Spring has arrived in Orange County, and with it comes excellent weather and opportunity for outdoor adventure. Spruce up your own outdoors with a tree house or backyard play place for the kids. Anaheim’s Tim Radulovich, of Quality Carpentry & Construction, a master of fine carpentry, dons his whimsical architect’s hat to share tips for novice builders.
Tip 1 – Consult a Professional
As a licensed contractor, Tim will not blindly advise you to tackle a carpentry project on your own. As the motivation here is to build something for your children, special care should be taken, and that should first include a professional consultation. Even if you are committed to doing it yourself, be it jungle gym, tree or play house, playroom or simply a slide, professional instruction makes the difference between playtime and a pile of boards. Call an area carpenter for advice or a site visit and inspection. You can also stop by one of the many Orange County hardware stores that offer woodworking classes and clinics. Tim says that the memories you create will likely outlast the structure itself. But do it properly, and that starts with some professional advice.
Tip 2 – Safety First
Since any licensed carpenter will help you approach and complete your project more safely, safety truly is first. Whether building a tree house, club house, swing set, slide or rumpus room, approach the task with the little ones in mind. This seems obvious, but what Tim emphasizes is being aware of a child’s ability to explore. In this case, a child’s ability to explore the rough edges and protruding nails of a hastily done home improvement project. If your play structure is in, around or under one or a number of trees, be considerate of their stoutness and propensity to shed foliage. Orange County’s many eucalyptus and palm trees are lovely to be sure, but tend to drop fronds and branches without warning. Do not build too high. Try to avoid sharp edges and angles. Do not leave a single exposed nail. Your children will find it. In building a sound structure, be sure the surrounding area is safe. Be aware of water heaters, windows, neighbor’s fences, busy streets, etc.
Tip 3 – Practice Environmental Friendliness
Environmental considerations should be taken whether you are building a tree house or just a mere basketball hoop. No matter the size of your project, you needn’t clear-cut your yard. Work with the elements in your workspace and be considerate of the surrounding environment, i.e., your neighbor’s yard. Instead of cutting anything down, pulling anything out or tearing up the lawn, you can incorporate the landscape in your project.
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Tip 4 – Use Quality Materials
As with the tips above regarding safety and professional guidance, the care you take in constructing something for use by children extends to the equipment and materials you use. Do not use an old piece of furniture or some old scrap you have lying around. Every hardware store in Orange County has a healthy supply of reasonably priced lumber. Whatever look you are going for (pine, fir, redwood), it’s all wonderful for construction. Make sure to sand and paint or stain all exposed surfaces. Bare feet and bare knees will be searching for splinters.
Tip 5 – Have Fun
The 4-year-old and the 50-year-old Tim would tell you to enjoy designing, building and playing on your new construct. Get the children involved with the non-dangerous parts of the project drawing plans, painting, planting and decorating. Let your kids have a say in the fine details such as where to put the tiny furniture or hang photos and artwork. Encourage them to draw all over the club house walls or jungle gym, and help them do it.
Christopher Schmidt is a freelance writer experiencing and espousing the glory that is Orange County. Driven to travel, drawn to sports, spirits and celebrity, Chris’ work can be found on