April 5, 2013 / Issue #37

The Treehouse Project: Part 1 – Research

Photo credit: Spencer Wright. http://www.flickr.com/photos/spencer77/2686792248/

Photo credit: Spencer Wright. http://www.flickr.com/photos/spencer77/2686792248/

I’m fortunate enough that my suburban existence includes a home featuring ample backyard space. It makes up for the fact that a quality bakery serving up fresh bagels is really nowhere to be found out here. So while my periodic cravings for boiled, ring shaped bread products may be going unfulfilled, I can happily stare out at my yard on a regular basis and imagine random DIY fun I can have back there. In many ways, the woodsy lot is similar to the the one I grew up on in Connecticut. Thus, it’s hard for me not to recall memories of un-permitted construction projects the neighborhood kids and I took on during our youth.

Hell will probably freeze over before my wife lets me construct a half-pipe in the backyard and attempt to turn one of my sons into Tony Hawk. But a treehouse, that’s a different story. While I’m not sure I need to go through her permitting process to get approval to break ground on construction (yes, I’m pretty sure I can get the kids jazzed up with a fancy ground breaking ceremony involving a golden shovel), my intuition is telling me that I should see what zoning regulations she’s filed away in her head. Imagine the sadness on the faces of my young boys when she comes marching out into the backyard with a stop work order. Imagine their wounded imaginations. Imagine my wounded pride.

When I was young, we lived on a street where some new homes were being built. Basically, we staged midnight raids, snagged sheets of plywood, a bunch of 2-by-4s, and did our best to channel our inner Bob Vila. Looking back on it, I’m amazed we actually built something that not only stayed upright, but it also didn’t hurt anyone. I doubt that approach will satisfy our home’s zoning supervisor. So what I need is a good plan. That first means some good research. Below are some of the best books, blogs, and websites I’ve found. Start soaking these up if you’re thinking of taking on your own treehouse construction project.


New Treehouses of the World

New Treehouses of the World

The Treehouse Book

The Treehouse Book

Those two books are coffee table style books rich with pictures of amazing treehouses. While they are beautiful and inspiring, if you’re an inexperienced carpenter and need some step-by-step guidance, the following book is one to add to your cart.

Black and Decker Complete Guide To treehouses

Black and Decker Complete Guide to Treehouses


All About Tree Houses

The Treehouse Guy

Complete plans you can buy

http://treehouseguides.com/ – There are a lot of places on the Web where you can purchase or download a treehouse construction plan, but Treehouse Guides provides downloadable plans that are very thorough and lay out everything you need to know. From selecting a tree to purchasing materials and actual step by step instructions taking you through every aspect of the process–very much worth the price.

What’s next

In the next article of this series, I’ll share my treehouse plan and show what tree I’m using as the “base”

Let’s use those REI dividends!

One of the benefits of being a member of REI is the dividend they send you every March. It’s one of those little treats I forget about, then when it shows up in my mailbox, it puts a big smile on my face.

The dividend also comes with a 20% coupon off any regularly priced item at their stores. Savvy REI shoppers wait until that dividend and the accompanying coupon shows before taking the plunge on that new bike or tent they’ve had their eyes on.

My REI dividend and 20% off coupon are sitting on my desk, waiting for me to redeem them. I’ve got a few days before the 20% deal expires. I’ve spent some time this week thinking of the practical uses or gear upgrades I need, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on anything as of yet.

But let’s forget practicality for a moment. What am I truly lusting for at REI? Here’s a few.

Smith I/O Recon Snow Goggles

Smith I/O Recon Snow Goggles

For whatever reason, the idea of wearing Google Glass while walking around downtown Boston seems silly. But not silly at all is the idea of getting real time data displays embedded in my googles to feed me an information diet that includes speed, altitude, and temperature while I’m ripping through the glades at Mad River Glen.

GoPro HERO3 Silver Edition Wide-Angle Helmet Cam


I’ve recorded so many other aspects of my life on video, why not have a way to record that time I lose control and go flying over my mountain bike handlebars?

Delta Kayaks TwentyT Tandem Kayak


A tandem kayak–Sounds like instant outdoor fun during the warmer months.


The Weston Town Green

Photo Credit: J.J. Toothman

Photo Credit: J.J. Toothman

How to find it

Set your GPS for the Weston Town Hall at 11 Townhouse Road, Weston, MA 02493 or find it on Google Maps

It’s great because…

If you’re looking for a postcard New England scene outside of the city with open space for kids of all ages to run around, this it.

Outdoor activities for everyone

There’s something to do in all seasons and weather.  When it’s warm and sunny out, bring a picnic and a frisbee. In the springtime, stroll and smell the blooming flowers. In autumn, relax on a park bench and watch the leaves fall. And when there’s a blanket of fresh snows, there’s enough room for cross country skiing and great sledding hills.

If you need some food or a restroom

Ye Olde Cottage Restaurant is 100 yards away. It’a simple diner type place with well prepared food. And it bleeds rustic charm. But note, by rustic charm, we mean that they only take cash and they don’t have a bathroom (I can’t figure that last one out, either)

So if you’re not carrying cash, head to the Bruegger’s Bagels across the street.  Right next to it, is Omni Foods, which in addition to having the closest bathroom you can use, is a decent market for stocking your own picnic.