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The CI and the Side Hustle

Precision Media’s Brian Richards uses his professional talents to create a unique — and extremely successful — AirBnB destination.

Brian Richards, owner of Precision Media in Englewood, Colo., has owned the log cabin in nearby Idaho Springs for more than 20 years. Located next to a river and surrounded by a national forest, the property had everything a guest could want in a peaceful, get-away-from-it-all vacation. Everything, that is, except a luxurious adjoining treehouse.

That omission has been fixed.

Precision AV - Tree House - Side Hustle

“This is an absolute passion project of mine,” says Richards. “My wife and I have always loved treehouses and always wanted to have one. This property is my everything — I don’t golf, I don’t ski, I don’t do anything. This is what I do for fun. It does make a substantial amount of money, but the main reason why I Vrbo and AirBnB the cabin is the enjoyment I get out of seeing my guests have so much fun there. They all text me throughout their stay, and I love that interaction. Doing this treehouse took that experience to an exponential new level.”

Even if you never went inside the treehouse or cabin, the property has plenty to offer, with private hiking trails, a mountain stream with two creek patio spots for morning coffee and/or evening happy hours, metal detecting (it used to hold a gold mine), and an outdoor treasure hunt created by Richards. However, here the great indoors have plenty to offer, too.

The Great Escape

The treehouse was built completely from scratch and, with the complexities of building a house high above the ground, Richards turned to the pros. “I hired TreeCraft Design/Build to build it — that’s all they do,” he says. “We spent about 18 months going back and forth with the county and getting approvals. There were lots of renderings — we designed every square inch of that place. Much of the design involved working around the trees that were there because I didn’t want to cut down any tree if I didn’t have to. And I wanted the trees right up against it so you would feel like you were inside of a treehouse.”

Precision AV - Treehouse  - Side Hustle
The interior of the treehouse features its own escape room.

Richards was very clear on what he wanted from the space, including adding to the property’s second treasure hunt — an indoor escape room — that takes place in the cabin and now extends to the treehouse. “I wanted something that people could do year-round and that started within the cabin probably six or seven years ago,” he says. “This is something I work on all the time, and it is very elaborate. And given what I do for a living, we’ve created a pretty amazing experience with a lot of electronics involved.”

Richards has put so much thought into it that he baked clues straight into the construction process. “I’ve been thinking about this for years, and I loved building clues right into the construction because you can only do that once,” he says. “So, when I retile a floor, I build a clue into it — things like that. I was able to take that to a whole new level at the treehouse and building clues into its construction that you could never retrofit. I’ve got five clues up in there running right now that are very elaborate, and if you’re on one side of the room and you do something, then something magically opens on the other side of the room and there’re things hidden in places you would never know to look. That took all kinds of pre-wiring.

Precision Media - Treehouse - Exterior
To ensure visitors knew they were in a treehouse, great lengths were made to cut down as few trees as possible and leave them close to the structure.

“There’s a lot of technology in it. I’ve got a bunch of different Raspberry Pi’s and microcomputers running things. There’re Maglocks that you interact with and hidden Lutron keypads that electronically unlock boxes or doors in other areas of the house.”

The technology comes in handy because, unlike typical escape rooms that get trashed by guests in pursuit of the truth, the treehouse is being rented by the people playing the game, so it has to stay neat. “I have to make sure my clues are resettable by the guests,” says Richards. “On every clue it tells people to specifically put this back here, put this back there, and make sure the locks are reset.”

Non-Escape Tech

With all to do inside and out, the compound doesn’t have or need a home theater or elaborate automation system, but the expertise of Richards and Precision Media can be seen throughout — most obviously in the treehouse’s warm lighting design.

Precision Media - Treehouse - Bedroom Lighting
A combination of warm-dim lighting from DMF Lighting and accent lighting from Environmental Lights create the perfect ambiance for the all-wood interior.

“I’m incredibly passionate about lighting, and you can see that in this place,” says Richards. “DMF Lighting supplied the ceiling fixtures, which are all warm dim, which was key to the treehouse because everything is covered in luxurious wood — there’s no drywall in that place. It’s just so warm and rich with the wood colors that color of light brings out. All the ceiling lights are flangeless as well, so the wood is butted right up to the trim. DMF helped me with that part of the design.

Precision Media - Treehouse - Flangeless Lights
All the ceiling lights are flangeless, with the wood butted right up to the trim.

“Environmental Lights was brought in for all the linear lighting. There’s a ton of indirect lighting in that place, especially with all the uplighting — if there’s a shelf, it’s got lighting under it.”

Adding to the ambiance, the house is filled with candles — including surrounding the Sony 55A80J OLED — but a legion of different renters and open flames certainly don’t mix. And changing the batteries of dozens of electric candles also does not sound like an effective use of a service call. Richards has those problems covered.

“The candles are really cool, and not many people know about them,” he says. “They are a high-end hospitality product that I get from They’re 12-volt-driven candles and I had to run a wire for each one of them. They are run off Lutron 8ANS switches to switched outlets. They’re just a part of the ambiance of the space and they play a really big role. They never need batteries and they never go out because they’re all hardwired.”

Precision Media - Treehouse - Sony TV and Candles
Wired, electric candles flank the Sony 55A80J OLED television, which is flush to the wall.

The Sony TV is recessed into the wall, creating a unique look. “On those TVs, the middle of the unit is thick but the edge around it and the top is super thin,” he says. “I built a recessed niche in the wall so it sits a .25-inches off of the wood. The TV looks like a piece of paper.”

For audio, there are 8-inch rock speakers outside, and inside there are four Sonance VP82Rs and a Sonance Impact sub. The cabin has a similar setup. There’re similar speakers on the downstairs level and the upstairs level, as there are three levels to the treehouse. Guests can link to the sound system via Bluetooth.

The upstairs of treehouse has seven windows and four skylights, with two of them over the bed. And while looking up at the night sky may seem tranquil, “On a full-moon night up there, you’re lying in bed and that moon is coming through that skylight — it’s like the midday sun,” says Richards. “I’ve got tensioned Lutron shades on the skylights. The other windows also have Lutron shades. Those are all hardwired and we have a keypad on the wall to activate them.”

In such a remote location, cell service is scarce, but many of the reviews left by the renters rave about the strong Wi-Fi service throughout the treehouse and cabin. Richards’ secret? “Starlink. It’s amazing.” he says. “What a game-changer for that property. Once I got that Starlink connection, I could have cameras — outside only, no one wants the owner spying on them — and could control the lighting remotely. There was just so much I couldn’t do with the previous HughesNet setup.”

The Day Job

While it would seem that the treehouse would be an excellent showcase to demo Precision Media’s talents, Richards doesn’t use it for that — nor does he need to.

“I don’t know why I decided to do both these two things in the same year,” he says with a laugh, “but I also built a brand-new facility from the ground up for our company. New building, new warehouse, new full-blown experience center. It has every bell and whistle that we do in it.”

“Although, I definitely bring some customers up to the treehouse and cabin because I have great relationships with some clients that are also friends. Plus, all the rep firms we work with and even some of my competitor buddies that are in the business with me, I’ll bring up there.”

It is just as well that he doesn’t need to use the property as a showroom — he would never be able to get into it. “Even when it was just the cabin there, it was always booked out 300 days a year and I stayed up there around 40 days a year,” says Richards. “Maybe there was a total of 20 days where it wasn’t booked. Now, with the treehouse added — and charging significantly more — it is pretty much booked all the time.”

That packed schedule makes it tough for Richards to make enhancements to the treehouse…but not impossible. “Building a treehouse is not easy — I wouldn’t say that the county was enthusiastic about it,” he says. “But I was determined to have it look and feel like a real treehouse come hell or high water, and I’m not done yet. Another project we just completed is a net system under the treehouse. You can go through a trap door in the deck to get to this fancy play net underneath it.”

Precision Media - Treehouse - Trap Door
The open trap door that leads to the net playground beneath.
Precision Media - Treehouse - Play Net
The newest additiom to the treehouse — the playground net.

Ready to rent this place for yourself? Check out the Vrbo listing at, and hope there are some days still available. To learn more about Precision Media, visit