Raising a Timber Frame Home

Raising a Timber Frame Home

Things may have changed over the centuries, but not much.  Today we have cranes instead of horses and men to do the heavy lifting, but raising a timber frame home is still a wonderful experience.  Watch our crew on this raising a few years ago and experience the excitement.

Designing and building a timber frame home is a journey and it all comes together when the bents swing into the air and are secured one to another.  The raising begins with the crew assembling each bent with pegs and ends when the last timber is secured.  Handcrafting a timber frame is a time consuming and arduous task, but the reward is great.  These final hours when the frame is raised are breathtaking and remind us why we build in this manner.  A home that is built with heavy timber using traditional joinery will stand the test of time.

If you’d like to visit a raising, drop us a note.  We’ll let you know when our next raising will take place.  We’d be pleased to have you join us.

In the meantime, we’re here to help you design and build your timber frame home.  And when you build, Build Boldly.

 

Designing Your Timber Frame Home – Around a Special Piece

Designing your timber frame home can be a challenge, especially if you have a special piece that needs that perfect space. As long as you plan ahead, a long-loved treasure can be showcased in your new home. With some time and patience, the perfect design can be brought together.goshen timber frames - custom design

Goshen clients Dale and Susan worked closely with designer Bobby Johns to make sure that Dale’s theater organ was well placed.  It “lives” in a niche created by heavy timber posts, anchoring the living area.  Speakers are mounted behind sidewalls, out of the way, but perfect for the sounds from this wonderful piece.

Whether it’s a family antique, the perfect piece you found years ago and have moved from home to home, a great sculpture or painting,  or a new addition to your collection, it should have a special place in your new home.  Timbers can be carefully arranged to highlight the features you love best.  Wall heights can be easily adjusted to make room for that extra tall cabinet.

So, don’t leave it behind.  Make it shine in your new home.  Design it in and love it where it sits.  Build, and always Build Boldly!

 

 

 

 

To Buy or Build a Timber Frame Home

You’re ready to move. You’re ready to retire. You want to downsize.  You want to upsize. You want to relocate. You want a timber frame home, have always wanted a timber frame, have spent hours looking at timber frame homes on the Internet. You start looking for just the right plan and start talking to timber frame companies, but there is still that nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, you should buy a new home instead of build one.

Buy or build timber frame homes - by Bonnie Pickartz

Aside from the fact that there are few, if any, timber frame homes on the market in any given area, you may still wonder if it’s an option. Though the dynamic is changing rapidly, for the past few years, it’s been less expensive to buy than to build a new home. Land and home prices were down and there seemed a glut of homes available. Timber frames have always been a small part of a very large market, so while there were a few post and beam homes available, they never quite came down in price like stick-built homes did.

So, let’s think about the differences.

Pros to buying an existing home:

  1.  You won’t have the aggravation of planning and building your own home.
  2.  You may save money and time.
  3.  The site will probably be developed and landscaped.

Pros for designing and building a new home.

  1.  You’ll plan and build your own home exactly as you want it.
  2.  You can choose the area, land, and neighborhood that suits you.
  3.  You can sometimes build smaller since you are designing to fit your own lifestyle.

Sounds like a toss up, doesn’t it? If you can find the right home in the right place, it’s probably a good bet that you’ll save money buying it instead of building. But if you find a less than perfect house or the right house in the wrong area and you buy it, you’ll never be quite as happy with it as you’d think. And the money you saved might not make up for the difference.

Building a home is not for everyone. It can be tedious and scary. It can be exciting and rewarding. Some people enjoy it so much they want to build another one and others are pleased when the project is completed. So, don’t rule out buying a timber frame home…and don’t buy if in your heart you really want to build.  Just go forward boldly and live well in a timber frame.

Yes, we built our timber frame home and would do it again if it weren’t just what we wanted.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.  Thanks for letting me share my thoughts, Bonnie Pickartz.

Cost to Build a Timber Frame House

What does it cost to build a 2000 square foot timber frame house?   I guess there are two extreme answers…”not much” or “all you’ve got”.   And both are accurate answers to that question.

A timber frame doesn’t cost 20-30% more to build than any other custom home because the final number depends on so many other factors.  It may cost a little more, but those costs are offset by removing tray ceilings, crown molding, and other details that aren’t needed to make a timber frame special.

Houses, even timber frame homes, come in all different configurations.  Let’s consider some options:

Floor Space – That 2000 square feet can be divided into three floors (lower level, first floor, second floor/loft).  The 2000 square feet can become a variation of a rambling ranch.  The 2000 square feet can be on the first and second levels.

Roof Lines –  You can have a straight gable roof, a hipped roof, a roof with reverse gables and valleys, and everything else utilizing these “standard” roofs.

Timber – Timber can be green (most common), kiln-dried, air-dried.  It can be pine, douglas fir, oak, cedar.  It can even be reclaimed timber.

Site – Is it flat?  Is it steep?  Is it heavily wooded?  Is it rural and hard to get to?

Decks/Porches – Lots of decks and porches?  Enclosed?  Screened?

Fireplace(s) – One…more.  Masonry? Inserts? Rock, brick, or cultured stone?

Roofing – Asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, standing seam, metal?

You can see where I’m going here and we haven’t even touched on the interior appliances, fixtures, and finishes.  The possibilities to spend … and to save … money are endless.  At the end of the day, the cost of that 2000  square foot timber frame home will run between $300,000 and $800,000.  We’ve seen 2000 square foot homes built everywhere in that range.

Cost per square foot?  It’s smoke and mirrors.  Which square foot are you talking about?  The kitchen?  The entry?  The bedroom?  The real cost to build a timber frame house is calculated by the “cost to construct”.  It’s a real number reached by working as a team to identify all the components as closely as possible.  That team can start with you and your timber frame company’s design team and once preliminary drawings are in place, grow to include your contractor and any pertinent tradesmen.

So, next time someone tells you that you can build for X$ per square foot, ask them “which square foot?” and see what answer you get.  In the meantime, start your process to design and build your new timber frame home with an appropriate budget and work with people who have been through the process to develop plans that work with that budget.  You may not get everything you want…or you may get more.   But the cost to build your timber frame home will be much smoother as you work through the process.

The truth is, there is no easy, fill in the blank answer to the question…”What will it cost to build a timber frame house?”…, but there is an answer to what it will take to build YOUR timber frame home and that answer takes some work and investment on both your part and the part of your design/build team.

Give me a call at 828-524-8662 or drop me an email if I can help you plan your timber frame home, Bonnie Pickartz,  Goshen Timber Frames

 

 

 

Energy Costs in Timber Frame Homes

Energy costs in timber frame homes has always been one of the items we bring to the table when we discuss the advantages of timber frames.  The cost to heat and cool a home that’s wrapped in structural insulated panels is typically low.   As we designed our home, we wanted plenty of natural light, but understand all too well that windows are the least efficient wall space.  However, our utility bills continue to please us.

We heat and cool our house with electricity.  Propane to cook and for the tankless water heater runs less than $100 a year.  In the past twelve months, our electricity has cost less than $886. While we watch our usage, we comfortable and don’t live in a dark, cold home.  Even with an abundance of windows, our costs average $2.41 per day for electricity.  Timber frame homes offer these economies naturally.Bonnie Pickartz Electric Costs in Timber Frame Homes

As we discuss designing homes with our clients, we consider daylighting, air flow, and overhangs to be an important part of the design process.  Homes shouldn’t only be beautiful, they should be comfortable and efficient.  We bring this altogether in the final design.

Energy costs will continue to rise, so it is always important to consider ways to make homes more efficient. This alone will minimize the money spent in the future to heat and cool a home.  Adding a well insulated envelope to the items on your wish list in your new home is the most effective way to save money long term.  Today we can’t stress the importance of this too much.  Save money…daily.

So, consider your options, and when you build…build boldly!

BonniePickartzSnow

 

 

Designing and Building Timber Frame Homes – Beginning the Journey

Even with cold temperatures daily, many thoughts are turning to designing and building a new home when weather warms up. Hopefully, if this is the case, you’ve done some homework and are working with someone already. If not, it’s time to get your thoughts in order and start the process.raising timber frame homes by bonnie pickartz

Below are a few tips for jump starting your journey to design and build your home.

  • Couples should sit down together and talk about the type, size, and style that you’d line to build…and your budget…come to an agreement on the budget.
  • Spend some time online and looking at books to get a feel for both the interior and exterior style that you find most appealing. Bookmark these photos or scan them in and save the images in a “new home” folder.
  • Make a list of the items that “must” be included and a list “wants”. Find a commonality for these lists and make this your starting place for design.
  • Define the space and how you’ll use it.
  • Contact two or three companies that communicate their services and homes well. The Internet is a great resource here. Visit websites and see how much information they share and how you relate to it.
  • Discuss their design and build process and find out how they work with their clients through this process.
  • Jump in with both feet. This process isn’t something that you should wade into with fear and trepidation, its a process that should be fun and exciting and something that you’ll look back on with a smile.

Timber Frame Homes – Tips for Choosing a Contractor

Choosing a contractor to help build your new timber frame can be an intimidating undertaking. You wonder if you should be concerned if they’ve never worked with a timber frame before. Will they charge more because they are on a learning curve and are working in, for them, uncharted territory? How well will they work with your timber frame company? The questions just keep coming.

Step back and take a deep breath. Don’t let this be a defining moment in your timber frame journey. Ask a few questions and narrow down your choices. Ask your timber frame advocate (oh, yes, your timber frame company should be your advocate) to answer any questions the builder might have. The timber framer can take the mystery out of the process for the builder.

  • Have you built a timber frame before? Most builders haven’t, but they should be excited about adding this to their list of skills. Look for a certain amount of enthusiasm in their response. The “well, we put some beams in the ceiling and it looks the same” answer is a sure reason to walk away.
  • Will your subcontractors be open to non-traditional options for HVAC ductwork and wiring? Timber frames don’t have attic spaces, so the ductwork can be a challenge. Sometimes they have to think outside the box. Your timber frame designer can help guide them and can make changes to accommodate their requirements if needed.
  • How will they communicate with you and with the timber framer? Are they open to meeting online, emails, exchanging files electronically, as well as phone calls? Since it’s unlikely that your timber framer is local, communication is an important part of the process.

Your timber frame company should be willing to help you interview contractors. Whether done long distance or in a day of meetings, this can be a valuable piece of the puzzle. It brings everyone to the table before there are tough questions and sets the tone of the project as a team effort.

Choosing the right contractor will make your timber frame journey a pleasant and fun experience. Building is, by nature, stressful and having a team that communicates well and brings a sense of excitement to the project is key.

So move forward, build and Build Boldly.

And give us a call at 828-524-8662, visit our site at Goshen Timber Frames or drop us an email if we can help in any way!

By Bonnie Pickartz

 

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.