Treehouse living is an Affordable option

By Keri Ann Beazell on Jan 29th, 2014 | Livin’ the Dream

Living in the trees isn’t just for the birds. Today, the majestic oak in the backyard has real estate potential. Treehouses are making a comeback with style, originality and affordability, all of which make this option attractive to us young homebuyers. While treehouses used to be viewed as a place children play, now these dwellings are a place people call home.

Despite misconceptions, treehouses are no longer antiquated in fashion and can offer all the modern conveniences one might need – kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and more. With simple, efficient layouts, modern treehouses are proving to be great starter homes or residences for single occupants, and most importantly, are delivering cost-conscious housing opportunities to those in need.

According to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors, the U.S.’s median single-family home price is $203,500. Add in higher mortgage rates, the ever-rising cost of living, and crippling student loan debt, it’s no surprise that many post-graduates are struggling to become homeowners. Even several years after college and into their mid-30s, many find themselves still living at home.

However with a little ingenuity and resourcefulness, all we have to do is look up for affordable housing. Envision a sitting room with table and chairs, a bedroom and electricity to start. This set-up typically runs between $65 – $85K according to Pete Nelson, owner of Nelson’s Treehouse and Supply and star of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters series. Add in a bathroom and/or kitchen with running water, the price can be an additional $20K+ depending on your requirements and land (i.e. proximity to water access and existing plumbing).

The other cost factor to consider is land, which varies significantly by state, however can be purchased for a few thousand and up. Of course, getting the OK to build in your parent’s backyard may be just enough distance to get the “on your own” feel without the added expense of buying property. Either way, the bottom line is significantly more affordable housing starting at around $100K–half of the national median single-family home price, plus with the pride and satisfaction that comes from owning a one-of-a-kind home built specially for you.

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How to get started

First, check with your county’s inspections and permits bureau to see if there are any restrictions on building treehouses and what permits are required. This step is critical as hefty fines or orders to remove the structure can be imposed. Also, it’s always a good idea to check with your neighbors in case the structure may invade their privacy or obstruct views.

Next it’s time to find the perfect trees and craft a treehouse floor plan. Use resources such as Pinterest,, and this tumblr to spark your imagination. Then, interview and select your construction crew. Be sure to ask if an arborist or dendrologist is on staff, and if not, consider hiring one separately. The builders should be very familiar with trees, from knowing which trees are the best for supporting treehouses to being able to identify a sick tree, so that they can direct you towards the best long-term housing solution.

Budgeting for any new home can be tricky, but keep in mind that the size of the treehouse, materials, location, and proximity to water play a big factor when it comes to cost. Further, consider using recyclable and used materials where possible to keep expenses down.

Finally, once your treehouse paradise is built, it’s important to check the tree and structure annually since adjustments may be necessary to accommodate the natural growth and movement of the tree. But don’t worry, trees actually embrace these dwellings and in time, the tree will grow “reaction wood” around bolts, locking it further into place.

In the end, you’ll gain more than just an amazing, out-of-the-ordinary, and budget-friendly home to show off to friends and family. Your treehouse will provide a rustic sense of self-reliance and unity with nature that refreshes the spirit and awakens childhood memories of adventure day after day–something money just can’t buy.