Congratulations, you’ve decided to build the timber frame home of your dreams! Now, what can you do to make sure it gets built just right? Here are seven considerations that you can use to ensure your new home is built to match your style, budget, and design needs.
#1 Has your timber frame home been designed properly?
Like every project, building a timber frame home starts on a piece of paper. Make sure your designer/engineer/architect/builder has specific experience building timber frame homes. Their expertise will ensure that your home is properly designed so that it will be strong, beautiful, and will cost less and last longer.
#2 Do you want a full timber frame home or just timber accents?
In a fully timber framed home, the entire structure of the house is built with timbers. This is the strongest way to build your home. It can cost more than a conventional home since there will be more timbers used. If you’d like to see a breakdown of costs for a Timber Frame visit our “How Much Does a Log Home Cost” page.
If you don’t want a full timber structure, you could also choose to build a conventionally framed house that has some parts built with timbers, either for structural or for aesthetic purposes. For example: You could use conventional framing for all of the bedrooms and use timbers to give living rooms, entrance ways, and trusses the support and beauty of wood accents.
#3 Do you want a timber frame or post and beam frame?
Sometimes the terms timber frame and post and beam are interchanged, so it’s important to be clear on what you’re actually looking for. The most obvious difference between a timber frame and a post and beam home is the type of timbers used. Timber frames cut all the timbers into square posts where as post and beam posts are typically round.
When building a timber frame, parts of the frame are assembled on the ground and then lifted as whole sections (called bents) to be put into place. After the entire timber frame is completed, the walls and roof are built over top of it.
Post and beam homes use timber posts that are set into place first and additional timbers are added one by one due to their weight and size.
Today, home designs are beginning to combine timber frame and post and beam timbers to create a hybrid look.
#4 Which wood will you use to build your timber frame home?
We’ve previously written a detailed article on how to select the best wood for your timber frame home, click here to read it. You’ll want to work with your designer and engineer to ensure you select the best wood species and processing for your home’s style and structure.
In general, you’ll be able to choose:
Your timber species. Oak, pine, spruce, or cedar? There are a number of wood species to choose from depending on the design you want. Their availability and cost will depend on your location. For instance, on the west coast of Canada, Douglas Fir and Red Cedar are the most popular options due to their strength and availability.
Your wood processing method. How timbers are processed impact their strength, look, and longevity. Kiln dried, fully planed, free-of-heart centered timbers are the premium option for building a timber frame home. Rough sawn, green wood, boxed heart timbers are the most economic option available.
As a word of caution, we don’t recommend using “green” wood. This wood is fresh from the forest and has not been dried. Green timbers have a high moisture content that can lead to movement, shifting, and cracking as the home ages.
#5 What joinery will best support your timber frame home?
There’s more than one way to join two timbers. Strength is always priority number one and then your choice comes down to a matter of looks.
Steel joinery and fasteners are always preferred by engineers because they’re stronger and easier to do calculations for. However, wood to wood joinery has proven its strength over hundreds of years of building. Wood to wood joinery means more cost in labour during the timber cutting process but less cost in materials since there are fewer fasteners required.
When it comes to style: Do you prefer the traditional, natural look of wood to wood joinery? Do you like to see a little bit of the steel connections showing? Or, do you like contrasting the natural wood with steel connectors? You can mix and match your timber frame home joinery depending on your home’s design and budget.
#6 What’s the best framing method for building your home?
There are two different ways that builders can incorporate timbers into a structure.
One is an enclosed timber frame, meaning that the walls are built on the outside surface of the timbers. This way of building highlights the timbers inside the house, keeps them protected from weather exposure, and is easier to insulate and make airtight.
However, it takes away from the outside look of the frame because it’s partially covered. This can be good if you’re building in an area where you have to follow strict regulations to what your home can look like outside, or if you want the look of a traditional home on the outside and a timber frame inside.
The other way is to build walls in between the timbers, which makes them visible from the outside of the home as well. This is perfect if you do want the look and feel of a timber frame inside and out. This style may require larger timbers for framing and insulating.
#7 How can you choose a good builder for your timber frame home?
Make sure the builder who will bring your timber frame home to life meets your budget, needs and requirements. Keep in mind that a very low price could mean that something has been compromised, and that the most expensive option may not necessarily be the best. Check out our full article “6 Key Questions to Ask before Hiring a Home Builder”.
Most importantly, make sure the builder treats your timber frame home as it should be treated, as your dream home coming true.
If you are considering building a timber frame home check out our plans and galleries section to get some ideas and inspiration. As always if you have any questions or want to look at building please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.