Published DateLACONIA — "It's the first tree house I've ever built," said Bob Cosco, standing on the deck of a cabin perched 16 feet above ground, moored to a stately oak and overlooking the Winnipesaukee River. "And it's the most enjoyable project I've ever undertaken."
The tree house stands behind Riverbank House, the 19th-century mansion at the northeast end of the Church Street Bridge, which houses an extended care recovery community.
"I always wanted a tree house," said Randy Bartlett, the owner and resident manager of the facility, who explained that the opportunity arose when he chose to turn his space inside the building to the program. "It seemed like a good idea," he said.
Bartlett drew a sketch and, apart from the foundation, Cosco did the rest. The cabin sits atop four six-inch square steel steel pillars anchored in concrete footings. Bartlett said that a team from Barlo Signs, where he served as vice-president, raised the steel. Meanwhile, Cosco built the deck, which was hoisted on to the pillars with a crane. "From there Bob built the rest by himself," Bartlett said, "from a sketch."
The cabin consists of one room, 12-feet by 16-feet with a sleeping loft and eight-foot deck. Cosco enlarged Bartlett's original 12-foot by 12-foot floor plan. There are four sash windows on the north side of the cabin, two on the south side, a window at the rear and sliders opening on to the deck, which overlooks the river. A pair of triangular windows lighten the loft, where there is room for a queen sized bed. Fashioned of rough-cut pine, the cabin is topped with a green metal roof. The deck wraps around the trunk of the tree and is overhung by a cantilevered roof. Cosco said that no part of the structure is secured to the tree. "If the tree came down," he said, "the only thing that would let go would be the roof over the deck."
The interior features a tongue-and-grooved ceiling, hardwood floor and granite breakfast bar, along with a refrigerator and microwave. The cabin is wired, but there is no plumbing. Cosco attached a washstand to the tree. "I'm sure he'll be drinking coffee and need a place to wash the cups," he said.
Access to the tree house will be gained by a suspension bridge hanging between the deck and an adjacent tree, which will be joined to the main building by a second bridge.
"It's an amazing feat," said Bartlett. "He built everything himself."
Cosco said at the outset he had some help, but when his partner scaled the ladder and stood on the open deck, he could not move. "Height is what happened to my help," he remarked. Height posed no challenge for Cosco, who as a painter worked on bridges in Massachusetts. "Either I carried everything up on the ladder or I roped it," he continued, pointing to a strand of blue rope hanging from the deck. "And I got pretty ingenious in finding ways to create another pairs of hands."
Bartlett said that he originally estimated the project to cost about $45,000, but expects it will be completed for close to $25,000. "Bob shaved the budget." Cosco said that he plans to finish by the end of this week, guessing that he will have put the equivalent of six or seven 40-hours weeks into the project.
Bartlett said he plans to furnish what he called his "central station" next week.