Monday, August 25, 2008

Construction Begins!

I imagine there are some of you out there who, for one reason or another, think that I am all talk and no action. I won't claim that this is nowhere from the truth, but I would more realistically describe myself as all talk and a reasonable amount of action when required! On Saturday the 23rd of August, the main support frame went up, and on Sunday, the final adjusment and tightening was done, and it was stained. Have a look! I am very happy with the results, as the beams are completely level and edges upright, and the two main beams support easily my weight as I walked across from one tree to the other to test them out.

Research and Planning

I think I have had sufficient time to research treehouse design and construction. Over the last 6 years or so, I have read (and re-read) about six books completely dedicated to the subject, and more recently visited a number of websites as well. In general, the information I found was very useful, and has certainly cleared up any misconceptions I may have had about the best manner of construction.

It seems the two most basic rules of treehouse construction are to keep potential injury to the tree to a minimum, and to make sure your design accomodates future growth of the tree.

A treehouse should be attached to the tree with the least number of connections (threaded rods, lagbolts, brackets, or wooden clamps) as possible, and these connections should be large enough to easily support the load of the treehouse and its visitors.

With respect to future growth of the tree, any attachments must be designed in such a way that the year by year growth of the tree doesn't end up breaking the supports or "foundation" or pushing the frame away from the tree.

The design I finally decided on will use two trees, the first for a small platform, and the second around which the treehouse will be built, with a walkway between them. This means that the main support frame fixed to the trees could not have a rigid connection. If you look closely at the picture in the next post, you will see that the main support frame is bolted directly through the larger of the two trees, and then just rests on a wooden bracket on the smaller tree, and can slide back and forth as the trees move in the wind.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In The Beginning

I really don't recall when my fascination with treehouses began, but certainly becoming, along with my wife Katherine, the 'owners' of a wonderful century home as well as a fine collection of what I think are truly magnificant trees may have helped. The property has over 30 trees, the majority of which are either Norway or White Spruce, the six Norways having a distinctly gothic, foreboding feel standing along the front of the property behind the sidewalk, the balance being White Spruce along the properties east and north sides. The remaining trees include a Jackpine, Blue Spruce, Black Walnut, Mountain or White Ash, and Birch.

Probably the largest single factor in my newfound interest in treehouses was the arrival of our first son Rudi just over six years ago. I think I had probably purchased one book on treehouses before his arrival, but my collection expanded within the first three or four years after he arrived (I think I have six books on the topic now). I know when he was three or four years old I let slip that we would build a treehouse together sometime, and it has taken until now, about three years after that, to begin to realize our little dream.

A lot of things like this come down to timing and opportunity. Our second son Alexander (affectionately known as 'number last' by me at least!) arrived october 2007, and with him almost a year old, Katherine returning to teaching in the fall, me deciding to quit all my jobs to concentrate on getting the house finished this winter (wiring, bathroom, and attic need doing), the opportunity presented itself to at least make a start in what has been an idea of mine for on about the last decade.

I think also the timing is perfect for both Rudi and Alex. Rudi is now the age he can do or help with a lot of the little jobs, to give him a sense of ownership, that he helped build the treehouse with daddy, and not that daddy built it for him. It also gives him at least four or five years of enjoyment, before he might grow away from it (but from what I have read, one never grows out of loving treehouses!) As for Alex, he simply gets to enjoy it from day one.

In any event, what follows is our story, or documentary, in real life, and as it happens, of building our little house in the trees. We hope you enjoy.