The Law of Timber Frame Home Design

Designing your new timber frame home is a journey of sorts. You’ll bring all the luggage you’ve gathered along the way. Homes you’ve seen on television shows, homes you’ve seen in magazines, homes you’ve driven past, homes you’ve lived in and visited…they’re all packed neatly away, waiting to be sorted and reviewed upon arrival at the design desk.

Interestingly enough, drawing timber frame house plans is not much different today than it was centuries ago. You decide how you live and you design your home to work around your lifestyle.

In 1852, American sculptor Horatio Greenough used the term “form follows function” as he was explaining the organic principles of architecture. Almost 50 years later, in 1896, architect Louis Sullivan wrote and article, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” and expanded on the concept. He actually wrote “form ever follows function” a more emphatic phrase. He was adamant that this was the “rule that shall permit no exception”.  He wrote:

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function.
This is the law.

Today we need remember that rule and to keep function at the forefront as we design our timber frame homes. The way you live, the things that make you comfortable, the necessary space to live with ease…these are the first things to consider as you lay out your new timber frame home.

So take time to think about how you live as you begin designing your new timber frame home. And remember Mr. Sullivan’s words “form ever follows function”.  Let your life direct the design of your home and always Build Boldly.

 

Energy Efficiency in Timber Frame Homes

Timber frame homes are beautiful, inspiring, charming, and all of the wonderful words that you can consider.  And, when properly designed and constructed, they are also amazingly energy efficient. This doesn’t happen by accident, but with intentional design and construction.

Designing for not only beauty, but also for energy efficiency, should be goals from the start.  You will need to consider size, style, orientation, daylighting, and all the other subtle ways that you can plan forward.  Make it known early in your design meetings that you want your home to be sustainable and to minimize energy usage.

Plan forward for energy efficient fixtures and appliances and to use energy efficient bulbs.  Don’t save money with inefficient appliances and windows.  They will cost you daily.

Structural Insulated Panels are the enclosure of choice for many timber frame companies.  Timber frame homes  and hybrid homes work well with panel systems. A tight home and a well insulated home don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but a well installed panel system covers it all.

We not only promote energy efficiency, but we live it.  Our own 1700 square foot timber frame home, with lots of windows and vaulted ceilings, uses only $2.34 per day ($835 for the year) in electricity.  We heat and cool with a heat pump and don’t have a fireplace or any auxiliary heat source.  We have an electric dryer and a dishwasher.

Last year our energy usage was $3.08 per day ($1,123 for the year).  We had a much colder winter, but we also made some common sense changes.   We don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full.  We hang some clothes out to dry.  Simple choices have saved us almost $300 per year.

So think forward.  Plan your home to save those energy dollars and to be comfortable.  Build a home you’ll love and whatever you do, Build Boldly!

 

 

Timber Frame Homes – Building Simpler, Smaller, Hybrid Homes

Timber Frame Homes should be the first option for everyone (in our humble opinion), but many see them as a more expensive option.  That doesn’t have to be the case. There are several paths to building more affordable timber frame homes.

  • Build Smaller – A smaller home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury or space.  It means you get rid of the excess area that you don’t use, don’t want to heat and cool, and don’t want to maintain.
  • Build Simpler – Corners cost.  This has been a construction truth for centuries. Looking back for centuries you’ll find simple, elegant structures that have few corners.  Complex roof lines increase the cost every step of the way.  Don’t give up style, work with textures (and timbers) to enhance your space inside and out. Change the ceiling heights to define space.  Don’t think you need lots of hips, valleys, and corners to build an amazing home.
  • Build Hybrid – Hybrid timber frame homes can be the perfect trade-0ff.  Fully timber frame the more public living spaces (great rooms, porches,etc) and use heavy timber rafters and trusses on walls built with structural insulated panels in the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens.  You save not only in the cost of the timber frame, but the space can be built out without working around posts and braces.  
As you design your new home, be sure to discuss these options with your team.  Making use of one or all of these options can be the difference in living in your dream home or settling for a stick-built home.   Designing and building your new home should be an adventure … a journey.  Making smart choices as you start will help you to build the timber frame home of your dreams … within your budget.
So, move forward, design and build your dream home, make wise choices, and live large!
And as you do this, remember to Build Boldly!  Visit with us to discuss designing and building your own dream home.
As always, I’m at your service.   Bonnie Pickartz
Goshen Timber Frame Hybrid HOme

Green Building – Timber Frame Homes

Green Building (grēn bild ing) noun

1)     The practice of increasing the efficiency of buildings and their use of energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

2)     Timber frames

I guess that says it all.  Timber frames were designed and built green long before building green became buzzwords.  Timbers are a renewable resource.  Enclosing timber frame homes with insulated panels ensure that the energy used to heat and cool them will be minimized.  That is a huge step in building green.

So if you are thinking about building a sustainable, energy efficient home, your best first step is to build an original green home … a timber frame.

 

The Lasting Value of a Timber Frame Home

You must have seen and admired pictures of timber framed homes. Maybe you’ve even visited someone that had one or wished that you could have such a unique home. Maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to have owned one.

The appeal of a timber framed home comes in many forms from the strength of their timbers to the elegance in which they all come together to form a hand crafted structure. Each home is unique to the owners that have had it built and is a testimony to the longevity and beauty of that structure. It has been crafted to last for many lifetimes, which is a feature that all can appreciate. That attribute still rings even in today’s world.

Timber framed homes have been around for hundreds of years. My home in the Bahamas is a timber framed home and is well over 100 years old. No small feat considering that it sits on a cay ( small island) of approximately 40 acres and has been through numerous hurricanes in its lifetime. Just this year we were hit by Hurricane Irene with winds over 140mph and true to her nature, she stood proud through another storm. Our home has all the original Roman numerals from the original builders of years gone by showing their hard work and dedication to their craft.  We have made changes and updates but the structure itself remains the same as when it was first built many years ago.

Homes like this, and in those in less hostile environments, have and will withstand the tests of time. A true testament to their strength and ability to withstand years of various owners and the forces that nature can throw at them. They have proven their lasting value and continue to do so even in our present throw away society. A timber framed home lives on for many generations to come and for many generations of different families.

Guest contributor Todd Vendituoli owns and runs Todd  Vendituoli Construction in W. Burke, Vt

 

Follow Todd on Twitter  @TALV58

Beautiful Timber Frame Videos

Sometimes you just have to step back and marvel at the beauty of a timber frame home.  When Neal and Pam started their timber frame journey, they had a vision….a vision of beautiful, elegant, rustic mountain homes that brought together strength and character of timber frames with the charm of the mountains of Western North Carolina.   To say that they succeeded would be an understatement.

The Pond and the Cottage are beautiful examples of timber frame homes.  They are both available for sale and for rent here in Franklin, North Carolina…just west of Asheville.

So today we’re sharing videos of these beautiful homes.  Walk through them and enjoy the beauty…it is certainly worth sharing.

Thank you for allowing us to share the beauty!

 

Timber Frame Homes – The Package

As you move forward in planning your timber frame home, you’ll likely look at timber frames from more than one company.  That’s the easy part.  Then you’ll begin to compare what you are purchasing from the company.

You’ll find that each company has a slightly (and sometimes drastically) different package.   And then you’ll find that many companies will sell a partial package and some companies will only work with you if they are providing all the items that their timber frame kit includes.

You should question what materials and services are included.  Some of the items that are necessary and may be included in your agreement with the timber frame company…or outsourced, either by you or by the company are:

Customer Service/Sales – You can work with a salesperson who will hand the project off to a designer at another location and the fabrication is handed off to yet another facility.  Or you can work with a company where the sales person is the customer service person and is the person who will be very hands on during the design, development, and completion of your home.   That person will have full responsibility for your new timber frame home, from soup to nuts.

Design – You’ll find some companies have designers on staff.  These designers can usually work with a plan from their portfolio, revising it as needed to make it work better for you, or they can custom design a home.    Other companies will work with a designer (either local or at a distance) or will send you to a designer or architect.  Email us for a look at a full set of builders plans that you can expect with a Goshen home.

Timber Frame – of course.

Decking – for the ceiling and loft, if called for in the design.

Insulated Panels – Panels can be used to wrap a timber frame or to be a structural part of a hybrid home.  What is the insulating material?  Polyurethane, expanded polystyrene, polyisocyanurate…and variations of these are most common.   Are the panels prefabricated?  Are they sheathed on both sides…or on one?  Do they have conduit and junction boxes built in (wherever you and your contractor/electrician specify) or do they just have chases for wiring?

Installation – Will the raising and panel installation be performed by their own crew, will they subcontract it, or will your contractor be responsible for this step?

Some companies have dealers/representatives who are contractors and you will purchase your package from them and they will complete the home.  While this may be an option for some, if you aren’t building where they are located, it may be problematic if they are subbing to a contractor who has never worked with timber frames and he/she is expected to raise and enclose your home. If you are working with a company who has no contractual ties to the contractor, you can be more selective in choosing your contractor and can make sure that they are a good fit for you…not just for the timber frame company.

Other companies will ship their package and you are own your own.  They will send a manual and your contractor will need to raise and enclose your home.

Some companies will send an experienced crew…the crew who has cut and/or pre-assembled your timber frame prior to delivery and who has installed insulated panels on their frames for years.

So..you can see that comparing apples to apples is not an easy thing to do.   On top of all these differences, you have to ask how they will communicate with you..telephone, online, mail, etc.

We definitely don’t want to discourage you, but we do want to encourage you to ask questions and consider your options.  At Goshen Timber Frames, we’ve created our entire process to be client-centric and to be flexible enough to allow for individual decisions.    While our three favorite words are plan, plan, plan, we also live by “the buck stops here”.

You can visit our new  FAQs  page for an overview of what a Goshen Timber Frames’ package includes.  And you can always give us a call at 828-524-8662 or drop me an bonnie@goshenframes.com, too.  We’re here to help.

 

Timber Frame House Plans – Goshen’s Newest CD

Planning your new timber frame home is a journey.  Seldom does someone look at one plan and say “that’s it”. Nor do they work with a designer or architect and get to the right plan in one step.

Your mission will be to develop a plan that will live well, serve you well, be efficient, and be beautiful.  That’s not a small task.  You’ll need all the help you can get to find just the right timber frame plan.  Some home plans will work in one way and others in another.

That’s where our latest plan book comes in.  The timber frame photos and timber frame home plans included will give you a place to start.  You can narrow down what you like and what doesn’t work for you.  Then you can begin to work toward the perfect home plan.  And the talented Goshen team is ready to work with you to design that perfect home.

Goshen’s CD has small home plans, large home plans, fully timber framed plans, and hybrid home plans.   You can peruse them at your leisure and print them to share with others.  (But remember they are all Goshen copyrighted plans, so don’t ask someone else to build them for you.)

Also included are three videos to show you how a timber frame comes together.  That’s an exciting day for most homeowners.

So drop us a note at plans@timberframemag.com and we’ll get a CD off to you.  Or, if you’d like, we’ll send you a download link to the files on the CD.

These plans are the perfect first step on your journey.

 

 

 

Questions to Ask About Timber Frame Plans

If you are ready to move forward with your new timber frame home, the first step will be developing your timber frame home plan.  You’ll be working with someone from the timber frame company you’ve chosen or with an independent designer or architect.   You’ll ask many of the same questions, but if you are working outside of a timber frame company, you do need to ask if the designer or architect has any heavy timber experience.  This can greatly affect the efficiency (and cost) of your new timber frame home.

Will you be working directly with the designer or will there be others involved? A team effort works well.  Each member of the team (and you are the key member of the team) brings insight and experience.  Do the designer and the rest of the team (the person who sold you the timber frame) work from the same location?  Can they easily exchange ideas and information?

Who will own the copyright to the plan? Typically the copyright will belong to the company who is doing the design and you will have the right to build the home once.  If you expect to own the copyright, this must be negotiated up front.

Can you build the timber frame with another company (if you are working with a design/build firm)?  This varies greatly across the industry. At Goshen Timber Frames, clients can take the design to another company once they have paid for the plan and the proper release is signed.  Some companies will not transfer the right to build.

If you are building from a distance, is the company prepared to provide you with electronic files, online meetings, and shared folders for you, your contractor, and any other suppliers?   This is critical to a smooth design process unless you live close to the designer/builder.

Can you purchase a plan at an online plan service and adapt it to work with timber frame construction?  The short answer is “yes”.  The long answer is that some plans work well and others don’t easily become timber frames.   If you do want to purchase a plan from outside the industry, work closely with your timber frame plan designer to determine whether the plan will work as a timber frame and how the timber frame will be incorporated into the plan.  It usually works better to work with a stock timber frame plan in that case.   Custom design is always an option and should be considered if you don’t find a plan that can be easily revised for you.

Will the plans meet your local building code?  The designer/architect should work closely with an engineer registered in your state to make sure that the plans will meet/exceed all applicable codes.  At Goshen, we work with an engineer who is registered in every state.  All Goshen timber frame designs are overseen by an engineer who is experienced in timber frame and structural insulated panel construction.

Will the design fee be hourly, a flat fee, or is it part of the timber frame package?  This is an important question.  Design fees can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

These are just a few of the questions that you should consider or ask as you move toward designing and building your timber frame home. We’ve developed our design/build process to work well for the homeowner.  At Goshen we believe in the team experience and understand the importance of making sure that the plans work for the individual. Communication is critical and the Goshen team excels in communication.

Just remember this home will be around for centuries and Build Boldly!