From Tracie: (Not-A)Treehouse Masters

Monday, August 26, 2013

(Not-A)Treehouse Masters

I avoided watching Treehouse Masters on *Animal Planet, because I don't really need another tv show, but on Saturday my love for treehouses and the state of Oregon won. We watched the episode with a family from Medford, Oregon who wanted a treehouse for their daughter who lost her bedroom to a new baby while she was away at college. The treehouse masters built a treehouse for her.

Actually, they didn't do that. Not exactly.

The (not-a)treehouse masters drilled huge holes all the way through two trees. They put large pieces of metal called Treehouse Attachment Bolts in the holes to attach to a beam, and then built a stilt house using that beam in the construction. The trees are supporting the beam, but the house is not actually in either tree, nor is any other part of the tree supporting the house or incorporated into the building. It was basically a stilt house sitting next to two injured trees with a very long bridge leading up to the main house.

I am not a master of treehouses (I never even had one as a kid), nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but I know that a treehouse should sit in a tree.

The leader of this (not-a)treehouse business is Pete Nelson. He introduced the rest of his crew, which was comprised of carpenters and his son. This worried me a bit, because they intended to put a bathroom and kitchen in the (not-a)treehouse. Where were the plumbers and electricians? I waited patiently for them to discuss plumbing and electricity, as any good constructions show would, but that never happened.

As they built the platform of the (not-a)treehouse, it was evident how close to the ground it was - only a few ladder rungs high.

At one point, one of the carpenters complained about a small tree limb rubbing up against the side of the house. I am using the word limb loosely, it was nothing huge. He waved around a 20-inch chainsaw, and wanted to cut it, but Pete told him they were not allowed to cut any more limbs off of the trees.

Halfway through the show, Pete got a call to see a treehouse in California.

Finally, we were going to see a real treehouse.

You know, a house built in a tree.

Something like what comes up when you do an image search for treehouse:

Wrong. There would be no treehouse.

The (not-a)treehouse in California was a small, contemporary house built on shiny metal stilts, sitting over a fallen tree. It wasn't even pretending to be attached to a tree. Yet we watched Pete Nelson climb up on the tree under the (not-a)treehouse, while the architect told him about being inspired by the tree. We also saw him slide down the stilts like a fireman's pole. Then Pete restored the sun-bleached steps of this (not-a)treehouse before returning to the job site in Oregon.

Meanwhile, back on the mountain, the carpenters and (not-a)treehouse masters had not built the bridge high enough in Pete's absence, and it did not reach the top of the mountain. That was quickly fixed, the house finished, and after the next commercial break we got to see the final unveiling with the family.

It was not a bad stilt house. The view was incredible. They put in nice details, like skinny tree trunks from the mountain to frame out the bunk beds (Wait, weren't they not allowed to cut any more tree limbs?), a rounded breakfast nook, and the ladder from the father's childhood treehouse (which was probably built in a tree).

The family gushed and exclaimed over the (not-a)treehouse. They loved everything about it. While they were looking at all the details, we hear Pete's voice explain that the best part about this project was "how it brought the family together." Blech. It didn't bring the family together - they weren't fractured and fighting before he showed up, there was no therapy or healing moment in this show, and they didn't join together to help with the construction project.

If anything, it separated the family, because the oldest daughter will now live in the (not-a)treehouse when she is at home, and the other teens will most certainly want to stay there as much as possible, too. Unless the entire family moves into the (not-a)treehouse, Pete just split the family up into two separate houses. Thanks, Pete.

You can see pictures of the finished (not-a)treehouse on Nelson's website, but there are no good shots of the long bridge or the bottom of the (not-a)treehouse showing that it is standing on stilts. There is one shot of part of a tree coming up through a balcony, but it doesn't appear to be supporting the house in any significant way.

Have you seen this show?
Would you consider this house a treehouses?

*Don't even get me started on how this show has NOTHING  to do with animals, yet is on Animal Planet. It makes no sense.


  1. I wish we could have space for a tree house in a garden here!

    1. I know that wish well. I've always wanted one, too.

  2. I'm sorry, is that seriously what they're considering a treehouse? While that may be a house amid the trees, it is not a treehouse. Also? I'm pretty sure it's bigger and nicer than my entire apartment. Seriously, a TWO STORY treehouse?! Ugh.

    1. Right? That is one fancy place. Definitely bigger and nicer than where I live. And the view is much better, too. At the beginning of the episode, the mentioned the budget starting at $150,000 and being willing to go higher if necessary.

      "A house amid the trees" is EXACTLY the perfect definition.

  3. Also, this:

    "Q. "Do you need to have a tree to build a treehouse?"


    I think he missed the definition of TREEhouse.

    1. OHMYGOSH. I didn't even see that.

      I don't even know how to respond to that level of misunderstanding the word "TREEhouse."

      There are no words.

  4. I have never seen it, but I died laughing at your Holiday Inn line...super weird, though, and I am definitely going to check it out now!-Ashley

  5. That is SO not a treehouse. Swiss Family Robinson has made me want a REAL Tree House since I was little. Someday - after I win the lottery. :D

  6. There's a show about treehouses?? I'm a little obsessed with trees and love climbing them. And, no, it's not a tree house.

  7. Not a tree house. In lots of coastline type places, houses are built on stilts on the time. . .and no one calls them tree houses. And I think all of the cable channels have decided that they don't care what their names are, they're going to show whatever they want. I mean, isn't Pawn Stars on The History Channel? And remember when TLC was The Learning Channel and didn't show any freaky families?

  8. It turns out? Never had one. Always wanted one. Not sure how I'd feel about my kid living in one, tho.

  9. I've never seen the show, but I love treehouses. That said, no, this is not a treehouse. (I went to the website) To me, that is a luxury guesthouse. A treehouse is up in a tree, and usually filled with nails and porn magazines that my brother and his friends snuck up there.

  10. Having built a tree house or two in my lifetime... gasp! I'd kill for a bunk bed in my tree house! Mine were made from trees, of course, anything from fallen branches lashed together in a kind of supported platform, to a full two-story monstrosity (about 5'x5' with lots of ladder action). IN TREES.

  11. While I understand your definition of a tree-house, it is a romantic thought only. You would kill the tree or at least damage it if you built it any other way. A small child's tree-house might last but not the big constructions on the show. You should read Pete's FAQ page and educate yourselves. Sincerely a small forest owner.

    1. Tracie's definition is the TRUE definition of a tree house! DRILLING A HUGE HOLE THROUGH THE HEART OF A TREE is not. The only time I bothered to watch the show I was HORRIFIED to see the massive drill. These are people with NO respect or knowledge of the miracle of trees. (Oh we'd loooove a tea room to drink tea in a tree house, killing the tree in the process.......bruh-ther) A real tree house CAN be built and still protect the tree, it just has to be adjusted regularly as the trees grow.

  12. I loved ur article and your writing style. Laughed and laughed. I can't stand the show or the man. I built a few as a youngster and may have driven a nail or two into a tree but the trees thrive now 50 years later. I'm not so sure that would be the case had my friends and I drilled 2 1/2 inch holes thru these beautiful oaks. I refuse to watch. Keep up the great work.