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 Frames – Scaling Down to Smaller Homes

Once again, after a week of great meetings with people who are exploring their timber frame home design opportunities, I come back to a basic truth. Timber frames provide more living space per square foot than other building methods. Timber frame homes, with open spaces and volume, just feel larger than their actual footprint. I talked about this same concept in an earlier article and I’d like to carry that idea a little further (

I believe that maybe our new, smaller space deserves to be treated as new space and not burdened with all of our treasures.  If you are planning a retirement home (or a retreat), it might be time to rethink your priorities and the “stuff” that has followed you through life (I don’t mean your spouse).  Do you need to take everything that you’ve loved (and dusted, polished, moved, etc) with you as you move forward or is it time to pass it on to the younger generation or to someone who can love (and dust, polish, move) it? Wouldn’t your son or daughter enjoy the bedroom set that you inherited from Grandma today even more than waiting to inherit it from you? Couldn’t you choose a few pieces that bring the past into your home and share the rest? If the kids aren’t interested, there is someone out there who would love it. Donate or sell what you don’t love and need.

Timber frames have their own beauty. The heavy timbers and their craftsmanship carry their own history. So as you design your timber frame home, think about what would enhance your life and what you’d just move because you’ve always moved it into your new home. Step into your retirement home with memories and a new uncluttered space. Plan your space to allow you to live long and well, thinking more about pieces that will give you extra storage so you can plan a smaller home.

Think about how you really live and don’t add extra space, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, etc, just because you’ve always had them. It is important to think about resell in designing any home, but don’t sacrifice your comfort (or pocketbook) today for something someone else may want in a new home. If you are leaving corporate world and won’t wear suits every day will you really need as much closet space? If you love showers and hate baths, do you need a bathtub that takes space and requires cleaning in your master bathroom? Or could it be relegated to a guest bathroom? In this process remember that a timber frame has no bearing walls. If someone wants to remodel after you’ve left the home, they have far fewer problems than remodeling a stick-framed home. So plan your home for your life, not someone else’s.

Smaller homes do live as well as larger homes. They just live differently. Spend time thinking about how you will live in your timber frame and bring those thoughts to the table as you plan your new home. Enjoy it because it provides shelter for the body and soul and not because you made it large enough to accommodate everything from your past.

And however you build, whatever you build, just Build Boldly.

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.

Building a Smaller Timber Frame Home

Building a smaller timber frame home isn’t rocket science.  Timber frames lend themselves to smaller, more efficient space.  With many homeowners making the choice to build homes that require less space, less maintenance, and are more cost efficient to build and to maintain, timber frame homes are a practical choice.

A smaller home doesn’t have to be cramped and crowded.  It can live large with open spaces and less wasted space.  Timber frame design typically makes the best use of space that might be a hallway in a conventionally framed home.  With no bearing walls, there a few barriers to the way a home flows.

Of course, if you are building on a lot suitable for a basement, including living space both above and below the  main floor means you can minimize the footprint of your home.  Your first floor may include the more public areas, living room, dining room, kitchen and often the master bedroom.  Within your timber frame, the living room, dining room, and kitchen are all “rooms without borders” and flow easily from one to the other.

Porches and decks, extended outdoor living spaces, are important in a smaller home.   Expanding the living space outdoors is another way to make your home live larger.  Timber frame porches and outdoor living space create shelter from inclement weather, but let you enjoy nature at its best and sometimes most violent.

While homeowners across the country are beginning to realize that smaller homes can be the direction to take for more energy efficient, sustainable living, our timber frame homes have always been designed to make best use of space and to allow their occupants to live large without wasted space.

Visit to see how large a 1700 square foot home can live.

And however you build, whatever you build, just Build Boldly.

Timber Frames – Custom Framing

WNC Magazine has a great article about the Pickartz’ new timber frame home in their March/April issue.   This insightful piece catches the spirit and character of this timber frame project.

We spent many years planning our new home and were certain that it needed to fit not only our lifestyle, but our style (such as it is).

Timber frames are special homes.  They offer each owner the opportunity to develop a plan that just “fits”.  With spaces that aren’t confined by bearing walls, they can design around much loved furniture.

You can visit the Pickartz home either in person (by calling Bonnie at Goshen) or virtually (at ).  It is compact and charming.

So check out the magazine online or pick up a copy.   This is their annual home and garden issue and you will find great information.

Timber Frames and The Single Story Home

Today we see many clients who, as they are mindful of the coming years, want to build a single story timber frame home.   This is reasonable and should be, without question, considered.

These same folks often want to build a smaller, sustainable home.  And while the two aren’t totally incompatible, sometimes we need to think through how we live, and our plans, so we can marry the two concepts.

Single story homes require a larger footprint (read that more foundation and more roof).   They do offer the opportunity to live and entertain on a single level.   When you add wider halls, wider doors, more room to maneuver to the mix, you can end up with a larger space than anticipated.

If you take the same space and move some of it upstairs, as in a story and a half plan, your home requires less foundation and roofing.  You may want to use the upstairs living space now and move downstairs later in your life or you may want to plan for an elevator.  Either way, you’ve maximized your living space while considering your later-in-life needs.

There is much to be said for climbing the stairs (remember…you probably are past having several children to pick up after and do laundry for if you are considering aging in place).   Staying active is one of the best ways to …well, to stay active.

On the flip side, if you want to have your bedroom on the first floor, the upstairs space is great for guests.  You don’t have to go up every day and when they visit, you each have your own “space”.    It can even be used for a caregiver, if the need ever arises.

So, don’t be locked into the “I will get old and must live on the first floor now” mindset.  Think about both how you live now and how you might need to live.  Compromise is good and, with patience, you and your architect or designer, can design a home that offers the best of both worlds.

You’ll find plans for both single story homes and story and a half homes on the Goshen Timber Frames’ plan pages.

Just remember to “Build Boldly”.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.

Timber Frames and Aging In Place

Timber frames are the perfect home for “aging in place”.  With no bearing walls, it is easy to plan for space that will accommodate our needs as we age.

Aging in place is a concept that is being embraced by designers with boomers in mind.  The plan is mostly common sense planning, but we often prefer to wear blinders about what our needs might be in the future.

Wide doorways, space to turn a wheelchair around, wide halls, and first floor living are key.  Accessible homes don’t need to feel like an institution.  Today’s open floor plans are the right fit for accessibility.

Timber frames offer a unique opportunity because they have no bearing walls and can be renovated with ease.

Designing and building a home that will allow the occupants to live comfortably for many, many years and with whatever physical issues life might throw at them is the ultimate “sustainable” home.    Sustainability should encompass not only materials, but lifestyles.

We’ll discuss key elements in designing a sustainably accessible home in the coming days.

Just remember to Build Boldly!

That said, I’ll sign off for now.

Goshen Timber Frame Home Selected For Green Home Tour

Timber Frame Goshen Timber Frames is pleased to have one of their homes chosen for the Western North Carolina Green Building Council 2009 Solar and Green Home Tour.   Selected homes were chosen to showcase sustainable, energy efficient homes built in Western North Carolina.

The home features reclaimed materials, Thermocore structural insulated panel enclosure, Energy Star lighting and appliances, WaterSense certifed dual flush toilets, regionally harvested heavy timber construction, compact floor plan, native landscaping, much, much more.

Sign up for the tour at 2009 Tour to visit all 19 homes.