A brand new Woodhouse timber frame will be delivered today for the guesthouse at the Day House property. Since the property is located in an historic district, Mark (the owner) has opted for a timber frame structure for two primary reasons. First, the flexibility of design allows for an open, contemporary floor plan, with an exterior that is consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. Second, we can maximize usable space on a fairly small footprint (700 square feet).
On this project, we are working under some very specific parameters and we feel an obligation to the community to build in a particular style. Yet, when meeting specific needs or working with full creative license, timber frames are an excellent option.
Design flexibility: Design options with timber frame structures are nearly limitless, primarily because the frame, not interior and exterior walls, supports the structure. You can add large expanses of windows, not to mention add windows and doors wherever you’d like. With no interior load-bearing walls, timber frames lend themselves to open floor plans. Though interior walls can easily be constructed to suit the desired “flow” of each space.
Quick to dry in: Raising a timber frame and drying it in is an incredibly fast process, much faster than building and drying in a stick frame. This is not only relevant to those building in late fall or in volatile climates, but also results in significant savings in labor costs.
Green: Claiming anything to be “green” can be a minefield. Just as with any construction (and everything we do for that matter), timber frame construction has impact. That said, here are some ways that timber frame structures reduce long-term resource use.
- Energy efficiency. Timber frames are dried in and insulated with SIPs in a fraction of the time of a stick built home. Homes with SIPs use 30-70 percent less energy to heat and to cool.
- Fewer materials. A timber frame home uses less wood and fewer nails (none for the frame) than a conventional, balloon-framed home.
- Longer life: As evidenced by the timber frame structures around the world, dating hundreds to thousands of years, a well-built timber frame has a long life expectancy for a wooden home.
- Lower on-site impact. Timber frames are built off-site, and then re-assembled on-site. This results in less onsite waste and less environmental disturbance.
Architectural beauty: Most people who opt for a timber frame do so because they appreciate the aesthetic of the open, visible beams inside. Yet some people opt for a timber frame based solely on the structural integrity and energy efficiency of the final product. In those cases, the timbers can be hidden, just like the balloon frames and trusses of stick-built homes.
A few years ago, Popular Mechanics featured an excellent overview on building timber frame homes. Check it out here.
If you’re just getting started, I have a lot of information on our main site, at Black Canyon Builders. The Woodhouse website is also a wealth of information, including videos and galleries of potential floor plans. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions. Give me a call or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re in Durango this week, be sure to stop by and check out the timber frame raising on 15th Street. The community party and open house is on Saturday, June 11, 2011.