J.K. Rowling's $400,000 Harry Potter tree houses

Plans are underway for a twin set of Hogwarts-inspired play centers in the billionaire author's backyard. A few neighbors find the proposal less than magical

J.K. Rowling
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Every kid wants a tree house. And when your mom is J.K. Rowling, sometimes you get exactly what you want. The imaginative author behind the Harry Potter empire is using a small chunk of her $1 billion fortune to build not one, but two Hogwarts-style tree houses for her two young children, despite her neighbors' protests. Here, a concise guide to Rowling's latest fantastical project:

What will the tree houses look like?

The plan is to build a set of 40-foot-high, two-story tree houses on the grounds of her 17th-century mansion, which is tucked away in a suburb of Edinburgh. One tree house will be for her son David, 9, and one will be for Kenzie, 7. While the tree houses won't actually sit in trees, they'll be built on tall stilts in the garden, says Britain's the Guardian. Drawings submitted to city planners show "tall cedar shingle conical roofs" that will be connected by elevated walkways and a rope bridge. The buildings themselves will feature "turreted windows, pennants, a basket and pulley, and an owl perch." David's will include a fireman's pole and a long tunnel under a walkway, while his sister's will have a trapdoor, rope ladder, and a metal slide. (See computer-generated renderings here.)

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Why are neighbors protesting?

Worried neighbors object to the structures because they "might be seen from the road and affect the neighborhood's landscape," says Julie Miller at Vanity Fair. Local council members urged their leaders to reject the construction proposal, calling the "massive and very high tree house development… quite out of character with the area and unacceptable." But in the end, Rowling has been granted permission to begin construction.

How much will it cost?

The project will cost Rowling around £250,000, or close to $400,000. But the twin tree houses will hardly be the first construction project undertaken by the best-selling author. Last year, Rowling was granted permission to raze a £1 million home next door to hers so she could expand her garden. More recently, she was granted approval to build a summer home closely resembling the stone hut the oafish character Hagrid lived in. Now that she has the city's blessing to proceed, Rowling should "expect a spectacular Mother's Day brunch next year," says Koa Beck at Mommyish, "followed by 365 days of very, very well-behaved kiddies."

Sources: Daily Mail, Guardian, Mommyish, Vanity Fair

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