FROM THEIR home in Sopworth, near Tetbury, Wilts, David and Sarah Trotter run a successful cottage industry – a business that during the past three years has got off the ground in more ways than one.

The couple are experiencing their own housing boom by providing inspired designs and construction of tree houses.

These houses are nothing like the hurriedly concocted versions of redundant fence panelling and planks, knocked together by busy fathers to satisfy childhood demands for a bottom of the garden den. David and Sarah’s creations become a piece of hidden landscape “furniture” that reveals itself as you get near.

Each one is individual, shaped and built around the tree – or trees. Should the land be treeless, that is no problem – a house can be raised on stilts to give that magical feeling of living at tree height.

The high quality buildings constructed from oak, cedar, chestnut and soft woods are designed very much with children in mind.

Drawbridge ladders, trap doors, rope bridge walkways, rope baskets to take on food supplies, bunk beds for overnight camping, are all there to spark imagination in young minds. However, even parents like to relive their childhood, so often decking or a veranda are added to allow the grownups to partake of a social evening drink as the sun goes down.

The completed “Squirrel Design Tree Houses” are a great draw during children’s parties and as David explained: “The kid’s love them and as you can imagine youthful peer pressure comes into the equation, bringing even more enquiries.

“We have designed buildings across the country. To date there are tree houses in the Lake District, Staffs, Bucks and, of course, throughout Glos and Wilts.

“I used to work for a major conference organisation in London but hankered for the country, so we moved to Wilts with our two children. Having always enjoyed working with timber we decided to take the plunge with our tree house idea.”

Sarah and David work together on the projects, she produces the design drawings for discussion and approval, after which David moves onto site for their construction.

It takes about two to four weeks for completion depending on the shape and requirements involved. He stays in local B&B”s but during the summer when the roof is on the tree house, he often sleeps there for the last few days work. Says David: “It’s great fun getting back to your childhood.”

Squirrel Design Tree Houses range in cost from £2000 for a basic structure to £25,000 for the full monty.

Their work has inspired grown-ups to want some of the same and they are currently working on a rustic summer house for a lady’s small urban courtyard in the heart of Bristol”s Clifton district, plus an office/den for a businessman with tree house dreams for the bottom of his garden. It seems all grown-ups are Peter Pan at heart.

Inquiries: 01454 238967 or visit www.squirreldesign.co.uk