Hemloft treehouse

A would-be early retiree, a forbidden tree in the back country amid some of the most expensive houses in Canada, and a chance meeting in the forest -all pieces of a strange tree-house puzzle.

peeking out of helmloft treehouse

Joel Allen went from software engineer to carpenter as he transitioned from a high-pace technology job thought to be the road to early retirement and into a more contemplative and slower lifestyle.

hemloft entrance detail

Sites and materials found and gifted helped get this project off the ground (quite literally) – as did help from architect friends through the design and construction process, particularly given the complex geometries involved.

hemloft outdoor kitchen

The results? A dwelling of dubious legality after a volatile departure from the daily grind … yet somehow stress-free despite that. Lofted off the forest floor, it has little-but-enough space, basic amenities and lovely operable skylights.

hemloft desk

From Treehugger:

“Construction began in the fall of 2008, accompanied by bear sightings and lots of lost tools. Allen learned as he went. After spending $6,500 of his own money, he discovered he could find free building materials on Craigslist – he estimates that what he claimed was worth $10,000.”

“In July 2010, Allen finally finished the project, dubbing it the HemLoft. He and his girlfriend Heidi added furniture and made it their idyllic summer home- away from it all, but close enough to town for an occasional shopping trip and espresso.”

hemloft treehouse entrance

“Pushed by a friend to explain why he spent years and a small fortune building a secret tree house, Allen got to the bottom of it:

‘It seemed too simple, but it was true. The driving force behind the whole thing was a simple, yet inexorable desire to build something cool. There were no practical motives or profound meanings.'”