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Your Childhood Dream Home: The Extreme Treehouses Of "Treehouse Masters"

Animal Planet makes a star out of treehouse builder Pete Nelson and his six-figure arboreal fantasies come true.

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear treehouse is probably a haphazardly nailed lean-to perched in an oak tree, filled with scrappy 8-year-old boys with bb guns. But that’s not what the treehouses in the new Animal Planet show Treehouse Masters (Fridays, 10 p.m.) are like. They’re fully functioning abodes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that just happen to be 20 feet above the ground.

Treehouse Masters stars Pete Nelson, the nation’s preeminent treehouse builder. He’s written books about treehouses around the world, has his own treehouse-building business, and runs a treehouse hotel with his wife in verdant Washington State. The show depicts Nelson and his team of contractors traveling around the country to build luxury “arboreal architecture” for well-heeled families and design buffs alike.

They construct a two-story leisure space with a winding staircase in some white pines for a couple with two daughters in post-Hurricane Sandy Westchester County, New York; they build a sprawling TV-watching paradise for a huge family on a ranch near Waco, Texas, with enough electricity coursing through it to power a 4,000- or 5,000-square-foot mansion. In a brisk 45 minutes, you see an entire structure erected, as well as some preexisting treehouses getting refurbished by Nelson and his crew.

Though these buildings are not child’s play, the builders themselves exude a youthful glee while rigging up the treehouses. Some of the tools they use look like giant slingshots, and all the dudes who work for Nelson are cheerful bearded fellows who favor polar fleece and goofy jokes. The senior member of the group, Chuck, the master carpenter, gets a kick out of saying fake curse words like “bucking hay,” “sock-sucker,” and “icehole.”

A New York Times review of the show points out that they do fall back on standard reality-TV cliches like fake-seeming, arbitrary deadlines, but Nelson’s true love of treehouses and the view of nature that they provide shines through and has given Animal Planet its highest ratings for a series debut since 2011. Nelson himself bounces around with excitement and energy when he starts imagining a customized treehouse to fit in a particular space. You can see the creative wheels turning in his head and it’s a delightful viewing experience.

Filled with stunning clerestory windows, gorgeous mossy roofs, stained glass, and fine wood detailing, the creations that appear on Treehouse Masters will make you forget any images you have of shacks filled with grubby kids. You may, however, yearn for a spendy treehouse of your own, or at least a trip to Nelson’s bed and breakfast in the sky. Click through the slide show above to see some of Nelson’s houses.

[Images Courtesy of Animal Planet]

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25 Comments

  • Jim Classen

    Pete if i had trees in my yard i would more then be happy to have u help me build a tree house that would look like a tall ship or a square rigged ship. Tree houses and ships have been one of the things i have loved since I was a child. so if you can ever combined the two in one of your builds i think it would be one of the greatest goofiest thingsyou would see in a tree. Maybe like captain hook or something like that. Oh i have not seen a tree house yet that you have done that is not superb, hats off to you and your men. Happy tree house building jim

  • Faheem Wahid

    I am Faheem Wahid from Dubai, I would like to buy TREE HOUSE in states for 60-65K USD. Let me know, if there is anyway you can build for me.. Thank you, Regards

    Faheem W.

  • Arda Şimşek

    hi pete nelson we are living in Turkey when we were younger we did a few tree houses you constantly pay attention to me and my friend do not miss a part of you that is there a turkey in the tree house May I have come to us

    kara_shn_07@hotmail.com mete0807@hotmail.com

  • Asa Owens

    Hello pete.

    My name is Asa, and watching the show is humorous and exciting..I stay in Greensboro nc and hav great hundred year old tree's. It would be nice to see magic done on the oldest tree's in my back yard. Email Asaowensiii@rocketmail.com God bless

  • Kerry Syhavong

    Can you build me a treehouse so then I can do my napping,reading,bathing,and many more with no interruptions. And I am wondering what I can get with $250? I bet I'll only get a small place but I need me time.

  • Valia M. Patterson

    Pls build me a tree house in NYC for$60,000.00 but I have no property RSVP Zarconevm @aol .com

  • Leah Parker

    Please help with my daughter's treehouse. It is already a log cabin, but her Dad never fixed it like he promised ! Please help us!

  • Mary Celeste Brad Kent

    There's got to be more to this than having to shit in the bush. I want to know more about whether or not there are bathroom services in your tree houses ie shower and toilet. Where do you wash and go.... the illusion of everything is given making it look like the perfect world why are you not telling us about these issues. From what I see these tree houses are nothing more than a tent made of wood up in a tree.

  • Ijennieten70

    Jennie

    Hi, I have a idea peace of property for one of your Tree houses. I would love to see what is involved and the cost of having one built in my woods.

  • Rebecca

    Hi, Love to watch you build the tree houses. As a child I always wanted one, but lived in a bigcity . We had only a peach tree in yard. ..Grew up moved to a small town. My home has a large yard with trees. My husband promised our grandchildren he'd build them a tree house. He never got to  build them their tree house as he passed away before he had the chance to . Would love tohear from you to see what we could do to fullfill he's dream. The gkids always talk about how nanu was going tobuild them a tree house. Hope tohear from you. My email is granni6@comcast.net. thank you  Rebecca-
     

  • Angelsfor1013mary

    I would like a treehouse an orphan and only a sister she's diying of cancer and diabatic, i am also sickly and never been able to have home a small treehouse just for up small limited income and don't need much space,been beaten raped at age of 3 from own dad,every foster home ervr been in never had a place to call home in abusive relationship now but don't look for him to last long either and could sell everything buy acre maybe and have treehouse love tree houses always have and there would be 2 terrier's maybe livingroom seperate bedrooms upstairs I don't know what to do when he goes and sis is all I have and want to go at home so ramp would have to be able to be accable to walker right now. Don't have email but phone number is 7067970033 in Georgia. Love your tree houses feeel happy and love all on the show just great people You could adopt us and I like woking with wood I also taught self to Oil paint and could paint you some pictures to pay for what ever I don't have money for name is Mary Epps Don't forget me and call me maybe next week if you have time.God bless you and what you do for people to make them happy am very handy to have around hint bye now

  • Pamela Boulerice

    Hi Pete

    We are in the process of building a tree house and would like to send you some pictures  . . .?  Is there a way if you would like to see it?  There is a spiral staircase leading up to the walk way leading to the tree house.  We started it this summer and will finish it next year when our grandsons visit from Texas. We live in upper NY.

    Pamela

  • ruby

    this would be my ideal retirement home ,can you send me some plans thank you . my email is cajungranny70@yahoo.com

  • olga sanchez

    I love tree houses ,I always wanted one  but never could have one :( love your show & seening those amazing tree houses. awesome work. love you all :)

  • julie Johnson

    What an AWESOME show. Pete, his workers, family !!!
    I would trust him with any design he comes up with - that I would LOVE it!
    One day he will build one for me !!!