A Tree House Story – By Grandpa Paul

Customer Grandpa Paul of Port Angeles recently submitted the following story and photos about his newly finished treehouse.  It was built for his family and successive generations to embody childhood experiences and enjoy the incredible views from the canopy.

There has always been a strong history of treehouses in our family. When my son and his wife bought a property in the woods, the question was not if we would build a treehouse or not, but where.

We located an excellent location on the property consisting of four straight, healthy Douglas Firs ranging in diameter from 16 in. to 24 in., enough to support a vast platform that required real engineering! My other son is a civil engineer and provided invaluable assistance. The design is entirely novel, not a copy. In every way, it is entirely our creation, and we dedicate it to our grandchildren and children of all ages.

A platform of 11 ft. x 13 ft. was built 13 feet up, made of 1 in. planking on 2 in. x 8 in joists, which were attached to long beams made from a triple layer of 2 in. x 12 in. lumber. The whole assembly was supported on floating brackets, supported by large diameter tree attachment bolts (TABs), one in each tree.

In the next stage, we designed and built a landing with flexibly attached stairways, the lower one coming up from one direction and another heading up at a 90-degree angle in another direction to reach the platform. The stairways are hinged on the landing and ride free at their opposite ends. That portion of the project was completed in the summer of 2019.

The summer of 2020 saw the construction of the “Keep,” the highest stronghold or refuge of the fortress. It consisted of an 8 ft. x 8 ft. room (a reasonable size for a tiny house) but still leaving ample open deck space on two sides of the platform. The size would allow generous room for a table and chairs, board games, a couch long enough for a nap, and maybe even an easy chair. An important architectural feature was to incorporate enough windows to bring the surrounding trees inside and provide loads of light.

The roof, clad in metal, has a shed style design but with a “beaver tail” sloping overhang on the tall west side, wide enough to stand or sit under while staying dry (if the rain is falling straight down). The rafters overhang 3 ft. on the east side so the snow would slide off the roof and beyond the lower stairway, rather than on it.

To firmly secure the pieces of this design, the treehouse is held together by thousands of high-quality deck screws and a large load of Simpson Strong-Tie products. 

Our good friends at Angeles Millwork & Lumber, where we obtained 95% of the materials, were very supportive and encouraging, especially Terry Andrews, Chris Sanchez, Jen Ellinwood, and Mike Deese. Thank you!