What does it cost to build a 2000 square foot timber frame house? I guess there are two extreme answers…”not much” or “all you’ve got”. And both are accurate answers to that question.
A timber frame doesn’t cost 20-30% more to build than any other custom home because the final number depends on so many other factors. It may cost a little more, but those costs are offset by removing tray ceilings, crown molding, and other details that aren’t needed to make a timber frame special.
Floor Space – That 2000 square feet can be divided into three floors (lower level, first floor, second floor/loft). The 2000 square feet can become a variation of a rambling ranch. The 2000 square feet can be on the first and second levels.
Roof Lines – You can have a straight gable roof, a hipped roof, a roof with reverse gables and valleys, and everything else utilizing these “standard” roofs.
Timber – Timber can be green (most common), kiln-dried, air-dried. It can be pine, douglas fir, oak, cedar. It can even be reclaimed timber.
Site – Is it flat? Is it steep? Is it heavily wooded? Is it rural and hard to get to?
Decks/Porches – Lots of decks and porches? Enclosed? Screened?
Fireplace(s) – One…more. Masonry? Inserts? Rock, brick, or cultured stone?
Roofing – Asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, standing seam, metal?
You can see where I’m going here and we haven’t even touched on the interior appliances, fixtures, and finishes. The possibilities to spend … and to save … money are endless. At the end of the day, the cost of that 2000 square foot timber frame home will run between $300,000 and $800,000. We’ve seen 2000 square foot homes built everywhere in that range.
Cost per square foot? It’s smoke and mirrors. Which square foot are you talking about? The kitchen? The entry? The bedroom? The real cost to build a timber frame house is calculated by the “cost to construct”. It’s a real number reached by working as a team to identify all the components as closely as possible. That team can start with you and your timber frame company’s design team and once preliminary drawings are in place, grow to include your contractor and any pertinent tradesmen.
So, next time someone tells you that you can build for X$ per square foot, ask them “which square foot?” and see what answer you get. In the meantime, start your process to design and build your new timber frame home with an appropriate budget and work with people who have been through the process to develop plans that work with that budget. You may not get everything you want…or you may get more. But the cost to build your timber frame home will be much smoother as you work through the process.
The truth is, there is no easy, fill in the blank answer to the question…”What will it cost to build a timber frame house?”…, but there is an answer to what it will take to build YOUR timber frame home and that answer takes some work and investment on both your part and the part of your design/build team.
Give me a call at 828-524-8662 or drop me an email if I can help you plan your timber frame home, Bonnie Pickartz, Goshen Timber Frames
Planning green timber frame homes is, if anything, easier than planning to build a conventional home. Timber frames and structural insulated panels take the project well into “green” territory before any other decision is made. Using minimally processed materials (heavy timbers) and an unsurpassed enclosure systems makes green building less stressful.
As you do plan your new timber frame home, you’ll need to consider if you want to build as green as possible, whether to seek green building certification, and where to concentrate your efforts. The possibilities are endless, as are the questions and the answers. If you consider these questions early on, you’ll have a big picture understanding and can make other decisions based on these answers. Timber frame homes allow you to answer “yes” to these questions.
Energy efficiency, durability, and renewability are key to evaluating any building system. And buildings are a system and should be planned as such. The answers will help you to determine your path to having a home that will serve you and generations well. Answering these questions for each component will give you the “greenest” home, but answering them for the timber frame package takes you a long way toward an energy efficient, sustainable home.
- Does it have a long life? Timber frame homes that were built over a thousand years ago are in place and living well today.
- Does it save energy? Timber frames, enclosed in insulated panels are hard to beat. The reduced consumption of energy is good for your pocket and for the earth.
- Does it minimize contributions to the waste stream? Timbers are minimally processed. Panels are built offsite, minimizing site waste.
- Is it renewable and recyclable? Many timbers are grown as a crop. They are a naturally renewable resource and can easily be recycled. Today many barns built hundreds of years ago are being repurposed as homes, flooring, and other building materials.
Plan carefully, considering your site and how to best place your home, the size of your home (don’t over or under build), the materials you use to finish your home. Each step brings more questions, but these four questions will help you to gauge the sustainability of the materials your using.
And when you build, build for generations and…build boldly!
Energy costs in timber frame homes has always been one of the items we bring to the table when we discuss the advantages of timber frames. The cost to heat and cool a home that’s wrapped in structural insulated panels is typically low. As we designed our home, we wanted plenty of natural light, but understand all too well that windows are the least efficient wall space. However, our utility bills continue to please us.
We heat and cool our house with electricity. Propane to cook and for the tankless water heater runs less than $100 a year. In the past twelve months, our electricity has cost less than $886. While we are watch our usage, we comfortable and don’t live in a dark, cold home. Even with an abundance of windows, our costs average $2.41 per day for electricity. Timber frame homes offer these economies naturally.
As we discuss designing homes with our clients, we consider daylighting, air flow, and overhangs to be an important part of the design process. Homes shouldn’t only be beautiful, they should be comfortable and efficient. We bring this altogether in the final design.
Energy costs will continue to rise, so it is always important to consider ways to make homes more efficient. This alone will minimize the money spent in the future to heat and cool a home. Adding a well insulated envelope to the items on your wish list in your new home is the most effective way to save money long term. Today we can’t stress the importance of this too much. Save money…daily.
So, consider your options, and when you build…build boldly!
Even with cold temperatures daily, many thoughts are turning to designing and building a new home when weather warms up. Hopefully, if this is the case, you’ve done some homework and are working with someone already. If not, it’s time to get your thoughts in order and start the process.
Below are a few tips for jump starting your journey to design and build your home.
- Couples should sit down together and talk about the type, size, and style that you’d line to build…and your budget…come to an agreement on the budget.
- Spend some time online and looking at books to get a feel for both the interior and exterior style that you find most appealing. Bookmark these photos or scan them in and save the images in a “new home” folder.
- Make a list of the items that “must” be included and a list “wants”. Find a commonality for these lists and make this your starting place for design.
- Define the space and how you’ll use it.
- Contact two or three companies that communicate their services and homes well. The Internet is a great resource here. Visit websites and see how much information they share and how you relate to it.
- Discuss their design and build process and find out how they work with their clients through this process.
- Jump in with both feet. This process isn’t something that you should wade into with fear and trepidation, its a process that should be fun and exciting and something that you’ll look back on with a smile.
We have three favorite words to share as you begin to explore building your timber
frame home. Plan. Plan. Plan.
The first part of the planning process is educating yourself. The Internet has made
this step much easier than it was in the past. Most timber frame companies have a
web presence with photos. Some have floor plans for your review. While many or most
work on selling timber frames, some answer questions and provide information about
the building process. With just a little surfing, you can find out more in a day or
two than you could pre-www in many weeks of reading and talking.
The second step will be to talk to people from some of these companies. Reach out
to them and have a conversation about your project. This will give you a better feel
for how they work and how they communicate. Ask questions and, if they don’t have an
answer handy, ask them to get back with you.
After you’ve completed these two steps, whether over a number of days, weeks, or
months, the next step will be easier. You’ll have the tools you need to choose a
timber frame company that you’d like to work with as you move forward.
The advantage of choosing one timber frame company before you begin your design-
build process is often overlooked. As you begin to design, having your team in place gives
you flexibility to make changes in the preliminary stage. The savings add up quickly.
So move forward. Just plan, plan, plan. These steps will help you to have an excellent
and wonderful journey as you design and build your new home.
By Bonnie Pickartz
Choosing a contractor to help build your new timber frame can be an intimidating undertaking. You wonder if you should be concerned if they’ve never worked with a timber frame before. Will they charge more because they are on a learning curve and are working in, for them, uncharted territory? How well will they work with your timber frame company? The questions just keep coming.
Step back and take a deep breath. Don’t let this be a defining moment in your timber frame journey. Ask a few questions and narrow down your choices. Ask your timber frame advocate (oh, yes, your timber frame company should be your advocate) to answer any questions the builder might have. The timber framer can take the mystery out of the process for the builder.
- Have you built a timber frame before? Most builders haven’t, but they should be excited about adding this to their list of skills. Look for a certain amount of enthusiasm in their response. The “well, we put some beams in the ceiling and it looks the same” answer is a sure reason to walk away.
- Will your subcontractors be open to non-traditional options for HVAC ductwork and wiring? Timber frames don’t have attic spaces, so the ductwork can be a challenge. Sometimes they have to think outside the box. Your timber frame designer can help guide them and can make changes to accommodate their requirements if needed.
- How will they communicate with you and with the timber framer? Are they open to meeting online, emails, exchanging files electronically, as well as phone calls? Since it’s unlikely that your timber framer is local, communication is an important part of the process.
Your timber frame company should be willing to help you interview contractors. Whether done long distance or in a day of meetings, this can be a valuable piece of the puzzle. It brings everyone to the table before there are tough questions and sets the tone of the project as a team effort.
Choosing the right contractor will make your timber frame journey a pleasant and fun experience. Building is, by nature, stressful and having a team that communicates well and brings a sense of excitement to the project is key.
So move forward, build and Build Boldly.
By Bonnie Pickartz
My morning routine is not exciting. I get up, start the coffee, and sit down at my computer for some inspirational reading, then move on to check email and the “social scene” (Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn).
This morning my email had a pleasant surprise. A client emailed that they had listed their existing home on Tuesday and sold it on Wednesday…in today’s tough real estate market. In the past month, we had two clients become “homeless” when their homes sold sooner than expected. Now that’s a good problem to have.
Our hope is that this is a sign of an improving economy. As existing homes begin to move, those people who have waited to build a new home will be in a position to do so, and the construction trades will begin to move forward. Since we design homes, we are usually one of the first trades to get started on a project. The contractor, working with all the trades from the foundation up, follows quickly.
Who knew that an early morning email would be the bearer of such good news not only for our client and for Goshen, but for our nation? We all knew that things were on the rise, but seeing them in a concrete way is rewarding.
So, move forward, build and build boldly. Begin your new timber frame home journey and know that it will all work in good time.
By Bonnie Pickartz
Designing your new timber frame home is a journey of sorts. You’ll bring all the luggage you’ve gathered along the way. Homes you’ve seen on television shows, homes you’ve seen in magazines, homes you’ve driven past, homes you’ve lived in and visited…they’re all packed neatly away, waiting to be sorted and reviewed upon arrival at the design desk.
Interestingly enough, drawing timber frame house plans is not much different today than it was centuries ago. You decide how you live and you design your home to work around your lifestyle.
In 1852, American sculptor Horatio Greenough used the term “form follows function” as he was explaining the organic principles of architecture. Almost 50 years later, in 1896, architect Louis Sullivan wrote and article, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” and expanded on the concept. He actually wrote “form ever follows function” a more emphatic phrase. He was adamant that this was the “rule that shall permit no exception”. He wrote:
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function.
This is the law.
Today we need remember that rule and to keep function at the forefront as we design our timber frame homes. The way you live, the things that make you comfortable, the necessary space to live with ease…these are the first things to consider as you lay out your new timber frame home.
So take time to think about how you live as you begin designing your new timber frame home. And remember Mr. Sullivan’s words “form ever follows function”. Let your life direct the design of your home and always Build Boldly.
Timber frame homes are beautiful, inspiring, charming, and all of the wonderful words that you can consider. And, when properly designed and constructed, they are also amazingly energy efficient. This doesn’t happen by accident, but with intentional design and construction.
Designing for not only beauty, but also for energy efficiency, should be goals from the start. You will need to consider size, style, orientation, daylighting, and all the other subtle ways that you can plan forward. Make it known early in your design meetings that you want your home to be sustainable and to minimize energy usage.
Plan forward for energy efficient fixtures and appliances and to use energy efficient bulbs. Don’t save money with inefficient appliances and windows. They will cost you daily.
Structural Insulated Panels are the enclosure of choice for many timber frame companies. Timber frame homes and hybrid homes work well with panel systems. A tight home and a well insulated home don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but a well installed panel system covers it all.
We not only promote energy efficiency, but we live it. Our own 1700 square foot timber frame home, with lots of windows and vaulted ceilings, uses only $2.34 per day ($835 for the year) in electricity. We heat and cool with a heat pump and don’t have a fireplace or any auxiliary heat source. We have an electric dryer and a dishwasher.
Last year our energy usage was $3.08 per day ($1,123 for the year). We had a much colder winter, but we also made some common sense changes. We don’t run the dishwasher until it’s full. We hang some clothes out to dry. Simple choices have saved us almost $300 per year.
So think forward. Plan your home to save those energy dollars and to be comfortable. Build a home you’ll love and whatever you do, Build Boldly!