Thursday, September 15, 2016

I Done Gone and Built a Tree House

Living in the I-95 corridor is something special sometimes when it comes to property management.   If you need to replace a toilet and you are on public sewer, that'll be a $400 permit (or a $2000 fine) (90 days to review permit).  Want to build a fence?  $250 permit (or a $10,000 fine)  (6-10 month review time).   Of course, all those requirements are for "little people."   If you want to build a shopping mall that fills in 20 acres of wetlands and a mile of streams, well, those permit fees are waived and you'll have your permits in 60 days.  Apparently if you own a pipeline company and you want to drill across federal land, you don't even need written permission!  But I digress.

We wanted to build an outdoor space in our tiny yard for my son and his friends.  Our design constraints were as follows:

  • Careful navigation of permit requirements (decided on a "temporary structure" exemption)
  • Footprint of less than 8' x 10' (shed exemption)
  • Basic safety constraints (won't tip over, handrails, etc).
  • A space that would grow with the kids, with minor additions over the coming years
My wife and I both have drafting and plan review experience, in addition to my construction experience.   So we scouted around some stuff on the internet and ultimately landed on a concept on the blog "A Handmade Home" called "Handmade Hideaway."   I really want to show you their beautiful version of the concept, but I am 93% sure they would sue, so I won't.    We didn't use their materials list but we did incorporate the concept into our project goals, and I'm pretty happy with the result, which is now two years old.   Notable changes from their concept:

  • Higher off the ground
  • Rectangular, rather than square design (they look to have a square yard, ours is like a shoebox)
  • Incorporated rock wall instead of slide
  • Ladder instead of stairs
  • Instead of six 4x4 posts cemented into ground, created a theoretically "movable" sled/cage with 2x8s and 2x10s as the horizontal units and 4x4s as the vertical posts. 
  • Instead of attaching posts with 1/4" lags, used 1/2" and 5/8" galvanized lags.
  • Used (more expensive) galvanized and decking hardware due to our climate
  • Used (more expensive) pressure treated lumber on support sled/cage due to climate
  • Used (less expensive ) asphalt shingles instead of aluminum roof  

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