Eli's Treehouse, an Airbnb rental in North Carolina, and its 9-year-old designer Eli Sylvester.
  • A 9-year-old boy partly funded and designed a treehouse that his mother rents out on Airbnb.
  • Eli Sylvester started a crafts business when he was six and used his money to build the treehouse.
  • He splits the profits with his mother and uses his share to help local families.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's the ultimate childhood dream to have the perfect treehouse but very few people go on to design it themselves. That's precisely how Eli's Treehouse in Murphy, North Carolina, came to be.

When 9-year-old Eli Sylvester was six, he told his mother, Rachel Sylvester, that he wanted to have a treehouse on the acreage at their home. Rachel told Insider she assumed this would consist of "a few pieces of plywood in the trees" and encouraged her son, who is homeschooled, to make money to fund it.

"The whole project was to escalate his understanding of math, creating things, buying things, and also communicating with people," she told Insider, adding that he eventually saved $4,800 over two years from his crafts business that sells picture frames, magnets, and head-smashing eggs filled with birdseed in order to fund it.

The terrace of Eli's Treehouse in North Carolina.

Rachel recalled thinking it was a lot of money for a treehouse but was reassured by her son that he had a plan: "He said, 'I want to put my treehouse on Airbnb next year, but don't worry. We'll split the profits 50/50.'"

Rachel said Eli also saved money from birthdays and Christmases, asking loved ones and even Santa to help him get $10,000 worth of materials over three years, such as tiles, shingles, and plywood, rather than gifts. She also said she invested the final $9,000 into the treehouse.

Eli's father is a landscaper and helped the 9-year-old learn how to use tools and build trails, Rachel said, so that Eli could help out contractors with tasks such as measuring and cutting wood.

Eli's Treehouse was completed this year, and since its first booking was made for Memorial Day in May it has had 21 other bookings since, Rachel said.

The lounge area in Eli's Treehouse in North Carolina.

According to the Airbnb listing, the rustic retreat sleeps four people and has twin beds in the loft, which is accessible by ladder only. It has a fully functional bathroom, an area with a kettle, mini-fridge, and a stovetop, as well as a lounge with a TV, sofa, and wood-burning fireplace.

The treehouse opens up onto a decked terrace and the wider grounds have climbing frames, a trampoline, and, Eli's favorite part of the design, a zip line.

The ladder to one of the attic beds in Eli's Treehouse, North Carolina.

The listing also says that the Sylvesters have nine chickens, two ducks, and seven cats located on the wider grounds. Guests can also make use of the fire pit and barbeque facilities, or go down to the lake.

"Our yard already consists of a slackline, a trampoline, and a swing set. And we have trails that Eli built," Rachel said.

The kitchen area in Eli's Treehouse, North Carolina.

According to Rachel, Eli uses his share of the profits to carry out charitable acts for the local community.

"He's going to feed 10 families for Thanksgiving. He's already gotten the money so we're just going through the process of identifying the families," she said.

"After that, what he'd like to do is bring some kids to this place called the Fun Factory where they have go-karts and an arcade. He really wanted it to stand out to the kids. It's something they may not usually get to do," she added.

Rachel said he is also saving money so that the children he takes can have $20-$30 to choose their own toys from Walmart.

The shower and toilet in the bathroom at Eli's Treehouse.

Rachel added that Eli does not realize that he has done something "extraordinary," and hopes the story of his hobby-turned-business "inspires other kids to be up to something big in their life".


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