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‘Treehouse Master’ Draws Fine in OR

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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Contractors' licensing officials in Oregon have slapped the host of the Animal Planet show “Treehouse Masters” with a fine for allegedly building a tree abode sans license.

Nelson’s Treehouse and Supply, based in Fall City, WA, has been fined $5,000 for “illegally” building a single-family treehouse in Sitka spruce in Neskowin, OR, the state’s Construction Contractors Board reported Monday (Nov. 30).

The company is owned by Pete Nelson, the host of the television series. Nelson travels around the country building elaborate treehouses with electricity and plumbing, the board notes. According to the contractor's website, the average starting cost for the custom dwelling is $150,000.

Construction Contractors Board
Construction Contractors Board

Oregon contractors licensing officials say the Nelson's Treehouse and Supply wasn't properly licensed in the state when it recently completed a project in Neskowin. The Washington-based contractor maintains it had obtained supplemental coverage to cover the project.

“These treehouses are intended as residences and require a contractor’s license, as do most all home building or home improvement projects,” CCB Enforcement Manager Stan Jessup said in a statement.

Nelson featured the Neskowin project, a house built 46 feet off the ground, in a "Treehouse Masters" episode that aired in September. The board reported that it caught wind of the project after a local newspaper covered the upcoming broadcast.

The contractor maintains it had obtained supplemental coverage to cover the project.

Second License Case

This is not the first time Nelson’s Treehouse has been fined for building treehouses in Oregon.

In 2014, the business was reportedly fined $1,000 for working without a license on a treehouse in Central Point. Therefore, the Neskowin project was considered a repeat offense, the board said.

“Licensing in Oregon carries important protections for the consumer,” Jessup said. “It means the contractor is bonded and insured, and the CCB can help mediate any disputes between the homeowner and contractor.”

The CCB licenses more than 33,000 contractors in the state.

Company Comments

Nelson’s Treehouse and Supply told Durability + Design News in an e-mailed statement that it was a “licensed, bonded and insured treehouse building company.”

It said that while working in Oregon, the company “purchased supplemental L & I coverage which comprehensively insured the talented team who worked on the project.”

The company also noted that the structure itself was “fully engineered, permitted and signed off by the local building authorities.”


Tagged categories: Building codes; Certifications and standards; Contractors; Design; Enforcement; Licensing; Regulations

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/2/2015, 8:44 AM)

Nelson's response seems to be dancing around the issue. Having local insurance coverage and having the specific job plans signed off locally is not the same thing as actually getting licensed as a contractor in the state. Note that Nelson's never said that they are licensed as a contractor in Oregon, just that they are licensed (somewhere. Presumably Washington where the are based.)

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (12/2/2015, 8:49 AM)

Yep, a quick lookup found they are the list of licensed contractors in Washington state, but not Oregon. Their bonding limit is only $12,000 in Washington - which seems inordinately low for a company that builds $200,000 structures.

Comment from john lienert, (12/2/2015, 9:33 AM)

they know the law......they just get away with violating the law because they're T.V. "stars"...OCCB has a VERY CAPABLE enforcer that they could have sent out if they wanted to.....and stopped construction in it's tracks

Comment from Jon Newton, (12/2/2015, 1:14 PM)

I thought homeowners had the right to hire anyone to work on their property, licensed or not. Homeowners assume the risk of no bonding and insurance, but they can be their own GC and hire who they want. As far as I have heard too, if he doesn't advertise in Oregon as contractor and that he does that work, he hasn't broken the law either.

Comment from peter gibson, (12/2/2015, 2:50 PM)

The main reason why there are license is to protect owners from being ripped off. Having a CL does not denote competency in the trade. Lots of trade hacks out there.

Comment from MICHAEL PORTER, (12/2/2015, 4:12 PM)

Jon...You are correct to a point. Most states set maximum limits that a non-licensed individual may charge a client when doing "handyman" or "construction activities" ($500ish). Beyond that, a license is required. Contractor License Law varies from state to state, but is still pretty similar. Also, I would think that an owner/GC would still want his sub-contractors to be licensed. This would hopefully provide some assurance that the project would be code compliant.

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