Friday, May 29, 2009

Building a Timber House

Building a timber house isn’t much different than building any green home. The steps are the same: design, build, enjoy.

Hiring a licensed architect, particularly a timber frame architect, will quite possibly be the wisest choice you can make to build a timber house. A timber frame architect provides five valuable services:

  • 1. Understands the Scope of the Project: A licensed timber frame architect understands timber frame construction as well as the details and phases of the project. He or she has the expertise to develop and refine the vision so you can understand the scope of the project.

  • 2. Knows State and Local Codes: A licensed architect is knowledgeable in the building codes applicable to your project and designs the timber frame to meet these codes. They usually prepare most of the documentation necessary for you to get your building permits, saving you both time and money.

  • 3. Hires the Team: When you secure an architect’s project management services, he or she heads the team and makes sure everyone knows their job. They answer the myriad of questions from the builder and their subcontractors, and makes sure any changes do not affect the structural and architectural integrity of the timber frame design.

  • 4. Oversees the Project: The licensed architect is involved in the day-to-day construction of the project, making him or herself available for consultations, meetings, and questions from the site. Some architects will also hire the subcontractors for you (to erect the timber frame and install the Structural Insulated Panels, for instance) and then establish and manage the construction schedule. Throughout the project, your architect is your advocate, staying true to your home design and your budget.

  • 5. Can Green Up Your Project: Are you interested in building a green timber house? A green architect will give you numerous options for saving money and protecting your investment in the home design and material selection processes.


The second step of building a timber frame home (design, build, enjoy) is pretty much the same as building a green home.

Your timber frame architect can guide you through the construction of the timber house, overseeing the day-to-day construction of the home, managing subcontractors, and the project schedule. The timber frame architect manages on-site changes to make sure they 1) are in keeping with the original home design; 2) work with the timber frame design; and 3) are changes you can afford.

The timber frame and SIP panels are generally completed in two to three weeks, depending on the home size. After that, the construction of the rest of the home (roofing, siding, windows and doors, trim, etc.) is the same as any green home.

The final step, which can last for generations, is definitely the most satisfying phase of building a timber house. This is when you truly enjoy the personal touches you put into the home, the little details you insisted on, the private areas you have for personal time, and the open common areas where you strengthen relationships with the ones you love.

(photo of finished timber home, right, courtesy of Timberpeg)

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