Anybody ever live or build a timber frame house?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by r.h. in okla., Mar 7, 2005.

  1. Wife and I kind of like the looks of timber frame homes. Have noticed they are very similar to log homes just that the logs are square instead of round. We was checking out some sites on the computer last night and just loved what we was seeing. Any pro's and con's of living or building a timber framed house?
     
  2. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    They're absolutely beautiful and will last hundreds of years. They're not a whole lot like log homes though. I mean, I guess the posts are similar, but the walls are not usually wood. They're usually SIPs, which, to me, is a huge plus over a log home.

    The main thing holding us back is cost. It can be really high. But it's still on our list of possibilities. Vermont Timberframes seems pretty resonably priced. We've also discussed doing it ourselves with timber from the local mill. There are several places around the country who offer seminars on doing your own timber framing. You might want to look into that too. I've also seen some on ebay.
     

  3. vtfarma

    vtfarma Well-Known Member

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    We live in a post and beam timber frame home. The walls are hung on the beams. Renovations are easier as long as you understand where your main supports are. We have been living here for 11 years and would not change it for anything... well maybe a bigger farm.!! :)
     
  4. thanks for the info. A guy at my church has his own sawmill where he cuts lumber for lots of people and stays very busy. If I can find some trees to cut I may go ahead and start drying them out and have him cut them for beams. It might take us a few years but I believe it will be well worht the wait.
     
  5. Egumuq

    Egumuq Member

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    My husband and I own property in Alaska and in May of 2006 we will be moving up there to build our own home. We plan on using post and beam with timber infill. We also plan on cutting our own timber off our land. A great book on the subject is The Craft of Modular Post and Beam by James Mitchell. We recently picked it up and it has lots of great information. If you get a chance please check out our web site www.pawcreekhomestead.com. Good luck!
    Pam
     
  6. Phantomfyre

    Phantomfyre Black Cat Farm Supporter

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    We bought a timber frame house last summer and love it. It's really solid and absolutely beautiful.

    Advantages:
    -Gorgeous
    -Solid and quiet - no weird creaking at night like a stick house, and settling doesn't result in drywall cracks (unless you have some drywall - we only have it in the bathrooms.)
    -Don't ever have to decide what color to paint the walls :haha: unless you put up drywall. (Ours is all knotty pine paneling on the walls.)
    -If you get an ice dam on the roof because of the lack of insulation, and water leaks inside, it doesn't seep into the interior of walls and damage drywall - just remove the ice dam, wipe the timbers and wall, and presto! No harm, no fowl.
    -If you accidentally crash into a post with something and dent/scratch it, it just adds to the character of the home. ;)

    Disadvantages/Considerations:
    -If not designed right, insulating the place while maintaining aesethics can be difficult. Has to be done right when it's built. Ours wasn't, so we'll have to retrofit the place someday by probably adding to the height and exterior area of the house working from the OUTSIDE in. :rolleyes:
    -You'll want a humidifier in the winter - all that wood really sucks up the moisture in the air, leaving your skin as dry as the Sahara - ouch. Recommended setting on our humidifier on the oil furnace is 35% in winter - we cranked ours to 60% and never got even close to a point where we had condensation on the windows. Trust me on this - even if you think you can tough it out. But again, less wood and more drywall probably would resolve this some. I'm just not willing to go there.
    -We have to remain on constant vigil for carpenter ants. And since the house is in the woods, it's even more of a concern.
    -Hiding wiring and utilities can be hard, but it makes it easier to work on them!
    -You'll need to have an answer to why you smile all the time, becuase you'll love it so much.
    -You'll need to keep a rag on hand for when visitors come and drool on the floor. :haha:

    Now, having been in the house for under a year, I'd guess we'll learn more about the pros and cons of living in a timber frame house as we go. But really, since you are starting from scratch and can plan for things like insulation, you'll be better off than us already. If we ever have to move and sell this place, I'll be one sad, sorry person.

    Diana
     
  7. oz in SC

    oz in SC Well-Known Member

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    I found this while doing the never ending search for a home :D for our land...

    It IS a kit of course but does look nice although it has some quirks-odd master bathroom according to my wife(as long as it has a toilet and a bath I'm fine with it :D )

    http://www.barnpros.com/barnhousekit.htm

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    I cut my own timber frame from rough sawn beams that I got at a very reasonable price from a local sawmill. It took me about 18 months to cut all of the pieces and then we raised the frame in three days.


    [​IMG]

    The picture shows us putting the last purlin in place. My frame, which is 48'X32' cost me less than $8000 including the tools that I purchased to cut the joints. A smaller frame could be constructed for considerably less.
     
  9. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    FYI - Get a book or two on timber framing. You will find that most cut their frames from green lumber, so drying is not absolutely necessary. In fact, it will be signifiantly more difficult to cut the frame in dried lumber - especially if you choose to use hardwood beams.

    The frame in the picture above was all cut from green wood.
     
  10. Thanks stush for the info. I've been looking to buy several how to books that I have found on timber frame homes. I've no experience at all on timber frame homes. Being a former electrician I have wired several log homes and do know that a well built log homes usually have jacks in them to compensate for the drying. I just figured if I started with good dried beams then I wouldn't have to bother with jacks.

    Oz thanks for the site. That is a beautiful housebarn. I'll have to show it to my wife this evening. I couldn't afford the kit though.
     
  11. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    RH,

    With a log home, you are dealing with shrinkange of a different type. That type of shrinkage wont be a problem for you with a timber frame, especially if you enclose it in SIPs.

    I would recommend the following three books to start:

    "Build A Classic Timber Framed House" by Sobon - A good primer on classic timber framing and the tools used. Good info on different species of wood, shrinkage, etc. Buy this one if nothing else.

    "A Timber-Framer's Workshop" by Chappell - A more technical look at timber framing. Very thorough and covers more on modern tools.

    "The Timber-Frame Home" by Benson - A little more of a coffee table type book, but great information about interior finishing.

    Those will give you plenty to digest.

    A few suggestions:

    Buy a chain mortiser. This was my best investment. A real time saver and does a very nice neat job on your mortises. I paid almost $1000 for mine used and it came with an extra chain. Worth every red cent that I spent on it. You will be able to sell it when you are done and get all or most of your money back if you take care of it. I have the Makita model. It is the best buy for the price. Get an extra chain. I ruined one on a piece of embedded barbed wire. :(

    Buy three chisels. A 1 1/2", a 2" and a 3" slick. They will all get a workout and all have their purposes. Barr makes nice ones if you want to buy new, but you can find some good old ones on eBay if you watch. Just be prepared to put a good edge on them. Even the Barr new ones need a light honing.

    Buy a GOOD set of plans. This is your first project, and they will be invaluable. If you buy a stock set from a reputable timber frame company, they should cost you about $600 and will include elevations, part drawings, materials lists, etc. Again, worth every penny.

    Another good idea is attending a workshop. I did, and was glad that I did. Cost was $150 for a week of instruction. I soaked up everything that I could and came home rearing to go. I had fun and met some nice people in the process.

    I bought a big beat up Makita 16" Circular saw with bad bearings and a cheap blade. I replace the bearings and the blade with a decent carbide one. I used this saw almost constantly during my construction. Plus, it has a big "WOW" appeal when your buddies see it. These are really BIG saws. :D

    Build a set of sturdy sawhorses. Absolutely necessary when working with timbers this big. You don't want to get hurt. Make sure they are strong enough to support your beams while you are cutting on them!

    You will also need a couple of good handsaws, a good tapemeasure, an accurate framing square, a 12" speed square, and a bunch of pencils!

    A good wheeled cart to help move timbers. I got one of those garden type ones at Lowes that is rated to 1000#. We moved every piece of my frame, 165 total, on this cart at least four times. Some pieces were over 600# each.

    Did I mention patience? :) :) :)

    Here are some more pictures of the beams in progress:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    A picture of the frame as it stands right now. I have it enclosed with SIPs and am ready to finish my chimney, apply shingles, and siding.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    I think I remember those pictures of the frame pieces in your garage from awhile back. Congrats on getting it up and covered. Can I ask a few more questions.

    Who did you do your workshop with? Where did you get your SIPs. What do you think the final cost will be when it's all said and done?

    I would really love to do timber frame, but I'm not sure if we've got enough money or enough time. I have talked to a timber framer who could do our frame for approx. $12/sq. ft. in pine. And up from there.
     
  14. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    I did my workshop with Goshen Timber Frames in Franklin, NC. The cost was very reasonable and they did a very nice job of presenting the class. I camped out while I was there and had a great trip. I also bought a set of plans from them. I did not buy a standard set. I had them modify a home that they had previously built to meet my specifications. That led to some problems, because they did not dimensionally check them well after they modified them. Basically that mean that I had to call on numerous occasions to ask why particular measurements did not add up correctly, etc. At first they were a little put out, but when they realized that I was genuinely finding mistakes in the plan, they were very helpful.

    If you went with one of their standard plans, I doubt that you would have this problem as those standard sets have likely been bulit numerous times. By then, the kinks should be worked out.



    http://www.murus.com

    They are very high quality panels. Go with polyurethane and stay away from EPS. I had their crew install them, but definately would not do that again. I would do them myself or have a local crew do it. Very poor work ethic.



    All said, I will have aproximately $80K in my home. If you count my labor the price is much higher. :D That total includes the foundation, frame, door and windows, exterior finish, and a finished basement that I currently live in.


    That is much higher than what I paid doing it myself. My price, if you are just talking about the frame, was about $3.20 per square foot. Does his price include enclosing it?
     
  15. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    Off to look up Goshen Timber Frames.

    All said, I will have aproximately $80K in my home. If you count my labor the price is much higher. :D That total includes the foundation, frame, door and windows, exterior finish, and a finished basement that I currently live in.

    WOW!!! That's great. The prices that some of the higher end timber frame companies are charging is crazy. We're looking at a 1000 s.ft. addition and some were going to be close to 80k JUST FOR THE FRAME!

    That is much higher than what I paid doing it myself. My price, if you are just talking about the frame, was about $3.20 per square foot. Does his price include enclosing it?[/QUOTE]

    No, it was just $12/sft for the frame and for erecting it. Actually, he's the cheapest I've come across so far. It would be about $12000 for what we want to do.

    We're actually seriously considering Shelterkit or Firstday Cottages. They're post and beam with dimensional lumber. The poor man's version of timber frame. :haha: But I haven't given up on timber framing entirely yet.
     
  16. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    If you figure in the cost of the crew to help erect the frame and the crane rental, my frame costs come to $4.32/sq ft.
     
  17. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

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    What do you do when you find carpenter ants? Spray? What kind?
     
  18. romancemelisa

    romancemelisa Well-Known Member

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    the other night there was a reply and info about a young women 17yrs. old, who built her own home i can't find the link anywhere? anyone know what it was?
     
  19. cathyharrell

    cathyharrell Well-Known Member

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    I think it is Vermonthomesteaders Peace and Carrots website.