Green Building Pro Expo – Visit Goshen Timber Frames

Last week Green Building Pro provided everyone interested in green building the opportunity to participate in talks given by industry leaders.  Attendees included architects, engineers, builders, suppliers, and others interested in building better, more sustainable homes, buildings, cities and lifestyles.  Goshen Timber Frames is pleased to have been a participant.

Timber frames, enclosed with structural insulated panels, offer an easy solution to building a home that will use minimal energy to heat and cool and a home built with a rapidly renewable resource.  Since Goshen has long been committed to building the right way, long before “green” became a touch phrase, it was easy to see the fit into the newer building paradigm.


Goshen Timber Frames at Green Building Expo

Timber Frames – A World Apart

Our recent visit to the International Builders’ Show reinforced our knowledge that a timber frame is a world apart from a conventionally framed home.

As we visited the vendors and viewed the new products, one of the things that kept coming to mind was that many were addressing problems that don’t arise in timber frame construction.   Insulation, infiltration, remodeling issues (bearing walls), design issues (bearing walls), and much other information was alien to us.  Polyurethane posts and trim were interesting, as were fake beams that weighed about as much as a cardboard box and finished to look like distressed timber.  You’ve got to love ingenuity.

Since we use structural insulated panels to wrap our homes, we didn’t have to discuss the differences in how to insulate between studs in stud walls.  We didn’t have to discuss the different truss configurations.  Our timbers take care of everything.

Timber Frames seem to solve many of the problems that builders are struggling with today.   We see more timber frames today than in recent history and I expect we will see even more as the importance of a sustainable structure is acknowledged.

Timber Frames and the International Builders’ Show

The annual NAHB’s International Builder’s Show is possibly the most important event of the year for builders to review products, expand their business knowledge, and bring back to their clients a better understanding of what will help them to make their project more successful, be it a cabin in the woods or a multi-million dollar commercial endeavor.

Designing and building timber frames doesn’t isolate us from the rest of the building world.  A timber frame company should be able to speak with authority to much more than building timber frame homes.  We should be informed and educated about all the components that bring the project together.  That isn’t to say that we can be expected to be experts in all the building trades.  We should, however, be conversant with the most current building materials and practices.

The Builders’ Show gives us the chance to make sure that we have answers…or at the very least know where to get the answers for our clients.  We’ll spend three days from early morning until late in the day trying to take it all in.  The recipients of all this hard work will be the clients for whom we design and build timber frames.

We’ll come back excited about new technology and a lot more able to supply the information that’s important to anyone building today.

That said, I’ll close for now.

Structural Insulated Panels – Your Timber Frame Enclosure Choices

Timber frame homes are most often enclosed with structural insulated panels.  The panels offer exceptional performance, quick dry-in, and minimize onsite waste.

While expanded polystyrene panels offer all of the above and are widely used throughout the industry, polyurethane is the choice of some companies, including Goshen Timber Frames.

There are discussions about the “greenness” of both products everywhere.  Since both are petroleum based products, the purist will argue that neither should be used in construction.  However, the long term energy savings offset this argument.

A recent Environmental Building News article (you can read about it here) brings into focus some of the differences and argues that polyurethane is the better choice for above ground applications.  A search for discussions about the panels will find manufacturers and salesmen of both products making a case for their product.  However, independent research has led Goshen to use only polyurethane, as the best, safest, most efficient enclosure system.  We are not invested in either product and have made our decisions based on our years of success with polyurethane and our own research.

There are many, many more companies manufacturing expanded polystyrene panels than polyurethane panels.   The process of manufacturing polyurethane panels requires a greater investment and fewer companies are willing to make that investment.  This should not be seen as a vote for EPS as the better product, just the most economical to manufacture.

Discuss your enclosure options with your timber frame company.   While I firmly believe that panels are the best way to enclose, I also believe that polyurethane panels are the best of the best.

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.

Green Building Seminar More – Much More

Yesterday I attended a green building seminar sponsored by the Western North Carolina Green Building Council.  My expectation was to hear much of the same “stuff” that I’d been reading.  However, presenter Marcus Renner went far beyond.  He didn’t preach “green”, but addressed common sense issues and got to the nuts and bolts of energy efficient, high performance building.

I came away secure with the knowledge that we’ve been building energy efficient homes for years and that much of the building industry is now catching on and working to catch up with the timber frame and panel industries.  This wasn’t the message, since most of the attendees were conventional builders, but to those of us who use insulated panels to build and to wrap our timber frames, he was preaching to the choir.

The seminar covered many technical aspects of building an energy efficient, sustainable home and also addressed the importance of site preparation and maintenance, material selection, and the disposal of waste (just don’t…instead recyle, reuse, repurpose).

We tend to think we know everything about building a better home.  After all, we read all the right books and magazines, watch the right television shows, talk the talk and walk the walk.  However, meeting with other industry professionals and sharing our concerns and options is important.

I did come away with several ideas that I’ll share in the coming days.  So stay tuned.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.

Kit Homes – Still Working After a Century

Over a century ago, Aladdin Homes began offering a kit home package.  The “homes by mail” concept worked and it is estimated that over 100,000 kit house packages were sold between 1906 and 1940.  Aladdin continued to sell kit houses until 1981.  The homes were offered in a wide variety of styles and sizes and were generally less expensive to build.   The packages typically included all the components, including the kitchen sink, and were assembled by the homeowner or a builder on site.  The homes were shipped by rail and included home plans and detailed construction instructions.   Mortgages were available from the catalog company.

Sears (or those of us old enough to remember “Sears, Roebuck and Company) and Wardway (Montgomery Ward) followed Aladdin’s lead and offered homes through their catalogs.   Montgomery Ward partnered with Van Tine to produce and deliver their kits.

There are many of these homes still occupied today.  They may (or may not) have been renovated once or more and identifying the home as a kit home may require some research.   However, the discovery would surely add to the value of the home and home ownership.

Today, with home improvement stores in most towns, it would be hard to ship every piece of a home and still be competitive.  Local building codes would require modifications (though Aladdin promised that their packages met every building code) and most of us would be overwhelmed when a package with thousands and thousands of parts arrived on our site.

Timber frame kits offer a step into that simpler time.  Goshen has offered kits since 1997 and still provides a shell for each home.  The kits are designed and engineered to meet each local code and plans are revised to work for each client.  The finish work is completed by the homeowner or builder, but on a much simpler level than in the days of a Sears or Aladdin kit.   The Goshen Timber Frames kit home will be energy efficient, sustainable and also a treasure a century or more from now.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.

Concrete Countertops

Not too many years ago your choices for a countertop in your home were limited.   Early choices were laminate and butcher block, with tile and granite as upgrades. Today you have more options…something for every budget and style.

While granite and solid surface products are the most popular choices today, concrete countertops are becoming more readily available.   There are several great reasons to consider concrete for your new kitchen or remodel.

  • Wide variety of colors and finishes
  • Heat resistant
  • Scratch resistant
  • Design flexibility
  • Considered a “green” product

A concrete countertop can be sleek and glamorous, industrial, or warm and charming.   Costs for custom concrete countertops vary locally.  Most compare in price to high quality granite. And we are seeing many do-it-yourselfers tackle these unique countertops as a project.

As you research countertops for your new timber frame home, look at concrete as an option.  Their organic, solid feel fit well with most timber frame homes.

That said, I’ll sign off for now.