A Mat­ter of Time

Con­struc­tion runs smoothly thanks to a lit­tle fore­thought and at­ten­tion to de­tail dur­ing the de­sign phase.


Con­struc­tion runs smoothly thanks to a lit­tle fore­thought and at­ten­tion to de­tail dur­ing the de­sign phase.

Ask any timber home com­pany or con­trac­tor and they’ll tell you that when it comes to start­ing con­struc­tion on your home, it’s all about tim­ing. But when you’re build­ing a cus­tom home in the se­vere cli­mate swings of On­tario, Canada, that tim­ing is par­tic­u­larly cru­cial.

“The site for this house was easy — open, clear and flat,” says Jeff Bowes, owner of Cana­dian Timberframes. “The big crunch was get­ting every­thing closed in be­fore the snow started to fall. To get it done, we went with a stan­dard spring ex­ca­va­tion know­ing we’d be de­liv­er­ing our sup­plies 6 to 8 weeks af­ter the builder started.”

Tim Lamb of Lake of Bays Cus­tom Homes got to work prep­ping the site, dig­ging the foun­da­tion and adding the foot­ings and con­crete be­fore Jeff and his team could de­liver the air­dried tim­bers for the frame. Again, the topic of tim­ing proved im­por­tant to the process.

“Be­cause we had worked the sched­ul­ing out in ad­vance, we had the op­tion to pre-cut the tim­bers for the project and let them dry nat­u­rally over the win­ter and into the spring,”

says Jeff, ex­plain­ing that by let­ting them sit for an­other cou­ple of months, the tim­bers dry to al­most kiln-dried sta­tus. “As I al­ways say, Mother Na­ture took 150 years to grow the trees; couldn’t we give her at least one sea­son to dry them out?”

Once the frame was de­liv­ered and raised, Tim and his team got started as­sem­bling the rest of the home’s pre­planned shell, pro­vided al­most ex­clu­sively by Cana­dian Timberframes. “We per­son­al­ize each en­clo­sure sys­tem we cre­ate by mak­ing ex­te­rior fin­ish­ing choices long be­fore con­struc­tion be­gins,” Jeff ex­plains. “From choos­ing a color pal­ette to look­ing at dig­i­tal out­put op­tions of timber stains and tongue-and-groove treat­ments — all of the choices are pre­sented far in ad­vance, months be­fore the home­owner has to make any fi­nal de­ci­sions.”

That ben­e­fit of time gave the home­own­ers the op­por­tu­nity to go through dif­fer­ent ex­te­rior fin­ishes, such as stonework, shin­gles and sid­ing, be­fore han­dling phys­i­cal sam­ples and re­view­ing a live ren­der­ing with Jeff and his de­sign team. “See­ing the whole house gives you a real sense of how it’s go­ing to look and feel,” says Stephanie Bowes, Jeff’s wife and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Cana­dian

Timberframes. “If you can show an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the house ahead of time, you’re less likely to face surprises and changes down the road. That’s ex­actly how it worked out for this build.”

Th­ese ren­der­ings also dic­tated how the fin­ished wall sys­tem would be pre­pared be­fore con­struc­tion. For ex­am­ple, ply­wood was in­cor­po­rated on the wall pan­els around the front door to even­tu­ally ac­com­mo­date ex­te­rior stone work. Other wall-sys­tem cus­tomiza­tions in­cluded hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal strap­ping to an­chor the sid­ing, and cuts and grooves to per­fectly hold the ex­te­rior tim­bers.

“We make th­ese pan­els in our fac­tory ahead of time, so the de­signer that planned the home also de­signs the walls,” ex­plains Jeff. “Think­ing ahead and plan­ning for spe­cific fin­ishes and de­sign de­tails adds value to the builder and speeds up the process.”

One thing the walls don’t in­clude are stan­dard struc­tural in­su­lated panel (SIP) con­struc­tion. In­stead, they’re made from a full layer of foam in­su­la­tion be­fore cus­tom in­su­la­tion is blown in to match the cli­mate’s needs, adding to the sys­tem’s flex­i­bil­ity and cus­tomiza­tion. Be­cause there’s no solid in­te­rior layer, the walls also come with a builtin wall cav­ity for plumb­ing and wiring to run eas­ily.

By cre­at­ing a smart sched­ule and nail­ing down de­tails dur­ing the ini­tial de­sign process, the build team ran into min­i­mal hic­cups dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase, with the ex­cep­tion of one late-break­ing re­quest from the home­owner.

“He wanted to in­clude a golf sim­u­la­tor in the lower level, so we had to change the en­gi­neer­ing to lower the slab enough for him to get a full swing in,” says Jeff with a laugh. “I’d say that’s an okay chal­lenge to have!”

Thanks to thor­ough plan­ning (see the home’s de­sign in Part 1 of the series in our June 2018 is­sue), the con­struc­tion phase went very smoothly. The cen­ter core of the home is com­prised of a full struc­tural timber frame, and Cana­dian Timberframes’ wall-panel sys­tem cre­ates an air-tight seal. In ad­di­tion to fea­tur­ing op­ti­mal in­su­la­tion for the cold cli­mate, the wall sys­tem makes the most of each panel, with strap­pings, ply­wood skirt­ing and cutouts to ac­com­mo­date sid­ing, stonework, win­dows and ex­te­rior rafters.


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