When you were little, did you wistfully stare into your backyard imagining you had one of those really cool tree houses that you only saw on TV shows? Admit it, we know you did. We did it too. But those cool tree houses come at a pretty hefty cost. Unless, that is, you make build the tree house or fort (if you don't have any suitable trees in the backyard) yourself. This guide from DCH Toyota of Simi Valley will help you build a treehouse your children will love.

Sounds like a daunting task, doesn't it? But it doesn't have to be. First, consult your children. What is their idea of a dream fort or tree house? Then scale it down from their Star Wars, laser fighting haven to something more manageable but still fun and “cool.”

Next, scour the Internet for designs and ideas to help you along your way. Tree houses and forts can come in all shapes and sizes. Consider what might work best for your family.

When it comes to tree houses often the simplest of designs is the best option. Try building a tree house that is square and has a flat roof. Make sure you are picky when choosing your materials. Remember you're building a structure similar to a home -- a home that will hold your children elevate way above the ground. You want to make sure it is properly framed and sturdy. It might sound silly, but shake the frame as you're building it to continue checking on its stability.

Sometimes it's helpful to build the tree house on the ground in sections. This way the work is safer and will go a lot faster. You'll just need some extra help to piece it together up in the tree.

Don't forget to keep the kids involved in the process. Remember it's their tree house/fort too. While they may not be old enough to participate in the actual construction of the house, they can assist by reading directions to you, holding something, or painting. It won't matter to them what role they're playing so long as they're a part of the action.

And if you don't have a suitable tree in the backyard or are unsure of the actual construction of a tree house, there's also the paper box fort option. Have a large box from that new grill or refrigerator that was just delivered? Why not cut some spaces out to use as windows and a door and set it up in the backyard? It might not be fancy but it's still a cool hideaway for any kid.