The Design Process

Progress on Architectural Design and Planning

April 13, 2018
architect, treehouse design

We met with our architect again this week to make some final changes to the design plans. The biggest change we made to the interior was to make the kitchen and entry way larger. We had to make a change to the entry to the house due to the height in the front. We thought, initially, that we would walk straight across a bridge from the road. But because we are maxing out the height of the house (32′ high from the back deck!), we have to have stairs going up to the bridge. We think we worked it out pretty well and the result will be better than it was before. When you stay in a treehouse, you typically need to climb some stairs to get into the house, so it will be with Zen Treehouse!

I’ve attached some pictures from our last session. We’re still waiting for the structural engineer to get back to us (next week) about the beams and bracing necessary to elevate a house 30’+ in the air on the side of a mountain. We’re hoping he took into consideration the aesthetic that we are striving to achieve. We’d love to have the decks fully cantilevered out from the house with just horizontal beams. We’ll see…

We hope you enjoy the photos of the plans!


PS – We are hoping to start construction next month. We just need to finalize plans and get subcontractor bids. Hopefully more on this in my next post.

treehouse, architecture, custom home, design process

Interior Planning – Zen Treehouse Main Cabin

treehouse, architecture, custom home, design process

Side Elevation 2 – Zen Treehouse Main Cabin

treehouse, architecture, custom home, design process

Our Architect, John Coffey

treehouse, architecture, custom home, design process

Side Elevation, Zen Treehouse Main Cabin

treehouse, architecture, custom home, design process

Back Elevation of Main Cabin

The Building Process

Updated and More Detailed Floor Plans and Elevations

February 13, 2018

Big day today for the ZenTreehouse! Delinda and I met with the septic/well engineer (who is a geologist) and got the location for both squared away. Then we met with our architect and the structural engineer who will be figuring out how to get our treehouse 30′ in the air above the canopy of the trees. We reviewed the architect’s revised plans based on our feedback on the first cut of plans. We are getting closer, but still a lot of details to work out.

We repositioned the house a bit, enlarged the parking/turn around area, and added some area and a fireplace in the master bedroom. The new plans have a lot more detail and elevations.

We are planning to meet with our builder next week and get going on the well as a first step to starting construction on schedule in the spring.

Thanks for following the blog and please feel free to share with others who are interested in architecture, treehouses, mountain living, Airbnb and/or Colorado.

The Design Process

Preliminary Design and Site Plan!

January 27, 2018

We met with our architect today and we went over the preliminary design. Prior to this, I spent a fair bit of time compiling a design ideas document of images and ideas that I really loved (some tree house, some not). Then we had a preliminary design meeting where we discussed the ideas and thoughts we had around the vision of the treehouse. Today is the first draft of that vision. We moved some things around and discussed changes and ideas, but it’s a really amazing start to the project and we’re super excited to share with you. Let us know what you think! We love the direction that we’re taking this, but would love to hear what you think.

treehouse, tree house

Treehouse Initial Design Elevatio

Treehouse, Tree House

Treehouse Initial Site Plan

aTreehouse Initial Floor Plan

The Design Process

Land Survey and Topography is Finally Complete!

January 4, 2018

Hi everyone,

I haven’t posted anything lately because, well, we’ve been doing nothing but waiting on this to get done. I’m so happy to say that the Land Survey and Topography just arrived (after a six week wait)!

The survey is required by the architect in order to start his work. We have to know where the treehouse structures will be placed so we can then provide this information to the well drilling company and septic system engineer to begin their work.

The architect now has the survey and is starting. I’ll post his progress as he provides us with drawings, plans, etc. Things should start moving on this now..thankfully! I really had hoped we would be well into the conceptual design by now, but we are where we are.

Happy New Year everyone! It’s going to be a great 2018!


What to Do Nearby

​​​​​​​Trek to Elk Falls on Staunton State Park’s Newest Trails

November 13, 2017
Hiking, Colorado, Waterfalls, Bailey Colorado, Mountain Hikes

Elk Falls Hiking Trail near our Zen Treehouse

The trailhead to this amazing hike is only 35 minutes from the Zen Treehouse. Description from the State of Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife site:

Hike Distance: 12 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: Approximately 1500 feet
Highest Point of Elevation: 8,950 feet
Dogs: Allowed On Leash
​​Nearest Town: Conifer, Colorado​ (note: our Zen Treehouse is closer to the trailhead than Conifer)

There’s something about waterfalls. Perhaps it’s the sight of a seemingly endless cascade of water. Maybe it’s the repetitive sound of the falls crashing against rock. It could be the slight yet pervasive mist that arises and envelopes the scene. Whatever the reason, waterfalls are hypnotic. It’s undeniable, the draw these majestic features of the land possess.

Our very own Staunton State Park recently finished construction on 1.9 miles of new trails,​ and when we heard these paths lead hikers right ​to the base of the formerly inaccessible Elk Falls, we made it a priority to trek them.

The public has been able to admire Elk Falls from a distant overlook since Staunton State Park opened in 2013. Thanks to the newly constructed Chimney Rock and Elk Falls Trails, you can now experience the waterfall in an entirely new way. The 75 feet of falls is a stunning sight from above, but seeing this feature of the landscape up close is a must. The roughly 12-mile round trip hike may sound daunting, but don’t fret. With plenty of time and good planning, the journey to Elk Falls will become a fast favorite.

The new trails begin near Elk Falls Pond, which is accessible by routes of varying difficulty and length. The rangers and volunteers at Staunton are the best resource for ensuring a successful hike. Ask for help in finding the route best suited for your ability and they will kindly point you in the right direction.​

Treehouse, Hiking, treking, mountains, Colorado, waterfalls

Directions to Elk Falls Trailhead from the Zen Treehouse

About Bailey, Colorado

Bailey, Colorado History

November 12, 2017

I wanted to share a little bit about the area near our treehouse and why we picked the area.  We picked Bailey as the site of our Zen Treehouse because:

  • It’s less than an hour from downtown Denver
  • You don’t have to drive up I-70 to get there (I-70 traffic, especially during the weekends, is horrible!)
  • It’s in the heart of Pike National Forrest in an area called Platte canyon.
  • There is a lot of great outdoor recreation around the area including hunting, fishing, hiking, zip lining, mountain biking, and even features a world-class mountain frisbee golf course nearby.
  • It’s in Park County, Colorado, where they don’t have any regulations limiting short-term rentals (Jefferson, Douglas, and Clear Creek counties have very restrictive regulations)
  • We love this area so much, that we got married in Pine Valley Ranch Park, just 20 minutes east of our land, in 2010.

Here’s a little history of the area from the Platte Canyon Chamber of Commerce Web site:

The Platte Canyon region is rich in history and tradition. To support the gold mining industry a road was built through the Platte Canyon region in the middle 1800s. Later in the 1800s The Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad was built though the region to support the timber industry.

The town of Bailey was named after William Bailey who settled the area in 1864. After running a profitable business for many years, Mr. Bailey sold his land and moved to California. After the railroad was built, a short economic boom occurred in the area. A widow and mother of two, Mrs. McGraw ran a store and Post Office in Bailey. For a period, she owned most of the town. McGraw Memorial Park located in Bailey is named after the McGraw family and is home to some of Bailey’s historical structures including the Entriken cabin, the only original building left from this era. The Entriken cabin was built by the towns name sake William Bailey.

Lost Creek Wilderness, Platte Canyon Colorado, Colorado

Lost Creek Wilderness Area near Bailey, CO



The Design Process

Meeting at the Site with the Architect and Builder

November 12, 2017

Great meeting today at the site with the architect and builder today. The weather was perfect and we decided on the location for the two platforms – one for the main treehouse and the other for the second bedroom/bath/deck treehouse.

We already filed the well permit, which takes 4-6 weeks. We’ve already talked to the septic designer and the surveyors. So, the next step is to hire the surveyors to come out and confirm the lot lines and do a topography and tree/size location in the building site area, which will be about 1/2 an acre (it’s a 2 acre lot). Once we get the survey back, the architect can begin the design process. The septic engineer can also begin his work to get the septic located on the site and designed. Since it’s a steep slope, everything will be more expensive than building on a flat lot. Taking huge trucks down the hill is not easy! Luckly, there is an old 4 x 4 road from the main road that goes to the spot we think the septic will go. Hopefully we can use it instead of building a new one.

Take a look at our views from the building site. The structure should be to the left of the grove of spruce trees approximately 20′ – 25′ off the ground and level with the road. The views are amazing – this picture really don’t do it justice, but for now, will give you some idea.

treehouse, bailey, Colorado, mountain house

At the Zen Treehouse lot with the architect and builder determining the site of the treehouse structure.