In 2011, during a year of reduced racing and working a part-time schedule, Sam Hornish, Jr., a NASCAR driver, decided to go to work building a tree house for his daughters. When most of us think of a tree house, we probably envision a fairly straightforward design, with maybe a few two-by-fours and some plywood, but when Hornish, thinks of a tree house, it is significantly more complex than just two-by-fours and some plywood.

Hornish’s tree house has a 10-foot by 16-foot base with a porch that has a loft over it. It is constructed with high-grade pine two-by-sixes and one-by-eights, along with vinyl rough cut shake siding, an aluminum roof, aluminum-clad windows and French doors. The interior is framed and floored in such a way that it is not necessary to drywall or otherwise finish the interior.  

The tools he used on this project were a circular saw, a miter saw, a jig saw, a hammer, a measuring tape and a drill. He used wood screws primarily and some nails as well.

Hornish says he started the project with four 16-foot by 6-inch by 6-inch posts; leveled, squared and cemented into the ground. He next built the floor, which is constructed much like a wood deck. The floor is mounted to the 6-inch by 6-inch posts with ¾-inch carriage bolts. Next, he framed the walls on the ground with consideration given to where the windows would be. He then had to figure out how to get them up to the raised platform.

He built the rafters next, using birds-mouth joints on the bottom to give them a place to sit on top of the sill. Next, he covered everything with 1-inch by 8-inch tongue-in-groove pine boards so that it looks finished on the inside.

He hired a professional to install the aluminum corrugated roof, as he did not have the proper equipment to install a roof 22 feet above the ground in a safe manner. Once the roof was in place, he went to work installing the windows. He said he elected to use aluminum clad windows that are on the high-end of tree house windows because if he decides to move in the future, he could take them out and use them somewhere else. Then he put up the rough cut split shake vinyl siding.

It is not quite finished yet, as he still has to design and build a set of stairs. He says he wants to make a spiral staircase, though he has not quite yet wrapped his head around the design or how it will be constructed. He also wants to put in some window boxes so the girls can plant some flowers, and is also entertaining the idea of adding a slide. While he was building the tree house, he decided to put in a nice swing set too. The swing set was constructed so that eventually it could be turned into a sitting area with outdoor lounge chairs and vines growing over it.

Since Hornish is now back to work full-time thanks to a partnership with Wurth Wood Working Group, it may be a challenge for him to find the time to finish the project, but he has never been one to shy from a challenge. He does have a bit of time to work on finishing the project since the girls, Addison, 5, and Eliza, 2,  are still  too young to play in it unattended.

Look for Sam Hornish Jr. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driving the No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang.

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