To Buy or Build a Timber Frame Home

You’re ready to move. You’re ready to retire. You want to downsize.  You want to upsize. You want to relocate. You want a timber frame home, have always wanted a timber frame, have spent hours looking at timber frame homes on the Internet. You start looking for just the right plan and start talking to timber frame companies, but there is still that nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, you should buy a new home instead of build one.

Buy or build timber frame homes - by Bonnie Pickartz

Aside from the fact that there are few, if any, timber frame homes on the market in any given area, you may still wonder if it’s an option. Though the dynamic is changing rapidly, for the past few years, it’s been less expensive to buy than to build a new home. Land and home prices were down and there seemed a glut of homes available. Timber frames have always been a small part of a very large market, so while there were a few post and beam homes available, they never quite came down in price like stick-built homes did.

So, let’s think about the differences.

Pros to buying an existing home:

  1.  You won’t have the aggravation of planning and building your own home.
  2.  You may save money and time.
  3.  The site will probably be developed and landscaped.

Pros for designing and building a new home.

  1.  You’ll plan and build your own home exactly as you want it.
  2.  You can choose the area, land, and neighborhood that suits you.
  3.  You can sometimes build smaller since you are designing to fit your own lifestyle.

Sounds like a toss up, doesn’t it? If you can find the right home in the right place, it’s probably a good bet that you’ll save money buying it instead of building. But if you find a less than perfect house or the right house in the wrong area and you buy it, you’ll never be quite as happy with it as you’d think. And the money you saved might not make up for the difference.

Building a home is not for everyone. It can be tedious and scary. It can be exciting and rewarding. Some people enjoy it so much they want to build another one and others are pleased when the project is completed. So, don’t rule out buying a timber frame home…and don’t buy if in your heart you really want to build.  Just go forward boldly and live well in a timber frame.

Yes, we built our timber frame home and would do it again if it weren’t just what we wanted.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.  Thanks for letting me share my thoughts, Bonnie Pickartz.

4 Questions to Answer in Planning Timber Frame Homes

Planning green timber frame homes is, if anything, easier than planning to build a conventional home.  Timber frames and structural insulated panels take the project well into “green” territory before any other decision is made. Using minimally processed materials (heavy timbers) and an unsurpassed enclosure systems makes green building less stressful.

As you do plan your new timber frame home, you’ll need to consider if you want to build as green as possible, whether to seek green building certification, and where to concentrate your efforts. The possibilities are endless, as are the questions and the answers. If you consider these questions early on, you’ll have a big picture understanding and can make other decisions based on these answers.  Timber frame homes allow you to answer “yes” to these questions.

Energy efficiency,  durability, and renewability are key to evaluating any building system. And buildings are a system and should be planned as such. The answers will help you to determine your path to having a home that will serve you and generations well. Answering these questions for each component will give you the “greenest” home, but answering them for the timber frame package takes you a long way toward an energy efficient, sustainable home.colmar timber frame homes

  1. Does it have a long life? Timber frame homes that were built over a thousand years ago are in place and living well today.
  2. Does it save energy? Timber frames, enclosed in insulated panels are hard to beat. The reduced consumption of energy is good for your pocket and for the earth.
  3. Does it minimize contributions to the waste stream? Timbers are minimally processed. Panels are built offsite, minimizing site waste.
  4. Is it renewable and recyclable? Many timbers are grown as a crop. They are a naturally renewable resource and can easily be recycled. Today many barns built hundreds of years ago are being repurposed as homes, flooring, and other building materials.

Plan carefully, considering your site and how to best place your home, the size of your home (don’t over or under build), the materials you use to finish your home. Each step brings more questions, but these four questions will help you to gauge the sustainability of the materials your using.

And when you build, build for generations and…build boldly!

 

 

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