Single Baby Boomers Living in Small Spaces – Tree Houses

Single Baby Boomers are often willing to take chances.  For some it may mean changing professions, traveling to distant locales, starting new hobbies or even living in unique places.  Some have decided to take to the trees, not just for an off-beat vacation, but full-time.


Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Tree House-Treehouse Masters
Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Tree House-Treehouse Masters


Baby Boomer, Pete Nelson, who’s been described as the tree whisperer, is a world-renowned treehouse designer, builder and host of the Animal Planet show Treehouse Masters. His team of craftsmen, which includes his son, Charlie, create incredible homes and businesses in nature’s canopy.  He combines science and art to build his clients’ sky-high dreams of magnificent multi-bedroom treehouses with elaborate kitchens and bathrooms or smaller, peaceful escapes.  “We awaken that inner child who dreams of living among the trees,” Pete says.  His one-of-a-kind treehouses include a spa retreat, a brewery, a honeymoon suite, an Irish-themed cottage, and an 800-square-foot Texas treehouse with a full bath and flat-screen TV.  Nelson’s catch line “To the trees” on his show heralds the start of each new project as he creates a plan that meets his client’s needs plus offering them options they never thought possible.


Pete Nelson and Crew
Pete Nelson and Crew


To have a home in the trees built by Nelson Treehouse and Supply you can apply to be on the show at  You can get a tour of his famous builds, rent a treehouse for a vacation, book a wedding or another event at Treehouse Point.  It’s located along the Preston-Fall City Road 30 minutes from Seattle, WA in a beautiful forest along the Raging River.


The steps to a Nelson Treehouse built structure are as follows:

Step 1: The Site Visit or Consultation

The team meets your trees, discusses your vision and takes measurements so they can get everything they need to design the treehouse of your dreams.

Step 2: Design and Budget

The information that they gathered during the site visit is transformed into drawings of your unique treehouse. A plan is developed as is an estimate which is based on the client’s budget.

Step 3: The Build

A contract to build a treehouse is signed and construction scheduled.

Cost Breakdown:

Tree houses built by Nelson Company are “custom designed for the unique tree scenario, client’s design aesthetic and the location” according to Nelson. The primary building costs take the following factors into consideration.

  • The height of the treehouse off the ground
  • Access to the project area
  • The time of year (i.e. peak travel season costs, weather, etc.)
  • The number of trees to which it is connected
  • The materials used
  • Freight
  • Logistical costs (e.g. accommodations, plane tickets, car rentals, etc.)
  • Labor

The average starting cost of a 200 square foot custom NT&S built treehouse without plumbing built out-of-state is $180,000 and $150,000 in Washington State.  Custom design fees of $15,000, interior furnishings and any permitting or engineering fees add to the cost of the treehouse construction price.


Z Treehouse-Treehouse Masters
Z Treehouse-Treehouse Masters


Their website added, “if you want amenities like water and/or electricity in your treehouse, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to permit and install the necessary infrastructure (e.g. septic system) that can be accessed by the future treehouse . . . we recommend considering more economical and environmentally friendly options like compostable toilets and grey water sinks.”

They require their treehouses to be permitted and follow engineering codes in most cases.  This can add up to $20,000 to the cost.  The also recommend researching what your local building authorities and any Home Owners Associations  require since they vary in each location.  A permitted, engineered, plumbed treehouse built out-of-state has a base cost of approximately $225,000.00.  See for more details.


Art Studio Treehouse-Treehouse Masters
Art Studio Treehouse-Treehouse Masters


If you’re considering building your own treehouse without obtaining a building permit, here are some reasons why you should pay the fee and take the time to get one.

  • You want to make sure that you’re obeying zoning laws and abiding by all building codes so you’re not ordered to stop building or tear the structure down in the future.
  • Your neighbors usually won’t be able to stop the construction of your new dream treehouse if they don’t want it in the neighborhood or near their land.


Tree Top Builders, Inc. at offers the following suggestions on the different aspects of treehouse construction if you want to build your own.

  • Find the right trees – Examine the species, shape and health of the trees for evidence of insect infestation, disease or decay. Tree care handbooks will help you with the basics, but also ask local long-time residents about which trees are the hardiest in your area or hire a local arborist before starting a project to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your trees.
  • Implement tree friendly construction – If you’re concerned about hurting trees during construction, it may make you feel better to know that the art and science of treehouse engineering has improved a great deal in the last decade. Professional crews now use the expertise of arborists and carpenters to minimize impact and leave trees healthy.  Trees have an amazing ability to compensate for the treehouse’s added weight.  After a few years, the roots strengthen to resist the added strain during wind storms. Trees also grow extra material where the load is attached to the trunk or branch and after many years they grow around almost anything attached to them.  However, if you build your own treehouse be sure to educate yourself in basic tree biology and keep these things in mind.
  • Never girdle a trunk or branch with anything else that won’t expand as the tree grows since that part of the tree will be strangled and eventually die.
  • Don’t attach a treehouse foundation to two trees or limbs because trees sway in the wind and it may snap during a storm. Some professional treehouse builders fix one end of the supporting beams but let the other end float or slide by either suspending the beam with cables or using custom welded sliding brackets.  This allows the treehouse to sway gently in a breeze and move independently of supporting trees.
  • Piercing the bark and living cambium layer of a tree should be done only as necessary. If you put several nails in one place, the tree may compartmentalize the whole area as a single wound causing it to rot.  Use stronger lag bolts rather than a lot of nails. Professionals use strong custom machined steel tree anchors for large treehouses because they’re capable of holding 4,000 to 9,000 pounds.
  • Get help with your treehouse from experts. Getting professional advice at the beginning is a good idea.  Most treehouse construction companies will share their expertise.


Three Story Treehouse-British Columbia, Canada
Three Story Treehouse-British Columbia, Canada


  • Add options that will make your treehouse livable and aesthetically pleasing. Most treehouses that are full-time homes are located in temperate or warm climates. Even in those areas, you’ll need to insulate your walls, floor, ceiling, water and sewage pipes.  In most areas, you’ll want an HVAC system.  Unless you want to go outside to an outhouse, a bathroom is necessary.  Electricity would be an essential option for most of us.  If mobility may become an issue, then consider a ramp or bridge for easy access.  Windows, skylights and outside entertaining areas remind you that you’re not earthbound.  Jonathan Fairoaks, a certified arborist and professional treehouse builder, said,  “the higher up in the trees you get, and the more surrounded you are by them, the closer to heaven you are.”


Treehouse with ramp-Treehouse Masters
Treehouse with ramp-Treehouse Masters


If you want to try out a treehouse go to to rent a treehouse in one of several scenic locations in the world.


UFO Treehouse-Sweden
UFO Treehouse-Sweden


When I sit on my balcony at home, I sometimes find myself watching a bird and thinking about how wonderful it must be to live a life above the ground in the trees.  A treehouse would offer me this view with the added feeling of living in the middle of nature.  It’s a lifestyle some single Baby Boomers may want to consider.  More people than ever are living tiny in the trees.  Will you join them?


Continue the adventure!

Linda Lea


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