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Somewhere along the way, society got it into our heads that treehouses were mainly intended for kids.
Then, thanks to people like Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters, everyone started to realize…well, that’s just absurd.
And since Pete owns a premium treehouse building company, has his own television show, and has been constructing houses in trees since he was eight years old, we figured he’d be a great person to talk to about the do’s and don’ts of making a high-quality, branch-supported abode to call your own.
Without further ado: Pete’s pointers on how to build a treehouse for the ages.
Do: Go a little crazy with your deck.
Pete Says: Ample deck space with comfortable seating is the one luxury everyone should have.
We Say: You should always trust a man whose lifelong career inspiration grew from flipping through an illustrated copy of Swiss Family Robinson as a youngster.
Don’t: Ignore your climate.
Pete Says: Every region can be a treehouse region. But it’s important to pick the right wood for the job and do a thorough survey of the land/conditions before starting. For example: account for floor insulation if you’re somewhere cold.
We Say: If you can visualize it, you can build it.
Do: Carefully consider how you transport your materials.
Pete Says: Get yourself a versatile truck. Our 2500 GMC Sierra, “Scratch,” is a fully loaded, long-bed crew cab with a heavy-duty custom wood rack. It can handle anything.
We Say: Power is important, but so is technology. Take the 2017 GMC Sierra. It has advanced features like a built-in 4G wi-fi hotspot (helpful when you want to stay connected while on the job site) and a wireless center console charging station (to keep your phone powered up while you work).
Don’t: Build your house lower than 8 feet or higher than 18 feet.
Pete Says: This allows for simpler, safer construction. I also strongly advise anchoring the base of your rope ladder.
We Say: Good call on incorporating a rope ladder.
Do: Treat your treehouse like a treehome.
Pete Says: Enjoy the finished product. Kick your feet up and relax in your treehouse. Maybe a read a book, like, say, The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino.
We Say: Make your treehouse feel lived-in. Adding well-appointed features like a desk, a music player and bookshelves makes a big difference.
Don’t: Forget to allow for flexibility.
Pete Says: That is the most common mistake for treehouse builders, especially when building in multiple trees (speaking of trees, he’s partial to Douglas firs).
We Say: Maybe use a pencil to draw up your blueprint, and don’t get too attached to that “gold-plated elevator” idea.
Do: Work with a purpose.
Pete Says: A lot of the treehouses we build have themes that relate to the clients’ passions, be it sailing, or exploring, or a specific architecture that they love.
We Say: Treehouses make a great anniversary gift. Just find your inspiration and follow it.
Don’t: Ignore the big picture.
Pete Says: I built my first treehouse with my dad when I was eight in a maple tree in the front yard of the New Jersey home I grew up in. It’s an experience I’ll always remember.
We Say: This isn’t just a regular project. It’s a bonding experience.