Fitting your Magazine House Plan to a Timber Frame

By: Cyndy Gardner, Co-Owner of Homestead Timber Frames

Rustic Homestead Timber Frames great room The thrill of finding that perfect house plan in a magazine or online is hard to beat.  You love the exterior colors or the curb appeal – the window styles – and especially the floor plan.  If only you could just change the size of those bedrooms for the kids or turn the kitchen the other way – then it would be just perfect!

Well, you have joined the rest of us who always see how those little changes could make it better for our lifestyle.  Now you want it to be a timber frame home so you can create a warmer feel or make it more rustic in appearance.  How do we put a timber frame into this perfect house plan?

Adapting a timber frame to a conventionally built house plan does take some pushing and pulling to help with alignment for posts and joists. It’s not impossible and while we’re at it, we can help make those floor plan changes you feel are important.  Usually as the process begins, we hear of a few more additions or changes you see becoming important.  And now you are in the middle of creating a home that fits you – not the ‘general public’ out there just wanting a house in a plain subdivision without any personality.

Homestead Timber Frames first floor plan for Black Mountain

Click here to see more of our stock home plans.

This is the fun part of building – the Design Process.  And we see a lot of clients bringing in that magazine photo of the home they wish to build.

Our Team starts with each room asking questions that many of you have not thought of such as:  ceiling heights, window sizes, where do you like to play the piano?  Outside porches, and where?  You get the idea.

Then the real brainstorming starts and ideas flow.  Eyes brighten and smiles begin.  The magazine house becomes a real home that, while we talk, you actually walk through the front door in your mind and ‘see’ the fireplace or stairwell – the focus of what represents you and your home.

This is how a home should begin.

The other important aspect of the design process is of course budget.  If your magazine home is larger than you really need or want to afford, then this discussion process can provide insight as to what heads the priority list.  Is it the gourmet kitchen, or the wrap-around porch that wins out?  We can help with all these wonderful challenges and make it easier to make those important decisions.

So keep searching your favorite magazines or online sites to find that ‘perfect’ home that you’ve dreamed of for so long.  Then bring it in for us to match a handsome timber frame to.  Make it your own, and you’ll be happy for many years to come.  We look forward to seeing you!

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Thinking About the Timber Frame Home You Want to Live In

With careful planning, your new home design will reflect the way you want to live.  We’ve listed some areas below that will help you think through your “must haves” as well as what you desire in a home.

Think about how you’d like the home to feel.  Talk about your lifestyle, how you like to entertain and which rooms you spend the most time in.  How do you want life to be different in your new home?  Do you want to create an outdoor living space?  Thoughtful planning in the design phase will result in a home that truly works for you.

Our timber frame home designer will listen to your ideas, and ask some questions.  The task at hand is to guide you through the maze of wants vs. needs and cost vs. budget.  With our knowledge and expertise, we promise you a well designed custom timber frames home to fit your budget.

1. Is this new timber frame home a single story home?  Do you need a basement, or just a crawl space?  How would you describe your building site?  We prefer to do site visits before the design process begins.

2. Do you prefer an open floor plan with the kitchen and dining areas combined with living areas?  Or do you favor separate rooms with easy traffic flow?

3. What is a comfortable ceiling height for you?  Would this new home have cathedral ceilings?

4. How do you entertain? Is the family / living room the main gathering place, or is it the kitchen?  Do you need a formal dining area?

5. Do you require a spot for a piano or large pool table?  How about other large pieces of furniture or wall art?

6. Are you a reader and have lots of books?  Is there a need for a quiet room away from the rest of the house, such as an office or library?  Need a space for crafts?

7. What type of heating / cooling system do you see in your new home? Do you intend to heat with a wood stove primarily, or for back-up? Are you interested in using ceiling fans?

8. How important is the need for a mud room or larger than average laundry room?

9. How important is the kitchen in your home?  Are you a person who frequently cooks and needs lots of counter space or large island?  Is a big pantry in order?

10. How do you envision the master bedroom?  Is it just a place to sleep, or do you need a space for reading chairs or a desk?  Is access to the outside important in this room?

11. Do your bedrooms need large walk-in closets, or just standard size closets?  For storage considerations, do you need larger and / or more closets or see some built-in furniture?

12. How important is the size of the master bathroom?  What are your requirements?  How many other bathrooms do you need?  How large?

13. Windows can be a large portion of your budget.  Does your property have views that you want to take advantage of? Are there areas of the home where you see a need for custom windows?

14. Is an attached garage a necessity, or do you prefer a detached garage that can serve multiple purposes? How large do you need this space?

15. Outdoor living areas range from attached covered porches and / or terraces to landscaped gardens with a pavilion a short walk from the main house.  Describe how you see your home and lifestyle fitting into these transition areas.

After you have answered most of the questions here, let us sit down together and go over your ideas.  We will listen to your requests and make suitable suggestions that we think will help save you money or steps in your building process.  Together, we can be a team that has your best interest at heart.  Together, we can craft this timber frame home based on your thoughtful ideas combined with our creative talents.

Click here to get started now!

Windows for Your Timber Frame Home

trimber frame home windows

The Timber Frame carries all of the structural weight of your house. That allows for large spans of windows and open interiors, which let light flow from one room to the next. However, poor placement of windows or windows of the wrong size can increase utility bills. That’s something we all wish to avoid.

You want to enjoy your views without dwelling on whether or not dollars are flying through the glass. Study on the location of your windows. Position them for maximum passive solar heat gain by orienting a majority of windows facing the south. That allows for the most solar exposure for winter heating, which minimizes your heat loss.

You can also save money on your windows by grouping commonly sized windows together rather than buying one large custom window.  The commonly sized windows are more affordable because they’re produced in great numbers.

There are many options and ideas for windows in your timber frame home. Privacy windows that are located close to the ceiling (or even in your ceiling) are a great way to get the light you want with the privacy you also desire.  An arched window echoing the exterior timber frame is a beautiful way to tie your house together.

My favorite idea is stained glass windows / panels, or reusing a vintage window for personal added flair.

Design Considerations on Building ‘Last Home’

By: Cyndy Gardner, Co-Owner of Homestead Timber Frames

 

If you are one of the more than 40% of Americans ages 50 to 64 planning to move within the next five years (Nielsen’s Demand Institute) and you’re thinking of building a new home, then here are some design considerations before you hire your designer/builder.

This generation is becoming more aware that by being more active in their ‘retirement years’ and planning for one level living, being near good services for social integration and health care all adds up to being happy overall.  Here is a list of our favorites when we begin the design phase for a couple building their ‘final home – their dream home’.

  1. Main floor will be your living area for everything – have all doors at grade level from entering the garage to the bathroom.
  2. Remember four-foot-wide hallways, three-foot-wide interior doors, levered handles on doors, walk-in showers that are large enough for the possibility of a wheelchair down the road, higher toilets, grab bars in the shower and beside the toilets, and attention to kitchen layout for accessibility.
  3. Plan on having two areas in the home for each of you.  These might be work/craft rooms, private office for writing, working from home, etc. but you need a place of your own to create in.
  4. You might consider two master suites – a spacious one for you and the other for adult children/guests.  The second one could be located on another level or even above the garage as an apartment.
  5. Position rooms for the best use of natural light and access to the outdoors.  Remember to plan on outdoor spaces such as covered porches, sunny terraces and gardening areas, and incorporate your interior rooms for easy access.
  6. Ease of maintenance is of prime concern so care is taken with selecting window types, siding, flooring and such.
  7. Remember this is your home, where you plan on living out your life.  Change your attitude and build this home without regard to resale value. That’s what your children will need to deal with – not you.

A new custom home is more economical to build than remodeling and adding adaptive features to an existing home.  It’s much harder to fix later than it is to build for accessibility from the outset.  You can’t make hallways wider.  You have to take space from one area to adapt another.  So choosing a great designer and having thoughtful discussions about your life interests, goals and needs can go a long way.

If you would like to design your project with us, click here to get started.

Timber Finishes

By: Bruce Gardner, Co-Owner of
Homestead Timber Frames

Throughout the past three decades of this ongoing timber frame revival, timber framers have tried just about every finish available.  Some have worked well and some have failed miserably.  The challenges are:

1. to find a finish solution that is easy to apply, readily available and reasonably priced
2. safe to the user – the environment – and the occupant
3. durable and easy to repair
4. yields the desired surface appearance and is long-lasting.

That’s a long list and most finishes do some of these things and a few do most of them.

Natural Oil Finish – These finishes are typically composed of Tung oil, linseed oil and a natural solvent such as citrus extracts.  A natural oil finish is simple to apply with a foam pad, roller or brush and is allowed to remain on the timber surface for up to one day, soaking into the grain.  The resulting finish has a rich patina and scuff marks are easily repaired by using an abrasive pad saturated with finish.  While the finish is wet your home will smell like an orange juice factory, but the citrus odor dissipates in two or three days.  These products are a good choice, yielding an adequate finish that is easily renewed and with no toxic substances introduced to you or your home.

In addition to standard natural oil finishes, some manufacturers offer oil finishes with wax that can be buffed to a low luster.

Petroleum Based Oil Finishes – Cheaper to purchase than natural oil finishes, petroleum-based Tung oil and linseed oil finishes have seen wide use.  These finishes are a bit less forgiving in application as the excess should be wiped from the timber surface before becoming gummy.  These finishes are right-off-the-shelf available and yield an attractive patina.  Marred surfaces are easily patched.  The big drawback has to do with the environment.  The compounds are injurious to skin and lungs and saturated rags can combust.  Most importantly, out gassing of harmful compounds can occur over a long period of time.

Varnishes and Urethanes – Applying finish to timbers in a timber frame differs from applying finish to a piece of fine furniture.  The wood in the furniture is dry and pretty stable while the timbers are surely less stable and must be allowed to breathe while they dry (usually 4-6 years depending on the species).  Urethanes and the like seal wood surfaces, fostering mildew growth beneath the finish on green timbers and ultimately failing.