Timber Frames – A Responsible Choice

The three R’s in the decades old sustainable living code – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – can easily be extended to include another “R” or even two.  Making “responsible” choices is yet another step in the right direction.  Decisions we make daily impact much more than our daily walk.  Small decisions have long term benefits.  Decisions we make on a larger scale can bring both short term and long term benefits.

When we make responsible choices as we build, we protect the environment.  Timber frames (designed to fit the land and to be energy efficient, built with sustainable materials) make building responsibly much simpler than most building methods.

Reconsider is the 4th “R” .   This article  explains that wooden structures become storehouses of carbon.  The facts are there, it’s just up to us to make wise choices.

So whether the 3 R’s expand to include “Responsible” and “Reconsider” is up to you as you plan your new home.  A timber frame home will help you to move in the right direction and will serve you well.

 

 

 

Five Tips to Make Designing Your Timber Frame Stress Free – Almost

Designing your new home may seem intimidating.  And truthfully, it can be.  There are so many decisions, large and small, that will impact your life.  We’ll look at some of the most important decisions.  Once these decisions are made, you can move on to less stressful decisions.

  1. Your home needs to work with the local vernacular.  It shouldn’t be a cookie cutter replica. It should complement the other homes in the area, but definitely not be identical.  The contrasts should lend to it’s individuality.   Not only will this keep your neighbors happy, it will help maintain the value of your home.  No rambling brick rancher belongs in an area of lodge-style or craftsman-style homes.  The neighborhood should have character and a variety, but don’t go too far afield.
  2. Choose a style that makes you happy.  An aesthetically pleasing home will make you smile each time you arrive home.
  3. Your home should “live” exactly as you live (your rooms should fit your lifestyle).   If you enjoy the outdoors, be sure to incorporate porches and decks.  If you need quiet space, an away room, office, or a small nook that will let you sit quietly is important.  If you are a gourmet cook…or just enjoy cooking…you won’t be happy with a small basic kitchen.  Think about how and where you spend your time when you’re home.  Design for you…not for the Jones or a trend you’ve seen in a magazine.
  4. Work with a designer or architect who will listen.  Even if you are revising a stock plan, at the end of the day, it should reflect your tastes.  Architects and designers have skills far beyond the average homeowner.  They know what works and what doesn’t, but they should help you to develop your plan to work for you.  Don’t get lost in the process.
  5. Make a list of the most important elements you want to include.  Keep it short and specific.  This is a “choosing your battles” type of decision.   If these items are important, be willing to give on other components that make these key elements work for the design and the budget.  You may need to downsize to keep a complex roof line that you find charming.  Or you may need to have a smaller home so you can spend more money on your outdoor living spaces.  Try to keep the list short and be flexible on less important (to you) items.

So build, build boldly and design with your heart and your head.

Thank you for letting us share our tips with you, Bonnie Pickartz.

 

Building Timber Frames – First Steps

When building your timber frame home, it’s important that you consider your site first and foremost. Your land will define your timber frame. From looking for land to evaluating a site, there is no step more critical to your building process.

Several years ago a guide called “The Mountain Home Guide” was published.  We felt that it was important enough to post permanently on the Internet and maintain the site where you can read it or download the PDF version to read off line.  This little booklet offers insight into the steps you should take when considering a piece of property.  While it was written for the mountains, most of the information works no matter where you’re building. 

Timber frames are meant to sit lightly on the land.  Because they are sustainable and energy efficient, they are the perfect choice for a home that will last for generations.  If you chose the land for your site wisely, you will be well served.

The Mountain Home Guide offers common sense advice on many of the key decisions you’ll make as you buy and develop your homesite.  We offer it as important reading you’ll need to do before you purchase your land and as you move forward.

And wherever you build, remember to Build Boldly!

 

7 Ways to Enjoy Your Home This Summer

Summer is almost here and you’ll want to make the best of the all the season has to offer.  I’m sure you’re well past your spring cleaning and want to be proactive about getting outside and about bringing the outside in, so we’ve brought together a few suggestions that will help you to make your summer more enjoyable…whether you live in a timber frame home or not.

1)  Hang a bird feeder and keep it filled.  The hummingbirds are especially fun to watch.

2)  Clean and repair your outdoor furniture.  A little paint (maybe in a new color) and some new (or recovered) cushions will give your outdoor space a great new look.

Timber Frame Porch

3)  Adding a clothesline will allow you to reminisce and to have the sweetest smelling linens imaginable. Not only will you save money, but you’ll enjoy the time spent hanging out the laundry.

4)  Put a chair and table or a glider in your garden. Tuck it into a quiet spot and make it your quiet place.  Take a book and retreat to your own spot when life is hectic.

5)  Add some new lighting and sound to your outdoor space.   Some soft lights and a speaker or two will make you want to stay outside longer. Look at some of the solar lighting options at your local home store.

6)  Rearrange your furniture to take advantage of the views to the outside.   The fireplace was a great focal point during the gray winter months, but the explosion of green and color gives you a ringside seat as nature paints the outdoors.

7) Consider adding an outdoor room.  Of course, a timber frame makes a wonderful outdoor addition.  That’s a shameless plug for Goshen Timber Frames , but a great way to enhance your outdoor space.

So step back and leave behind the winter. Step into summer with the intention of enjoying every day. Slow down, take a deep breath, and relax.

 

Five Steps in Choosing a Timber Frame Company

As you begin the design/build process, you’ll talk to one or more timber frame companies about building your timber frame home.  How those conversations go will often determine which company you work with as you move forward.   If you..or they…aren’t asking the right questions, you could miss an opportunity to work with a great company or you might end up with a company that might not work well with you.

1)  Educate yourself.  Your initial meetings will go much further if you’ve spent some time on the Internet educating yourself about the timber frame building process, styles of timber frames, and the difference between timber frames, log homes, and conventionally framed homes.  This will help you to better understand their answers in the “timber frame” context.

2)  Narrow down the companies you want to consider to two or three.   You might send off an exploratory email or make a call to a few more to help you narrow down your choices.  There are great timber frame companies all across the country.  Each one has their own “package” and business model.  The differences may be subtle or blatant, but if you look at too many, you’ll only be confused, not better served.

3)  Don’t be intimidated or insulted if they ask about your budget somewhere in the early conversations.  They aren’t doing you a favor by making you think you can build more home than you can afford.  Be frank and be willing to listen to them when they tell you that you can build within your budget, but you’ll need to make some tough decisions if you are trying to build more home than the budget will sustain.   However, if their focus seems to be on your budget and time frame and not on you and your project, you might want to think twice.

4)  Build with someone you would like if you met them outside of the timber frame context.  Designing and building a home can be stressful.  If you are working with someone that you can communicate with on a very personal level, then you are ahead of the game.

5)  Make sure that they have a system in place to share plans and work in progress with you and your builder.  Whether it is by emailing PDF files to you as updates are made or having web meetings or phone calls, determine what works for you and go with a company that is can keep things moving forward easily.

All of that said, just move forward confidently and when you build…build boldly…Bonnie Pickartz

The Timber Frame Style

Timber frame homes come in every shape and size.  There is no typical plan, no perfect style, no maximum or minimum size.  Your home should be a reflection of you and the way you live.

What do you think of when you imagine the perfect home?  Is it stylish and edgy, comfortable and charming, grand and majestic, or traditional and time-honored?  Are you building a home for a young family with room to grow?  Is it a retirement home?  Will it be a vacation home?  Do you work from home, entertain, or cocoon?  This is the function end of the home design equation.

Timber Frame Kitchen

Architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase ” form ever follows function” in 1896.  It has been pared down to the simpler “form follows function”. While it can be interpreted that “style” doesn’t matter at all, it can also be a great starting place and the style of the home can be adapted to the use.

Find a style that appeals to you and design your home in that style.  It might be a farmhouse or a tudor, a cottage or a cape cod.  If you envision a rambling ranch, with all your living space on one floor, maybe brick with shutters, go for it.  Timber frames offer all of the above and more.

Your site will tell you what the footprint should be.  If you’re on flat land, it may be hard (or impossible) to have a daylight basement.  If you’re on the side of a mountain, you may not want to spread that footprint out too far.

So don’t think limitations, think no boundaries and design your new timber frame home to be the most amazing home you’ve ever had.  And live long and well in your new home,  enjoying the choices you made and smiling when you drive up each time.

And when you build, build boldly…Bonnie Pickartz

 

Top Seven Design Trends in Timber Frame Homes

Timber frame homes offer so much flexibility that you’d think it would be hard to select which design features are the most requested.  But that’s not the case.  We  see several design options requested in almost every home.  Many of these requests are what draw homeowners to timber frames in the first place.
  1. Smaller Homes – We have had more requests for smaller, manageable space in recent years.  The smaller home costs less to build, less to heat and cool, less to maintain long term.  Some people are drawn to a more “human” scale that a smaller timber frame home offers.  Whether this trend is driven by economy or by a wish to have less home to maintain,  I believe it’s a trend that is here to stay.
  2. Flexible Living – Timber frames are a natural for this option.  Life is full of surprises. Flexibility allows you to adjust your space accordingly.  A timber frame typically has no bearing walls, so adding a door, moving or removing a wall is an easy option.
  3. Energy Efficiency –  Energy costs continue to soar, so most homeowners are looking for some insurance, in the form of an energy efficient home, to help them keep the costs in check.  A timber frame home, wrapped in energy efficient structural insulated panels, will help to keep those costs in line…long term.
  4. Accessible Design – Wider doorways, room to navigate with a wheelchair, limited hallways, and living space on one floor are options that are always discussed early in the design process.  Often homeowners opt for having a bedroom suite on the second floor for now, but plan to move downstairs when and if navigating stairs is a problem.  Elevators, either installed as the home is built or in space planned in the original design for installation later are becoming a standard design discussion item.
  5. Open Kitchens and Dining Space – A look back at large country kitchens where families gathered at day’s end give insight into today’s kitchen and dining area design.   Kitchens are no longer tucked in the back of the house, accessible only by a closed doorway.  Dining rooms are seldom designed as separate formal spaces.
  6. Outdoor Living Spaces – Whether this means a great porch that expands the indoor living spaces through the seasons, a screen porch for dining sans-bugs, or a pavilion with an outdoor fireplace or kitchen, timber frames make living outdoors an easy option.
  7. Earth Friendly and Natural – Timber is a naturally renewable resource that is minimally processed and requires almost no maintenance.   Natural wood floorings and wool rugs are a natural for timber frames.  Wall to wall carpet is still an option in certain areas, but there are very few requests for it in great rooms and more public living areas.  Natural stone for flooring and showers and low and no VOC paints and finishes top the lists of specifications that will help everyone breathe easier and live more comfortably.
So plan your home to help you live well and when you build, Build Boldly!
Bonnie Pickartz

Timber Frame Porches – A Nice Addition

Sometimes you just need to give your home a facelift to make it look and feel new again. A timber frame porch will create a fresh look for any home. The timber frame can be designed to compliment the existing design and will definitely bring new definition to your home.

Timber Frame Porch

Timber frame porches can be designed as new entrances, as sitting porches, screen porches, or even outdoor living spaces (attached or separate from your home). Wherever the timber frame addition resides, it will add grace and character to your existing home.

You can take a 70’s ranch style home to new heights with a nice porch, create additional living space with a spacious back porch, or add a sunroom that will serve you year round. The timber frame should be designed to accent the attributes of your home that deserve to be highlighted…and to hide those dated…not so pretty…spaces.

Porches should be built with a wood that is naturally resistant to rot and insect damage. This will ensure that the porch will last a long time and won’t need a lot of maintenance.

A timber  frame porch makes a nice addition to a home, a church, or a business.  They can replace a dated or damaged structure and breathe new life into the building and can lift the heart of all who approach.

Your timber frame plans will help you define the porch or addition.  The existing roof-line and wall heights will be considered, as will the roof pitch and the use of the porch.  All of these things will determine the size and style of the porch.  At the end of the day, the porch should look like it was part of the original structure.

The photos shown here are examples of porches added (or in case of the church porch replaced on an historic timber framed church) to existing homes.  They brought new life to older homes and added style that couldn’t be achieved with conventionally framed porches.

Church PorchSo step back and look at your house with a critical eye and picture it with a new porch addition.  Sometimes something as small as a porch can bring your home to life.  And a timber frame porch will add value to your home or business.

The folks at Goshen Timber Frames will be pleased to help you as you create a new look for your own home.

And whatever you build, Build Boldly…Bonnie Pickartz.

Which Comes First – The Timber Frame or the Home Plan?

Timber frames come in many shapes and forms and fashions. They can be complex or simple, heavy or graceful (or both), and they can be a focal point or a subtle background. Timber frames are structure. They are designed to support and their beauty is an extra perk.

While you have some flexibility in choosing the timber frame design for your new home, form should always follow function and the frame should be designed to work perfectly with your floor plan. Instead of trying to force the frame to work with the floor plan, focus on the details and on how the frame enhances the space.

Your timber frame home plan should begin with a some basics. The style of your new home, be it lodge, craftsman, or traditional (or one of many, many more styles), and the space are the two elements that you should design around. And, another critical element…your budget.

If you want a single story ranch, your options are wide open for hammerbeam bents. However, if you want a story and a half home with open lofts and living space upstairs, your open area will need to be sized to accommodate a hammerbeam without overwhelming the space if a hammerbeam is critical.

Your timber frame designer should be flexible enough to help you achieve the look you want and tough enough to say “that won’t work” when confronted with apples and oranges in the timber frame/floor plan design.

Can you take a timber frame and build a home around it? Of course, but your space will be defined by the timber frame. This isn’t all together bad, but there are limitations.

So, think carefully as you design and build your new home. Remember that a little flexibility can go a long way in designing the home of your dreams.

And always, always Build Boldly… Bonnie Pickartz

Building Timber Frames – A Homeowner’s Experience

Goshen Timber Frames has the most amazing clients.  They love timber frames and enjoy sharing their homes.  Sometimes they go further and share their building projects…from soup to nuts.

John and Janice have blogged their hybrid timber frame project  here in Western North Carolina at http://www.buildingourtimberframe.com/sutton .  They are “hands on homeowners”, working evenings, days off, and weekends to build their home.  They subcontracted some of the work, but did much themselves.

Their timber frame is on a small footprint, but it’s a charming home.   You can look at their timber frame plan .  It’s compact and loaded with character, from the poplar bark siding as you come up to the door to the stained concrete basement floor.  What a wonderful timber frame home!

So check out their blog and let us know if you’d like to visit their new home.  Just give me a call at 828-524-8662  Bonnie Pickartz.

And however you build, follow John and Janice and Build Boldly!