WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- As Ellen Psychas played with her five-year old daughter Nichola, she leaned out from the window of their blue treehouse to explain how they built it.
"We painted it to match our house, and we kept it open so that it will not attract anyone who wants to camp out up here," Psychas said.
"It's very popular with the kids in the neighborhood, and they like to come and play. We have a chalk board, and a gong, and a bell, and a tea party set, and a table. It's a lot of fun up here," said Psychas.
Before the Psychas' family built the treehouse five months ago, they said they went to get permits with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the Department of Transportation (DDOT), but no one seemed to know how to deal with it.
"There aren't any rules about treehouse, on the books, in the district. Some of the permitting officials we talked to thought it would be best categorized as playground equipment," said Psychas.
She said they left each interaction believing they did not need a specific permit, and they went ahead with construction.
Their daughters love the tiny castle, but for some it has little appeal.
The treehouse extends past the Psychas' property line, and some neighbors say it encroaches on what's supposed to be a public space.
"This is not because we hate treehouses. It's because we want a space that we can all enjoy and use," said one neighbor, Loraine Heckenberg.
The house sits on a historic street, Archibald Walk in Southeast. Neighbors said the treehouse disrupts the site's historic nature.
"If it had been built in the homeowner's yard, on their property, you know that's their business," Heckenberg said. "Unfortunately, that's not what happened here."
The area's Neighborhood Commissioner received a number of official complaints, from various neighbors, outlining their concerns.
The Psychas aren't planning to get rid of the treehouse anytime soon, but, in some ways, it's already out of their hands.
Last month, the city's Department of Transportation received a report about the treehouse. A spokesperson for the department told WUSA9, the Psychas' were told to submit an application to use the public space.
They did, and now, on January 28, the department's Public Space Committee will hold a public hearing to decide if the treehouse constitutes a permissible use of public space.
Psychas hopes, whatever happens, leads to some sort of regulatory change – so the next family, that decides to build a treehouse, knows exactly what's allowed.
"We would like the rules sorted out, and we would hope that Ward 6, and the City Council members will look at this issue. Because kids spend a lot of time inside these days, looking into screens and it would be nice if more kids were out – in the trees, enjoying treehouses," said Psychas.
Like this story? Like us on Facebook.