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It's funny.  Laugh.

Back to the Trees 169

circletimessquare writes "This story should excite the nerd in anyone. Build a luxury treehouse! The New York Times reports on an entire subculture devoted to an idea which sounds funny at first... but really, why not? Much serious discussion in the article about the technical considerations involved in treehouse construction. Also mention of 'treesorts' at the bottom of the article (one being called 'Lothlorien Woods Hide-a-way' lol). I hunted down some links to two of the big players mentioned in the article, TreeHouse Workshop Inc. and the World Treehouse Conference. No mention as to whether or not they support Banyan VINES (sorry, I couldn't resist)."
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Back to the Trees

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  • by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:44PM (#5468435) Journal
    Uggggh ....

    I really didn't need that flashback ...

    I see horrible memories of BeyondSnail and IM III......

    Yikes.

    device=c:\banyan\protman.dos /i:protman.ini

    @echo off
    c:\banyan\e2131
    ban /nc
    bind

    yikes ..... it's been many years, but that stuff still haunts me :)

  • Slashdotted (Score:3, Funny)

    by Exiler ( 589908 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:44PM (#5468438)
    I hope you didn't catch that poor tree on fire too.
  • reminds me (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by jon787 ( 512497 )
    This reminds me of when I had a tree fort as a little kid, ah the good old days.
  • I especially like the integration of Solar Power. Plumbing may be a bit of a challenge. But armed with an effective WIFI-solution, one could stay up there for hours, days even, with food.
  • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Squidgee ( 565373 ) <squidgeeOO1@NoSPAm.hotmail.com> on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:50PM (#5468458)
    While it does seem like a great idea for a Hotel or someone with too much money (Or if you just want to be different!), I have to wonder: How safe can this be?

    I mean, you're basically building on something that rots. And is high up. This doesn't seem like something I would do, be it just for a cottage or something fun, or be it a house or hotel. Plus, trees get knocked over quite often; hurricanes, theunderstorms, gales, snow, etc.

    Also, it seems one of these would be a massive lightning rod, if you were to wire it.

    As cool as it sounds, it just doesn't seem like such a great idea. Kind of like using lighter fluid to shoot tennis balls out of coke cans. Not that I've ever done that...

    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:57PM (#5468496) Homepage Journal
      With the ADA, anyone foolish enough to build a tree house hotel or restaurant will get sued out existence. A proper tree house would have a wheel chair ramp and elevator. You would also need to chop down the adjacent forest to make room for the legally specified number of handy capped parking spots.

      I say sue 'em and sue 'em good.
      • I say sue 'em and sue 'em good.

        Yeah, that's great. Make everyone equal by stopping non-disabled people from doing something they like.

        Do you think swimming pool owners should be sued if they don't provide flotation devices for wheelchairs too?
        • I'm pretty sure he was being sarcastic about the ADA law. While its intentions are good, sometimes the implications aren't always sensible...
      • "...handy capped parking spots."

        Very handy, but why cap them? :)
      • by BillandTed ( 657725 ) on Sunday March 09, 2003 @06:04AM (#5470731)
        Gentlemen (and Ladies),

        I'm surprized at you. I would think that comments would be slightly more positive on this topic.

        As to the issues raised I can directly address some of them.

        First - I have actually stayed in one of the treehouses in question. Quite a pleasant experience actually.

        Second - I am disabled and partnered with a service dog (Ted).

        http://www.treehouses.com/treehouse/treesort/hom e. html

        The treehouse was the peacock lodge. So named for the incredibly detailed carved wooden door. It was quite posh, having electricity, running water and a dorm sized refrigerator. We stayed in late October/early November(post season actually) Overnight temps ran to the mid teens(F). Ted & I were quite cozy.

        As to the engineering, these folks are for the most part professionals and their engineering is top drawer and very well documented. Michael has had numerous run ins with the local planning commission and has prevailed primarirly because his structures are over engineered. If you closely examine the links in this story you'll find that Micheal freely uses Outriggers (Poles supporting the outer edges of the structure).

        As to the handicapped issue - Michael's resort is not in any way handicapped accessible (although someone with a limited mobility disabilty such as myself can manage quite well) Due to a restrictive county goverment Michael is not allowed to rent lodging in the treehouses to the general public at large, only to friends and family. (Michael - while a bit gruff, is really quite easy to make friends with). Clearly putting the ADA burden squarely on the shoulders of the local goverment. Also these structures are more like private residences than a multi unit structure such as a hotel and as such would be exempt from ADA (as I understand it) in much the same way you and I are not required to have handicapped accessible ramps in installed in our homes.

        As to the general question about the tree(s) themselves - Tree selection is a critical part of the pre-build engineering. Some trees are simply not suitable. Those that are are strongly rooted and in generally grow up and out not around, particuliarily at the site selected for structure supports. Also a technique developed by these folks allows for an ingeneous free floating support. These folks LOVE trees. Their second order of business is to protect and care for the trees themselves. The first order of business is safety of their structures. Something rather reassuring when you realize that some of their structures are built as high as one hundred and twenty-five feet off the ground.

        As the general question of accessibility - several treehouses have been built with some kind of an elevator. Nor is it strictly a requirement that such an arrangement be neccessary. Take a close look at Disney's Swiss Family Robinson treehouse. Access can be arranged via a ramp from a nearby ridge for example.

        Now as to the question of a Network connection. I have personal knowledge of at least two people who are using WiFi in their treehouses. One has wired their treehouse for electricity and the other uses a battery powered laptop.
    • Plus, trees get knocked over quite often; hurricanes, theunderstorms, gales, snow, etc.

      Are "theunderstorms" linked to theunderdogs [theunderdogs.org] in any way? ;)

      • Naw, it's more like a Typo, which is defined as a "A typographical error; mechanical mistake made in setting type or in typing."

        Not that I'm touchy... =p

    • Let me clarify: When I say "wire" I mean "Wire with electricity, heating, etc". So you can have lighting/heat like the article says most people have.
    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Blondie-Wan ( 559212 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:09PM (#5468552) Homepage
      Yeah, but still, if it's good enough for Chewbacca, Wicket, Prince Barin, and Cosmo Fishhawk, it's got to be good enough for us, right? ;)
    • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:34PM (#5468644)
      But as long as you do regular inspections, you're probably safer than you would be in a house on the ground where you never check for damage. The linked sites explain that they only build on living trees, and mention a few of the things they do to keep the trees from rotting (like putting bolts at least 12 inches apart, so that the tree will isolate each bolt as a seperate wound, rather than just killing off the entire area).

      As for weather, it sounds like they only build these in areas with mild weather. Although, I will grant you, even in San Francisco we will occasionally get a wind storm that will uproot a bunch of trees. Maybe the weight of the house makes the tree harder to uproot? I would think it would do the opposite by raising the center of gravity, but I'm not sure.

      • A lot of trees uproot because they've either been stressed too long by drought so the roots die back and dry-rot (usually *before* the top of the tree dies off); or because they're in a heavily-watered area, so had no incentive to grow big strong roots that spread well out from the tree's main trunk (and thus effectively serve as anchor cables). Either way, the tree doesn't have enough of a foundation to resist wind pressure, and when rain softens the soil or when dryrot hits the interior of the trunk, over it goes.

        If you knew the conditions a tree has lived its life under -- never too badly stressed by drought or disease, and watered well away from the main trunk so it sends out lots of big roots -- then it should be reasonably safe. If not -- you're taking your chances.

        Montana has much worse windstorms than California, yet big trees in Montana very seldom go over in the wind. Why? 1) Not usually exposed to prolonged drought. 2) Not overwatered the way California yards often are.

    • In response to the backseat engineering (i.e., "something that rots")

      So, what do you think your house is made of? Wood probably. As for rotting, trees do pretty well when maintiained (think orchards). They don't have paint, they have bark. At any rate, the NDS (wood design spec) has a Cm factor for unprotected wet wood - (IIRC, my manuals are at work...) it's an 85% reduction factor to the allowable stresses. Not too shabby.

      Besides, did you go to the site? they had an entire section on the tree stability and stress analysis by a bunch of PE's. Sounds OK to me.
    • Live trees don't rot. DEAD trees rot. And I don't imagine it's any worse of a lightning rod than the average power pole.

      When I was a kid, we built a two-story treehouse in my aunt's treepatch. It was in a Russian Olive which is a slow-growing durable tree with very stiff limbs, tho not very big (but with lots of nasty spines!) Had both trapdoor and over-the-side ladder access, and a roof of sorts. Sturdy enough that 5 kids didn't make it wobble, and stayed intact for several years even tho it was built entirely from scrap wood and used nails (in fact, til someone decided to clean out the tree patch).

  • Sorry. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SexyTr0llGal ( 650651 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:51PM (#5468460)
    No mention as to whether or not they support Banyan VINES (sorry, I couldn't resist).

    Apology DECLINED.
  • ...idea which sounds funny at first... but really, why not?
    "And the world was run by DAMN DIRTY APES!"
    Heston is da bomb yo!
  • You have to rember that trees are living so thereforth they grow and react to stimuli. A Tree House (depending on the type of tree) is probably good for 10 mabey 15 years then branches start making the house crooked or a branch putting a lot of pressure on a window. As well as nails in the brances cause discoleration in the wood (that spreads threw most of the tree) as well as stibility during hazordess weather. Concreet celer 10 feet under the ground is a good solid foundation compared to a bunch of roots the width of 4 inches and graduadually decrese.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      what are you, 10? incredibly drunk? "celer", "threw", and my favorite, "hazordess"...
    • I'm sorry, but that is the worst spelling ever. I mean, yeah, it's slashdot, half of us are engineers that have problems with velcro, but still.

      Concreet? Mabey? Graduadually?!?!

      Please tell me you have some kind of dyslexic type disorder - I know high school drop-outs with better spelling skills than what you are exhibiting.
    • They don't use nails (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:40PM (#5468659)
      They use extra strength bolts, and use them as sparingly as possible, spaced at least a foot apart. They also claim that the trees will adapt to the house, growing to support it rather than putting pressure on it. I'm not 100% sure if I believe that last bit, and clearly this is not what you want to build if you want a house you can pass on to your grandkids. Still, I think it's obvious that they know a hell of a lot more about building treehouses than you or I do.
  • Super Idea! (Score:3, Offtopic)

    by Isldeur ( 125133 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @04:53PM (#5468474)


    Hellooooo Lightning Storms!

    Seriously, what kind of home-owner's insurance do you have to pay living up in a big tree? Rotting? Fires? Freak elephant attacks?
  • I think we've found Bill's [microsoft.com] secret lair [treehouseworkshop.com].
  • This seems like something for over-indulgent parents to give their kids, not for something exciting for adult nerds. Sadly enough, the dimensions of this house seem just large enough to compare with my freshman dorm room at college.
  • Ironically, if a treehouse owner fell out of their tree, and ended up in a wheelchair, they'd have no way of getting back into their house. How do you make one of these handicapped accessible? Maybe a really long ramp? Or maybe create an elevator up the trunk? ;-)
    • by IIRCAFAIKIANAL ( 572786 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:11PM (#5468557) Journal
      How do you make one of these handicapped accessible?


      One word: trebuchet.
    • I thought that you were going to write : if a treehouse owner falls out of his tree, and there's no one there to hear it, does he still make a sound?
    • You had it right: a really long ramp.

      My parents recently sold their old house, but the buyers were renting it for several years before they purchased it. So, we went there occasionally to inspect it and make sure everything was okay.

      The new owners had turned the house into an "assisted living"-type arrangement for people with mental handicaps, some of which were also physically handicapped. As such, they had to have a ramp into the place. It never occured to me before, but every entrance had several steps to get to the door.

      So, the new residents built this HUGE ramp out of the back door and across the lawn to accomodate those in wheel chairs. It crossed the entire width of the lawn and ended at the driveway. There's a limit on the inclination, and I think they had to get to the height of about 6 steps, so the net result was a long ramp, with a couple 90-degree turns in it.

      I'd hate to think what it would look like if it had to go even higher than that...

      --RJ
      • Well what they should have done was buy a ziggurat. The ramp forms an integral part of the structure, and looks classy as well. Plus, ziggurats last an amazingly long time! Some are still standing today, thousands of years after their construction. Add vinyl siding, and who knows how long it might stay up.
    • Ironically, if a treehouse owner fell out of their tree, and ended up in a wheelchair, they'd have no way of getting back into their house.

      Which makes you wonder... if a treehouse owner fell out of their tree and nobody was around to hear their cries of 'Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!'.... would they make any sound?

      How do you make one of these handicapped accessible?

      It needs one of them red buttons, commonly found in hospital restrooms, one foot off the ground, marked "Emergency. Press button for assistance." =)
  • Treehouses (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Kai_MH ( 632216 )
    I've been working on a project over the past few years in my back yard every summer. I've built a large treehouse with electricity and running water in to my in to the the /massive/ walnut tree in my back yard. It is currently a luxurous 2 levels, and I'm considering adding a ground level to it.
  • Back to Chesterton (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amcguinn ( 549297 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:03PM (#5468519) Homepage Journal

    Reminds me of G. K. Chesterton's short story "The Singular Speculation of the House-Agent" from "The Club of Queer Trades". A character (Lieutenant Drummond Keith) is involved in a scuffle and disappears. He has left his address as "The Elms, Buxton Common, near Purley, Surrey", but when some aquaintances go to look, there is no house of that name. The hero of the series, Basil Grant, then goes along and finds him in a tree-house in an Elm tree on Buxton Common. He then has the great line:

    "The second [thing] is to remember that very plain literal fact always seems fantastic. If Keith had taken a little brick box of a house in Clapham with nothing but railings in front of it and had written 'The Elms' over it, you wouldn't have thought there was anything fantastic about that. Simply because it was a great blaring, swaggering lie you would have believed it.'

    Project Gutenburg has the book [upenn.edu]

  • by IIRCAFAIKIANAL ( 572786 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:03PM (#5468522) Journal
    I had a lean-to. I accidently torched it one day though.

    Oh, and I used to keep a tent setup in my backyard in case I stumbled home drunk at 3 am and I didn't want my parents to catch me. Does that count?
  • by Blondie-Wan ( 559212 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:05PM (#5468530) Homepage
    Bah. Even the trees were a bad move; we should never have left the oceans. ;)
  • by Txiasaeia ( 581598 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:07PM (#5468541)
    ...my dream has always been to own an underground house. Think about it: you climb down into the house via a ladder, the entire place is carved into rock, and there's a nuke shelter in the basement, around 1km below the surface.

    Now, all I need is sharks with fricking laser beams attached to their heads, and my plan for world domination will be complete!

    • Check this out.
    • by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:54PM (#5468704)
      So, I grew up in an underground house, and it's actually a mixed blessing. On the minus side, you have to mow your roof, it can be freakin difficult to move furniture into/outof the house (unless you have an access garage or elevator), and people generally think you're nuts. On the plus side, underground houses tend to be fire/earthquake/tornado/blizzard proof, and the utility bills are rather low, because of solar and geothermal energy, and you also get to live in a hobbit-hole of sorts. The biggest problem, however, is that there is no market for underground houses, because Muggles/Sleepers/Luddites don't understand the concept... the best real-estate appraisal we can get is about $100K, because we can't get the house un-registered as a "basement house"... never mind the fact that it's got marble, custom stone work throughout, can withstand most any natural/unnatural disaster, etc. We've sunk way more money into the house than we're ever going to get out of it.

      If you ever find/buy a dormant volcano, contact me and/or my brother, and we'll build you the undergound volcano fortress. We got the architectural blueprints already...

      Anyhow, in an attempt to make sure that this post isn't ranked as a troll or flame-bait, I'll point out the story of the wolf and the three pigs who made their houses out of straw, wood, and brick. Better to make your house out of brick/stone than out of a treehouse, it seems to me...

      • by Anonymous Coward
        How exactly is it blizzard proof, and what does access to the house look like? Some kind of service elevator that pops up to the surface? Or some sort of hatch? If either of those are the case, I don't see how you don't avoid getting snowed in really easily. I'm really quite curious, as that sounds absolutely wild... not calling you a liar, but it would be cool to find that out, and maybe to see some pictures if you've got them.
      • by Ioldanach ( 88584 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @10:19PM (#5469680)
        The biggest problem, however, is that there is no market for underground houses, because Muggles/Sleepers/Luddites don't understand the concept... the best real-estate appraisal we can get is about $100K, because we can't get the house un-registered as a "basement house"... never mind the fact that it's got marble, custom stone work throughout, can withstand most any natural/unnatural disaster, etc. We've sunk way more money into the house than we're ever going to get out of it.

        Obviously, your target market is not Muggles/Sleepers/Luddites then. If you want to sell it, put it up for what you think it should be worth and advertise it where people of a like mind will see the advertisement. That's not the sort of house that will attract the average Joe, but the real target audience will know the benefits of the home and how much it would cost to build.

        In fact, treat the appraisal as a tax-treat. Obviously, the taxes will be less. The only problem I can see is insuring for the actual cost of reconstruction in case of disaster.

      • The parent was funny, this is just stupid.

        The biggest problem, however, is that there is no market for underground houses, because Muggles/Sleepers/Luddites
        Part of the problem may that you treat people like crap (stop reading Harry Potter and start living a real life) that don't agree with you that living undergound like a goddamned mole person sucks (Mental Note: People like sun light, and no matter how many windows you have in your ceiling it probably isn't enough).
        the best real-estate appraisal we can get is about $100K
        I'd say its for more reasons that being listed as a "basement house". No matter how safe it is, people just don't want to live underground. Hence "Market Price".
        Your analogy of the 3 pigs is kind of off. I may be a little drunk but it seems to me that most houses built of wood don't fall down. Maybe 1 out of a couple of thousand in the US. And of those 75% is from fire which is usually the people living theres fault.
        If you want to live in a hobbit hole thats fine, but christ, don't bitch because the house isn't worth anything to anyone else. There are reasons people don't live in glorified caves anymore.
    • Check out Cesar Manrique's house on Lanzarote. He built it in some old volcanic bubbles (when lava flows it can sometimes leave behind a hollow tube) Very cool. [bamjam.net]
  • But really... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Gudlyf ( 544445 )
    ...why?!
  • Beware people!! Slashdotting and overheating treehouses...might burn them down!!!

    Yeah, I'm drunk alright..
  • Ok, if you are actually going to spring for indoor plumbing (read: A place to poop), how are you going to get it there? What if the tree tips over and fecal matter starts shooting everywhere? *shudder* Trees should be left to monkeys and little kids. They don't use the bathroom anyways.
    • Ok, this is probably a troll, but I'll bite...

      Ok, if you are actually going to spring for indoor plumbing (read: A place to poop), how are you going to get it there?

      First off, the water line up to the treehouse doesn't have to be more than a 1/4" or 1/2" PVC run.. You could use a vacuum pump on top, or a booster pump below.... depends if you want to "pull" the water up or "push" it..

      What if the tree tips over and fecal matter starts shooting everywhere?

      Well, if you're dumb enough to try and build a septic tank into your treehouse you deserve what you get. If you're referring to the removal procedure, sewer lines are typically gravity fed. You'd be crazy as a loon to pressurize that line.
  • by zephc ( 225327 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:14PM (#5468565)
    I would prefer a hobbit hole. Nice and cozy, fireplaces, but plenty of natural light. Maybe staffed by underpants gnomes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where do they put the toilet in these things?

    AC
  • MY treehouse (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 73SSNova ( 152721 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:15PM (#5468574)
    Some friends and i built a crazy treehouse back when we were in high school...
    -It had twin skylights (made from a storm door),
    -The walls were made from the giant political sign they would put up in vacant lots around town. (basically just particle board),
    -we had two full rooms AND
    -a small porch where we could sit and look over the "valley" (there was a stream nearby, just down the hill).
    -A full size door connected the two rooms, and the front room had a window.
    -we also had a rope swing off the porch which was WAY cool.

    it was roughly 6 feet off the ground (the tree we built it on was one of those three-trunked varieties, kinda strange.)

    Needless to say, some punk kids found it like 6 months later and trashed it... of course our craftsmanship was so good, all they really did was smash out the windows! :)

    oh well, good times.

    ~Matt
  • Anyone got a wired treehouse? Imagine sitting in Bart Simpsonesque treehouse surfin' the net. ph33r that.
    • Set up a WAP and stick a wireless card in your laptop.

      My next door neighbour and I built a really kickass treehouse when we were like 10. It helped his father was a master carpenter, of course. It was pretty much framed and wired (electricity) to code, but the 2 outlets we had were wired to a extension-cord plug, and we buried an underground cable across the backyard and into the trees, where an outdoor outlet was. We'd plug in the treehouse as needed (not being legal to hardwire it)

      We spliced a cable off of the roof antenna of his house (cable TV didnt reach us), and had our brand new 8 bit NES and a 13" color TV out there.

      About 3 or 4 years later my friends and I decided my neighbour was a dickhead so we knocked the whole thing down.

      It was pretty cool while it lasted, though.
  • treehouse offenders (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Years ago I read about a family living in a treehouse somewhere in Montana or Wyoming who was being hunted by the "housing code police" because they wanted to check the treehouse for construction code violations, etc. I wonder if the family was ever found? Also in the same article I read about a family living in a cave who was also being hunted for the same reason. More power to these people who want to live the alternative housing lifestyle! I hope they never got caught.
  • Real Deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:17PM (#5468583) Journal
    When I was visiting some of my in-law's relatives in China in 1997, one apartment had a section that reminded me heavily of a tree-house. It was clearly "hacked" together in bits over time with winding hall-ways. I don't know about it's safety, but it was pretty cool to walk around in. If you want to make some changes you just get some boards, nails, and a hammer. No need to call in contractors and get permits, etc. I have never seen anything like it before. I suppose you could call it a "multi-level shanty town".
    • No need to call in contractors and get permits, etc

      That's why a 6.8 earthquake in China kills thousands, and a 6.8 quake in Seattle killed nobody.

      As much as I dislike the hassle of dealing with government beurocracy and regulation, I realize that when it comes to building codes, they are there for a reason.

    • There are some houses (using the term liberally) out in SoCal's Kern County that are built much the same, tho usually all as one story. I came across one that had apparently started life as a cinder block building, but had grown assorted odd parts (which eventually separated into two buildings, seems the middle fell down and was never replaced) made mostly of salvage from mobile homes. One roof section was originally a sidewall from a modular home. As to the bedrooms and kitchen, "You can't get there from here!" -- had to go outside to go from one to the other!

      BTW, see also missouritrailertrash.com, for examples of stuff like a trailer with one end on pylons as tall as a telephone pole, and two-story trailers. No tree-trailers yet, AFAIK. :)

      • BTW, see also missouritrailertrash.com, for examples of stuff like a trailer with one end on pylons as tall as a telephone pole, and two-story trailers. No tree-trailers yet, AFAIK.

        Just wait for the next tornado to blow through...

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @05:24PM (#5468608) Journal
    "Darling, this is marvelous! You're so wonderful.......ants, ants, ANTS! Damn you you f8cking geek!"
    • heehoo, I thought about the same thing when I saw this.

      The house we bought 5 years ago had a nice big willow with a treehouse built in it. My 7-yr old was delighted, and had lots of fun climbing into it and playing and what not. He kept asking me if he could sleep out there. I hesitated, worrying about wildlife (we live on the edge of a preserve, there were often droppings of some sort in and around the treehouse) and such, but eventually gave in with the condition that I'd need to be there to keep an eye on things.

      Sure enough, we had visits from the local racoons that came to check us out. No real problem, they scampered away at the first sound we made. Next morning was a different story though. The ants had found us. I don't normally get bothered by bugs. Spiders, ants, whathaveyou -- no problem (mind, I'm not too fond of earwigs or silverfish, but I don't freak out). But, waking up to find zillions of little black crawly things all over your sleeping bag is a different story.
    • by MrBeezel ( 657675 )
      My wife and I stayed in the Cedar Creek Treehouse on our honeymoon. It has a kitchen and living area downstairs, a sleeping loft with skylights upstairs, a bathroom with a toilet, and a sunroom with a hammock. Solar powered to boot. It was the first weekend of November, and we were just about the last that would stay in the treehouse that season as it was beginning to get rather cold. The wind swayed the trees at night as we, uh, slept. Yeah, slept. It was something I'll never forget. Oh, and the owner of Cedar Creek Treehouse is building an observatory 80 feet up in another cedar that will be connected to the main treehouse by suspended walkways. How cool is that?
  • by Kobal ( 597997 )
    Doesn't excite me at all. My freaking job is all about trees. Why would I ever want to live in a treehouse? I'll leave that kind of fantasy to the moronic city-dwelling tree huggers.
  • We're used to build houses out of brick back here in Europe. As a result, we're not as crafted as the americans of building wooden structures, and we're missing out on the experience of how to build a house, or a tree house out of wood; I don't see myself building a tree house out of bricks in my back yard :(
  • This huge elm across the street, been there over a hundred years... split in half and destroyed four cars in the process. Glad I wasn't up there reading or on the computer at the time.
  • hmm, is it just me, or is the site REALLY slow? well in any case, i set up a mirror [pchopper.com].
  • Does anyone remember the episode of The Fresh Prince of Belair where Carlton goes to sulk in the treehouse and Will follows? That place was massive! It was like a reduced version of the summerhouse.

    The Will Smith quip was when someone else got into the treehouse and asked if there was a toilet in there.. and he said.. 'yeah, third door on the right down the corridor'.
  • I had an idea a while ago - with the advances we've been making in DNA, is there any way that we could get "treehouses" to grow naturally in a few years? Make sure the roots are good and deep on a good foundation to prevent it from falling over, then do "spot-DNA-splicing", where you'd insert the appropriate DNA instructions into the appropriate places over the course of years to make the tree grown into the appropriate shape. Could you make branches grow into a perfect staircase by tricking the tree into thinking that they're actually spaced according to how the tree would normally space its branches? Could you get the tree to make them flat?

    A lot of questions, and a lot of unknowns, but - like the space elevator - I think we may find it within our reach in our lifetimes.
  • Treehouse in Hawaii (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vanyel ( 28049 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @06:09PM (#5468768) Journal
    Last fall I visited a friend on Maui and we stayed in the "Treetops" treehouse at Tree Houses of Hana [maui.net]. It was fun, but we were a little unprepared, as at least in this case, it was basically camping with a roof, a bed and a hot shower. Not much in the way of walls, but a roof ;-) I enjoyed it, but it's not for everyone. They do have one that is much less rustic as well though.
  • There's a book I read years ago, Copernick's Rebellion (Leo Frankowski), where a mad-scientist-type produced genetically engineered giant trees that would grow into nice houses, with rooms inside the trunk and enzyme-filled composting toilets and so on.
    Seemed like a good idea to me at the time. The only problem with the trees in the book was that sometimes toilets would sprout in the middle of beds and digest people in their sleep.
  • put this seed on the ground, and water it. It may take a while.
  • Ooooh. Banyan Vines. That was rough.
    The question is, am I the only 18-year-old who got it?
  • Padding (Score:2, Funny)

    by miketang16 ( 585602 )
    To guard against falling trees, rotting, storms.. etc.. use lots of padding. Develop the entire house with padding, and then when it falls, you'll just have a minor brain trauma from bouncing around inside.
  • by ivi ( 126837 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @07:17PM (#5469053)

    Australia's Coober Pedy (in South Australia)
    has a large number of underground homes.

    Even closer to the exclusive Adelaide Hills
    we found some underground houses.

    The obvious advantages are:

    - low heating costs &
    - low cooling costs

    In short, a very energy-efficient home form

    Coupled with a solar hot water system,
    a fuel cell or wind-power system & a
    quiet air circulation system (out with CO2
    & radon gas; in with oxygen-rich air,
    possibly full of nice local fragrances),
    this type of house really rocks, especially
    if it's built into a hillside, so you have
    a terrific view out your front viewport...
  • by Malcs ( 95091 )
    I had such good memories of the treehouse in the Disney film version of Swiss Family Robinson that I recently watched it on DVD for the first time as an adult and it still makes me want to live in one. And [cedarcreektreehouse.com]
    this could be a cool way to spend your birthday.

    • Yep, that's exactly the treehouse I think of first, EVERY time the subject comes up. What a marvelous set!!

      Most kids today never get to climb a tree, let alone build a treehouse (even if it's just two boards nailed across two handy limbs). :(

  • lexan roof? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 3ryon ( 415000 ) on Saturday March 08, 2003 @07:56PM (#5469232)
    I can't imagine why you'd want to build a treehouse without a clear roof, but I've never heard of anyone doing it. Perhaps it's cost prohibitive...

    Would be awesome during thunderstorms....especially if you happen to have a significant other in there with you.
  • I'll rename her to Luthien and lock her up in there until she's about 21.

    (if you don't get it, you need to read more Tolkien :)
  • The advent of strong, tough, durable fibers should make way for suspension structures similar to those proposed by R Bukminster Fuller for earthquake resistance. The idea is a central pillar with great strength is built up and then the floors are suspended by cables from "branches" out from the central pillar. Supposedly this gives a lot better earthquake resistance as well as lower cost of materials since the primary wall supports are 'strings' and the central load-bearing structure doesn't need to have any other structural use.

    With a tree you get the central load-bearing structure, and the branches for free.

  • by awing0 ( 545366 ) <adam@badt e c h .org> on Sunday March 09, 2003 @01:23AM (#5470208) Homepage
    I've always thought of tree houses as an insult to injury. First, you're wounding the tree, that's ok. But then you're attaching another dead tree to it. It's almost like beating someone with their own arm. The trees in the forest must riducule thier members with dead trees nailed to them. (its funny...laugh)
  • I think my karma supplies are healthy enough for a few -1: Redundants.:)

    For Jonny Brock and Clare Gorst
    and all other Arlingtonians
    for tea, sympathy, and a sofa


    Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

    This planet has-or rather had-a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

    And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.

    Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

    And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.

    Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terribly stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost forever.

    This is not her story.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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