Timber-Frame Bang Without the Buck
Using timber-frame elements selectively is a more affordable way to add strength and beauty to a conventionally framed home.
Synopsis: Timber-frame elements can provide important structural service to a house, as well as add great drama and stately visual appeal. However, timber-frame elements can be expensive, especially if adequate lumber is not available where you are building. Timber-framing expert Will Beemer suggests that using timber-frame elements selectively is a good, affordable way to add strength and beauty to a conventionally framed house. Whether a house is stick-framed or built with SIPs, timber-frame elements can be integrated.
When I first started timber-framing, I was caught up in the excitement and tradition of an exposed handcrafted structure, and I still am. I used to think it sacrilege to build any other way than the way old-timers raised a full timber frame, but now my enthusiasm for the traditional has been tempered by the realities of modern building. Timber-framing sometimes limits the architectural possibilities that stick-framing might afford. However, the development of SIPs (structural insulated panels) contributed greatly to the timber-frame revival because they created a quick, efficient way to enclose and insulate a timber frame.
Because of high labor and material costs, though, building a timber frame can be expensive. As a result, more timber framers find themselves building hybrids. Most often, these hybrids fall into one of two categories: a timber roof or ceiling built over exterior walls built with SIPs, conventional framing lumber, logs, or masonry; or a fully timbered part of the house, such as a great room, porch, or addition that’s attached to a more conventional main structure. Separate timber-frame portions of a house also can be connected with simpler systems. Integrating two timber frames at an odd angle, for example, can pose joinery problems. Joining them with stick-framing provides an easier, flexible solution.
Use specialized labor and expensive materials sparingly
Timber-framing is a specialized skill…