The first thing that comes to mind when discussing a treehouse is a small wooden house in the middle or lower part of the tree.
But Steve Taylor’s treehouse is at another level. His house is made of 4 old shipping containers and stands 50 feet.
The 1,400 square-foot treehouse he calls “Air Castle” took him a year and a half to construct.
“When I say I have a treehouse business, this doesn’t come to mind. People think it’s on a small scale,” Steve told Insider.
Steve added that it surprises people when he says the structure has a two-bedroom, one-bath, 400-square-foot living room, full kitchen, and hot tub.
Steve is an engineer who lives in the small Texas town of Ladonia. Five years ago, he started making tree houses for his family.
“We have a personal treehouse that we built — it’s a traditional treehouse supported by four trees,” Taylor said. “We haven’t finished it yet because this property became available. So I kind of got distracted from my treehouse to start this treehouse business.”
Steve’s treehouse is a cantilevered structure made from four shipping containers, with one end supported by steel beams embedded in a tree.
He said they built it without a plan, so he created a wooden model to help him visualize what the treehouse would look like.
“It was really an ‘aha!’ moment. And now, being a short-term rental, that’s part of the attraction,” Taylor said.
He got the idea to build his treehouse out of shipping containers because his family has used them for farm storage for years.
Steve could freely experiment with his treehouse as it is in a secluded place without neighbors.
Moreover, his father was an engineer, and he collaborated with his ideas and came up with a fantastic design.
Steve began construction on his treehouse in December 2019 with the help of friends and other contractors.
He had to bring rocks in from Oklahoma to pave a gravel road so that the heavy construction trucks could reach the site because there were no adequate roads leading to the site.
“It was just before COVID-19 came about. So, once it started, we were pretty much in the woods, and it didn’t slow us down because we were separated from everybody else,” Steve said.
They did most of the construction on the ground, such as cutting openings for windows, doors, and spaces where they would connect the containers.
“But we couldn’t put the windows in on the ground because we didn’t want them to crack from the movement as they got lifted,” he added.
They arranged the four shipping containers using cranes.
Steve explained that the steel beams in the tree were constructed to support two containers and that raising only one at a time threw the structure off balance.
Building the Air Castle met a lot of challenges, but the help he got from his family and friends was more significant than the obstacles they had while building.
Some of his friends are structural and civil engineers who helped him with the design of the steel structure in the tree and the foundation.
He also said he got help from professional plumbers, welders, and electricians.
“We didn’t have a set of plans. I had to tell people and sketch what was in my mind that I needed them to do,” he said.
Air Castle, the treehouse made of shipping containers, has six floors, one bathroom, and two bedrooms.
Taylor explained that the stairwell is in a red vertical container, and the toilet and two bedrooms are in a white vertical container.
He said that the house has a total of 85 stars, including the 20-foot-tall circular staircase outside.
The living room, kitchen, dining area, and hot tub balcony are all in horizontal containers.
“This treehouse is welded to the ground, to 150,000 pounds of concrete plus the tree,” Taylor added. “I would feel more safe in the treehouse than in our house in a high-wind situation.”
The Air Castle can be rented on Airbnb for $330 per night with a two-night minimum stay requirement.
It has a five-star rating on Airbnb, based on 174 reviews.
Steve and his wife, Nancy, have operated the rental since 2021.
The treehouse has a spacious living room that is very comfortable and features large windows.
From the living room, the guests will have a fantastic view of the greens and the animals that visit and hang out outside.
The porch with the hot tub is screened, so the guests can relax while watching the birds and other animals in the trees outside the windows.
Its full kitchen has a refrigerator, an extensive coffee bar, a large stove, a microwave oven, and a large sink.
The Air Castle’s bathroom is also spacious. It has a fantastic shower room with a rain head and a shower head for a very immersive experience.
Each bedroom has a queen-size bed and glass windows allowing guests to watch the stars at night.
Above the bedrooms is the crow’s nest, which will take the guests 30 feet above the ground.
On the crow’s nest is a two-story spiral staircase going to the top of the treehouse, 50 feet above the ground.
It offers a great view of nature and a great place to relax and enjoy coffee or tea.
By vehicle, the trip to the treehouse from Dallas takes about an hour and fifteen minutes.
“We’ve been surprised by the number of people who have come just for the treehouse,” Taylor said, adding that his guests are not just traveling on a trip, but they are flying in from California, Seattle, and Florida to the small Texas town with 600 people for their vacation.
Steve has been offered much money to sell the Air Castle but refused.
“I’ve already been offered probably more than twice what I have put into the treehouse for somebody to buy it,” he added.
“I could sell it right now and be comfortable, but with the lake coming, it’ll have more value in the next three or four years.”
“My dad’s been involved; my daughter is involved — she did the mural on the side of the container. Ladonia is our town name, and we put that there along with our logo, local landmarks, and family memories,” Taylor said. “It’s our intent to keep it as a family business because we’ve been so involved in building it.”
Take a tour at Steve’s awesome treehouse, the Air Castle: