What is the largest treehouse Pete's crew has ever built?
The trees themselves are the ultimate designers, in Pete's opinion, and so he endeavors to hear what they are saying and build in harmony with them. This usually means visiting the client's property (see Site Visits) to select and measure the right tree(s). Then Pete begins the process of drawing up an initial plan for the client to review. This phase of designing is considered Conceptual Drawing and is billed at $250 per hour. The average design takes between four and six hours.
After getting feedback on the concept drawing from the client, Pete will request permission to move forward with the design process to the Drafting phase. This means using the concept drawing to create a buildable plan that carpenters can follow. This phase is billed at $150 per hour and takes an absolute minimum of six hours. For complicated projects, the Drafting phase can take up to 25 hours.
For clients who would like to better visualize their future treehouse, we offer 3-D modeling of Pete’s designs. Having a 3-D model of your treehouse not only helps you imagine the treehouse in place, but also affords opportunities for changes and corrections to the design without starting over from scratch. Major or minor changes can be made to the design before the crew starts building, which means a more efficient build, and therefore, less time and money spent making on-site alterations. Every model is unique, and the amount of time spent to create them varies with treehouse size and complexity. The cost of a 3-D model ranges from $500 to $2000, and can be estimated by Pete during the Design or Drafting phases of the project.
Permitting your treehouse
Nelson Treehouse and Supply does not secure building permits on behalf of its clients, nor does it encourage property owners to circumvent laws and/or ordinances. This section is here for informational purposes only.
Obtaining a permit for a treehouse is, in most cases, not straight forward. There are many factors that can complicate the process. We cannot list the rules and restrictions for all the municipalities that oversee building projects, so each property owner must perform his or her own due diligence in that regard. We can however offer some words of advice based on past experience.
Step One – Consider your neighbors. Regardless of whether your local governing body allows treehouses to be constructed, you should think about how your project will affect your neighbors. Will your new, loftier view invade their privacy? Will your structure obstruct their existing view? If you opt not to pursue a permit, will an unfriendly neighbor report your activities?
Step Two – Consider the consequences. This is a double-edged sword. If you ask your governing body for permission to build a treehouse and your request is denied, you have shown your hand. However, if you don’t ask for permission and then you get caught, there could be hefty fines and/or an order to remove the structure. Some people like to quote the old adage, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Unfortunately, this has not worked out well on many occasions and the consequences can be severe.
Step Three – Consider your options. If you are looking for property with the idea of building a treehouse on it, then you have the luxury of checking the building codes for each area in which you are shopping.
- The first option then, is to buy property where you know you will be allowed to build a treehouse.
- The second option, if you already own property, is to find out what the rules are regarding size and height. Some cities or counties do not bother issuing building permits for structures that are less than a certain number of square feet, usually 120-200 square feet. Others permit any "out-buildings" that will not be used as a dwelling. And maybe you are one of the lucky few who live in a part of the country that requires no building permits whatsoever.
- The third option, if you are denied a permit to build a structure in a tree, is to build a structure on posts or "ground mounted struts," as some engineers like to call them. This can often be done near or amongst the trees, so you still have the feeling of being in the trees.
- The fourth option is to have a treehouse engineer review the plans and sign off on the integrity of the structure. If the authorities decide to get involved after you have built your treehouse, proof of structural integrity can be provided. The key to this approach is building your treehouse according to the engineered specifications.