Each week MainStreet takes a look at what we call Extreme Real Estate. This week we bring you: Swiss Family Robinson.
Treehouses have come a long way from simple platforms wedged into the crook of a tree. The size, shape and use of today’s treehouses are only limited by imagination and budget. And they're not just for children anymore. Adults are increasingly building custom treehouses to use as guest houses, reading retreats, yoga studios and even for getting away from the children.
It’s not uncommon for a custom built treehouse to measure more than 300 square feet and include large lounging decks, electricity, working windows, skylights, and even luxurious finishes like mahogany flooring and unexpected conveniences like bathrooms and kitchens.
The aptly named Jonathan Fairoaks runs Living Tree, based in Pennsylvania. As a licensed arborist who takes great care to protect and preserve the trees on which he builds, Fairoaks has been designing treetop fantasies (see picture, above) for more than 40 years and has built everything from simple shacks to mini-mansions in the sky—including one that sits 90 feet in the air and is accessed by elevator.
Treehouse builders Daniels Wood Land, based in California, specialize in fantastical and themed treehouses for children (left) that actually come with their own tree trunk. Offering both standard and custom options, Daniels Wood Land starts with a fallen and hollowed out tree trunk on which they build gingerbread houses, castles, forts, tiki huts and just about anything else that can be dreamed up.
The German company Baumraum takes treehouse design to a whole new level with their seriously sophisticated and environmentally sensitive aeries (below) that appeal to individuals with modern sensibilities and a taste for high grade finishes and amenities.
Although treehouses resonate and ping childhood fantasies for many, custom-built treehouses are not for the financially faint of heart. Prices can easily swell to over $200,000 depending on the size, location, difficulty of the site, materials and amenities. Plan to spend at least $5,000 for something simple.
If building from scratch isn’t your cup of tea, there's at least one treehouse in the U.S. for sale. A small but well equipped cedar sided treehouse sits high above a trout stream on a 10 acre parcel just outside of Rochester, Mich., that also includes a 3,800 square foot house. The whole package is on the market for $1.75 million. The treehouse is fitted with cedar cabinets, bunks for napping and solar collectors that transfer electricity to a 12-volt deep cycle battery that will power up a TV, laptop, hot plate or other small electronic devices.
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