Oak Park Building Code Advisory Commission member Tim Kelly introduced the proposal to the village board last week with a joke: “My confession is my brother and I built a tree house in the 1960s on North Elmwood without a permit.” 

But the recommendation from the commission could become a reality if the board approves the new building code. The proposed new rule necessitating a permit to build a tree house in Oak Park would require homeowners to get designs approved by a licensed architect or structural engineer and a written report from an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist.

The new proposed language in the village building code would require tree house trees to be 3 feet from the property line and in a fenced yard. Tree houses would also be prohibited from including mechanical, electrical and plumbing.

Steve Witt, the village’s manager of building and property standards, said in an interview that he decided to include the recommendation in the update of the village’s building code about two year ago because of questions from residents on what was required.

He said the recommendation, which has not yet been approved by the village board, aims to protect the children and the trees.

“We’re trying to give guidance to make sure the kids are safe,” he said.

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