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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


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Bob’s Top Tips for Building a Treehouse This Spring

Chelsea O'Donnell

Last week we talked about some tips for planning a treehouse build. This week, I wanted to go over some of the basics to consider when taking this project on. Every treehouse will be different in terms of their size, shape, and configuration, but there are a few common rules to be aware of regardless of the type of hideaway you are building.

Keep Design in Mind

While many people prefer a more rustic approach, there are also hundreds of amazing treehouse plans that you can access through the internet. Check out which offers plans for every size and shape of house and which also includes a shopping list for all the lumber and equipment you’ll need. A treehouse with some pizazz can actually increase your resale value if you decide to move house after the kids have grown and gone.

Level the Floor

Building a structure that’s off the ground is tough, but it’s important to get the platform completely level with the weight evenly distributed between the tree branches or the supports. You can do this by laying the beams across the branches or running the beams between multiple tree trunks and then shimming them until they are level. If you’re building around the base of one tree, you can level it using your supports. Treehouses can last a lifetime and you want to make sure you get the first step right or the rest of the build is going to be more difficult.

Build in Pieces

Rather than trying to construct your house up in the trees, consider building each section on the ground first and then hoisting it into position using a backhoe or a pulley system. Generally, the four walls and the roof can be built on the ground and then assembled when it's on the base. Measurement is key here because you want to be absolutely sure your treehouse fits when it is in place.

Keep the Tree Healthy

Building a treehouse can put a lot of strain on the tree itself and punctures will leave it more susceptible to disease. Use floating brackets to allow for flexible support so the tree can move and sway in the wind the way that it's supposed to. You can purchase specialty fasteners that are made specifically for treehouses that will do less damage and keep the house secure. Also, remember that trees grow and the size it is now will change in 10 or 20 years time. Don't build too tightly around it.

Remember the Extras

A treehouse is all about imagination, so don’t be afraid to get creative with some fun add-ons. A tire-swing, zip line, ladder, bridge, fold down seating, water cannon or a fireman’s pole are some of my favorites. Also, consider making a pulley system to help kids get toys, snacks, and games up to the treehouse so they can climb in and out as safely as possible.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.

Keep Woodpeckers Happy, Safe and Away From Your Siding

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week I received an email from a reader asking for my advice to help her stop a pesky woodpecker from drilling holes into the side of her house. It’s a problem that’s fairly common in our area, and one that should be dealt with quickly before a few holes become an unsightly, and expensive problem.

Woodpeckers are attracted to homes for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that they are looking for food and think a delicious meal could be hiding under wood shakes or siding. Another popular reason is that they are looking for places to build a nest, and a crevice or corner of your home might provide the perfect shelter. Finally, there is a behavior called drumming which woodpeckers engage in as a way to mark their territory or attract a potential mate. This action generally occurs during the spring, prior to breeding season.

Regardless of the reason, a woodpecker’s pecking is a nuisance, especially when it’s waking you up in the early morning hours and doing a number to your home. So how do you get rid of them? It’s important to know that woodpeckers are a federally protected bird, so by law, you should not engage in any activity to harm them. Plus, woodpeckers are very beneficial birds that feed on insects such as wood-boring ants and grubs. Luckily there are a few simple and inexpensive solutions that will work to keep them away from your property without causing them any harm.  

1.     Woodpeckers don’t like shiny, reflective objects so installing some aluminum flashing, metalized Mylar tape, small mirrors or even aluminum foil will deter them. You can find rolls of flash tape for less than $10 online or in your local hardware store.

2.     A scary eye balloon is a small inflatable ball that mimics the look of an owl, one of the woodpecker’s feared predators. By hanging this balloon on an awning, you can scare the little troublemakers away from the house and back to the trees where they belong.

3.     A similar tool that I’ve seen is an “attack spider” which is a ridiculous looking, battery operated spider the size of a plate that can be hung on an awning or ledge above where the woodpecker is doing damage. The spider is noise activated and will drop down after the first few taps, scaring the woodpecker away and out of sight.

4.     Netting is another popular solution that works because it doesn’t allow the birds to land in their desired area. Netting is a bit more expensive and will take some time to install, but it’s lightweight and made from plastic, which means it’s a bit more durable and will last through the seasons.  The experts recommend installing a ¾ inch net and placing it at least three inches from the house’s exterior surface.

5.     There are also a number of topical sprays and paints that can be used to deter woodpeckers which work similarly to nail biting or thumb sucking solutions. These products emit a signal that tells birds that the spot isn’t a good place to get comfortable without harming them.  

6.     Finally, if you have a decent size yard, you could set up a suet feeder. Woodpeckers love suet and if the one that’s damaging your home is looking for food, providing suet in a feeder away from the house will give them what they’re looking for without having to work for it.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Have you found a safe method to get rid of pesky woodpeckers? I’d love to learn more, so send me a message on Facebook at or drop me an email.