Be In A Treehouse: Design, Construction, Inspiration, by Pete Nelson
Sometimes someone might want a detailed guide on how it is that one can build a treehouse and do so in a way that is minimally destructive to the tree that one builds in. This book provides that, as well as the author’s more general approach of wanting to show off what it is like to live in a treehouse. Admittedly, when I started reading this book I was not aware that the author and his work has been shown on Animal Planet, but awareness of reality television is not my strongest suit, it must be admitted. The author is also to be commended for having the moral courage to admit that he has changed his mind about some of his behavior relating to treehouses. Once upon a time he did not believe in the importance of permitting but he has since changed his mind and now gets along much better with the code inspectors of King County, where Seattle is located, so that he is able to use some of his property as a laboratory for creating different treehouse configurations that can be used for others. The author is not only a writer about the renaissance of treehouses in the United States and around the world, but he is also a participant in it.
This book is a bit more than 200 large pages and is divided into six chapters. After an introduction that promotes the idea that building a treehouse is about the journey and not the destination, the first chapter looks at the various treehouses that the author has helped build at Treehouse Point, with lots of photos and discussions of each one and their designs and insights learned from them (1). After that the author provides a brief tutorial on designing and constructing treehouses (2), including selection of trees, design logic, hardware, platform design, rules of thumb, construction basics, safety, and planning and permitting issues. After that the author discusses the WC Ranch Treehouse as a case study of the author’s principles put together (3). This leads into a discussion of single-tree designs (4) as well as multi-tree designs (5) that the author has found around the United States, some of which include elaborate bridges and stairs while others are more rustic in nature. The book then ends with a collection of inspiring treehouses that takes up a third or so of the book, with several smaller sections highlighting notable treehouse builders like Attie Jonker, Roderick Romero, and James “B’fer” Roth, as well as Dylan’s Africa, looking at treehouses outside of the United States to Europe, Australia, and Africa, after which there are sources, an index, and acknowledgments.
What does it take to be in a treehouse? This book provides at least some idea of that answer. One must first have a vision of what one wants to build, as well as a tree or a set of trees in which to build it. This book certainly provides some help as far as what one can envision. One also needs to have an idea of what needs to be done, on how to build a sturdy enough platform and how to arrange access and how to bring the frame-up construction one has built into the tree. All of that are matters that this book (and others by the author) discuss in at least some detail. The author also discusses the matter of permitting and making sure to have legal clearing to avoid fines and possible jail time and orders to destroy one’s hard-constructed structures. The author also gives wise advice on the worth of designing and not just winging it as far as what one wants when it comes to buildings. Of course, if you want to wing it, this book can provide plenty of examples of what sort of building one could end up with with a lot of time and effort.