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Get a bird's eye view with these treehouses

Always dreamed of living like Swiss Family Robinson? Home fix-it expert Lou Manfredini explains how to create your backyard home.
/ Source: TODAY

While the housing market may be losing some of its boom, things are looking up — for treehouses. Luxury treehouses are hot, from Oregon and California to New York City. For a custom-built structure, you can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars, add a few touches like baths and kitchens and you're hitting the hundreds of thousands. Despite the sky high prices, interest in the aerial abodes is soaring. If you're an intrepid builder and want to do it yourself, and save a few bucks in the process, “Today” contributor and home fix-it expert Lou Manfredini explains how.

In today’s world of iPods, Game Cubes and cell phones, a backyard treehouse can bring us all back to a simpler time. A treehouse can be whatever you want it to be, all you really need is an imagination and a tree. With books and the help of some internet sites you too can build your own treehouse. But there are some things to consider before you let your kids pretend they are the Swiss Family Robinson’s. 

Make sure the tree you are going to use is sturdy and healthy. The tree should have a trunk diameter of at least 16”. Find out if your city or village has any restrictions about these types of structures. Design and build your treehouse to grow with your children. (This is for them right?)

One of the easiest treehouses to build is a platform structure. This is basically a suspended deck that is wrapped around a tree. While the right size tree can support a platform it may be necessary to have some additional supports that go down to the ground. If that is the case, you’ll want some type of pad or block to keep the supports from sinking into the ground and shifting. The wood you use is your choice, pine offers the best value, while cedar and redwood will offer the longest life. When building the platform make sure you use exterior grade fasteners, either coated or stainless steel, the last thing you want is the fasteners to corrode and weaken the structure. When attaching the structure to the tree use heavy duty galvanized bolts in at least a 1/2” diameter to ensure a strong hold. Build a railing around the platform that is at least 36” tall and build pickets that are no more than 4 1/2” apart. That is a typical deck railing design that will keep your children safe. Then you need to build some type of ladder or stairs. A stair system would be the safest means to ascend and descend the tree house but it will also require more room and additional carpentry skills. So a ladder can work too, just make sure you angle the ladder a bit between 75-80 degrees, and provide two hand rails on either side.

Now if all that seems like a little much and you still want a treehouse, I have the answer for you. You can purchase a treehouse that comes with its own tree. Daniels Wood Land in Paso Robles California (www.danielswoodland.com) builds tree houses with a real tree base. They find fallen large trees and then cut out a base and hollow it out with chainsaws. From there they build a structure on top, they are some of the quaintest unique designs I have ever seen. There limitations are only based on what you want. The prices start at around $7,500 and go up from there. They can even wire your treehouse for the internet. Huck Fin never had it so good.

If you have questions or need more information, visit Lou's web site at .