Two computer guys and a treehouse

I don’t tend to blog too much about myself personally, but I thought I would break my mold and start off the new year with an exciting non-technical project I worked on over Christmas. This will hopefully kick off a year of more consistent blogging since I’ve been pretty quiet the last year.

Being from Canada (I’ve lived in the States for 5 years) my family is a long way away and is only able to visit every couple years. This year we planned a 2 week vacation. My parents came down from Northern Canada (in the Sub-Arctic) and my Sister and family came down from Eastern Canada.

My father’s thought of a great vacation is one where he works on a large unique project. I need to find something to build or do before he comes to visit. Note that he’s also in the computer industry, but \isn’t scared to take on any type of project. When we visited my sister’s family a few years ago, he rented a back-hoe, and we tore up her lawn and replaced the drainage along their house. When I visited my parents 2 years ago, he bought a cow, and we killed and butchered it. So, as you can guess, he was anxious for something along those lines. He suggested a treehouse, which we all thought would be very exciting, and we started looking at pictures online and dreaming up different ideas of what we would like. Of course, being the non-experts that we are, we dreamed really big, thinking it would be easily doable.

Well, to make a long story short, we had a great vacation, working until about 2:00AM most days by the time we drew out our plans for the next day, created the bill of materials and all of that. We stopped sometimes to do something non-tree-house-related with the rest of the family, and of course the rest of the family joined in also. For the most part we worked around the clock. I’ll let the following pictures tell the rest of the story.

How does a computer geek with a Prius transport lumber? Use the Prius of course! That’s me standing there. (We got a truck for some of the materials, but the Prius worked for many of our small trips.)

Here’s my son Joel after we got the main beams in place. The design allows the trees to move in the wind without stressing the treehouse. The main platform sits on the cross beam that Joel is leaning against with some metal plates to allow movement as needed. It is amazing the force of the tree movement when it moves.

My daughter Alisha figured that even 2 beams was enough to sit in the ‘treehouse’ and read a book. She’s a real outdoors person.

Here we are with the 6x6 posts were in place and we started to lay the 2x6’s for the floor. The weather was fairly nice. It was warm some days and cold other days and often rainy, but it was never too cold or wet to keep us from working. Got to love North Carolina.

Here’s my father in the garage, with the back wall built and leaning up against the garage to mostly hide it from the rain.

Here’s the same view from the other side.

Alisa did most of the platform screws.

After getting going, we realized that leg bolts screwed into the tree wouldn’t be enough, so I had to get better drilling equipment to drill a hole right through the Oak trees and use threaded rods instead. Getting through the trees was not easy!

Getting ready to put up the walls, which we build in advance in the garage.

Further progress.

Front view

My sister trying out the view.

Here I am, working on the edge. This is the floor of the loft that I’m on.

Here’s my wife, Melissa, and kids in the partially finished loft. It’s 4 feet high, so not meant for the big people except sleeping.

Working on the roof was a lot of fun.

And for Christmas, we also got a zipline. Alisha is trying it out. We all love this.

My wife was the architect and builder for the rope bridge. She’s working on it now.

We got the mailbox for Christmas too!

Here’s the rope bridge. It worked out really well.

The patio

The inside isn’t finished yet, but here’s a view of the entry to the loft. The kids built the ladder by themselves!

Here’s the treehouse with the four of us hidden in it. Can you find us?

I’m sure we could have gotten a better picture, but here’s me on the zipline.

And, for New Year’s Eve, we had it ready enough to put up some lights for a party at our house.To wrap up, here’s a video my wife put together of the building:

This was a rewarding project for the family. I learned a ton and enjoyed the process. There are some loose ends to finish since we’re running electricity and insulating it so that it’s usable throughout all but the hottest months of the summer. It was definitely a much larger project that we originally expected, but having a usable treehouse in the backyard is worth it all!


  • Wow, that is amazing!

  • Hey, we LOVE your treehouse. And what we'd really like is the plans for your tree house. :-) This is almost exactly what it is we are looking for to build at our place. Would you be willing to share?

  • Thanks Laura and Ths!
    Jessica, I'll email you off-list. I'll put some notes and drawings together for you.

  • Hey Scott - love the treehouse! Maybe you should add a rock climbing wall off the back when the kids get older. ;-)

  • Hey Robert. Great idea! We've been talking about a fireman's pole for quick exits, and a rope ladder as a fun way to climb up, but I hadn't thought about a rock climbing wall yet. That would be a great idea! I'll name it after you if we do it. :)

  • WOW that's awsome. I wish I can do that for my kids but I live in the NYC and we don't have many trees in our backyards.

  • Wow! Awesome!
    The things you guys do in developed countries never cease to amaze me.
    It's looks so professional! And you put it up by yourself? with just your family for help?
    --I'm at a loss for words.

    oh, by the way, I stumbled in on your page while looking for info on IIS. But I only needed to setup a basic FTP server for ghost; so...


  • Thanks Jiljith! It is a privilege to be able to do this. I understand that not everyone has the same opportunity, so I do value it. It was just our family. I didn't put up the close-up pictures of the imperfections though. :)

    Hope you got your FTP setup working.

  • i love the rope bridge!! do you have a materials list and plans for it?? thanks!!!

  • Hello and WOW!!! I am searching for fun and unique tree house plans and came upon yours! It's so awesome! I love everything about it! I specifically am searching for ones with zip lines to see how they are attached. We have a handyman helping us build ours, as we're not that skilled in carpentry. Would you be interested in sending us any additional info so we could base our model off of yours? It's so amazing!!! Thanks!

  • @Jason. Sorry for the delay. I do need to put together some diagrams since I've been asked for them a few times. I'll hopefully do that at some point. Basically the floor is 12x11.5. I kept it just under 12x12 so that it's not considering a building by the city. It's 12' from the floor to the top of the highest point, and IIRC it's 7' from the floor to the lowest point.

    The top floor is 4' at the highest and something like 3' at the lowest, which works great for the kids. It's 4' wide on the top floor.

    We were pleased with the results, so for our situation it has turned out really well.

  • What a great project for your family:). Would you mind sharing the details of your rope bridge? We are looking to build something exactly like that, but I need to make sure it's safe. Is it simply supported by rope? How does it anchor?

  • Hi Aly,

    Yes, it sure was a great project, and it still gets used plenty today.

    My wife was the project leader for the bridge and did an awesome job. She recently answered someone else's question about this so I'll post her reply here:

    "I got the idea for the bridge from a book called "Tree Houses You Can Actually Build" (not recommended, except for very basic ideas). I've attached the page with the details although it's not very thorough (and this is all they give) ( We decided that the dacron rope was too prone to fraying and possible splinters if kids run their hands along as they grip the side and top rails of the bridge, so we used plastic coated galvanized steel for the top rail. We used nylon for the sides, for a different reason...because it was much easier to thread through the holes in the 2x4's and knot around the top rail. But we did use the dacron for the bottom due to its strength."

    And to add further to this, it is anchored in eight places (4 on each side, one for each bottom cable and one for each handle/top cable) with eye bolts. On one side they go directly into the tree, and on the other side they go into 4x4 posts setup for this purpose.

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