Your Dream Home Starts Here
Prepare for the road ahead by educating yourself on available options.
Dreaming of a timber home of your own? Creating a home from scratch is a significant undertaking, one that merits a little research, which this magazine will help provide. For much of the process, building a timber home is nearly the same as building a standard stick-frame custom home. But there are a few key differences to keep in mind.
ADDRESS YOUR OPTIONS
In general, timber homes fall within a few different categories, based on how the timbers are used. All timber homes showcase the beauty of the wood, which adds abundant character to a home’s interior.
Traditional timber frames are fashioned by skilled craftsmen who carve the timbers’ interlocking wood joints by hand or with the aid of power tools.
In some homes, a system of post and beams form the structure. These timbers might be fastened together with metal hardware, plates or rods.
Other timber homes feature heavy wood trusses as part of their ceiling structure. These trusses might support a roof load or might be installed just for looks.
Hybrid homes combine the beauty of timber framing in some areas of the home with the use of standard construction in other parts of the home. Designing a hybrid home can help keep costs down.
GET TO KNOW THE PLAYERS
Before your home project is complete, many people will have contributed to it. Here are just a few key players:
The loan officer you work with should be able to help guide you through the process of building a home. Remember that you might need a large chunk of your construction loan right at the beginning to make a deposit on your timber home.
Your real-estate agent will help you find the right spot for your home. If you’re buying an undeveloped lot or rural acreage, you should work with an agent who is experienced in land sales. (For more information on picking your property, turn to page 24.)
Perhaps the most important decision you make will be the choice of a
timber producer to manufacture your timber frame. Once you start researching companies, you may discover that different timber companies provide a wide variety of products and services. Some timber-frame companies offer complete design and general contracting services. Some offer design and fabrication services only. Some just design and erect the timber frame itself but do not handle overall construction services. Decide if you want to assemble and manage your own team or whether you would prefer to hire a contractor to take on these tasks.
With great input from you, your
designer or architect will create the plans for your home. Your designer might be on staff at a timber company, or you might choose an independent professional. Either way, the person designing your home needs to work closely with your timber producer to make the framing and the home design cohesive. If you choose to work with a designer/ architect who is not a part of your timber company or if the timber company does not offer design services, make sure that the designer understands timber-frame systems, how they work and how to design them. It is best, however, to have this person work directly with a timber company early on in the design process to avoid any duplication of services and to ensure the integration of timber-framing details into your plans.
Your general contractor’s job is to take your home from start to finish. He or she coordinates all the subcontractors who will work on your home, orders materials, meets with inspectors and keeps you apprised of the budget. During the construction process, the contractor will manage your job site, supervise all the workers installing plumbing, roofing and electrical services, and much more. These workers may be on the general contractor’s staff, or they may be hired as subcontractors.
You can begin your search for all these key people by looking at the directories and ads found in this special issue. Always remember to ask potential team members for references. Go to a job site and visit a timber producer’s shop, if possible. Ask to see a designer’s completed homes and talk to the homeowners about the design process. Listen to your gut: You will work with each of these people for many months,
so make sure your personalities and visions for the project mesh.
DEFINE YOUR STYLE
Whatever aesthetic you prefer for your dream home, you can find a timber style that will set the tone. Pay attention to the photos of homes in this guide. You’ll discover that you favor some more than others, so note what you like about them. Follow up these initial leanings by consulting other books and timber producers’ web sites. You’ll begin to hone in on a clear direction for your home and its timbers. From there, you should compile an online folder or notebook of ideas, including clippings, that demonstrate the layouts, styles, color combinations, furnishings, appliances and finishes that appeal to you.
If you like the clean lines of contemporary or modern styles, you might choose timbers that have clear grain, simple lines and very little carvings or decoration. If a dream home for you means a country or rustic style, look for a barn-style timber frame or one with hand-hewn timbers or round log posts and beams. Old-World style might call for the handcrafted feel of carvings and ornamental timbers. If the Mission or Arts & Crafts style moves you, you will find many timber producers who have created homes in those styles from coast to coast.
Don’t have a clear favorite? A beautiful frame can be the unifying theme for an eclectic style home that buzzes with visual interest.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
You will have plenty of homework to do before you break ground. Fortunately, you will find lots of information in the many resources available.
Online, start at timber home living. com to find more information in our articles, back issues and photo galleries.
In person, visit home shows (thelogandtimberhomeshow.com) geared toward timber homes, or check company websites for open house dates or frame raisings in your area.
Attend a workshop or seminar. The Log & Timber Home Shows also offers a University course for people who want to learn more about the process. Many timber companies also offer educational opportunities and timberframe schools sprinkled around the country to lead students through the steps of building a home or carving timber-frame joinery.