You’re never too old to dream about living in a treehouse. You might even have a treehouse design already in your head or have seen one that you think could be your dream house. The question is, can you live in a treehouse full time?
Treehouses are defined as temporary structures rather than permanent residences. However, if you own property on which you can build a treehouse, you can live there. You can also rent and live in a treehouse on someone else’s property.
Treehouses come with different challenges you need to consider before starting your new journey. This article covers what it looks like to live in a treehouse and how to achieve it, the laws concerning treehouses, and the pros and cons of living in a treehouse.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
Living in a treehouse can get complicated when you need to hook up electricity and water. If you can’t hook up traditional electricity or water utilities, you can get creative with portable products and electricity sources.
Here are some wonderful treehouse-friendly products we recommend for your new housing venture, no electricity required:
1. YITAHOME Portable Sink and Toilet – The toilet will flush and holds 5.3 gallons in the tank. The sink provides 4.5 gallons of fresh water, and the used sink water will run into the toilet when you flush.
2. B.TAWD Portable Camping Shower -This shower kit includes a shower head, pump, and a collapsible 20 L water container. The shower head can use 4L per minute or 3L per minute.
3. ACOPOWER Outdoor Solar Freezer and Cooler – This is a 52-quart capacity cooler and freezer. It can be charged in three ways, including solar power. It also has temperature control on it which can change from your phone.
Living in a tree might seem like a nice fantasy, but people worldwide have made this a reality. This section will look at how you can make this possible and the pros and cons of living in a treehouse.
Can You Actually Live in a Treehouse?
You can live in a treehouse, and you can build a treehouse that is fully equipped with modern conveniences. You can either own land and a separate house but stay in the treehouse, or you can live in a treehouse you rent from a property owner.
In many areas, a treehouse is not considered a permanent residency – much like a tiny home.
But in some areas, treehouses may be considered a permanent residency depending on the zoning laws and if it aligns with building codes.
What are the Benefits of Living in a Treehouse?
The benefits of living in a treehouse include being close to nature and living in a unique space. Additionally, if you feel like traveling for a while or only live in the treehouse part-time, you can rent out the treehouse as a unique vacation stay.
Designing a treehouse is also a large part of the appeal for many people. Many creative treehouse designs are made just for a specific tree and landscape.
Just think about how fun and fulfilling it would be to design a one-of-a-kind house.
What are the Disadvantages of Living in a Treehouse?
Plumbing and electricity can get complicated and expensive in a treehouse, along with most of the construction. Many residents use water tanks, compost toilets, and solar or wind energy. Hooking up a power line in a tree is not advised.
Another small disadvantage to consider is that more bugs and creatures live in the trees. So you will have more spiders, possibly snakes, and bugs to deal with more often, and you may need to purchase zappers.
Plus, you will need to overcome the disadvantage of climbing a ladder to reach the tree house.
Can You Sleep in a Treehouse Full-time?
You can sleep in a treehouse full-time if you own the land it is placed on. You can also rent a treehouse from someone else. In some areas, you can build a treehouse on a property and use it as a main residence.
If you live in a neighborhood with a small lot, especially one with a homeowners association, living in a treehouse and possibly building a treehouse might be prohibited.
Check with your local HOA or with the local government to find out the codes and standards for treehouses.
Are Treehouses Safe?
Treehouses are less protected from the weather. If you live in an area with tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes – it’s important to have a shelter nearby when weather warnings come.
Treehouses are also less insulated because they are exposed on all sides. The ground is a great insulator, and treehouses miss that.
This can make heating and cooling the treehouse difficult and impossible in extreme heat or cold. Being in extreme heat or cold for too long can lead to serious health concerns and even death.
Living in a treehouse comes with challenges and laws that make it difficult. Also, it might be even more difficult if you want your treehouse to be recognized as a permanent dwelling.
But don’t worry, we will give you information about what you might need to obtain before building or living in a treehouse.
Is a Treehouse a Permanent Structure?
By definition, treehouses are not permanent structures. However, they can be built as a permanent structure by using durable materials and connections. You can add headers with grounded beams to support more weight and become weather resistant.
Using stainless steel screws, nails and staples will make it more sturdy. Also, use wood glue and filler to create a more seamless structure and prevent moisture and insects from harming the tree or treehouse.
Do Tree Houses Require Planning Permission?
For some treehouses, you do not have to have planning permission. However, in many places, you need planning permission or a building permit if the treehouse is meant to be a public space, like a bed and breakfast, or if it has residential characteristics.
Residential characteristics include insulation, electricity, bathrooms, heating and cooling elements, and set places to sleep.
Additionally, you must ask your landlord before building a treehouse if you are renting. And you will need to ask permission if the treehouse is on or near the property line.
Do You Need a Permit to Build a Treehouse?
You may need a permit to build a treehouse, but it depends on whether it is considered a residence, a public space, or a temporary private building. Most cities require a permit if the structure needs electrical or plumbing work.
Cities and counties are different in their standard requirements for what needs a building permit, so be sure to contact your local government for their standards and ordinances.
You can usually find a contact number for the mayor’s office or the community council online.
Are Treehouses Legal?
Treehouses are legal. However, they might be against code in your area. Also, if you rent the space, you must get your landlord’s permission before building a treehouse on the property. A building permit will be required to build a livable space.
You will need to see if your community or city allows treehouses and if you can build one nice enough to live in.
Many cities require a building permit for a structure that needs electrical, insulation, and plumbing.
How Big Can a Treehouse Be?
Treehouses can be the size of mansions. Treehouses can even cross through multiple trees. Some treehouses have multiple buildings connected to the other with hanging bridges. First, you need to build beams and headers to support the treehouse.
The cost is also something to consider. For example, a regular-sized home for a tree house will cost more than the same-size house on the ground.
Trees are a part of nearly every landscape but vary greatly from species to species. In this section, we will discuss where to find good trees for treehouses and other ways to create a great and sturdy structure. Let’s climb on!
Where are Tree Houses Found?
You can find tree houses around the globe. You can even stay in a treehouse hotel in India, Costa Rica, The United States, Canada, and many more. Anyone can build treehouses in areas with strong trees or be among the trees on posts.
Architects have designed tree houses in treescapes across the world.
Because tree houses can be made of many materials and designs, architects and contractors can make the treehouses match the aesthetic of the landscape while including modern conveniences.
How High Can You Build a Treehouse?
A treehouse made as a temporary structure, like a shed or playhouse, should not exceed 13 ft high from the ground to the top of the roof. If you are building higher than that or are making it a permanent structure to live in, you might need a permit.
You can use a prefab treehouse and make it more permanent by adding screws, staples, and wood glue to less secure areas.
Add beams and headers to secure the foundation to hold more weight in the treehouse.
How Long Will a Treehouse Last?
Tree houses last as long as any other house if built to code. The actual tree can outlive the rest of the structure because some trees live hundreds of years old. You will replace appliances first if you have a treehouse with all modern conveniences.
The better structure you have to start with and the better the materials you use for the tree, the longer your house will last.
It also depends on your area and the natural world around you. Humidity, strong winds, earthquakes, etc., might affect the tree house’s lifespan.
Do Treehouses Hurt Trees?
Tree houses will cause damage to the tree or trees it is connected to. However, you can minimize the damage by using stainless steel screws, staples, and nails. Also, you can put the majority of the weight of the house on support beams instead of the tree.
You can also help the tree heal when there is damage. For example, you can use a tree wound sealer when you drill holes in it. This aids in keeping out insects and diseases.
You can also add mulch around the root so it can retain moisture and nutrients.
You might also enjoy our post on How To Build A Treehouse Without Hurting the Tree
Costs and Extras
Living in a treehouse sounds great, and if you know it is obtainable for you legally, then you are probably wondering if you can manage it financially.
This section will cover the costs and extra things you might want or need in your treehouse.
What Does a Live-in Treehouse Need?
A live-in treehouse will need to be sealed and insulated on all sides if you live in an area below freezing or above 90 degrees. Sealing it will also prevent tree-living creatures from entering.
Once you have it insulated, you will need a way to heat and cool it. You will also need to add either water tanks for water and waste or install a septic tank and connect it to water.
Some treehouses are only for sleeping and living spaces and cook and wash in a structure on the ground.
What are the Pros and Cons of Living in a Treehouse?
The pros of living in a treehouse include living near nature and a unique space. A few cons of living in a treehouse include difficulty building it according to building codes and the extra cost of building a treehouse.
Another pro to living in a treehouse is that it is a good way to rent as a vacation home when you are traveling or living somewhere else for part of the year.
However, another con would be other visitors like spiders and insects are more likely to find their way into a treehouse.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Large Treehouse?
A simple treehouse structure can be made with reclaimed materials in a few weekends with little cost, but if you want to build one to live in with electricity, water, and plumbing, it will cost as much or more than a standard house.
Whole neighborhoods are coming up that are made of sustainable materials and use good energy resources.
Some are non-profits and share the costs of how much everything will cost for all of their units, including their treehouse units.
These treehouses have electricity, plumbing, HVAC, and plenty of places to charge devices and plug-in appliances.
You might also enjoy our post on Do You Need A Permit To Build A Treehouse?
Do They Have Treehouses You Can Pay to Stay at?
All over the world, there are treehouses you can stay at. There are tree houses amidst palm trees on beaches. There are treehouses around the US, Canada, and many other countries.
You can rent most treehouses for nightly stays or bed and breakfasts. There are treehouses on campgrounds that are more primitive, but there are also luxury bed and breakfast treehouses that are nicer than most hotels.
Are There Plans for a Treehouse You Can Live in?
People have created building plans and blueprints for livable tree houses, tiny homes, and other non-traditional structures. You can also hire architects to custom make a treehouse design with your preferences and connect you to a contractor.
Unless you have a building permit and trained people to help you, you will want to hire a contractor and use a professionally drawn plan. This way, you know everything should be up to code.
Can You Sell a Treehouse?
You can sell a treehouse along with its land or rent it to other people. However, you might have difficulty selling it as a house and permanent residency. But people looking for a unique place to live with probably find you if you advertise well.
Remember, it will be difficult to appraise a treehouse, and many mortgage companies will turn down loans to those who can’t buy the treehouse and the land with cash.
So you might have to accept a lower price so people can buy it without a bank loan.
We hope you can now make your dreams come true and live in your dream treehouse.
If you find you cannot build a livable treehouse in your backyard, remember, you can look for other properties where you can.