Hanging with friends outdoors? Nothing beats a treehouse - GulfToday

Hanging with friends outdoors? Nothing beats a treehouse

treehouse 3

A Pagosa Springs treehouse built by Smith and his firm. AP

Gulf Today Report

Anthropologists believe our ancient human ancestors spent their time in trees, so it should be no surprise we love treehouses today.

Treehouses of all kinds are experiencing a renaissance.

When an acre-size slice of land in Gold Hill, Colorado, came on the market earlier this year, local resident Jessica Brookhart, 41, snapped it up for $80,000, according to AP.

The draw for her: the house was a treehouse.


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It was a place she could hang out with her husband and two young boys.

"I had never been inside it, but had admired it from a distance," she said, admitting it was an emotional purchase.

treehouse 1 "Little Red" at The Mohicans treehouse Resort and Wedding Venue in Glenmont, Ohio. AP

The man who owned the land had built the treehouse with materials from a recycling centre in neighbouring Boulder. The structure can fit two adults and two children. There’s no bathroom or running water, and a squat potty is outside down on the ground. There’s a camping stove for cooking, and water has to be brought up. From the windows, you can see Longs Peak and the Continental Divide.

As pandemic lockdowns droned on, Nanci and Ethan Butler of Newton, Massachusetts, decided to build a backyard treehouse for their two kids. Ethan, an engineer, found treehouse floor plans online and modified them to accommodate their family.

Building the house was a family affair, and in about three months, the Butlers had a beautiful hideaway with built-in bunk beds and a front deck. They enjoyed some nights camping out in it.

Then, on a serene day about three weeks after it was finished, a big oak in the yard broke in two. Part of it fell directly onto the treehouse, crushing it. Carpenter ants had brought the tree down.

"It was traumatic, I was stunned,” Nanci, 45, said. "But we were also so saturated with despair at that point. Nobody cried.”

treehouse 3 Ethan stands in the backyard of a treehouse. AP

Part of treehouses' popularity, he said, is parents' desire to create more backyard amenities so kids will go outside.

Nostalgia is another part of it.

"Nostalgia is a huge driver for consumers in general,” he said. "People are being creative with how they engage with that type of nostalgia.”

Business is booming for Aaron Smith, who owns the Fort Collins, Colorado-based treehouse architecture firm Treecraft Design-Build. He started it in 2015, and now employs a second designer and eight carpenters.

"In COVID times, I saw a spike in requests for backyard treehouses just because everyone was at home and the kids needed to get out of the house too,” Smith said.

His treehouses have ranged from a basic backyard structure costing around $10,000 to a livable treehouse with indoor plumbing for half a million. He has clients all over the country.

For many people, basic is OK for treehouses. Jim Brook, a 71-year-old grandfather in Breckenridge, Colorado, built his three grandsons a small platform treehouse nestled among some aspen trees a few years ago.

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