This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Will Sutherland, an Airbnb host who owns a treehouse rental. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Even before I bought my house, I had the idea of building a treehouse on the four-acre property. When I walked around the site for the first time, I saw two trees sitting over a rock ledge and wanted to put a treehouse there. At the time, it was a pipe dream that I never thought I would actually be able to do.
I carried up every piece of wood, every piece of floor, the roof trusses, the floor trusses, and the big quad beam. I also sourced a bunch of cedar logs from a friend who was having a house built. I have a sawmill at my house, so I was able to mill all the cedar for the siding myself.
When I told my now wife, Sabrina, that I was building a treehouse to rent on Airbnb, she said: "As long as you build another bathroom for guests, I'm all for it." For years, guests staying in our other Airbnb property — a converted school bus we called skoolie — had been using the bathroom in our house. When I built the treehouse, I also built a bathhouse with a shower and a toilet at the same time; now all of our guests use the bathhouse.
Sabrina helped me with some details, like the floor finishing and trimming boards down to size. She was by my side every day when she got home from working as an arboretum specialist at the Virginia State Arboretum.
It's like a bunk bed and is great for kids. There's also a main queen bed in the treehouse too. There's no running water, but I do have a five-gallon water tank for hand-washing and brushing teeth. There's also a hotplate so guests can heat up the water, a window-unit air conditioner, and an electric heater.
I built a staircase in front and an emergency exit in the back with a ladder to get into the treehouse. Since it sits on a rock ledge, the front of the treehouse is about 18 feet from the ground, and the back is about 14 feet.
The treehouse gets thousands of views per month on Airbnb, and I'm fully booked for months. The nightly price for the treehouse can range from $160 and $250 a night, depending on the time of year.
With the school bus and the treehouse, I started making enough money from Airbnb that I was able to quit my job. I now have a lot more time to help friends and family with projects, and daydream about new things I want to make. I also get to see them come to fruition sooner than I used to with my full-time job.
Since I'm now in the business of hosting people, I've had to change how I go about my day. I can't be outside using the chainsaw or running my sawmill when there are people trying to read a book on the porch of the treehouse. Once I see guests leave, I'll quickly mow the grass.
We basically live in a miniature community here, flanked by our bus guests and treehouse guests all the time.
I feel fulfilled seeing guests create quality memories at the treehouse, and the income I've earned from Airbnb has enabled me to work from home which has given me more quality time to spend with my friends and family.2023-01-03T16:15:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd