DIY Network

How to Fix an Existing Playhouse

Doug and Allison Sexton need to refurbish their daughter's playhouse to make the structure safe. Jackie Taylor and Dean Hill, the Grounds for Improvement design team, show you how to add a concrete foundation to a playhouse.

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  • Time


  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Level the Playhouse

The front of the house is sitting 14" off the ground on cinderblocks; the blocks need to be moved so a pressure-treated sill (the lowest part of a house's frame that rests on top of the foundation) can be built at the front of the house before the structure is leveled.

Use old 4x4 pressure-treated lumber to leverage the building up, and move the cinderblocks to the sides of the building, giving clear access to the front of the building. Remove some of the brickwork on the building to help make it level, and excavate the foundation site. While the work is ongoing, the horizontal boards used to lift the building help protect the raw edges of the building from damage.

Once the front of the house is safely secured, Dean and Doug level the ground at the front and place treated lumber where it will sit. When the front is level, repeat the process at the back of the house.

Step 2: Dig the Foundation

After leveling front to back and back to front, and with cinderblocks still supporting the house, dig the foundation deep enough to support three rows of 6" x 6" x 12' treated timbers (Images 1-3).

Step 3: Add Security

Secure the first course into the ground with rebar, after first drilling a hole in each end of the timber with an auger bit (Image 1). Set the second course with a slight overhang, ensuring secure ends, before securing it to the first timber with a timber spike (Image 2).

The final course of the foundation is put in place after using the 4x4 to raise the house up slightly. After the third course has been secured with rebar and timber spikes, the house is finally level (Image 3). The weight of the structure, due to the metal studs, is enough to set it firmly on the support wall; lighter structures might need to be secured with metal brackets.

Step 4: Paint the Playhouse

Paint while the house is elevated; this makes it easier to access the lower sections. A cheerful shade of yellow paint called Sunshower is rolled on; then Jackie goes back over the wood-grain siding with a brush to enhance the look of the grain.

paint while house is elevated

Step 5: Build the Shutters, Door and Shelves

Measurements have been taken for the shutters, trim, door and shelf, and the wood has been cut and primed. The shutters are constructed from two 1x4s with smaller cross pieces placed 4" from either end (Image 1). A pneumatic brad nailer using 1-1/2" 16-gauge brad nails speeds up the work of constructing the shutters.

Using a circular saw, 3/4" plywood is cut to make a door (Image 2). It will be trimmed out with additional wood for more dimension. An outside shelf with an 1-1/2" overhang is also added to the door; additional trim on the back of the door will help support the shelf.

Pressure-treated 1x6 lumber is used for the braces and the shelves (Image 3). Trim is cut with 45-degree angles, creating a crisp look, and with all the details in place, everything gets a coat of paint in a shade called Gulf Stream Blue (Image 4).

Step 6: Add the Finishing Touches

Attach the shutters (Image 1), and install the door and shelves (Image 2).

This once unsafe, ramshackle structure has now been transformed into a secure area for the children to play and let their imagination bloom (Image 3).