The Treehouse – Your Castle Among the Leaves


Do you remember sleeping in a treehouse with your sleeping bag and pillow when you were younger, using a flashlight to read your book, or looking out the window at all the stars up high and the ground down low? These dreams were a reality for some children. However, for those who never got their treehouse experience when they were little, you’re in luck. Many companies out there build treehouses for adults as alternative housing options to traditional stick-built homes. 

The treehouse for alternative housing can be a larger version of the treehouse built for a child, or it can be a massive ten-floor structure, 100 feet high or 100 sqft—tiny house. The modern treehouses used as permanent living spaces are either built into, around or among the trees to accomplish two things: 1) coexist with nature and 2) build a sustainable home. 

Let’s dive into the pros, cons, and costs of building a treehouse


Traditional housing strips the land of every living thing and flattens it out to start pouring a foundation that uses lumber for the structure. Instead of stripping the land, you can use reclaimed lumber, fallen trees, metal supports, and various other materials to build a treehouse. The treehouse is a beautiful way to build a permanent structure around and in cooperation with the trees on the land. 

Before considering any treehouse build, you want to have the trees examined by an arborist. The arborist can tell you if the tree is in good health and can withstand the building process. Building a treehouse does not fatally hurt the tree, but as with any puncture in our skin, a tree goes through a healing process to heal any wounds from bolts, nails, ropes, wires, or any other construction materials on the bark. Over time the tree bark will grow over the construction materials in a process called compartmentalization. When this process is complete, the treehouse is a part of the tree. 

Pros of building a treehouse

  • Peace and quiet – Not a lot of neighbors in the trees. You can enjoy the sounds of nature.
  • Privacy – Most builds are in or around a forest. Branches and leaves provide natural cover for windows. You are not going to have vehicle traffic or city noises. 
  • Getting back to nature – You’re out in nature, and with the right accessories, a deck, and large windows, you can feel like you are always outside even while inside.
  • Eco-friendly – Instead of cutting trees, you use them for the foundation. Reclaimed or recycled materials make this building more eco-friendly than a stick-built house.
  • A unique experience – You’ll feel like you are one with nature, and depending on your treehouse, you may live in an egg, triangle, pod, house, or any number of unique builds. 
  • Built for your needs – Treehouses are customizable. If you want to pay to have utilities brought in with the correct permits, you can do that, you want to live completely off-grid with solar, compost toilet, and a recapture water system, you can do that. 
  • Sustainable – Using wood and items already given or thrown away, you are not creating more building materials. You are also connecting with the natural growth of trees instead of clear-cutting to build on the ground.
  • Minimalistic – You can learn to live with less in a tiny house version. Most are 100-800 square feet, with a few being multi-floored. 

Cons of building a treehouse

Utilities are extra – 

  • Electrical- You may or may not be able to have services brought into your build site. So you may have to consider alternative energy like solar or wind power. 
  • Plumbing – Another added cost is actual plumbing. You can set up water collection systems and use a pump to move water through tubing and piping. Water pressure does not work high up in the tree. 
  • Sewer – Added sewer lines can make the build extremely costly if you build high-up in the canopy. It is less problematic closer to the ground. Permitting may not allow you to bring in sewer lines as they need to be tied to the system’s mainline. Composting or incinerating toilets plus a ground-level outhouse can solve the problem. 

Weather– When you live high in the trees, you need to plan for rough weather. Storms can uproot your tree and your home. You must have a backup plan for safety and realize that this is a worst-case scenario. 

Costs of building a treehouse

I found many different pricing structures for building a treehouse in the research. Of course, it all depends on how original and innovative you make your treehouse. Here are the estimated costs of building a treehouse.

SizeTypeSewer & PlumbingIncinerator  ToiletElectricalDIY or ProfessionalCost Estimate
109 sqftTentNoGround level outhouseNoDIY cost $15,000-$25,000
Professional – $20,000 – $40,000
Structure $50,000 +  installation = $65,000-$90,000
100-200 sqftHouseNoCompost ToiletExtra-from a generator on the groundProfessional Starting at $35,000Starting at $35,000
100 sqftHouse/PlayNoNoNoDIY starting at $5,987
Starting at $5,987
100-1000sqftPlay/HouseNoCompost ToiletNoDIY $3,450 – $15,000
Professional $25,000 – $225,000
Starting at $3,450 – $225,000
200-800 sqftHouseYes Sewer or Composting ToiletYesNo DIY
Professional $300,000 –  $1M
Starting at $300,000

Experience a treehouse before starting your build


You can rent treehouses all around the United States, giving you the ability to experience living in one before you start building your own. TreeHouse Trippers put together a great list of 30 amazing treehouses for rent around the United States. You can also check out this list by Top Tree

Frequently asked questions about treehouses

Is living in a treehouse sustainable? The simple answer to this question is yes, it is very sustainable! There are many examples worldwide where people build by incorporating trees instead of cutting them down. 

Will a treehouse last a long time?  The health of the tree and its structure are the two main concerns. However, with the proper structure, your treehouse could last forever.

For other original permanent structures check out our article on Earthbags, Earth berms and Earthships. 


Eva is a freelance copywriter specializing in all things real estate, B2B, PropTech, ReTech, CRETech. Owning rental property herself, Eva's love of real estate has turned into a passion for alternative housing options and educating people about the different types of housing available.

Recent Posts