Granny Flats – A Timber Frame Opportunity

Multi-generational housing has always been easy for timber frame homes.  With no bearing walls, the space is flexible and with open spaces, it is much easier to be accessible.   As families are motivated to live closer together, whether by economic challenge or lifestyle change, secondary suites or “granny flats” offer an opportunity to turn a single family home into a primary and secondary residence.

Whether the new space is built to bring aging parents closer or to give younger family members their own place to live, there are many options to expand.  A basement suite, garage conversion suite, detached cottage, or an addition to an existing home all offer the chance to grow your space.

If you’ve always wanted to build a timber frame, but love your location and your home, this is the opportunity to build an additional cottage or to add on to your home with a timber frame.  Timber frames provide the flexibility and, when enclosed in structural insulated panels (SIPs), energy efficiency.

With forethought and good planning, even local code officials and home owner associations can be approached to allow for these spaces. Better use of everything from water to sewer connections and…less lawn to soak up resources…offer compelling reasons to add that space to an existing built out lot.

So, think about a granny flat and when you build…build boldly.

Just think about it…Bonnie Pickartz



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.

Smaller, More Efficient Homes In Demand

The American Instiute of Architects’ first quarter of 2009 survey “Home Design Trends” tells us that smaller, more efficient homes continue to be in demand by those building new homes.

We at Goshen Timber Frames have long held that this trend is more of a movement.  In Custom Wood Homes Fall 2008 issue, we noted that both the economy and the consumer were leading us toward homes that consumed less…less to build and less to maintain.   Read the entire article here.

We all want homes that are easy to keep and homes that sit more lightly on the land.  A small home uses space more efficiently and will save in energy costs for many, many years to come.

The same survey noted that accessibility is important.  Fifty percent of the respondents said that open layouts were also important.

Aging in place is a concept that is becoming more important.  While most homes are not designed to be fully handicap accessible, a few minor changes, like making sure all doors are wide enough for access and allowing for first floor living or a place designed in for an elevator at a later date are easy to accomplish without major concessions.

Timber frames, with flexible and open concept floor plans, allow clients to plan for their future.  This will be more and more important as the “boomers” age.

Focus on the future, but build the home you want.  A timber frame, wrapped in energy efficient panels, can help make life better today and tomorrow.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.