Let’s be honest, pretty much every kid at some point longed for a treehouse. And for good reason. These top-secret club houses provided the ultimate adventure, even if it was just to escape from your parents for a few hours. These days, treehouses are back in vogue, and they’re not just for the little ones anymore. Arborists Caleb White and Peter Madsen, debuted their New Leaf Treehouse Co., based in Nassau, at the northernmost tip of Columbia County, a year ago. It was a natural segue for the business partners who’ve also worked as carpenters and designers of aerial adventure parks and ziplines. We chatted with White about what it takes to build your own tree-hugging escape.
How many treehouses have you constructed?
Two in the last year since we only opened a year ago. One was for a family with two children, so we designed two treehouses with a suspension bridge between and with great views of their pool. The other was for adults.
What types of trees — and diameters — are necessary to build a secure treehouse?
Ideally, we look for large hardwoods like oaks, sugar maples, hickories, and ones with diameters of 18 to 24 inches or larger. In certain cases, we might go smaller.
What type of wood do you use to build the treehouse?
We stay away from softer woods like poplar or pine since those can’t handle sufficient weight, but we design the structure and size to fit the tree we’re using. We always check to ensure the tree is healthy.
How big can the houses get?
It depends on the dimensions and size of the tree. If the tree is large, we can do multiple rooms and extend it out from a large platform. If we’re just using one tree, we usually limit it to one room, perhaps, 12 feet by 12 feet or 14 by 14.
What about windows, doors, electrical outlets for lighting, and night-time use?
Anything is possible! We can make the house fine for all types of weather with insulation, doors, windows, screens, roofs, and lighting.
What else should we know about building a treehouse, including the cost?
We typically do a consultation, tour the site, and identify possible trees for free. The price depends on the complexity and size. A one-room treehouse might cost $400 to $500 to design and $15,000 to $20,000 to build.
One of the Hudson Valley’s coolest treehouses, located in a sugar maple in Clinton Corners, was featured on Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters. See below (or click here) for the video tour: