The Ultimate Treehouse

Geek Culture

Steve Norris, a 49-year-old father of two from Kitchener, Ontario has set the bar rather high for GeekDads everywhere. He spent 15-months and roughly $5,000 to built a play structure behind his home for his two young boys. This is not your typical kid fort. Built 4 meters above the ground in a 58-year-old silver maple, this "cabin in the sky" is apportioned better than my first apartment:

It’s equipped with electricity and cable TV. There’s an intercom so Norris can talk to his kids if they’re having a sleepover, and a urinal that drains into a pail beneath the structure.

Did I mention, he insured it for $20,000?

A smoke detector is wired to the house, so family members can be alerted to any smoke, whether they’re in the treehouse or not. A revolving light clicks on when the treehouse’s trap door opens (where a rope ladder drops down).

Norris works as a maintenance electrician at the University of Waterloo. Many of the items used in construction were recycled from scraps found at work, such as dimmer light bulbs and thick rope. He also fashioned a alarm system from the University’s discarded fire horns. Woe be unto any unsuspecting intruders:

"It sounds like an air-raid back in Berlin. But I had to do it for my peace of mind."

Sleepovers in this edifice are no problem. Norris’ 7-year old son Stephen has loft bed, 16-month-old Ryan sleeps on a mini-futon and Dad has his own pull-down bed. (Young Ryan is currently only allowed in the fort with adult supervision until he gets older.)

And don’t forget the other family members:

Even the family’s Jack Russell-cross, Sammy, has his own ramp. Norris made it after the dog fell near the top of the wide, stair-like ladder.

Treehouse2Treehouse2The treehouse was the first construction project for Norris. He researched for a year before starting the build and the pre-planning is evident in the final product. The space is designed so that none of the windows face any of the neighbor’s yards and that water did not run-off onto their properties.

He also took a minimal impact approach during the construction process. He tried to avoid nailing directly into the tree wherever possible to avoid damage and allowed room around the trunk to accommodate future growth and shifting. Norris says he expects kids to grow up with the treehouse, which he estimates will last for around 15 years.

(Photos: David Bebee/The Record)

The via Neatorama

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