Very well done
superjail35 years ago
 amazing sir is there anyway u can make it a shed or even a real house with more supplys?
Great Instructable. Like the fact that you reinvented the fence panel.. Good Job
cfishy5 years ago
I wish I had a handy dad like you! This is awesome! Very nice pictures. I'm trying to make one for myself... I mean my dogs in my tiny back yard.
Dude! I want one! And I'm a teenager. Can you make me one pwease?
yo dude me too make me one pwease pritty pwease
,,me too,,
scottprunty5 years ago
Just finished making one for my kids.  Took me 3 or4 days, cost about $350 total.  Thanks for the clear, easy-to-follow directions and pictures.  Kids are looking forward to years of play in it.
lynn19866 years ago
I was just wondering where you got your fence from b/c our Lowes doesn't sell the rounded kind.
MikeO (author)  hothmob7 years ago
Yep, just toe nailed/screwed. The wall stretchers are located directly over the stretchers in the floor so you are screwing stretcher into stretcher. As a side note. there has been about 12" of snow on the roof so far this winter and it has stood up very well.
You might want to add a comment to one photo in step 9. The photo is the one where you show that you need inside and outside door handles. There's something (or someone) lighting up the inside of that playhouse. Whatever could it be? BTW, you're a great dad and your son will never forget the playhouse you built just for him.
ddowdie7 years ago
I cannot seem to print out the detail pictures. When I print the instructions there is a cut out. Help!
vlackey8 years ago
This is one of the best instructables! Just one minor suggestion, for those that live where the ground can stay wet for awhile. You might want to use cinder blocks or bricks under the foundation to keep the wood up off the ground so it won't rot over time. In wet areas, that can be a short amount of time too. Thanks again for the great ideas! vlackey
melissac8 years ago
I love it! I stopped to check prices today on a similar style for my 8 and 9 year old, and was shocked to discover they were $2800 and $2900. Any suggestions for building a larger version? My boys are tall.
MikeO (author)  melissac8 years ago
Well, I know they make 8' high fence panels. You could probably use them. You would loose the front porch since the floor is made up of a single panel 8' long, if you use larger panels for the sides I would guess you would get 7' wide walls, so you would need to trim your floor to fit the exact size of the house. I would say go find some 8' high panels, measure them and make a cardboard model of what you want. "I cut up cereal boxes for my model" Take your time, and Good luck.
BryGy8 years ago
Great project. I'm going to look at implementing the stockade panels as a roof for my kids playfort. How did you fix the gap at the roof peak?
MikeO (author)  BryGy8 years ago
I have just updated it. Take a look at step 10. It turns out that the gap was a really good thing to have.
carpespasm8 years ago
beautiful. i love it. well documented, well done, and i love the idea of using the fence panels for it. You could build a house like that. hope your son enjoys and uses the heck out of that thing.