For $195 a night, you can stay in Schaumburg man's luxury treehouse
Dan Alexander considered it a unique idea to turn his childhood wish for a treehouse into a reality that any adult would envy.
But now Schaumburg officials want the 112-square-foot treehouse with a full-size bed, high-definition cable TV, fireplace, air-conditioner and kitchenette, to stay just as unique as it was in Alexander's dreams.
The elaborate treehouse, marketed online at airbnb.com as a cozy romantic retreat where guests can stay for $195 a night or $1,200 a week, has the village considering new regulations on how big, and where, residents can build such structures.
Until now, treehouses haven't kept inspectors busy or raised any concerns worthy of changing the village's zoning code, Schaumburg Planning and Permits Manager Tom Farace said.
That was before Alexander's 8-foot by 14-foot treehouse standing 15 feet above the ground on the 1700 block of Winchester Lane caught the attention of officials last year.
Though Alexander's house would be grandfathered in under any new restrictions, the village doesn't want to see any more treehouses like it in town, especially without officials knowing about it first, Farace said.
Alexander said he built the treehouse on his backyard's honey locust tree about seven years ago, primarily for his own family.
"I wanted a treehouse ever since I was a kid," he said. "It's a good tree for it."
He equipped the treehouse with basic household amenities, as well as an RV-type toilet in a tent on the deck outside. At the base of the tree, Alexander added a hammock, shower, hot tub and koi pond.
Though his teenage children initially were unimpressed by dad's latest crazy project, their friends' reactions changed their minds.
"Their friends said it was the coolest thing ever," Alexander said.
He said he's heard no complaints from neighbors.
"The neighbors are great," Alexander said. "We have wonderful neighbors and they never complain. They liked the landscaping."
He began renting the house about two years ago, bringing in visitors from Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin, and even as from as far away as Tennessee. Though not the only treehouse listed on Airbnb.com, Alexander said it's the only one in the area.
"It's been in some travel magazines," he added.
Alexander considers the treehouse a boon for the local economy, noting that his guests always ask him for restaurant suggestions in the village, he said.
In turn, the rentals help him pay for the upkeep of the backyard garden and treehouse.
Such rentals are permitted under Schaumburg regulations, as homeowners are allowed to rent rooms in their house, and the treehouse is considered an amenity of the house, Farace said.
Safety concerns are the primary motivation for the proposed zoning regulations, which would limit a treehouse to 100 square feet in size, he added. The measure, scheduled to be discussed Thursday by Schaumburg's planning, building and development committee, also would require treehouse floors to be no more than 25 feet above the ground, and allow the structures no closer than 10 feet from property lines.
The existing treehouse won't have to adapt to the village's proposed regulations unless further construction takes place.
It's a close call as to whether it already complies, Farace said.
Alexander's treehouse is only about 15 feet above the ground, and the tree in which it sits is more than 10 feet from the property line. The outer edge of the treehouse, however, likely sits less than 10 feet from his neighbor's yard.
Under the proposed zoning changes, treehouses must be located in the backyard and only one is allowed per lot. Anyone planning to build a treehouse would need to obtain a building permit.
The planning, building and development committee meets to discuss the proposal at 7 p.m. Thursday, at village hall, 101 Schaumburg Court in Schaumburg. If the committee and the zoning board of appeals recommend the changes, the measure will go before the village board for final approval.