For several months, Joel Allen has been secretly dwelling among multi-million dollar homes in Whistler, Canada. But his home cost less than some used cars and it’s not exactly legal. According to the Daily Mail, Allen is living a modern-day Swiss Family Robinson lifestyle — minus all the children — in an egg-shaped “self-funded” creation.
On his well put together website — he’s a trained computer technician — Allen explains that his treehouse was unknown except for by a few friends — until recently. The treehouse dubbed “The HemLoft” is described as “an experimental orb deep in the woods, with no electrical power.”
In an elaborate tale of how he went from computer-savvy graduate to self-taught carpenter, Allen describes how the “egg in a tree” was born out of a friend’s initial design and locating the “perfect” tree for it. This ended up being near “a new neighborhood of multi-million dollar mega-homes under construction.”
As you might expect, what Allen planned on doing was illegal — and he knew it as he describes several instances in his building process how he managed to avoid being seen by locals or authorities as he was towing materials to and fro. But he moved forward with building location anyway. The story moves forward with getting construction going; an interruption to travel to Slovenia; meeting a woman in Canada named Heidi who would become his life partner; and eventually gleaning $10,000 worth of materials he needed to finish his already $6,500 project from the Craigslist free section.
As of August 2011, the treehouse became relatively livable. The project itself began in 2008. Here’s what Allen said about the experience of going to live in the treetop egg after working on it for so long:
When Heidi and I arrived there, it was a surreal feeling to be walking through the woods with a suitcase, instead of an armful of planks. Since starting work on the HemLoft, it was an uninhabitable construction zone and I had only slept there a handful of times. Now we were actually going to live in it! After a day or two of settling in, we felt like we were in the lap of luxury. We had a bounty of showering options in nearby waterfalls and lakes, and, if the need arose, there were plenty of unused hottubs in the neighborhood.
Check out this footage of the treetop abode — and how he manages to live in the woods:
Allen’s story became not-so-secret when he caught a big break after submitting his design to Dwell Magazine and also was published this month by Adventure Journal. It was at this point he says he began to consider the fate of his once secret hideaway. At first it seems Allen thinks only of the potential visitors seeking him out to view the space, but he does later acknowledge that the egg is built in a tree on public land owned by the government. Here’s are his thoughts on that:
It took a lot of work to build it, and I’d rather not take it down, just yet. So I’ve been thinking of ways to expose the HemLoft, while somehow making it legal. To the best of my knowledge, Squatting on Whistler Mountain, beneath some of Western Canada’s most luxurious mega-homes would not be looked favourably upon. However, I’ve thought of a few ideas that might be…
Ideas include taking it down; making a “geo-catching” game for people to find it; making it a campsite; or trying to purchase the land on which the tree resides.
What do you think of Allen’s interesting but still illegal contraption?