What started as a whim during a slow period turned into a win for both Baugher Design & Remodel and its Birmingham, Ala., community.

When a 200-year-old oak tree blew over, BD&R owner Rob Baugher and his staff thought it would be fun to get creative and use the wood to build a tree house, helping to keep employees busy as well as providing a marketing opportunity.

Design/Build 101

Baugher asked the tree cutters for six feet of the stump, which BD&R carpenters hollowed using chain saws. They installed a ladder inside and cut out a door.

As for what the tree house would look like, Baugher approached a local school about holding a design contest. The art teacher loved the idea, and more than 160 students participated — without knowing that the winning project would actually be built.

BD&Rs staff chose a winner, and the companys design department redrew the students design to scale. The field crew built the 6-foot-by-8-foot tree house out of recycled deck materials, other parts of the original tree, and reclaimed wood and siding, bolting the finished tree house to the stump.

When the community saw BD&R staff bring contest winner Jack Grants design to life in the school parking lot, Jack became a celebrity, Baugher says. Other student participants won plaques and gift cards donated by BD&R. At auction, the tree house netted the school $800, and BD&R placed it in the winning bidders yard.

Winners All

This tremendous community event, Baugher says, benefitted all involved: Students received encouragement to pursue their interest in design; the tree house auction was a budget boost for the school; and BD&R got $500,000 to $600,000 worth of leads, about 20% of which became roofing, siding, and painting jobs, even a whole-house remodel. The tree company also got several leads.

Baugher plans to do more such projects and has 13 tree stumps from other fallen trees stored behind BD&Rs warehouse.

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.