His Secret “Nest Egg” In a Tree

He was Planning on Retiring at Age 26…


If you’re aiming to visit Whistler, British Columbia, for some adventure, then remember there’s a secret egg treehouse hanging in the woods you might want to check out.  The owner, Joel Allen, shares his interesting story below.  HemLoft, as it’s called, is a self-funded iconic tree house built entirely out of recycled material.  Read the story below.


I’m just going to come out and say it. I tried to retire at the age of 26 and failed. What does this have to do with the treehouse? Well, my attempt at retirement seems to be the critical link between my former career as a software developer, and my new career as a carpenter.

So there I was, a bourgeoning carpenter, living out of my car and heading off in an exciting new direction. One day a young fellow named Ryan walked onto the job site to start as a laborer.

Every Spring he spent a couple months working until he had enough money to head up to Alaska. I called him Free Range Ryan because he spent most of his time after work exploring the backcountry.


While I was building the model, I made some tweaks to the proportions. Instead of being a pure egg shape, I made it slightly fatter. This gave a more spacious feeling on the inside and made the shape feel a little bit cuter. I was excited to build it, but first I had to find the perfect tree.

In the summer of 2008, I set out to look for the perfect host tree for the egg-shaped treehouse. Finding that perfect spot on crown land wasn’t so easy. For the next two months, I searched tirelessly. I made it a daily routine to spend a few hours after work wandering through the woods.

On the way up to these homes one day, I spotted an isolated patch of old-growth that looked promising. Scanning the area, one of the bigger trees caught my eye.


Over the next week, I built scaffolding and started on the floor structure. Installing the ribs solo was no easy feat and proved to be nearly disastrous on one occasion. 

My landlord, Mark, couldn’t help but notice what was going on. Looking genuinely concerned, but also slightly amused, he told me he had suffered from the same ‘illness’ many years ago, as he salvaged materials for his first home.


I had salvaged over a thousand board feet of clear cedar, that had been ripped out of an indoor sauna. By the end of June, we were making rapid progress on the treehouse, and were on pace to finish! With the treehouse taking up most of our weekends, it felt like we were doing binge carpentry.

In August 2011, the dream was almost complete… the only part left, was to live it. Heidi and I had bought a Nikon SLR about a month previous. . That week, the weather was wonderfully sunny and we were able to capture some of the magic that we had been graced with.

Now that my well kept secret was in a big glossy magazine, and about to hit the news stands, I started to wonder about the fate of the HemLoft. I had two options: I could rent a pit bull and a shotgun and neurotically circle the premises for the next ten years of my life, OR … I could just not care, and welcome whatever curious prospectors wander in my direction.







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