Since my last report on the tree house, every spare minute for the next two weekends were spent either pacing the halls of Home Depot or in the back yard. As with most projects that involve manual labor, once the novelty of it wore off, the kids’ enthusiasm waned. But dad stayed driven.
The second story took shape quickly, but the details took longer than expected. (They always do.) Framing and flooring the upper deck meant a lot of measuring and cutting, so the process was slow. As it started taking shape, we realized how visible it was going to be from across the vacant property behind our house. And a terrifying realization about building permits came shortly thereafter. Dad called the permit office to discuss the intricacies of permit requirements in our community, to be told that treehouses require a building permit. (Arrrggghhh.) A discussion about different types of wooden structures revealed that one needs a permit to build a deck (a wooden floor-like structure attached to one’s house) or a treehouse (an elevated structure attached to a tree). But one does not need a permit to build a free-standing play set, provided it is more than 5 feet from the house and property line.
So let me correct any previous or future references to a tree house. We built a free-standing play structure. Definitely not a tree house.
One of dad’s visions for the play structure involved a trap door for access to the upper deck. Worried that the weight of the door would cause a head injury before the first weekend was over, he had a flash of brilliance and designed a counter weight to balance the door and keep it from slamming on fingers or heads. I think the trap door is his favorite feature!
As it neared completion dad decided it would feel more integrated into the tree (the one it IS NOT ATTACHED TO) and look really cool if it were covered in cammo netting. (I must admit, it does, indeed, look really cool!) So the final step was to attach some free-form branches to the sides and cover the upper deck in cammo net, making it look really awesome, and practically invisible to the eyes of code enforcement officers.
Since it’s christening, my back yard has once again become the social hub of the neighborhood. It’s a delight to my ears and a joy to my heart to hear kids laughing and playing, just like we did back in the olden days before we had electronic devices to distract us from fresh air and sunshine. So thinking back to my initial reaction when the little guy asked his dad if he could have a tree house, I’m glad dad had other ideas. Because I’m sure this tree house – I mean free-standing play structure – will remain one of the things my kids remember most about this house, and about being boys.