Frequently Asked Questions
Click the questions below to learn more about Nelson Treehouse.
How much does a treehouse cost?
Our costs vary widely depending on the range of our services required, as well as the location and scope of your treehouse. Our current baseline price of fully designing and building a custom treehouse is approximately $300,000. The design portion of our services constitutes about seven to ten percent of that total price. In other words, the total price of your treehouse is equal to our design services costs plus the cost of our fixed-bid construction contract. Our average treehouses range from 200 to 500 square feet and can include most amenities of a typical "ground" house. Click here to learn more about the steps and costs of our design and build process.
Our treehouses are highly site-specific, integrated with the unique layout of your trees and property. Our designers, project managers, and carpenters work closely with you to manifest your vision, and bring years of experience in innovative small-space design and build to the process. The following factors (among others) may affect the cost of your treehouse:
- Height of the treehouse from ground
- Access to the project area
- Time of year (e.g., peak travel season costs, weather)
- Number of trees you wish to connect to
- Materials involved, seasonality of the structure (e.g., all-season, three-season), and desired degree of finishing (e.g., adding insulation, application of interior paneling)
- Freight costs
- Logistical costs (e.g., crew accommodations, plane tickets, car rentals)
- Desired amenities (e.g., kitchen, bathroom, water, electricity)
Here are some additional things to note:
- Our designs services are typically paired with our build services, but can also be contracted independently.
- Treehouses within a one-hour drive from our location in Fall City, WA may not be subject to the logistical costs of crew accommodations associated with long-distance builds.
- If you would like utilities such as water and electricity in your treehouse, it is your responsibility to permit and install the necessary infrastructure (e.g., septic system, water service, electrical service) at the location of the treehouse before construction begins. These costs are above and beyond the costs of our design and build services. Once utilities infrastructure is established onsite of the treehouse, we will oversee the installation of these amenities within the structure. As adding plumbing to a treehouse can be considerable expense, we encourage you to consider more economical and environmentally friendly options like compostable toilets and grey water sinks.
- Obtaining a building permit in your jurisdiction may be required. Costs associated with this process are similar to typical residential construction. We strongly recommend researching the regulations of local building authorities regarding treehouses, as it varies from place to place. Please review our FAQ section on permitting (below) for more information.
Our range of services can be customized to fit your goals and budget. We encourage all those interested to submit an inquiry here.
How do I get a Nelson treehouse built?
We invite you to submit an inquiry so we can learn about your vision and determine if Nelson Treehouse and Supply would be the best fit for your project. We review each inquiry thoroughly, so ask for your patience while you await a response.
If your project is an excellent fit with Nelson Treehouse, we will move forward with scheduling a site visit. Please be aware that due to the high volume of requests, the wait-time for our full-scale design and build services may be significant. Hang in there! We care deeply about your timeline and do our best to accommodate it.
Can your design services be contracted independently from your construction services?
Yes, our design services can be contracted independently of our construction and general contracting services. Our independent design services range from creating only a conceptual design, to producing a full set of permitted architectural drawings in partnership with engineers. With some independent design projects, we also assist with the installation of hardware onsite before leaving the remainder of the build in the hands of your construction team to complete.
If you are interested in contracting our design services, please submit an inquiry here.
And to read more about the steps to our design and build process, please click here.
A fully designed-and-built Nelson treehouse is out of my budget. What can I do?
If a fully designed-and-built treehouse is out of your budget, please don't despair - we have other avenues available for you! We offer consultations, heavy-duty hardware, plans, and other supplies to support you in building your own treehouse. You might consider contracting our design services and/or purchasing our plans, and then hiring a local contractor to build the treehouse. We've supported many clients in building their dream treehouses without making use of our full-scale design and build service.
Do you build treehouses as full-time residences?
We specialize in elevating the craft of treehouse-building to accommodate large-scale projects. However, we remain mindful that treehouse-building is, at its core, an art of small-space design and construction.
We do design and build treehouses that function as full-time or part-time residences. Our clients who choose to live full-time in a treehouse are typically committed to leading a semi-rustic, tiny-house lifestyle. Our average treehouses range from 200 to 500 square feet and can include most amenities of a typical "ground" house.
That being said, our treehouses are emblematic of small-scale living - we make an effort to downsize most of the features to fit within the constraints of building in living organisms. Yes, we can integrate a kitchen, bedroom, full bathroom, and living room into your treehouse - but we do not build 1,000+ square-foot tree-supported structures with expansive floor plans fit for a full family's lifestyle.
Please note that permitting for a full-time residence in the trees is similar to the permitting process for a typical ground house and may require considerable time and preparation. We strongly recommend contacting local building authorities to understand regulations pertaining to treehouses on your property. Please see the next FAQ (below) for more information on permitting.
In order to install amenities like running water and power in your treehouse, all necessary infrastructure (e.g., a septic system, water service, and electrical service) must be established on the location of the treehouse before construction begins. The permitting and installation of this infrastructure on the site of the treehouse will be your responsibility, and is above and beyond the purview of our design and build services. However, once the necessary infrastructure is installed onsite, Nelson Treehouse and Supply will oversee installation of these amenities within the structure.
How does permitting work for treehouses?
This section is for informational purposes only.
We strongly encourage you to research zoning and permit regulations pertaining to treehouses in your local municipality prior to building your treehouse. If a building permit is required for your treehouse, it will be best to obtain one.
In most cases, obtaining a permit for a treehouse is similar to obtaining a building permit for a ground house. It is typical to collaborate with an architect and engineer to produce construction documents. Regulations differ widely per jurisdiction: in some cases, building permits are not required; others may require a fully documented submittal. Due to the breadth and variety of regulations, we are unable to list the rules and restrictions for all municipalities. We suggest you contact your local building department to understand the regulations in your area.
If you plan to rent out your treehouse and/or use your treehouse for any commercial purpose whatsoever, you may be subject to different code standards than if your treehouse is for private use only. In these cases, we would insist on engineering your structure to ensure the highest standards of safety and structural integrity.
Here are a few additional words of advice regarding permitting:
Consider your neighbors: Regardless of whether your local governing body allows treehouses to be constructed, you should always consider how your project will affect your neighbors. Will your new, lofty view invade their privacy? Will your structure obstruct their existing view? Whenever possible, it is best to locate your treehouse in a place where neighbors will support your effort rather than hinder it.
Consider regulations: Hefty fines and orders to remove the structure may be imposed upon unpermitted treehouse projects. If a building permit is required for your treehouse, it will be best to obtain one.
Consider your options: If you are looking for property with the intention of building a treehouse, you have the luxury of checking the building codes for each area you are considering. This may enable you to buy property where you know you will be allowed to build a treehouse. If you already own property, research the zoning regulations regarding size and height for treehouses in your area.
Although permitting may seem an arduous process, Nelson Treehouse successfully obtains treehouse permits across the country. The building code is not intended to inhibit innovative ideas or technological advances. We have found that most jurisdictions support our safe and sustainable science of treehouse-building.
Where can I find information and resources about best practices of treehouse-building?
To learn about our tips and tricks of treehouse design and build, we recommend checking out these blog posts:
- Hardware Highlight: Treehouse Attachment Bolt
- 6 Steps of the Nelson Treehouse Design Process
- Technology That's Revolutionizing the Way We Build Treehouses
- One-Stop Shop for Your Treehouse Build
- Pete Nelson's Treehouse Designs for DIY-ers
- DIY Ships Ladder
- DIY Hog Wire Railing
- Treehouse Framing DIY Tutorial: Your First Rake Wall
- How to Build a Fibonacci Bench
- Treehouse DIY-ers Part 1
and watching these videos:
- What is a TAB? (Treehouse Attachment Bolt)
- TAB Installation Tips
- Installing a Treehouse Suspension System
- Basic Tree Entry SRT Climbing
We have more videos on treehouse technique, tips, and timelapses on our YouTube channel.
For more in-depth information, we recommend purchasing our Treehouse Instructional Guide which covers everything from tree selection to platform design.
We hope you find these resources useful!
What are some materials and products regularly used by Nelson Treehouse and Supply?
Treehouse hardware: Be in a Tree (the "Supply" in Nelson Treehouse and Supply) offers the heavy-duty, custom-fabricated hardware to build in the trees safely and sustainably. If you are considering purchasing hardware, we strongly suggest you begin by ordering our Treehouse Instructional Guide.
Fasteners: Nails are a thing of the past! We use Screw Products Inc. for almost all of our fasteners. These are also offered at Be in a Tree.
Reclaimed materials: We seek to use reclaimed materials as often as possible - integrating reclaimed wood resonates with the spirit of treehouses, as it is an environmentally sustainable practice. We also find that reclaimed wood imbues the treehouse with a beautiful sense of history and character.
Hog wire used for railings and fencing: The material you are looking for is what we call "hog wire" or welded wire fabric. It is a ¼" gauge with 4" x 4" square spacing. Your nearest lumber yard or feed store should be able to help you find the right stuff. We encase it in lovely western red cedar to form a panel. For tips on creating your own hog wire railing, visit our DIY tutorial!
Finishes: Polyurethane is generally used for interior finishes. However, it is important to note that it has a long dry time and leaves a lingering odor. That being said, it does leave a beautiful sheen and protective layer on the wood.
To protect the exterior of our treehouses, we prefer penetrating oil products. Latex paint is also fine for exterior finishing, but we like to showcase the natural beauty of the wood rather than cover it. We favor brushing or rolling products onto the surface, which encourages the product to soak into the grain of the wood (sprayers can be wasteful).
Check with your local building supply store for specific product recommendations.
Nets: The net structures featured on Treehouse Masters are made by Dream Nets Northwest, using recycled fishing nets. At this time, we do not have any instructional plans for them.
Where can I buy Pete Nelson designed plans for treehouses?
We offer a diverse selection of plans designed by Pete on our online store - it's a one-stop shop for all things treehouse-related!
How do I get a treehouse consultation?
If you are interested in scheduling a consultation, please begin by submitting an inquiry. This will enter your request into our system - we review each inquiry thoroughly, so please be patient while awaiting a response. We look forward to speaking with you!
For information on our consulation prices and process, please visit our Consult page.
How do I decide which tree(s) to build in?
The design process begins with proper selection of healthy trees that will continue to thrive when connected to a treehouse. Here are a few of the factors we consider when choosing a tree fit for a treehouse:
- Trunk diameter
- Distance between trees
- Proximity to utilities
- Proximity to main house
- Wind, sun, and view considerations
- Approximate height of treehouse
- Any proposed add-ons or approaches (stairs, bridge, boardwalk, ramp)
The health of your tree is crucial to the safety and longevity of your treehouse. Pete strongly recommends that you enlist the help of a local arborist to evaluate the health of your trees. An arborist can also identify any work needed to prepare the site for your project. Once the treehouse is complete, arborists can also assist with maintenance to ensure the health of the tree. A healthy tree = a happy treehouse!
Good resources for arboriculture information and arborist referral services are the International Society of Arboriculture and (for those in the Seattle region) PlantAmnesty. If you would like more in-depth information on the trees that we recommend for treehouse use, please refer to our Treehouse Instructional Guide.
What do I need to know about designing a treehouse?
The key to a successful treehouse building is safety. A structurally sound treehouse in a well-maintained tree has the potential to last as long as the tree!
Engineering your treehouse: We highly recommend hiring a structural engineer when designing your treehouse to ensure that it is structurally sound.
Tree-through structure: We have found that designing treehouses with trees penetrating the roof can be problematic because there is no reliable way to create a fully waterproof seal between the roof and the tree. If you decide to do this, our suggestion is that you use a flexible collar that fits around the tree. The key is flexibility in the collar so that the tree can move and will not be girdled over time. Make sure that any water traveling towards the opening is diverted by a valley or "cricket."
Lightning: If your treehouse is the highest point in the surrounding area, lightning may be a concern. In this situation, we suggest consulting with a local lightning rod contractor.
Snow load: If you live in an area that receives considerable snowfall, engineering will be a critical step to ensure structural integrity. Heavy-limb hardware may also be required to withstand the weight of snow loads.
Knee Braces: There is no "one-size-fits-all" single-tree knee brace. The typical knee brace is composed of a piece of timber (4x6, 4x8, etc.) oriented in a diagonal position. It is attached at the top (the structure end) and bottom (the tree end). We do not recommend connecting wood to wood - it's best to use a metal wood strut between knee brace and tree. We suggest you read our Treehouse Instructional Guide for more detailed information.
Tree Layout: Tree layout is one of the most important factors in building your dream treehouse. For our recommendations on this process please refer to our Treehouse Instructional Guide.
Plans: For DIY-ers with experience in skilled carpentry, we have plans that can be modified to fit your unique tree layout. Additionally, we offer consultations to help with that initial platform modification.
Hardware: We offer our heavy-duty hardware for sale on our online store. We also offer hardware packages that correspond with our plans, and can fabricate any custom hardware you need for your special project. Our treehouse attachment bolts (TABs) have been tested in an International Code Council-accredited laboratory. If you are considering purchasing hardware, we strongly suggest you begin by ordering our Treehouse Instructional Guide.
Bridges: Since bridges involve a highly situational application, Nelson Treehouse and Supply does not offer consultations on the matter. We recommend working with Seattle Bridge Builders for your bridge project.
What if I don't have trees?
Not everyone has access to ideal treehouse trees. If your trees are small or not suitable for bearing the load of a treehouse, we do not recommend building in them.
However, it is possible to achieve a structure that is a treehouse in spirit by posting down to create an elevated house. We recommend using logs or faux trees as posts for "treeless" projects. These can look just as attractive as real trees and hold a considerable load - if installed correctly.
Where can I stay in a treehouse?
We would love to host you in our treehouses at Treehouse Point, our bed & breakfast, located just 25 miles east of Seattle! For more information on touring, staying overnight, and/or hosting an event at TreeHouse Point, please visit www.treehousepoint.com.
And stay tuned for more Nelson Treehouse accommodations!
Where can I send fan mail?
We love hearing from our fans! Please send any fan mail to:
Nelson Treehouse and Supply
PO Box 1135
Fall City, WA 98024
Do you repair or remodel treehouses? If so, how much does this cost?
Although we primarily build custom treehouses, we occasionally do treehouse repairs and remodels. The first step is a consultation to determine the scope and costs of the project. Beyond the initial consultation costs, we would base the repair and remodel costs on time, material, and travel costs.
We invite you to submit an inquiry so we can learn about your repair and remodel needs and determine if our company would be a good fit for your project.
Do you make treehouse charitable contributions?
Thank you for your interest in a charitable contribution from Nelson Treehouse and Supply.
To be considered for a contribution, you must be a non-profit organization. Because of the costs and logistics involved in building a custom-designed home in the trees, we do not provide donations of full treehouses.
We strongly believe in and have a long history of supporting the community around us through charitable activities. However, because we are a small, family-owned business, and because of the tremendous number of inquiries we receive, we cannot fulfill every request.
In the continued spirit of goodwill, we have made the decision to support several local organizations with whom we have a special kinship. Recipients of our charitable contributions for 2017 and 2018 have already been selected.
What is Treehouse Resort and Spa? And how can I plan a visit?
Treehouse Resort and Spa will be a destination retreat located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and centered on holistic wellness, play, and relaxation. The resort is not yet open to the public. For more information, please visit treehouseresortandspa.com.
How do I contact you?
We love hearing from you!
If you have reviewed the information on our website and would like to submit an inquiry for your treehouse project, please complete our online questionnaire.
For all other questions and comments, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on touring, staying overnight, and/or hosting an event at TreeHouse Point, please visit www.treehousepoint.com.
Interested in our services? If you have reviewed the information on our website, we invite you to submit an inquiry so we can learn about your vision and determine if Nelson Treehouse would be a good fit for your project. We review each inquiry thoroughly, so please be patient while awaiting a response.
If you have not been able to find answers to your questions in our FAQ or other areas of this site, please contact us using the information below:
General email: email@example.com
PO Box 1135
Fall City, WA 98024
We look forward to hearing from you!