The Law of Timber Frame Home Design

Designing your new timber frame home is a journey of sorts. You’ll bring all the luggage you’ve gathered along the way. Homes you’ve seen on television shows, homes you’ve seen in magazines, homes you’ve driven past, homes you’ve lived in and visited…they’re all packed neatly away, waiting to be sorted and reviewed upon arrival at the design desk.

Interestingly enough, drawing timber frame house plans is not much different today than it was centuries ago. You decide how you live and you design your home to work around your lifestyle.

In 1852, American sculptor Horatio Greenough used the term “form follows function” as he was explaining the organic principles of architecture. Almost 50 years later, in 1896, architect Louis Sullivan wrote and article, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” and expanded on the concept. He actually wrote “form ever follows function” a more emphatic phrase. He was adamant that this was the “rule that shall permit no exception”.  He wrote:

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function.
This is the law.

Today we need remember that rule and to keep function at the forefront as we design our timber frame homes. The way you live, the things that make you comfortable, the necessary space to live with ease…these are the first things to consider as you lay out your new timber frame home.

So take time to think about how you live as you begin designing your new timber frame home. And remember Mr. Sullivan’s words “form ever follows function”.  Let your life direct the design of your home and always 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

Beautiful Timber Frame Videos

Sometimes you just have to step back and marvel at the beauty of a timber frame home.  When Neal and Pam started their timber frame journey, they had a vision….a vision of beautiful, elegant, rustic mountain homes that brought together strength and character of timber frames with the charm of the mountains of Western North Carolina.   To say that they succeeded would be an understatement.

The Pond and the Cottage are beautiful examples of timber frame homes.  They are both available for sale and for rent here in Franklin, North Carolina…just west of Asheville.

So today we’re sharing videos of these beautiful homes.  Walk through them and enjoy the beauty…it is certainly worth sharing.

Thank you for allowing us to share the beauty!

 

Timber Frame House Plans – Goshen’s Newest CD

Planning your new timber frame home is a journey.  Seldom does someone look at one plan and say “that’s it”. Nor do they work with a designer or architect and get to the right plan in one step.

Your mission will be to develop a plan that will live well, serve you well, be efficient, and be beautiful.  That’s not a small task.  You’ll need all the help you can get to find just the right timber frame plan.  Some home plans will work in one way and others in another.

That’s where our latest plan book comes in.  The timber frame photos and timber frame home plans included will give you a place to start.  You can narrow down what you like and what doesn’t work for you.  Then you can begin to work toward the perfect home plan.  And the talented Goshen team is ready to work with you to design that perfect home.

Goshen’s CD has small home plans, large home plans, fully timber framed plans, and hybrid home plans.   You can peruse them at your leisure and print them to share with others.  (But remember they are all Goshen copyrighted plans, so don’t ask someone else to build them for you.)

Also included are three videos to show you how a timber frame comes together.  That’s an exciting day for most homeowners.

So drop us a note at plans@timberframemag.com and we’ll get a CD off to you.  Or, if you’d like, we’ll send you a download link to the files on the CD.

These plans are the perfect first step on your journey.

 

 

 

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.

 

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

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

Which Comes First – The Timber Frame or the Home Plan?

Timber frames come in many shapes and forms and fashions. They can be complex or simple, heavy or graceful (or both), and they can be a focal point or a subtle background. Timber frames are structure. They are designed to support and their beauty is an extra perk.

While you have some flexibility in choosing the timber frame design for your new home, form should always follow function and the frame should be designed to work perfectly with your floor plan. Instead of trying to force the frame to work with the floor plan, focus on the details and on how the frame enhances the space.

Your timber frame home plan should begin with a some basics. The style of your new home, be it lodge, craftsman, or traditional (or one of many, many more styles), and the space are the two elements that you should design around. And, another critical element…your budget.

If you want a single story ranch, your options are wide open for hammerbeam bents. However, if you want a story and a half home with open lofts and living space upstairs, your open area will need to be sized to accommodate a hammerbeam without overwhelming the space if a hammerbeam is critical.

Your timber frame designer should be flexible enough to help you achieve the look you want and tough enough to say “that won’t work” when confronted with apples and oranges in the timber frame/floor plan design.

Can you take a timber frame and build a home around it? Of course, but your space will be defined by the timber frame. This isn’t all together bad, but there are limitations.

So, think carefully as you design and build your new home. Remember that a little flexibility can go a long way in designing the home of your dreams.

And always, always Build Boldly… Bonnie Pickartz

Building Timber Frames – A Homeowner’s Experience

Goshen Timber Frames has the most amazing clients.  They love timber frames and enjoy sharing their homes.  Sometimes they go further and share their building projects…from soup to nuts.

John and Janice have blogged their hybrid timber frame project  here in Western North Carolina at http://www.buildingourtimberframe.com/sutton .  They are “hands on homeowners”, working evenings, days off, and weekends to build their home.  They subcontracted some of the work, but did much themselves.

Their timber frame is on a small footprint, but it’s a charming home.   You can look at their timber frame plan .  It’s compact and loaded with character, from the poplar bark siding as you come up to the door to the stained concrete basement floor.  What a wonderful timber frame home!

So check out their blog and let us know if you’d like to visit their new home.  Just give me a call at 828-524-8662  Bonnie Pickartz.

And however you build, follow John and Janice and Build Boldly!