Finally Time for a Treehouse Builders Association?

Many of us professional treehouse builders have long agreed that there could be some benefit to forming an association where we would collaborate on construction ideas and help lend credibility to treehouse builders everywhere. There is currently a movement instigated by Kevin Mooney of Ohio to organize a formal association. I have already pledged my support, but it’s in the very early stages. More on that to follow over the next year as board members are selected and agendas are set.

One thing remains clear to all involved: starting an association isn’t something you do with a few colleagues over a few weeks. It’s a major endeavor that is a full time job to do it right. The time & effort going into the association has to be done by people who have professional goals that can be furthered by contributing the time that it takes to run it. Otherwise, it’s not worth it. What it looks like is that the organization will focus on commercial treehouses. Makes sense, right? Commercial outfits like canopy tour operators and people renting out treehouses overnight are the ones who will make the time & money to make this happen. This observer and participant is concerned about the majority of others who just want to build a non-commercial treehouse. I want to be sure that the organization remains helpful and meaningful to them. If it does not, then I have my doubts whether the association will be relevant. After all, a treehouse association that is solely concerned about corporate interests has missed the whole point of a treehouse.

2 Responses to “Finally Time for a Treehouse Builders Association?”

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  1. Nathan Willison says:

    I am an aspiring tree house builder. My name is Nate and I have backgrounds in technical climbing, carpentry, wilderness first aid, and arboriculture. I have been gradually piecing all of these things together over the years as there are no tree house building college level programs at this point.
    I personally would be interested in a professional association, and possibly becoming involved in the first stages of development. I have an associate of science degree in business management, focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing.

    All I want to do is build tree houses. As an urban forestry student, I find there is a lot of confusion as to the level of respect and care taken to preserve and protect the tree from the builders stand point in contrast to the arborists view. I feel that having collaborative effort with the tree care industry and a professional tree house organization would greatly improve the overall quality of tree houses being built, generate awareness of the profession, and get more people in trees one way or another!

    Please feel free to contact me to have any further discussions. I currently reside in the state of WI.
    Thanks
    ~Nate

    • thb98il1Tr3e says:

      Hello Nate,

      Since writing the original post, there has been a serious effort to launch a treehouse association. The effort failed to gain traction. I believe this is because associations take a lot of work, and most of the best treehouse builders in the industry are very busy. It costs a small amount of money, but consumes huge amounts of time. Currently, the builders in the industry don’t feel the need to bear this burden.

      The best value that an association would deliver to a builder is a marketing credential. So when players in the industry decide whether to support the organization, they want to know how much control they’ll have and how much prestige they will get out of it. So it’s inherently competitive at the start, the tension from which makes the whole thing a bit unpleasant. Some have said that the benefit is rather in educating customers, especially building department officials, regarding tree attachment bolts (tabs) and the loads that can safely be supported on them. However, most of us have found ways around that by using private engineers who understand the process and are comfortable signing off on documents, which is really all that building departments need in the end of it all.

      So I don’t want to discourage you, but I should warn you that while many have wished that an association existed, starting one may prove harder than you think. Starting it might be easy, but earning a living running it might not. On the contrary, however, perhaps you may walk in at the right time and help it reach critical sustaining mass.

      Now, since you said, “All I want to do is build tree houses,” perhaps you should send in your resume and consider whether you should move to Pennsylvania and work with us. We do build a lot of them these days…

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