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 Efficiency in Timber Frame Homes

Timber frame homes are beautiful, inspiring, charming, and all of the wonderful words that you can consider.  And, when properly designed and constructed, they are also amazingly energy efficient. This doesn’t happen by accident, but with intentional design and construction.

Designing for not only beauty, but also for energy efficiency, should be goals from the start.  You will need to consider size, style, orientation, daylighting, and all the other subtle ways that you can plan forward.  Make it known early in your design meetings that you want your home to be sustainable and to minimize energy usage.

Plan forward for energy efficient fixtures and appliances and to use energy efficient bulbs.  Don’t save money with inefficient appliances and windows.  They will cost you daily.

Structural Insulated Panels are the enclosure of choice for many timber frame companies.  Timber frame homes  and hybrid homes work well with panel systems. A tight home and a well insulated home don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but a well installed panel system covers it all.

We not only promote energy efficiency, but we live it.  Our own 1700 square foot timber frame home, with lots of windows and vaulted ceilings, uses only $2.34 per day ($835 for the year) in electricity.  We heat and cool with a heat pump and don’t have a fireplace or any auxiliary heat source.  We have an electric dryer and a dishwasher.

Last year our energy usage was $3.08 per day ($1,123 for the year).  We had a much colder winter, but we also made some common sense changes.   We don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full.  We hang some clothes out to dry.  Simple choices have saved us almost $300 per year.

So think forward.  Plan your home to save those energy dollars and to be comfortable.  Build a home you’ll love and whatever you do, Build Boldly!

 

 

Timber Frame Homes – Building Simpler, Smaller, Hybrid Homes

Timber Frame Homes should be the first option for everyone (in our humble opinion), but many see them as a more expensive option.  That doesn’t have to be the case. There are several paths to building more affordable timber frame homes.

  • Build Smaller – A smaller home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury or space.  It means you get rid of the excess area that you don’t use, don’t want to heat and cool, and don’t want to maintain.
  • Build Simpler – Corners cost.  This has been a construction truth for centuries. Looking back for centuries you’ll find simple, elegant structures that have few corners.  Complex roof lines increase the cost every step of the way.  Don’t give up style, work with textures (and timbers) to enhance your space inside and out. Change the ceiling heights to define space.  Don’t think you need lots of hips, valleys, and corners to build an amazing home.
  • Build Hybrid – Hybrid timber frame homes can be the perfect trade-0ff.  Fully timber frame the more public living spaces (great rooms, porches,etc) and use heavy timber rafters and trusses on walls built with structural insulated panels in the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens.  You save not only in the cost of the timber frame, but the space can be built out without working around posts and braces.  
As you design your new home, be sure to discuss these options with your team.  Making use of one or all of these options can be the difference in living in your dream home or settling for a stick-built home.   Designing and building your new home should be an adventure … a journey.  Making smart choices as you start will help you to build the timber frame home of your dreams … within your budget.
So, move forward, design and build your dream home, make wise choices, and live large!
And as you do this, remember to Build Boldly!  Visit with us to discuss designing and building your own dream home.
As always, I’m at your service.   Bonnie Pickartz
Goshen Timber Frame Hybrid HOme

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.

 

The Lasting Value of a Timber Frame Home

You must have seen and admired pictures of timber framed homes. Maybe you’ve even visited someone that had one or wished that you could have such a unique home. Maybe you’ve even been lucky enough to have owned one.

The appeal of a timber framed home comes in many forms from the strength of their timbers to the elegance in which they all come together to form a hand crafted structure. Each home is unique to the owners that have had it built and is a testimony to the longevity and beauty of that structure. It has been crafted to last for many lifetimes, which is a feature that all can appreciate. That attribute still rings even in today’s world.

Timber framed homes have been around for hundreds of years. My home in the Bahamas is a timber framed home and is well over 100 years old. No small feat considering that it sits on a cay ( small island) of approximately 40 acres and has been through numerous hurricanes in its lifetime. Just this year we were hit by Hurricane Irene with winds over 140mph and true to her nature, she stood proud through another storm. Our home has all the original Roman numerals from the original builders of years gone by showing their hard work and dedication to their craft.  We have made changes and updates but the structure itself remains the same as when it was first built many years ago.

Homes like this, and in those in less hostile environments, have and will withstand the tests of time. A true testament to their strength and ability to withstand years of various owners and the forces that nature can throw at them. They have proven their lasting value and continue to do so even in our present throw away society. A timber framed home lives on for many generations to come and for many generations of different families.

Guest contributor Todd Vendituoli owns and runs Todd  Vendituoli Construction in W. Burke, Vt

 

Follow Todd on Twitter  @TALV58

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.

 

 

 

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!

 

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

 

 

The Timber Frame Style

Timber frame homes come in every shape and size.  There is no typical plan, no perfect style, no maximum or minimum size.  Your home should be a reflection of you and the way you live.

What do you think of when you imagine the perfect home?  Is it stylish and edgy, comfortable and charming, grand and majestic, or traditional and time-honored?  Are you building a home for a young family with room to grow?  Is it a retirement home?  Will it be a vacation home?  Do you work from home, entertain, or cocoon?  This is the function end of the home design equation.

Timber Frame Kitchen

Architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase ” form ever follows function” in 1896.  It has been pared down to the simpler “form follows function”. While it can be interpreted that “style” doesn’t matter at all, it can also be a great starting place and the style of the home can be adapted to the use.

Find a style that appeals to you and design your home in that style.  It might be a farmhouse or a tudor, a cottage or a cape cod.  If you envision a rambling ranch, with all your living space on one floor, maybe brick with shutters, go for it.  Timber frames offer all of the above and more.

Your site will tell you what the footprint should be.  If you’re on flat land, it may be hard (or impossible) to have a daylight basement.  If you’re on the side of a mountain, you may not want to spread that footprint out too far.

So don’t think limitations, think no boundaries and design your new timber frame home to be the most amazing home you’ve ever had.  And live long and well in your new home,  enjoying the choices you made and smiling when you drive up each time.

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