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treehouses?? treehouses in cedar trees?  RSS feed

 
E Cochran
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I can't believe there isn't a treehouse thread on here already (or maybe I'm just dense and can't find it) ...

Anyway, looking for anyone who has built or has experience with building in a cedar tree. We have masses of the things on our property in the area we want to build our house. Our original plan was to cut them down and use the trees whole but then we started wondering if we could skip the need for building a concrete foundation (or stone one as we have no stones on property) and build a modified treehouse using live cedar trees.

I mean, I know it's possible to build in a cedar tree and that they are insect and rot resistant and long-lived, but I need to know what to watch out for, what to plan for in the building process and longevity of the house.

We plan to only remove enough limbs for our living space and leave the rest of the tree growing. Since most of the limbs we are planning to remove have no foliage on them anyway, we don't think it should hurt the tree. And we'll be adding weight to the tree on the sides where we are removing limbs which should offset the balance issue some.

Any thoughts appreciated.
 
Travis Johnson
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It may be possible, but while cedar has a lot of great attributes, unfortunately it also has one VERY limiting one: strength!

Cedar is not a very strong type of tree. In other words, rather brittle.

I built a skid frame one time out of cedar thinking that once the building I was moving was in position, it could rest many years on the skid frame directly on the ground without being removed, but when I went to start moving the building, what was a 12" diameter log snapped in half. No creaking, no bending..."snap" and it was broke.

Building a tree house in a cedar tree may, or may not work. It depends on how much sway your constructed method allowed. The more it limited it, the more likely the cedar tree could not tolerate the stress by its brittle nature and snap.
 
Judith Browning
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I can't believe there isn't a treehouse thread on here already (or maybe I'm just dense and can't find it) ...


I'm not sure how helpful they would be for your situation but check out the 'similar threads' at the bottom of this thread's page. Looks like there are two or three about tree houses.  good luck!
 
Anne Miller
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If the tree already has dead limbs then the tree is probably already dying.  You would risk having the whole house uprooted or portions of it collapse if a limb breaks off.

If this was just for kids to play on then go for it.  Having your living quarters collapse is no fun.

If you are serious then maybe an arborist would be best to consult with.  The material for a house cost a lot of money.
 
E Cochran
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Travis Johnson wrote:It may be possible, but while cedar has a lot of great attributes, unfortunately it also has one VERY limiting one: strength!

Cedar is not a very strong type of tree. In other words, rather brittle.

I built a skid frame one time out of cedar thinking that once the building I was moving was in position, it could rest many years on the skid frame directly on the ground without being removed, but when I went to start moving the building, what was a 12" diameter log snapped in half. No creaking, no bending..."snap" and it was broke.

Building a tree house in a cedar tree may, or may not work. It depends on how much sway your constructed method allowed. The more it limited it, the more likely the cedar tree could not tolerate the stress by its brittle nature and snap.


Thank you for sharing your experience with using cedar. It helps and it doesn't at the same time because you were using dead trees and moving a load while my trees will still be alive and stationary. I don't know if that will make a difference but it seems like it would to me.

Yep, cedar has no tensile strength to speak of but does pretty well in compression. Since the trees will still be standing and the building will be attached via connectors at less than four feet they will be acting under compression mostly. Sure there is the sway factor but these trees are in Oklahoma and withstand 30 to 60 mph winds routinely without dropping limbs at all ... 
 
E Cochran
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Anne Miller wrote:If the tree already has dead limbs then the tree is probably already dying.  You would risk having the whole house uprooted or portions of it collapse if a limb breaks off..


Well that's a thought but these trees are not dead or dying at all. They are cedar trees clumped together where the inside limbs don't get any sunlight any more. Have you ever walked into the middle of a clump of cedar trees? It is almost impenetrable for all the crossed limbs devoid of foliage. My son built a survival shelter in the branches of a clump of cedar trees for his boy scout survival night. They are dense enough that he was able to lash a few in various places together and make a bed that he slept in.
 
E Cochran
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Judith Browning wrote:
I can't believe there isn't a treehouse thread on here already (or maybe I'm just dense and can't find it) ...


I'm not sure how helpful they would be for your situation but check out the 'similar threads' at the bottom of this thread's page. Looks like there are two or three about tree houses.  good luck!


I've looked through all of them ... and still there is no thread about building a treehouse. Lots of pictures of finished ones or "imagined" ones but no one discussing the how-tos and "here's what I did". We have straw bales and cob and earth bags and natural building ...
 
Anne Miller
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E Cochran wrote:We plan to only remove enough limbs for our living space and leave the rest of the tree growing. Since most of the limbs we are planning to remove have no foliage on them anyway, we don't think it should hurt the tree.


E Cochran wrote:Well that's a thought but these trees are not dead or dying at all. They are cedar trees clumped together where the inside limbs don't get any sunlight any more. Have you ever walked into the middle of a clump of cedar trees? It is almost impenetrable for all the crossed limbs devoid of foliage. 


My house was built in the center of a clump of cedar trees.  I have cedar trees all around my house.  Everyday I watch more and more that are loosing their foliage, only to become a dead tree.

My house was built with cedar framing.  The cedar boards were made by using a sawmill and the wood came from my trees.   It would be great if you would be able to use the wood for framing you future home.
 
r ranson
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Not personal experience, but a tree house I saw long ago that was built by hand in the 1890s and lived in by twin brothers.



It may be possible if you get the right trees.

What kind of cedar do you have?  There are quite a few trees with that as a common name.  Some of which might be suitable for building a house in. 

Where I live, we have four different kinds of cedar trees - none of them are actual cedars.  I'm told some are good for building, some not.  Check this out for more information. https://oregonstate.edu/trees/conifer_genera/false_cedars.html
 
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