Balanced Ventilation in a Timber Frame Home

 

For nearly 20 years, Goshen has encouraged clients to incorporate a balanced ventilation system into their heating and cooling units. Whether an energy recovery ventilator or a heat recovery ventilator, depending on the climate where you build, the balanced ventilation system is an important part of your H VAC system.

A balanced ventilation system replaces the exhaust/supply system by supplying  fresh air to bedrooms and living rooms, the most lived in areas, and exhausts air from rooms with more moisture and pollutants (kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms). The balanced ventilation system is important to a healthy house.  

We’ve often suggested that balanced ventilation systems will be required by code and from what we are seeing, this will happen sooner rather than later. Homes are tighter and stale air is a health hazard.  It’s time for these systems to be more widely utilized.

There are basic balanced ventilation systems and more specialized energy recovery ventilators and heat recovery ventilators. You should work with your local heating and cooling contractor to determine the best unit for your climate and your home.

And, wherever and whatever you build, as always, we encourage you to Build Boldly.

Visit us at Goshen Timber Frames for more information or drop us a note at info@goshenframes.com if you have any questions or at newsletter@timberframemag.com if you’d like to get our new plans and not-too-frequent newsletters.

Bonnie Pickartz

 

Resources:

Popular Mechanics – How it works.

Energy.gov – Whole house ventilation

 

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!

 

 

Green Building – Timber Frame Homes

Green Building (grēn bild ing) noun

1)     The practice of increasing the efficiency of buildings and their use of energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

2)     Timber frames

I guess that says it all.  Timber frames were designed and built green long before building green became buzzwords.  Timbers are a renewable resource.  Enclosing timber frame homes with insulated panels ensure that the energy used to heat and cool them will be minimized.  That is a huge step in building green.

So if you are thinking about building a sustainable, energy efficient home, your best first step is to build an original green home … a timber frame.

 

Timber Frames – A Responsible Choice

The three R’s in the decades old sustainable living code – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – can easily be extended to include another “R” or even two.  Making “responsible” choices is yet another step in the right direction.  Decisions we make daily impact much more than our daily walk.  Small decisions have long term benefits.  Decisions we make on a larger scale can bring both short term and long term benefits.

When we make responsible choices as we build, we protect the environment.  Timber frames (designed to fit the land and to be energy efficient, built with sustainable materials) make building responsibly much simpler than most building methods.

Reconsider is the 4th “R” .   This article  explains that wooden structures become storehouses of carbon.  The facts are there, it’s just up to us to make wise choices.

So whether the 3 R’s expand to include “Responsible” and “Reconsider” is up to you as you plan your new home.  A timber frame home will help you to move in the right direction and will serve you well.

 

 

 

Five Tips to Make Designing Your Timber Frame Stress Free – Almost

Designing your new home may seem intimidating.  And truthfully, it can be.  There are so many decisions, large and small, that will impact your life.  We’ll look at some of the most important decisions.  Once these decisions are made, you can move on to less stressful decisions.

  1. Your home needs to work with the local vernacular.  It shouldn’t be a cookie cutter replica. It should complement the other homes in the area, but definitely not be identical.  The contrasts should lend to it’s individuality.   Not only will this keep your neighbors happy, it will help maintain the value of your home.  No rambling brick rancher belongs in an area of lodge-style or craftsman-style homes.  The neighborhood should have character and a variety, but don’t go too far afield.
  2. Choose a style that makes you happy.  An aesthetically pleasing home will make you smile each time you arrive home.
  3. Your home should “live” exactly as you live (your rooms should fit your lifestyle).   If you enjoy the outdoors, be sure to incorporate porches and decks.  If you need quiet space, an away room, office, or a small nook that will let you sit quietly is important.  If you are a gourmet cook…or just enjoy cooking…you won’t be happy with a small basic kitchen.  Think about how and where you spend your time when you’re home.  Design for you…not for the Jones or a trend you’ve seen in a magazine.
  4. Work with a designer or architect who will listen.  Even if you are revising a stock plan, at the end of the day, it should reflect your tastes.  Architects and designers have skills far beyond the average homeowner.  They know what works and what doesn’t, but they should help you to develop your plan to work for you.  Don’t get lost in the process.
  5. Make a list of the most important elements you want to include.  Keep it short and specific.  This is a “choosing your battles” type of decision.   If these items are important, be willing to give on other components that make these key elements work for the design and the budget.  You may need to downsize to keep a complex roof line that you find charming.  Or you may need to have a smaller home so you can spend more money on your outdoor living spaces.  Try to keep the list short and be flexible on less important (to you) items.

So build, build boldly and design with your heart and your head.

Thank you for letting us share our tips with you, Bonnie Pickartz.

 

Building Timber Frames – First Steps

When building your timber frame home, it’s important that you consider your site first and foremost. Your land will define your timber frame. From looking for land to evaluating a site, there is no step more critical to your building process.

Several years ago a guide called “The Mountain Home Guide” was published.  We felt that it was important enough to post permanently on the Internet and maintain the site where you can read it or download the PDF version to read off line.  This little booklet offers insight into the steps you should take when considering a piece of property.  While it was written for the mountains, most of the information works no matter where you’re building. 

Timber frames are meant to sit lightly on the land.  Because they are sustainable and energy efficient, they are the perfect choice for a home that will last for generations.  If you chose the land for your site wisely, you will be well served.

The Mountain Home Guide offers common sense advice on many of the key decisions you’ll make as you buy and develop your homesite.  We offer it as important reading you’ll need to do before you purchase your land and as you move forward.

And wherever you build, remember to Build Boldly!

 

Five Steps in Choosing a Timber Frame Company

As you begin the design/build process, you’ll talk to one or more timber frame companies about building your timber frame home.  How those conversations go will often determine which company you work with as you move forward.   If you..or they…aren’t asking the right questions, you could miss an opportunity to work with a great company or you might end up with a company that might not work well with you.

1)  Educate yourself.  Your initial meetings will go much further if you’ve spent some time on the Internet educating yourself about the timber frame building process, styles of timber frames, and the difference between timber frames, log homes, and conventionally framed homes.  This will help you to better understand their answers in the “timber frame” context.

2)  Narrow down the companies you want to consider to two or three.   You might send off an exploratory email or make a call to a few more to help you narrow down your choices.  There are great timber frame companies all across the country.  Each one has their own “package” and business model.  The differences may be subtle or blatant, but if you look at too many, you’ll only be confused, not better served.

3)  Don’t be intimidated or insulted if they ask about your budget somewhere in the early conversations.  They aren’t doing you a favor by making you think you can build more home than you can afford.  Be frank and be willing to listen to them when they tell you that you can build within your budget, but you’ll need to make some tough decisions if you are trying to build more home than the budget will sustain.   However, if their focus seems to be on your budget and time frame and not on you and your project, you might want to think twice.

4)  Build with someone you would like if you met them outside of the timber frame context.  Designing and building a home can be stressful.  If you are working with someone that you can communicate with on a very personal level, then you are ahead of the game.

5)  Make sure that they have a system in place to share plans and work in progress with you and your builder.  Whether it is by emailing PDF files to you as updates are made or having web meetings or phone calls, determine what works for you and go with a company that is can keep things moving forward easily.

All of that said, just move forward confidently and when you build…build boldly…Bonnie Pickartz

Top Seven Design Trends in Timber Frame Homes

Timber frame homes offer so much flexibility that you’d think it would be hard to select which design features are the most requested.  But that’s not the case.  We  see several design options requested in almost every home.  Many of these requests are what draw homeowners to timber frames in the first place.
  1. Smaller Homes – We have had more requests for smaller, manageable space in recent years.  The smaller home costs less to build, less to heat and cool, less to maintain long term.  Some people are drawn to a more “human” scale that a smaller timber frame home offers.  Whether this trend is driven by economy or by a wish to have less home to maintain,  I believe it’s a trend that is here to stay.
  2. Flexible Living – Timber frames are a natural for this option.  Life is full of surprises. Flexibility allows you to adjust your space accordingly.  A timber frame typically has no bearing walls, so adding a door, moving or removing a wall is an easy option.
  3. Energy Efficiency –  Energy costs continue to soar, so most homeowners are looking for some insurance, in the form of an energy efficient home, to help them keep the costs in check.  A timber frame home, wrapped in energy efficient structural insulated panels, will help to keep those costs in line…long term.
  4. Accessible Design – Wider doorways, room to navigate with a wheelchair, limited hallways, and living space on one floor are options that are always discussed early in the design process.  Often homeowners opt for having a bedroom suite on the second floor for now, but plan to move downstairs when and if navigating stairs is a problem.  Elevators, either installed as the home is built or in space planned in the original design for installation later are becoming a standard design discussion item.
  5. Open Kitchens and Dining Space – A look back at large country kitchens where families gathered at day’s end give insight into today’s kitchen and dining area design.   Kitchens are no longer tucked in the back of the house, accessible only by a closed doorway.  Dining rooms are seldom designed as separate formal spaces.
  6. Outdoor Living Spaces – Whether this means a great porch that expands the indoor living spaces through the seasons, a screen porch for dining sans-bugs, or a pavilion with an outdoor fireplace or kitchen, timber frames make living outdoors an easy option.
  7. Earth Friendly and Natural – Timber is a naturally renewable resource that is minimally processed and requires almost no maintenance.   Natural wood floorings and wool rugs are a natural for timber frames.  Wall to wall carpet is still an option in certain areas, but there are very few requests for it in great rooms and more public living areas.  Natural stone for flooring and showers and low and no VOC paints and finishes top the lists of specifications that will help everyone breathe easier and live more comfortably.
So plan your home to help you live well and when you build, Build Boldly!
Bonnie Pickartz

Green Building Notes – The Materials in Your Timber Frame Home

Choosing the materials you will use in building and finishing your timber frame home will be a critical next step. Using high quality, environmentally responsible materials is key to building a green home.  Sustainability, energy efficiency, and the impact of the products you use on the health of the homes occupants are the key elements in building your new home.

High performance products that are produced by companies committed to the environment have been and continue to be developed.  Building with regional materials is a responsible way to build with lower embodied energy.  Products that have increased durability and reduced maintenance will continue to pay off long term. Energy efficiency is important in all decisions from appliances to windows.  Be sure to use Energy Star rated components whenever possible.

As a client of Goshen Timber Frames, you will choose to build a home that is either a timber framed home wrapped in R-24 wall and R-40 polyurethane structural insulated panels, a hybrid home consisting of some timber framed areas and other areas built with the same structural insulated panels with timber roof support, or a panelized home built with structural insulated panels with timber roof support. Any of these options have given you a head start on building your home in a green, responsible fashion.

Explore the options for finishing your new home carefully.  Take your time in making these decisions.   Even when you are looking for a cost effective option, you will have many choices.

*  Durability is key to the materials and products you use.  Durable products are less likely to end up in the landfill in a few years.  The manufacturing process is very energy intensive.  The more durable, longer lasting a product is and the less maintenance it requires, the more energy it saves.

*  Gather samples so you can compare the color and quality of your choices.

* While it is comforting to buy from companies with a responsible track record and with names that we’ve heard for years, don’t rule out a newer company who is offering a product that is comparable and is getting good reviews.

*  Buying a product that is available regionally can help keep your project timeline on target.  Waiting for a special order product that has to be shipped from another country or region can cause delays.  Transportation is costly and polluting.  Locally or regionally produced materials save money and are more environmentally responsible.

*  Keep in mind the long term maintenance and longevity of the products you choose.  No matter how much you like a product, research how much time and money will be required to keep it looking good.  Will the product need to be replaced in a few years?  Will the maintenance be a drain on time and resources.

*  Recycled and salvaged building materials can add charm to your home and reduce landfill use.  Sacrificing energy and water efficiency by reusing windows and plumbing fixtures isn’t a good idea, but interior doors, moldings, cabinets, hardware, and lumber are all good choices.

*  High efficiency heating and cooling equipment, properly sized for your home and insulation values, save money and produce less pollution.  Mechanical ventilation is necessary in today’s tight homes.  Energy or heat recovery ventilators will ensure healthy indoor air.

*  Water efficient plumbing fixtures (water conserving showerheads, toilets, and faucets) save water and reduce the demand on septic systems and sewage systems.  Reducing water usage saves on the water system and reduces energy costs to heat the water.

*  Listen carefully to your own voice as you make decisions.  The input of the professionals is critical, but you and your family will live in your home.  Accept their suggestions and advice, but use only what works for you and your family.

The above items are the big picture.   The harder decisions will be smaller, more detailed, but every bit as critical to building a sustainable, energy efficient home.  Your home as a whole is the end result of many, many smaller pieces.   We will start defining energy efficient and sustainable building products early in the design/build process and will be available to help you evaluate your choices.

Building a sustainable, energy efficient timber frame home doesn’t have to be difficult and isn’t rocket science.  Just spend the time and energy necessary to make good choices and you’ll end up with a home built for generations.

And when you build…don’t forget to build boldly.

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.