Sadly, one of our treehouse inspirations burned down recently.
It took about 15 minutes for the world’s largest treehouse—a 97-foot-tall wooden structure in Crossville, Tennessee, to be reduced to a pile of ash. The building was built in the early ’90s by Harold Burgess, who said in an interview that he had been called by God to raise the framework: “If you build a tree house, you’ll never run out of material.” And so he did.
Here’s an article about his work in Architectural Digest: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/worlds-largest-treehouse-burned-ground-less-15-minutes
We do think about fires – one has to these days. ZenTreehouse has been designed with as much fireproofing as possible – steel foundation, clearing enough space around the house per the fire department regulations, and building with as much fireproof material as possible. And just in case, we’ve thought about fire escape through the back of the house.
The back deck is roughly 40′ above the ground. So, if fire blocks the front door, where do you go? We’re going to build a trap door in the deck that you can only open from the top and that takes you down to our “maintenance platform,” which is a wire mesh floor that’s about 10′ below the house. This platform is so we can access the bottom of the house for repairs of the systems that run under the house (primarily the hot water radiant floor heating system). That platform will also provide an easy way to get out of the house from the back and to safety.
All luxury treehouses need utilities. Water, electric, sewer and gas….and eventually high-speed internet. This post is about some great progress that happened today on the first three items in the foregoing list.
In the last post, I mentioned that the well finally hit water at 1,406 feet. Just to put that into perspective, that’s nearly as high as the Empire State Building that is 1,454 feet from its base to the tip of the tower on top. Needless to say, that is a VERY deep water well. But, since we are near the top of a mountain, it’s not that unexpected. We are very high in elevation (about 8,300 feet above sea level) and hundreds of feet above the floor of the valley we overlook. Also, the static level of the water in the well shaft is 700 feet. This means that even though we hit the aquifer at 1,406 feet, the water in the shaft leveled out at 700 feet. This means we have to put our pump at 700 feet instead of 1,406 feet and that we have 8 gallons of water flowing per minute – a VERY good rate of flow. So, other than the fact the well probably cost (I haven’t received the bill yet) about $30,000, we do have a well that seems to have plenty of water and more than we need for our project!
In addition to the water well, we are installing electric (currently on the grid, but planning on adding solar), and completing the tie-in to the septic system. The leach field has already been installed and we need to complete the system with the septic tank, which will be placed at the end of the driveway. The gas company, at a later date, will install their gas line and meter – this is something the gas utility only does themselves. But, we will have natural gas instead of propane, which is wonderful!
They expect to finish work on the utilities and backfilling the driveway by January 1st, so I’ll have a new post up just after then.
Happy New Year everyone and here’s to a great 2019. We look forward to opening the Zen Treehouse for reservations during the summer of 2019 for bookings starting in the fall.
So, we knew when we bought the land that we would have to drill a well. We also knew that drilling a well was not something that was 100% guaranteed to be successful. When we talked to the drilling company, they talked about “witching” a well and that it was the best way to find the best spot to drill. We did have a limited area that the drilling rig could access, so we had them “witch” around the areas that the rig could access and they picked the spot.
Then the day came to drill this past week. They started on a Tuesday. Two days in, I get an email from my contractor. “They are about 1,100 feet down (after telling us that they thought for sure they would hit water around 850 feet) and they have maybe 1/2 gallon an hour (FYI…that’s not enough). Maybe we’ll go to 1,300 and hope for the best.” OMG I thought. We may not have water!
The next day, I worried…most of the day…and I didn’t tell Delinda. I didn’t want her to worry and I was hopeful I could share good news when it happened. Thankfully, that news came. At 1,406 feet (basically 1/4 of a mile down), they hit water and it was flowing at 8 gallons/minute. Better yet, the static level (where the water settled in the bore hole) was 700 feet. That meant that we didn’t need a huge pump to get the water up from 1,4000 feet. So, good news all around!
My daughter Ashley was coming into town for Christmas, so we drove up on Friday afternoon from the airport to check on the progress. By the time we started up the switchbacks, we passed the drilling contractor’s trucks coming down. So, we didn’t get to talk to them. But we did the the finished capped well. We also saw that the IREA (Intermountain Rural Electric Association) had been out to set two electrical poles and lines to our property. So, we now have water and electric! And we have natural gas that we will tap into, which is great so we don’t have to use propane.
So, a big week of progress on the utilities this week. Not super exciting, but necessary! Hope for some more progress in the next few weeks as they set the septic tank and backfill the driveway. Then, the big wait until April until the main treehouse construction starts.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you all! ZEN TREEHOUSE will be open for reservations in fall of 2019!
I just learned about this site called PlansMatter. This site provides access to a very limited number of architectural gems across the world. We hope that our ZenTreehouse will qualify for this site! Here are a few of my favorites…
SETH PETERSON COTTAGE – Frank Lloyd Wright – Mirror Lake, WI