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

 

 

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

 

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.