Man Builds Secret Tree House in Canadian Forest

Want to become a skilled carpenter? Well this is likely not the way to do it. Ex software engineer and nature geek Joel Allen attempted to retire at the ripe age of 26 but woke up to the harsh reality that it wasn’t going to happen. Instead of returning to coding, he decided to try something new and began crafting an “egg in a tree” tree house.

Now aside from the incredible craftsmanship this tree house displays, this is only one part of the story. In fact, there are quite a few amazing elements that have brought this effort together.

First, Allen had no real skills as a carpenter. He accredits “blind naiveté and supreme determination” for his ability to design and build this incredible tree house. Clearly he learned a thing or two along the way.

Secondly, he was broke. He salvaged all the materials needed by trolling craigslist and scooping up any building materials that he could for free. The estimated cost of materials at the design phase was $10k, but he was able to build this almost entirely out of donated discarded building supplies and materials.

The last part is the bittersweet reality of this project. Allen built this wonder on Crown Lands in British Columbia, Canada – government owned forestry. Now that his well hidden secret is being shared across the internet, it will very likely be removed by the government.

My childish idealism wants me to cheer this guy on and fight for his right to keep his oasis in the trees, but the harsh reality of the situation is one of legal responsibility. If they allow the Hemloft to remain, then the government becomes responsible for its safety and upkeep. This would set a precedent that would allow anyone to build and maintain a property on government lands. It also has to become usable by the public, meaning any hiker could come along and squat in it for a night. This would no longer be Allen’s own little hideaway.

It is an impressive project and one that deserves attention; however it is that same attention that is likely to have this nifty tree house removed.

I have been looking at building something modular like this as a private mancave in my yard (without the tree) for a while now, and perhaps this is just the inspiration I needed! Perhaps they will allow him to keep it after removing it from the tree.

The full story of the HemLoft can be found here.


5 Responses to Man Builds Secret Tree House in Canadian Forest

  1. I respect the design, but I find it hard to respect the project. He built it knowingly on land he didn't own in protected natural wilderness. I'm sorry, but no matter how romantic the location may seem, that's just stupid, especially at Whistler. Also, that's a living tree, so in a decade the tree itself (and the one next to it that it's built against) will likely be doing it's share to damage the structure. Normally if you build a structure like this it would be built to allow for significant expansion – this clearly hasn't been if you look at the photos. I'm sure the folks who maintain the walkways at Capilano, not far away, would have their share of commentary on the construction and protection of the tree. It would be unreasonable to expect the government to maintain the structure long term.

    It's really unfortunate that it was built under these conditions, and that the builder actually feels entitled to protect it. It is a beautiful structure. If it was built it a way that required less damage to the tree itself (support it by it's own weight and supports instead of bolting it to the tree), then it could be removed and replaced somewhere legal without much fuss. As it stands it just comes across as an arrogant attempt to showboat.

    And he was not really broke in the sense that he was down on his luck. He tried to retire at 26 by running a fundraiser to get others to fund his retirement.

    Yeah. I'm sorry, but I lack in sympathy.

  2. Well what the hell did he think was going to happen?

    “Gosh I know! I’ll build this thing in a nature reserve that I’m totally not allowed to do. Then I’ll brag about it on the Internet! I’m sure the government will just let it slide, because they’re more than willing to set a precedent for anybody to do whatever they want on public land.”

    This is, in effect, like building your own personal tree house in someone else’s backyard, and then getting distraught because the owner of the land wants it gone. In this case, the land belongs to the public at large, since it is in a democratic country.

    Also, it looks like he’s built it tight all around the trunk of a tree, which in time will kill the tree.

  3. Most people in BC have tree houses on crown land. They just aren’t generally built to look as fancy so if the trees destroy them over time or the land gets logged or opened up for some reason its the course of nature for the tree house and no one really cares.

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