Green Building Notes – The Materials in Your Timber Frame Home

Choosing the materials you will use in building and finishing your timber frame home will be a critical next step. Using high quality, environmentally responsible materials is key to building a green home.  Sustainability, energy efficiency, and the impact of the products you use on the health of the homes occupants are the key elements in building your new home.

High performance products that are produced by companies committed to the environment have been and continue to be developed.  Building with regional materials is a responsible way to build with lower embodied energy.  Products that have increased durability and reduced maintenance will continue to pay off long term. Energy efficiency is important in all decisions from appliances to windows.  Be sure to use Energy Star rated components whenever possible.

As a client of Goshen Timber Frames, you will choose to build a home that is either a timber framed home wrapped in R-24 wall and R-40 polyurethane structural insulated panels, a hybrid home consisting of some timber framed areas and other areas built with the same structural insulated panels with timber roof support, or a panelized home built with structural insulated panels with timber roof support. Any of these options have given you a head start on building your home in a green, responsible fashion.

Explore the options for finishing your new home carefully.  Take your time in making these decisions.   Even when you are looking for a cost effective option, you will have many choices.

*  Durability is key to the materials and products you use.  Durable products are less likely to end up in the landfill in a few years.  The manufacturing process is very energy intensive.  The more durable, longer lasting a product is and the less maintenance it requires, the more energy it saves.

*  Gather samples so you can compare the color and quality of your choices.

* While it is comforting to buy from companies with a responsible track record and with names that we’ve heard for years, don’t rule out a newer company who is offering a product that is comparable and is getting good reviews.

*  Buying a product that is available regionally can help keep your project timeline on target.  Waiting for a special order product that has to be shipped from another country or region can cause delays.  Transportation is costly and polluting.  Locally or regionally produced materials save money and are more environmentally responsible.

*  Keep in mind the long term maintenance and longevity of the products you choose.  No matter how much you like a product, research how much time and money will be required to keep it looking good.  Will the product need to be replaced in a few years?  Will the maintenance be a drain on time and resources.

*  Recycled and salvaged building materials can add charm to your home and reduce landfill use.  Sacrificing energy and water efficiency by reusing windows and plumbing fixtures isn’t a good idea, but interior doors, moldings, cabinets, hardware, and lumber are all good choices.

*  High efficiency heating and cooling equipment, properly sized for your home and insulation values, save money and produce less pollution.  Mechanical ventilation is necessary in today’s tight homes.  Energy or heat recovery ventilators will ensure healthy indoor air.

*  Water efficient plumbing fixtures (water conserving showerheads, toilets, and faucets) save water and reduce the demand on septic systems and sewage systems.  Reducing water usage saves on the water system and reduces energy costs to heat the water.

*  Listen carefully to your own voice as you make decisions.  The input of the professionals is critical, but you and your family will live in your home.  Accept their suggestions and advice, but use only what works for you and your family.

The above items are the big picture.   The harder decisions will be smaller, more detailed, but every bit as critical to building a sustainable, energy efficient home.  Your home as a whole is the end result of many, many smaller pieces.   We will start defining energy efficient and sustainable building products early in the design/build process and will be available to help you evaluate your choices.

Building a sustainable, energy efficient timber frame home doesn’t have to be difficult and isn’t rocket science.  Just spend the time and energy necessary to make good choices and you’ll end up with a home built for generations.

And when you build…don’t forget to build boldly.

Timber Frames with SIPS and Energy Efficiency

The very first step in building a sustainable, energy efficient home is to make sure that you have a well insulated shell.  Timber frames and hybrid timber frame homes when enclosed with structural insulated panels are a great beginning.

R-values don’t tell the whole story.  If a wall has a high R-value and isn’t sealed properly, the efficiency is lost.  With most insulated panels thermal breaks are minimized and there should be no leakage.  Windows aren’t as efficient as walls, but proper sealing will minimize the loss of hot and cold air seasonally.

As you plan your new timber frame,  look at the different enclosure options.  At Goshen we enclose all of our homes (and build the hybrid portion of our hybrid timber frames) with polyurethane core structural insulated panels.  They go up quickly, wrapping the home in an energy efficient shell, and offer maximum R-values per inch of thickness.

With an R-40 roof and R-24 walls, we are seeing minimal cooling and heating bills in all of our homes.  Our personal energy bill for the month of July is posted on our Building A Timber Frame Blog .  We didn’t take extraordinary steps to minimize the utility bill,  kept the house at a comfortable temperature, and have been pleased with what we’ve had to spend to heat and cool.

For a look at a hybrid timber frame home raised and enclosed in insulated panels, check out this video by Rick and Debbie in Dahlonega, Georgia. They will soon be moving into

their new home and expect excellent performance from their panels (and exceptional beauty from their timber frame home). I’m sure they won’t be disappointed on either account.

So, do your research and build an energy efficient home and enjoy the benefits for many, many years.

Green Building Notes – Designing Your Timber Frame

The design of your timber frame home will determine how well you live in it and how much you enjoy it.  Size does matter and with careful planning, a smaller home can provide more appropriate and more liveable space than a much larger home.  There is much to be said of the “human scale”.  We all live more comfortably in space that fits our scale.

The style of your new home will be your next critical decision.   The style should fit with the local vernacular.   It should look and feel like it belongs in the area.  If you are building in an area of eclectic  homes, many styles built over many years, you have lots of options.  If you are building in an area where the homes are more similar than dissimilar, think about a home that will blend in.  Mistakes, such as building a log home in an area of very traditional homes,  will decrease the value of your home.   Keep colors and finishes in mind as you work on the design of your home.  While we each want our homes to be unique and charming, we don’t want to own the home that everyone means when they say “oh, yes, that house”. Timeless architecture will serve you much better than a trendy style.   By building a home with fewer corners and using simple geometry you maximize your budget and minimize building materials.

The size of your home should be determined by the needs of your family.  If your family visits twice a year and there are sixteen people in your home for three days, do you need to build to accomodate sixteen people for the other three hundred and forty six days of the year?  A timber frame, hybrid, or panelized home will feel larger than a conventionally framed or modular home.  There are fewer structural wall requirements, fewer halls, higher ceilings with more volume.  Open spaces accomodate groups of people more easily than smaller, enclosed rooms.  Think seriously about the long term issues of energy usage and maintenance and about the shorter term costs to build and the extra materials required to construct your home.  Smaller requires fewer resources to build and fewer resources to maintain.  Careful planning as you design your home will pay off long term.

Energy efficiency will be designed into your home.  Design a well insulated home with high performance windows.  Design for sustainable energy with passive solar, daylighting, and natural ventilation.

Green Building Notes – Your Timber Frame Journey

Green Building, in it’s new and sometimes abused persona, is not really a new concept.  It has always been important to use resources wisely, to build with the materials at hand, and to conserve energy.  New technology has helped us to achieve some of these goals, but if we look back, we see that many before us have built green, without all the hype.  Adobe homes protected Native Americans in the Southwest from sweltering heat, wattle and daub homes used materials at hand to build shelters, skyscrapers built in the late 1800’s made use of urban space.  So while architects, designers, and builders today would like to take credit for this movement, they are truly just making the public more aware of the importance of building green.

The goal of Goshen’s Green Building Notes is to inform and educate.  Choices are many and often confusing.  Whether you choose to build a home that is certified by one of the many certification programs, (LEED, NAHB, many local and regional options), or to build a home using best practices without certification, is a very personal and budgetary decision.

Goshen Timber Frames has designed and built green homes for many years.  We’ve helped our clients design and build homes that fit their lifestyle and budgets while not encouraging them to overbuild.  Our material and energy efficient homes sit quietly nationwide, enjoyed by families of all ages and economies.   

Your site will be all important as you move forward with your project.  Whether you own your land or you are just beginning the search for a site for your new home, you need to consider how the land lays, how your home will be sited, and the impact of building on the site.  If you are building in the mountains, The Mountain Home Guide is a good place to start.  This guide was created with much input and thought by professionals in North Carolina.  

If you are looking at land, consider how you will live in your new home.  Are you a “house mouse” or a “field mouse”?  Will you spend much time outdoors or do you prefer to spend your time inside?  This will impact everything from how your home is sited to how it is designed.  Don’t hurry this process.  Changes after the fact are time consuming and expensive.  

The smallest footprint will have the smallest impact.  This is critical to your new home and should be taken very seriously.  But, just as you shouldn’t build too much home for your lifestyle, don’t underbuild either.  Your home won’t serve you well if you have to add on to live comfortably.  There is a perfect fit for everyone.  

Designing your home to work for you and to fit on the land will take time and energy.  You will need to walk the land, visit with local builders who are familar with not only building, but with the regional landscape, have a local excavator out and discuss the impact of building on the site and how the landcape will change in order to accomodate your new home.  If you are building for a view, take a ladder to the site, climb up and look around.  This will likely be your first floor view.  If the site is challenging, consider renting a lull or bucket to get an even higher view.   Take your time.  If you have the luxury of visiting the site during all four seasons, you are far ahead of the game.

Building green encompasses every aspect of designing and building your home.  As you move forward, you will have to make many choices.  We’ve listed some of these choices and offered some suggestions.  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of books and other resources available on green building.  It is a touch phrase and has become a hot topic.  In our next few posts, Goshen we will to offer some of the simplest decisions you can make that offer the largest impact.

New Timber Frame Home Plans

Timber frame home plans are as varied as the people who build and live in them.  At Goshen, we’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years and have designed almost every style of home.    Many of these plans are now on our website as an inspiration to those who are on the “timber frame journey”.

We often add new plans.  Plans that make the cut offer style and floor plans that work. Here is a sneak preview of a couple of plans that will soon be added to our website.

The Chandler offers curb appeal and a lot of room on a smaller footprint. This plan works well in almost any location.  Designed as a hybrid, it can also be a full timber frame.

The West Oak is simple in design and long on style.  With a first floor master suite and two additional bedrooms upstairs, it offers space and flexibility.

Check out The Chandler and The West Oak.

 

If you’d like more information on one of these plans or on any of Goshen’s other designs or design services, just drop us an email. These timber frame plans and others are available to purchase at TimberStead Timber Frame Home Plans.

Timber Frame Porches Add Outdoor Living Space

Timber frame porches add much to your home.  Whether they offer grand and exciting views of majestic mountains and relaxing water or are reminiscent of Grandma’s front porch and overlook a front lawn, they expand your living space. Your home feels larger when opened up to the outdoors.  That cup of coffee tastes better when sipped from a rocker on the porch.

Porches shelter us from wind, rain, and sun.  They are inviting and welcoming to all who approach. Timber frame porches frame the scenery in massive timbers and remind us of the trees that are living forward as posts and beams.

Sitting on the porch with family and friends brings everyone closer.  Conversation is easier and time spent is well spent. Pets are welcome and enjoy being part of the family as they move in closer. Dogs know that they are only a stick’s throw away from a game.

If you are planning your timber frame home, don’t short change your porches and if you aren’t planning on building a new home, a timber frame porch can add wonderful living space, value, and charm to your existing home.

Green Tax Credits for Your Timber Frame Project

Credits are available for a number of energy efficient projects in your timber frame home.  Whether you are planning a new home or considering upgrades to make your home even more energy efficient, there are federal and state tax credits available.

Some credits expire in 2010 and others will be available for several years, so you can plan your projects accordingly. State credits vary greatly and some incentives are made available by counties. Energy providers offer incentives for energy efficient homes. A timber frame home, enclosed in energy efficient insulated panels, is a great start, but making wise choices for everything from plumbing to heating and cooling can help you to recoup some of the money you spend to save money.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (http://dsireusa.org/) offers a look at what is available in each state, including amounts and dates.  The Energy Star website provides guidelines for federal tax credits.

While most contractors are well versed in these incentives, homeowners should do their own research and work with their contractor to ensure maximum benefits from the programs.   In North Carolina, a homeowner can receive up to 65% in combined federal and state tax credits for a geothermal system.

As you plan your timber frame, consider how you can take advantage of the credits, rebates, and incentives available. You are planning for long term efficiency and recouping costs quickly, so plan wisely.

Green Building Pro Expo – Visit Goshen Timber Frames

Last week Green Building Pro provided everyone interested in green building the opportunity to participate in talks given by industry leaders.  Attendees included architects, engineers, builders, suppliers, and others interested in building better, more sustainable homes, buildings, cities and lifestyles.  Goshen Timber Frames is pleased to have been a participant.

Timber frames, enclosed with structural insulated panels, offer an easy solution to building a home that will use minimal energy to heat and cool and a home built with a rapidly renewable resource.  Since Goshen has long been committed to building the right way, long before “green” became a touch phrase, it was easy to see the fit into the newer building paradigm.

 

Goshen Timber Frames at Green Building Expo