thumb of Hawaii Goddess Sanctuary design
Hawaii photo album

designer builder
John Lionheart
Licenced 1988
Ca lic# 539705
Berkeley rate
$45/hr T & M
want a treehouse?
START HERE

or email us or call 510-852-2250

Dreamhouse Tree House
* * * * * * *

Builders' Story
from Vice.com

Our House
90ft high in
the redwoods


Ready WWoofers


GROOVEY ART BY
SAM RENAISSANCE

COMPLETED!! - Our Make-a-Wish treehouse project in Los Altos, California
Make-A-Wish Treehouse
Thanks to donors:
-Brian Cilker of
Pine Cone Lumber
-Minton's Lumber
-Barry Brock
-Lauren Hotchkiss
-Anggelyka Apostle
-
Tirso Gonzalez
-Berkeley Ace Hdwr
-Summerwinds Nursery
-Wilson Glass
-J&D Glass & Sash
-Arrow Glass
-Los Altos Ace Hdwr.
-Omega Salvage
-Ruth and David
-Paul Cheney
-Rick and Jackie
-Dan and Janice
-Berkeley Tool Library

More photos on our Facebook page, click below

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Why a TreeHouse?
(for older folks)

A Sanctuary for:
  • Rest and
  • Relaxation
  • Yoga/Stretching
  • Mild Exercise
  • Prayer/Meditation
  • Nature Study
  • Creative Arts
  • Massage and
  • Romance

    The Treehouse Guide - All inclusive, best treehouse website we've found

    On the East Coast call Tree Top Builders, the pros from Pennsylvania

    a kid-built treehouse

    MysTrees - Rambling complex of treehouses and swinging bridges, "Best Treehouse Ever"

    Treehouses.com - Out'N About: Treehouse Treesort & Construction .

    Treehouses of the Korowai - New Guinea natives live in family groups in treehouses up to 50 meters in height. Slideshow

    Canopy Access Providers Walkways, Towers, Platforms, Cable Lines, Rope Climbing Gear

    Global Canopy Handbook PDF Scholary Text - Techniques of Access and Study in the Forest Roof

    Treehouses You Can Actually Build – A Weekend Project Book Easy-to-build treehouse projects from novice to expert.

    Steampunk Tree House An Oakland Calif project by Sean Orlando.

    Daniels Woodland Whimsical Treehouses, Paso Robles, CA

    Tree House Page Step by Step story about a real treehouse project

    Costa Rica Tree House Lodge ... Off the coast of Costa Rica, in the heart of a jungle wildlife refuge, flies a hidden treasure

    TreeHouses.org The Forever Young Treehouse Foundation is a private, non-profit organization that creates, develops and constructs accessible treehouses.

    10 Amazing Tree Houses from Around the World Ten tree house designs from functional to fanciful.

    The Bamboo Treehouse A Bamboo Treehouse vacation rental in Puerto Rico, featuring The Amazing Hooch

    Treehouses By Design : Everything you want to know about designing and building your own treehouse.

    Kyle's Tree House - Dedicated to empowering autastic people

    The Treehouse Book: by Peter and Judy Nelson.

    Treehouse Guides - Plans and designs to build different treehouses. Easy-to-follow instructions.

    The Treehouse Camp, On South Mountain in Rohrersville, Maryland.

    Treehouse Coffee Shop120 West Merchant Street
    Audubon, NJ 08106
    Phone: 856-547-3270

    Cedar Creek Treehouse Mt. Rainier Cedar Creek Treehouse in Washington state

    Roy Tennant's Treehouse Photos of Roy's handmade treehouse.

    Hawaii Treehouse Vacations rentals on Maui and the Big Island

    Northeast treehouse designs and construction Design and Build to suit all ages and interest.

    Corbin's Treehouse I did live in a treehouse, for about 5 years, before i moved to Los Gatos, Ca. It is still around, and I do visit it every now and again

    Tarzan's Treehouse Go ape over this climb-through DisneyLand adventure..

    The Nahiku Treehouse On the Hawaiian Island of Maui

    Old ADOT.com

    Doctors Without Borders

    ·

  • Robin Robin URGENT APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE
    Indigenous Grandmother activist, Reverend Robin Youngblood (Video/news item) - (Facebook) - (Twitter) was nearly killed and her home was destroyed in the horrific mudslide in Washington recently.
    The Church of the Earth is accepting donations for survivors.
    To donate money directly to Robin use her account info:
    whitewolfclanmother@yahoo.com via www.Paypal.com
    DO IT YOURSELFERS: How to Build the Perfect Treehouse.
    inside: KATE'S TREE YURT - East SF Bay (work in progress Feb 2014)
    Nothin' but the best on this project, inside and out!

    Kate tree yurt overview Kate tree yurt left side Kate treeyurt center inside treeyurt center floor tree house yurt Kate treehouse redwood right side
    Fine Tree.house Build.ing
    and check out these fabulous
    Costa Rican Treehouses
    fine woodworking page painting page
    fence page tile page

    ALSO SEE: HOW A RECENT SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE ARTICLE SHOWS
    WHY STRUCTURES LIKE THESE HELP KIDS LEARN
    and help geniuses keep on winning Nobel Prizes

    Einstein's Castle design by John Lionheart Einstein's Castle playhouse by Fine Tree house Builders

    "Einstein's Castle"
    our 3rd Make-a-Wish project
    was completed May, 2013. Builder John Lionheart designed and constructed this attractive woodsy backyard play, study, and create space for thirteen year old James in Walnut Creek, Calif in homage to Albert Einstein's original garden house outside Spandau, a sanctuary he fondly called his "Spandau Castle". (Check out this design)

  • MANY THANKS TO GENEROUS DONORS:
    Ashby Lumber | Pursel Paints | Berkeley Ace Hardware | Mockett Co |
    multi-skilled Barry Brock, muey hospitable Laura Turner family and friends, and a swarm of cool Make a Wish volunteers
  • "Asher's Wish" train playhouse completed June 2012. Installation aided greatly by volunteers from Make a Wish and DELOITTE, Inc.

    Asher's Wish train playhouse Asher's Wish train playhouse

  • MANY THANKS TO GENEROUS DONORS: Berkeley Ace Hardware | EarthSource Forest Products | Rutherford & Singelstad | carpenter Kyle Deddo and Dan (the Tree Man) Cooley.
  • MORE PHOTOS HERE
  • The Make A Wish treehouse in Los Altos, California, was completed Sept 22, 2010. Photos below by Iolani, helper Julian's mother, and by Linda, the "wish mother". For more photos see our FaceBook page.

    Redwood Treehouse Brian's Treehouse, view from south over pool fence

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Limber up, read: The Heart of the Tree, poetry by Henry Cuyler Bunner

    Interested in a treehouse? I'll be glad to help you..
    YOU CAN START HERE
    or email us, or call John at 510-852-2250

    How about a tree fort?
    half the price, very nice.
    Treehouse Construction
    thumbnail of Green treehouse
    view image or timelapse
    our Taj Mahal Treehouse
    thumbnail of Taj Mahal treehouse, link to photo journal of same
    As seen In Popular Mechanics
    watch:
    "Find your tree.
    "

    link to Julia Butterfly Hill Find Your Tree video
    And watch Butterfly about Julia Butterfly Hill

    The Original Treehouse - Off Regal Road, Berkeley, Calif.

    ( the only treehouse in the world with its own postage stamp )

    original tree house, view from ground level below and northwestInside Treehouse, View from northwest

    This tree house sits plop in the middle of an 80 year old magnolia tree on an otherwise vacant lot attached to and directly downhill from a fine old estate home in the Berkeley Hills. The access is easy, we built a wooden stair stringer onto the slope above and where a 4 foot retaining wall crosses the slope about 8 feet uphill from the trunk (see photo to left) we built a floor platform into the tree, which became both the *front porch* access and main floor level. It's mainly constucted from salvaged old-growth redwood decking, and scrap CDX plywood. The openings are mostly screened, with one recycled wood window and a recycled door (cut to 5'6" tall) installed for security and wind break. Nature abhors a rectangle, and so this organically designed tree house was built to the dictates of the tree, and to the size and shape of available salvage.

    click image to view enlargement
    original tree house, view from upslope to south cross section of roof flashing system  used to waterproof around trunks View from south - from uphill

    There are four vertical trunk sections that go through the roof and two smaller branches that pierce it as well. Waterproofing was a challenge, but was accomplshed by creating a double funnel effect (the top *funnel* is inverted, more of a pyramid flashing scheme) using skylight style curbs around the roof openings, cuttings of plastic shower curtains, and duct tape to gently secure the flashing funnels around the tree. Note: the funnels are not in evidence in these photos, they were being replaced at the time.

    click image to view enlargement
    original tree house, view from south, into left side Inside Treehouse, View from south, into left side

    Note that no fasteners were stuck in the tree. No bolts, no nails. There is one main beam that was placed horizontally in the central crotch of the tree. Another beam was laid crossways on that beam at the crotch support. Diagonal supports were fastened to the ends of the beams and cut flat and wedged down against the base of the trunk. The longest diagonal, a 4x8 redwood beam, abuts the trunk, runs diagonally upward and is side bolted to the end of the main beam and continues on to be bolted to the end of the central roof joist. With all the massive interlocking trunks, heavy timber beams; plywood floors, walls, and roof; and supporting diagonal braces, it's sturdy as a rock, even in the highest winds.

    click image to view enlargement
    Original tree house, Interior - View from sitting area to northeast corner - study area Inside Treehouse, Interior - View from sitting area to northeast corner - study area

    This treehouse is just under 120sf roof area, the local zoning code limit for an auxiliary structure. There are four discernable spaces within the treehouse: 1) a central walkway ~18sf that includes the space consumed by the four central trunks; 2) a 5'x 6' *bedroom* area just big enough for a custom made bed (3'10" x 5'6"); 3) a 4'x 7' elevated platform - cushioned play space with a built in TV at one end; and 4) a ~19sf study area with a 180 degree built-in desk and shelves. The ceiling is six feet high off the main floor. Only two small branches were removed.

    click image to view enlargement
    Interior - Northeast corner - study area Inside Treehouse, Interior - Northeast corner - study area

    Originally, this treehouse was designed with one or another of our children in mind. The bed was designed especially for our oldest daughter in 1993 when she was eight. The custom mattress is only 5'4" long. In 2000 she was too mature to enjoy a treehouse (but she helped paint it), and her younger siblings for one reason or another desired to stay indoors. The treehouse was abandoned to the devices of the Papa of the family, i.e. me. I gladly put it to use. I ran a phone line, tv cable, and heavy duty power cord, set up the computer my dad had given me, and went into creative delirium. It was perfect place to let the mind loose and the ideas flow. I indulged my fledgling hobby, creating websites, and eventually serving as volunteer webmaster for a local public access radio news show. For a couple years I even operated a small independent insurance adjusting business from the treehouse.

    click image to view enlargement
    Custom Bed, Dolphin Dreams Custom bed goes in SE corner of Treehouse - photographed sitting on display atop our pirate ship, The Good Ship Chain Chomp

    This bed was built in 1994 for our oldest daughter, then 9 years old. In constructing the treehouse, I started by building a platform large enough to accomodate this bed. It's called "Dolphin Dreams" and has a custom painted headboard, with spinning dolphin cutouts. It's my retirement fantasy, to open a shop in Hawaii, "Bob's Big Island Beds ," where tourist folk can custom paint a 1/4" thick wooden panel that I then ship to a local cabinet maker affiliate buddy on the mainland to fit into a headboard on a bed like this and deliver it to them when they get home.

    click image to view enlargement
    View of treehouse, from the Pirate Ship View of the treehouse from the *captains quarters* of our pirate ship the Chain Chomp

    This structure has been removed to Cragmont Elementary school as a gift to the garden department. It is a wonderfully creative space, shaped like a cross between a diamond and a triangle. Flat roof. Salvage timber construction with Simpson steel connectors for strength. Sturdy. Fun to be in. Notice the ceiling. When I build an outdoor space like this, I like to prepaint the underside of the roof plywood (i.e. the ceiling) and prepaint the ceiling joists (in this case flat-laid recycled full dimension fir 2x10s) so there's no masking required but you still get a crisp clean line. I like a light ceiling color (yellow here) with darker joists for an attractive contrast. These are rough timbers and plywood, but the effect is neat and pleasing (and easy to do).

    click image to view enlargement
    Interior view of Pirate Ship, Chain Chomp View of the interior south east of the Captains Quarters

    It's a delightful thing about the SF Bay Area, you really don't need to be inside much. You can spend your entire summer out of doors, it never gets too hot, there are few bugs, flies, or mosquitoes. Everyday from April to November seems like just anther day in Paradise. It rarely rains in those months, and in the other months, in winter, it never freezes, and there are lots of warmish days even in Janurary and February. For some reason, our son (8-9 years old) was inspired to set up action figures and trucks and bulldozers inside on the floor of the "captain's quarters" of this *pirate ship*, he named "The Chain Chomp" and create elaborate story lines that he got me to help him act out, even video and edit a couple of them.

    The rear wall is actually a pre-existing privacy fence (set back about 7' from the property line) that I built about four years previous. When I build structures like this I try and make them easy to take down and reassemble if needed, using bolts and screws where possible, rather than nails. The open roof area in this photo was a photo-op thing, the pirate ship was being disassembled to move it to the local elementary school garden. I gussied the bones up and took some good-bye photos. It was sad to lose this structure, it was so much fun to be creative in.

     



    Tah Mahal theme treehouse

    click image to view enlargement
    Other end of Taj Mahal Treehouse (End) view of Taj Mahal treehouse from the northeast

    This is the entry side, the north end of the structure. The little porch area was designed as a safety measure, a mid level stair landing, converted by the owners into a jumping off site, and now a rope climb. The curved tops of the window and door openings, and the vertical cut-outs in the plywood railings are designs all borrowed from the Taj Mahal in India. The floor area is about 80 sf, the roof about 100 sf. The west side of the enclosed structure, the ocean / sunset / Golden Gate Bridge view side, sits back exactly 3 feet from the property line, and accordingly has no window or other openings out of consideration to the downhill neighbor. Most of the weight of the structure is carried by one laminated redwood beam, made from 3-2x10s, which is carried by a matching laminated diagonal support. The north end of the horizontal beam is connected to the long tongue of a massive steel Simpson T-bracket, and the short side of the bracket is bolted to a 3 foot long piece of pressure treated 6x10 which locks through a fork in the trunk, preventing the beam from moving horizontally. The top of the diagonal beam is bolted to the horizontal beam and the bottom is fitted to the trunk and fastened with lags.

    click image to view enlargement
    Inside view of Taj Mahal treehouse Interior view of view of Taj Mahal from the west end

    The tree is a magnolia again, a fine breed, a strong, attractive tree for building treehouses. Note that no tree trunks or limbs were cut or damaged in any way for or as a result of the construction of this tree house. Veiw the enlargement. See the odd twisting limb that runs through the middle of the structure, splits in three, two limb run vertically through the roof, and one through the west wall. None provide support (see above). And notice at the far rear left of photo, another small limb running through the wall at the corner. It's these quirky twists and turns that really made this fun to build and fun to be in.

    click image to view enlargement
    End view Taj Mahal Treehouse, showing brass fireman's pole End view of view of Taj Mahal treehouse from the south
    Note the brass fireman's pole, accessible from a foot wide offset in the wood railing.

    click image to view enlargement
    Side view of Taj Mahal treehouse Side view of view of Taj Mahal treehouse from the east / main house.

    click image to view enlargement


    Notes on trees and spiritual practice: It's probably no coincidence that Prince Siddhartha / Gautama Buddha reached enlightenment sitting under a tree, specifically a very old and very large "Sacred Fig" tree, which tree become famous as the "Bodhi Tree" (Tree of Enlightment). Trees channel more than sap. 1. 2. -- And, of course, Jesus customarily went to pray in the "Garden of Gethsemane", an olive orchard at the foot of The Mount Of Olives. 1. 2.

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    In Tibetan Buddhism's "Four Dignities of the Warrior's Path," courage and ferocity are absent. In fact, the qualities regarded as essential for being a warrior have nothing in common with the training regimens of Marines or football players or lobbyists.

    The first dignity is often translated in English as meekness, but that word doesn't convey its full meaning. "Relaxed confidence" is a more precise formulation -- a humble feeling of being at home in one's body.

    Perkiness, or irrepressible joy, is the second dignity. To develop it, a warrior cultivates the habit of seeing the best in everything and works diligently to avoid the self-indulgence of cynicism.

    The third is outrageousness. The warrior who embodies this dignity loves to experiment, is not addicted to strategies that have been successful in the past, and has a passionate objectivity that's free of the irrelevant emotions of hope and fear.

    The fourth dignity is inscrutability, or a skill at evading the pigeonholes and simplistic definitions that might limit the warrior's inventiveness while fighting for his or her moral vision.

    Tree House Living (For Adults)

    Open Exchange, April 2010:"I've been living in and out of a treehouse for about nine years. It's changed my life. In that time, I've become more creative, more involved, clearer, happier, healthier, and a better person. That was the first treehouse I ever built, I had always loved trees but never before had the opportunity to build a treehouse and occupy it. The bay area is a near perfect climate for treehouse living. Being in a treehouse can help you ground out, facilitate meditation, promote restful sleep, keep you in touch with the real world. Let me help you build yours. " John Lionheart, builder.

    Site last updated ... March 29, 2010

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