It is not the strong tree of yesteryear. A recently relocated Petaluma company is betting professionals yearning for respite in the outdoors but with the comforts of home will be keen to spend big on modern treehouses for themselves or as a rental business for a campsite. glamorous – better known as glamping.
O2Treehouse has come a long way since owner and designer Dustin Reiter built his first geodesic dome out of a Wisconsin poplar tree in 2005.
He started the business the following year in Minnesota, custom designing cabins for children. This brought the company to Los Angeles, where jobs grew into larger structures, and demand for individual offices and rooms increased. The company then moved to Oakland in 2011, and within a few years began to garner national media attention for its designs.
When the lease for the San Francisco East Bay design and production center was coming to an end, Reiter focused on the north.
“North Bay has always been on my radar because it has giant trees, is a corridor to the north, and has a lot of money and interest in these structures,” Reiter said. “A lot of business has already been done in North Bay.
While the new location, in a renovated industrial complex at 133 Copeland St., has space for future automation equipment inside and ample yard space, the change across the bay had a cost.
Some of the 15 employees and contractors chose not to relocate or commute, Reiter said. The company is therefore looking for a project manager, new and experienced carpenters and pre-construction personnel.
Historically, the company made eight to ten custom treehouses per year. The average cost is comparable to that of a high-end home – $800 to $1,400 per square foot. At the average size of 120 square feet, that equates to $96,000 to $168,000.
And the demand for outdoor living spaces has increased, Reiter said.
“COVID has provided us with a lot more business,” Reiter said. “People were coming home and looking to improve their backyards.”
Glamping is estimated to be a global market of $2.35 billion last year, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 10.9% through 2030, according to Grand View Research.
Nearly half (46%) of the market is dominated by camps with similar cabins and “pods”. Tents make up a quarter of the market, followed by yurts (one-eighth) and treehouses for the rest. Europe has the largest share of glamping in the world, at 35%, with around 8,000 campsites in France alone.
A number of treehouses built by Reiter’s company became short-term rentals. An example is The Pinecone, the one Reiter owns in the Santa Cruz area. Featured on NBC Nightly News in 2017, it is designed with angles and glass to resemble the conifer seed holder and rents over $550 a night via Airbnb.