Father, who built a 4-meter-high wooden tree house without planning permission, is ordered to demolish it
A father who spent three months building a three-story treehouse for his children during the lockdown has been ordered to demolish it for fear of “health and safety.”
Kai Grunwald, 40, built the 4-foot tree house in the front yard of his home in Berkhampstead, Herts. for his two daughters Kara, six, and Kayleigh, four.
But the £ 1,200 project could now be pulled down as Mr Grunwald had not obtained planning permission for the structure.
Mr. Grunwald was in the final stages of construction when he received a letter from Dacorum Borough Council ordering him to remove it within 28 days.
The high-flying director is adamant that the council’s security concerns are misplaced.
He said, “The bolts that go into the tree are six inches long and I’ve built things like this all my life. I don’t think it’s a health and safety risk, those trees don’t die and the structure doesn’t topple. ‘
Kai Grunwald, 40, built the 4-meter-high tree house (right) in the front yard of his home in Berkhampstead, Herts. for his two daughters Kara, six, and Kayleigh, four
The £ 1,200 project (photo) could now be aborted as Mr Grunwald had not obtained planning permission for the construction
In the letter, the family was warned that “porches, balconies or raised platform more than 0.3 high are not allowed without planning permission.”
It added: ‘The location of this tree house also presents other issues with visual impact on the street scene and is not in keeping with the area. There is also a safety concern as the tree house is located across Queens Road footpath. ‘
But Mr Grunwald said he had just spent £ 24,000 redecorating the front of the house and that the area under the tree house used to be a ‘pool of mud’.
He said to MailOnline: ‘I am quite happy to apply for a building permit afterwards and to work with the municipality, but they just closed me.
‘The house hasn’t had any attention for 40 years, we just spent £ 24,000 redecorating the front of the house, the whole area where the treehouse now stands was a quagmire when we moved in.
‘I am really annoyed that the council says it doesn’t fit the visual aesthetic of the road, we spent a lot of money to keep the house looking tidy and I just popped a treehouse on it which I am not offensive found . ‘
Mr Grunwald said he had just spent £ 24,000 redecorating the front of the house and that the area under the tree house used to be a ‘pool of mud’.
He said the structure was safe because it regularly held its weight.
“I built it and I weigh 100kg and I’ve been all over the treehouse, bouncing up and down as I left,” he said. “I feel comfortable, it is well built.”
The treehouse started as a lockdown project to entertain his daughters while they were kept out of school due to the coronavirus.
He said, ‘I started building with it for a weekend and they loved it. Everyone who walked by said this was so much fun, when the world was miserable.
‘The girls play on it every day, they are up and down all day, it was their main activity in lockdown. They take their toys upstairs and wave to passers-by and just play. ‘
When MrGrunwald started the project, there was no plan, but it gradually grew into a three-story venture.
He added, ‘I had a zero plan when I built it, I did the first platform and then I thought it would be nice to have another one and then the girls urged me to finish it.
‘It was partly for them, but I also have to admit it was quite fun building it, especially since it gave people walking by something fun to talk about.
When MrGrunwald started the project, there was no plan, but it gradually grew into a three-story venture
‘I had nice conversations with people who came by and said how nice it was.’
The strategy director said he worked on it every night after work and went to nearby contractor merchants for supplies so often that he was known as “ the tree house man. ”
The family plans to conduct a survey of local residents to get their views on the structure and then offer a compromise to the council in a desperate attempt to preserve it and prevent them from being the children ‘ devastate ‘.
Mr. Grunwald said, ‘I am conducting a small local survey on all the streets of the area, I drop a flyer through people’s doors to say I got carried away, I hope I didn’t offend you and want me to be your view of the tree house.
‘They can answer in four different ways, because I would like to know what people really think.
‘If they come back and say it’s offensive, I’ll delete it right away. But one of the options is I take down the top two levels and just leave the bottom.
‘What I really want from the council is that they engage in a reasonable dialogue with me to find a compromise. Why would I upset my kids if we could find a way to work through it? ‘
The tree house is equipped with ladders, climbing frames and even a rocking chair. Mr Grunwald said: “Once I have the results of the survey, I will go back to show the municipality what the local community really thinks about it.
“I totally understand that we need rules, but there’s a point where it’s a little silly not to at least allow me to apply for a building permit afterwards and find a compromise.”
The family tries to keep the bad news away from the children. He added: ‘I’ve tried to keep it away from the girls, they’ll be devastated.
‘I don’t want to tell them until there is a result and I don’t want to give up without a fight. I want to see what can be done before I tell them. ‘
And Mr. Grunwald thinks this will be the last tree house he’ll build for his daughters: “I’ve learned my lesson from this, I won’t be doing any more for now.
But all I want from this saga is for the council to agree to have a discussion so I can tell the kids that while I have to remove some of it, we can still keep the slide and swing as a place to play. Outside.’