The Tree House

by Mark in Architecture, Outdoor

Tree house

Photo: Hugh Lofting Timber Framing

Have you ever dreamt of having a place where you could just hear the birds chirp and feel the wind? Of a quiet romantic place that would elevate you from the daily stress? Or would you like to offer your children a fascinating playground that would stir their imagination and adventurous spirit, making them quit watching TV or playing on the computer? Or maybe you want to impress your friends with a truly special area dedicated to entertainment.

You can have all these in your garden! Unleash your imagination and create a world that would fit in a tree!

Rustic House Tree

Photo: Missy Brown Design

It's not necessary to build something like the construction in the park of Alnick Castle in Great Britain. It can host 300 people, tallying over 500,000 visitors per year! Considered one of the biggest construction suspended in trees, the investment cost 7 million dollars!

Castle Alnwick Tree House

Photo: Ed O'Keeffe

A charming place can be made by spending a lot less than that!

Rustic Tree House

Photo: Blue Forest/Barcroft Media

Let's first analyse the structure of a tree from a technical point of view. It can be seen as a vertical column (the main tree trunk) from which many horizontal and vertical beams or beams of other angles (the branches) are fixed in a console; the entire structure is transferred towards the foundation (the roots).

A healthy tree has the abovementioned components organically developed, depending on each other. For example, an asymmetrically developed treetop that grows southwards will determine roots to develop rather northwards in order to balance the weight of the tree.

As a consequence, a heavy load on the treetop cannot be sustained by its trunk and roots. Moreover, this load will have to be distributed on to the branches as to balance gravity of the ensemble on the main trunk.

An often used solution is the placement of supporting pillars that would add stability and safety to the whole construction. You can also opt for using neighbouring trees to distribute the load of a bigger house.

Choosing the right tree

Choosing the right tree is the most important decision. The height and width, the shape of the trunk and branches, the species and steadiness, as well as the location and view are the factors that will determine, if a tree is right to be built on.

Height

The higher the construction, the greater sense of freedom will be, due to the wider view. It's also good to be practical and reduce the risks that increase with height, especially if you intend on building a kids' playground!

Take into account the force of the wind upon the tree which increases with height!

In areas with gale:
  • Reduce the size of the house to the minimum;
  • Position the house on the first third of the trunk;
  • Make it as aerodynamically as possible.
Tree House

Photo: theownerbuildernetwork.co

Choosing the branches for support

The branches have to be sturdy enough to sustain the entire load. Try to find a branch for each corner of the house. Create a frame between these support points.

Keep in mind:
  • The branches move differently in the gust of wind, therefore the house should be able to support every tension and pressure. In this case, the framework will have to be either extremely sturdy and resistant, or light and flexible.
  • Respect the tree! Let it be the main architect! Design the house by its configuration and avoid sacrificing healthy branches!
Rustic House Tree

Photo: Alex Amend

Recommended species

It would be best to choose a tree with hardwood and a thick treetop, such as beech, maple, or walnut, the last being more prevalent near our houses.

Sphere Tree House

Photo: Free Spirit Spheres

Protecting the tree

Before you start building, think of the possible troubles that the house might cause.

  • Minimize as much as possible the decay of the tree bark. It protects the tree against insects, bacteria, and fungi;
  • It would be best to get rid of the useless branches in late autumn or winter;
  • Use well-sharpened tools in this respect;
  • Trees have the ability of isolating the diseased areas by not transporting any sustenance towards them. Therefore, fixing the house has to be done in few places by using solid spikes drilled in fewer spots, rather than hammering nails in many spots! This way the tree can locate the diseased areas and properly isolate them. Many nails hammered so close together will affect a larger area, thus leading to a decrease in resistance.
  • Bear in mind that the branches are continuously growing, so avoid garrotting them.
  • Do not exaggerate when it comes to its weight. Besides damaging the tree, the heavy weight can also bring about unnecessary accidents.
Tree House

Photo: Benedict August

Attention!
  • Since you love nature, use as many recycled materials as possible when building the house!

Let's change the perspective and after seeing so many houses built in trees, let us take a look at something even more spectacular: the house is no longer in the tree, but the tree is in the middle of the house!!

The Tree Within the House

Photo: A. Masow Design Studio

If we have managed to challenge you to build a tree house, we wish you good luck and we look forward to seeing pictures of your accomplishment on our official Facebook page.