tr33haus II

Slow going today.

I ended up taking the roof off the treehouse and making a few changes. Thinking about the design a little bit more I wasn’t happy with the way the panels were attached. 2 clear polycarbonate panels (like skylights) and 2 brown polycarbonate panels to blend into the trees behind the structure — I really like the material and colors: super-light, easy to work with (mostly), aesthetics are good.

The mistake I made was that I attached the roof framing (very light 1×4 cedar) and then screwed the panels down with pole barn screws from above. The screws have a rubber washer to seal the screw hole in the plastic. The first panel, top-outside screw as very tricky to get in being the farthest away – I had an 8ft ladder on top of the treehouse deck. Too big a reach and not really safe. I couldn’t see through the solid brown panels, so without a chalk line – a little bit tough to get the screw line straight (I could have snapped a chalk line but didn’t). I managed to attach all the panels, the last panel from the outside of the treehouse – way way up on the ladder.

Good design shouldn’t be so difficult. It should be simple and elegant.

I was thinking it through one night and realized that I should have fabricated the entire roof assembly and then lifted it up to attach it (the panels are very light. I also noticed that some of the pole barn screws were coming through the underside of the 1×4 – so the material was too thin. Oftentimes the reaction to problems like this is to build around it – and I could have. I could have added another strip of 1x material on the inside to cover any screws that were poking through; but this is the road to bad design. This happens all the time in software. It’s the same problem.


In climbing there is the concept of SRENE. I think the acronym may have changed slightly in the last 10 years, it stands for Solid, Redundant, Equalized, No Extension. It’s the correct way to build belay anchors.  Catastrophic accidents are rare in the mountains and most can be chalked up to objective hazards – rockfall, avalanche, etc. Most risk can be mitigated though. Travel before sun hit, dig an avy pit, etc.  Most accidents that happen are a result of cumulative mistakes – it’s never the first mistake, but it’s a chain of mistakes that lead to a catastrophic failure.  Mostly it’s the reasoning that, “it’s good enough”. The first few probably are and you won’t get nailed… not until the third, fourth or fifth. Best to never make the first mistake. So I took down the roof and built it correctly.


I also built the ladder to get into the treehouse. The slope should be gentle enough to walk facing down. Always tricky getting the correct angle and then the proper angle of the treads.

Once I scribed one 2×12, I just transferred the angle and  spacing to the other side. The rise is about 7 inches for an 11 1/2″ tread, 20 wide. Comfortable slope and wide enough for little humans (and probably dogs). Tricky to get the first couple of treads attached working solo; big cabinet clamps helped but it was awkward.  The base still needs to be graded, then I’ll use a leftover piece of flagstone for the ladder base.

Maybe it will be a deserted island or a castle or a spaceship or a private boat …

Let the wild rumpus start!


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