Most of our customers find that one of the most rewarding aspects of a custom timber frame project is the opportunity to put their personal mark on a project. Indeed the active involvement of our clients in the design process is one of our favorite aspects of building timber frames as well. The following articles will hopefully help you through this rewarding experience with us and/or your design professional. This section will be updated regularly so you may might want to consider to subscribing to our weekly or monthly updates on our subscription page. This apsect of your timber frame project is quite involved so we encourage all of our potential clients to contact us early in their project desing phase either by email.

Timber Frames in 3D

One of the services we offer our clients is three-dimensional design. Believe it or not we are actually able to design our timber frames in 3D faster than if we were to produce traditional 2D drawings. By designing in 3D we are able to see spatial relationships and potential design conflicts easily and early on in the design process. Besides the advantage this offers us in streamlining fabrication and production it also translates to construction savings by avoiding project delays and costly change orders. We offer basic schematic 3D designs free as a part of our initial consultations and before entering into a formal preconstruction design agreement. All we need to produce these drawings is a rough floor plan, which we are more than happy to assist you in producing.
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Timber Frames and Masonry Heaters, A Perfect Match

Timber Frame with Masonry Heater

Masonry Heater

One of the many questions we are asked is “how to heat a timber frame home?” The short answer …. “Easily.” Since your frame will likely be wrapped in Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) the building envelop will be extra tight and efficient. (Read more about Structural Insulated Panels in an upcoming article). While any type of heating system can be integrated into your timber framed home we recommend some type of radiant heat. The added comfort provided by an efficient enclosure system is easily enhanced with our favorite type of heat; radiant heat. See the “Why Radiant heat section below”

What is a Masonry Heater?

Sometimes referred to as Russian or Finnish stoves/fireplaces, masonry heaters have a long standing tradition as the favorite heat source in some of Europe’s more frigid countries. The principles behind masonry heaters are quite simple and include; high temperature combustion for increased efficiency, and large thermal mass for heat storage and continuous radiation. A small hot fire is burned once or twice a day and hot gases are directed through channels which allow the gas’s heat to be absorbed by the surrounding masonry. The masonry then radiates heat evenly and continuously for 12-24 hours into the surrounding space. With this system combustion efficiency approaches 90% resulting in drastically less pollution such as tar or creosote; this also means virtually no risk of chimney fires and means maintenance such as chimney cleaning is rarely needed. Since most of the heat is absorbed by the masonry fuel efficiency is also increased requiring far less fuel during a heating season. A recently complete project will require between 1-2 full cords of wood to fully heat a home. One popular addition to many masonry heaters, is integrating a bake oven into the heater.
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Two simple tools to kick start your timber frame project

Sample Floor Plan

Finished Project

Where to start?

One of the most daunting tasks about beginning your custom timber frame project, is knowing exactly where to start. Should you start designing your dream and consider the budget afterwards? Or should you start with the budget and work backwards? Do you start with the timber frame or the floor plan? In a floor plan, do you start with personal space and then move on to public space? How about indoor vs outdoor and even transitional space? Do you design the frame and then integrate mechanicals or the other way around? How will the enclosure system affect the frame, mechanicals, and windows?
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