Treehouse Builders Association
There currently exist good reasons to form a non-partisan professional tree house builders association or guild. But we don't have one. Here's what I think:
Reasons to form an association:
- Most building departments and code books do not have specific language that addresses safely attaching structures to living trees. The chief reason is that there is not enough study of using living organisms as foundations to support engineering analysis. Such foundations will always depend on ongoing arboreal assessment to ensure continued health of the tree and by extension the continued suitability of the foundation. The idea of a foundation that starts out safe but may reasonably be expected to become unsafe at some unknown time in the future scares most building department officials and engineers away from tree houses. Gathering data accross the industry would help us all to get permits and approvals and find more engineers willing to take design responsibility for tree houses.
- Most small treehouse building companies do not have the resources to develop and test treehouse fasteners, and so the suppliers in the industry all use different rating criteria. Hence one TAB is sold with an 8000lb rating while another only 4000, but they do appear to be very similar if not identical in construction. Coordination and cooperation would help the industry.
- Many theories and concepts have been tested all over the world, with some working better than others. It is in everyone's benefit if the community of professionals can come together and begin to codify the practices that are acceptable and those that are not. Not that we could eliminate all of the grey areas, but to help condemn the worst and agree on the best practices.
Reasons why it's not happening:
- Time Commitment - An Association like this has to be built through the investment of time and money by many professional tree house building companies, or it will never come to pass. In case you hadn't noticed, we're all very busy and taking time away and not feeling that the benefits are worth taking time away from our business and reality TV interests which bring us fame and money. My time lately has been taken up by building a Treehouse Adventure Park called Treehouse World. We're all busier than we want to be, I know it.
- Control - Every majoy player in the industry would want their name at the head of it, but wouldn't lend support to an effort with their competitor's name at the head of it. A simple solution to this would be rotating leadership by vote of a board, whether official or unofficial. But there would still have to be agreement on who's in and who's out, a significant hurdle.
- Competition - I was surprised when I got into this industry how competitive the major builders are. It's a major obstacle to overcome if we are to work together.
- Cost/Benefit - Most major players in the industry perceive that they would have to put more into an association than they would get out of it. Argue with the principle if you like, but ask around and you'll see that it's currently true.
If a suitable non-partisan association movement emerges, then I am willing to help with the following:
- My participation
- Donation of this domain
- Use of my property in West Chester, PA, USA for a rotating annual meeting place for association meetings, conferences, and workshops.
- Serving on committees or rotating board membership
Please email email@example.com if you wish to communicate with me about associations and related topics. Several professional tree house builders have expressed interest, but we don't have critical mass and aren't yet ready to deal with the obstacles above. It won't work until we get there. There was a pretty serious effort at establishing an association a few years ago. There was a lot of enthusiasm but countless leadership and organizational issues, in addition to the obstacles mentioned above, so it fizzled out. But staying in touch and communicating may eventually help us to find a way forward.