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 Homes and Construction Costs

Determining the final cost to build any home is a confusing and often misunderstood process.  Timber frame homes are no different in that aspect.  While a budget will drive the design, style, and location of your new home, there are so many variables that it is almost impossible to get a finished cost prior to construction.

The timber frame package price is probably one of the easier costs to determine.   Once the design is in place and the decision on the type of timber is made, the timber framer will calculate a price for the timber frame.  The structural insulated panels are another fairly simple cost to calculate.  With the type of SIPs and the design in hand, your timber frame company can calculate the price and give you a final cost.

From that point forward, the numbers are more slippery.  A homeowner, armed with allowances and estimates, is still at the mercy of an ever changing material supply chain and some very emotional person choices.  Reputable builders do their best to provide accurate estimates based on their clients’ choices.  However, as they move forward, a new product or material can sway the owner. Some choices are simple as they don’t require soul searching…color choices and similarly priced materials.  However, the decision to use standing seam roofing instead of a corrugated metal roofing can mean a major adjustment in the building budget.  Appliances, flooring, and exterior finishes can also create changes in the bottom line.

When working with your timber frame designer and your builder, be realistic with your budget.  If you know that you will never be happy with standard appliances, don’t budget $5,000 for your kitchen appliances.  If you want natural siding (cedar shakes, rock, and cedar siding), take this into account.   On the other hand, if you are working with a more modest budget, make decisions based on the importance of the material to you personally.

Allow plenty of time to work through your budget issues before you break ground.  Once you are into the project, it is much more difficult to make these decisions and, at that stage, they are usually costly decisions.  At Goshen Timber Frames we have three favorite words…plan…plan…plan.

But remember, however you build, Build Boldly!

Timber Frame Home Plans and Your Land

The decision to build your timber frame home was probably not made overnight. You read books and magazines, watched television shows and did your research on the Internet. Timber frames are built not only with chisels and mallets, but with dreams and heart.

Your timber frame home plan is critical to making this home the home of your dreams. It has to fit your lifestyle, your budget, and first and foremost…the land it will sit on. If you have a preconceived plan in mind, even before you buy your property, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, find the right property, then design your new timber frame to fit well on that site.  

Timber frames offer great opportunities to design a home with daylighting, no wasted space, accessibility, sustainability, energy efficiency, and all the charm and character you want, whether a very contemporary home, a farmhouse, a lodge, or a cottage. Your site will define the footprint and the orientation.

Armed with the lay of your land, your home can be designed (whether from an existing plan that is revised to work for you or custom designed) to make the best use of all the site’s features. If the amazing view was the defining factor in purchasing your land, then design a home that takes in that view from most of the rooms. If the shelter of surrounding trees is important, design your home so that you walk out into the shade and shelter. Design to fit with the local vernacular. Your timber frame should feel that it belongs on the land, that the land was there, awaiting its arrival.

So, armed with this information, go out and find your perfect land to build the perfect timber frame home. If you have the perfect land, design that home now, whether you’ll build next year or in ten years. The blueprint will give you time to “live” with your plan and to think about how you live and plan to live. The least expensive changes are made right there on paper.

And, don’t forget to 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 http://www.buildingatimberframe.com to see how large a 1700 square foot home can live.

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

Timber Frame Home Plan Worksheet

Planning and designing your new timber frame home can be challenging.  Here at Goshen we have three favorite words when it comes to home design.  They are:  Plan, Plan, Plan.

We’ve released a new tool for home planning.  While it isn’t meant to provide the only information you’ll need to build a home, it will help you think through how you will live in and use your new timber frame.

This worksheet can be saved, printed, or filled out online and sent to us, if you’d like to discuss your project with us.  Fill in as much or as little information as you wish, but remember that the more thought you put into the design process early on, the easier it will be to reach decisions that will impact your style, size, and budget.

Timber frames allow much flexibility in design and live much larger than conventionally framed homes that require interior walls to carry loads.

So begin your design process and always remember whatever you build, build boldly.

Timber Frame Carport

Sometimes it just makes sense to update an older home.  The addition of a timber frame carport added protection from the weather and panache for updated curb appeal.

Timber frames bring drama and character to all sorts of homes. A timber frame carport, a timber frame porch, or a timber frame pergola are all nice ways to update a home…and the neighborhood.

On Friday in just a couple of hours, this great carport was raised.  By Saturday afternoon, the decking was in place, felt on the roof, and the painters started oiling the frame.  What a difference this new timber frame already makes!  Once again, timber frames shelter…just this time it shelters not only the owners, but also their vehicles, from rain and shine.

So, don’t think you have to build a new home.  If you love where you live, don’t move, just enhance.  Add some “structure” to your life with a timber frame addition.  It just doesn’t get any “greener” than that.

Just remember, however you build, Build Boldly.