What is a timber frame

A timber frame is a post and beam structure that incorporates a centuries old building technique – locking together solid timbers with traditional mortise and tenon joints secured with hardwood pegs. The artistically crafted timber frame creates the “bones” of the building (which includes posts, beams, simple or elaborate trusses, timber rafters, ceiling joists, diagonal braces etc.) and is fully exposed to the interior of the home. Since there are typically no “load bearing walls” – such desirable features as open floor plans, dramatic vaulted ceilings and window walls are commonly incorporated into the designs.

At timber frame, we employ a combination of computerized precision cutting and hand craftsmanship. Sharp timber edges may be “softened” with a traditional drawknife or router and the beams may be given an oil finish prior to being bundled for shipment.

Does a timber frame offer advantages over log construction?

Yes. A timber frame provides the rich beauty of wood within a bright, comfortable well-insulated envelope. The timbers are not exposed to the weather and the outside of the home is flexible in appearance –traditional, rustic, contemporary, shingle style, Adirondack camp etc. On the exterior, a timber frame home can be virtually maintenance free – finished with brick, stone, stucco or any siding you prefer. On the interior, walls between the timber frame members (typically sheet rock) provide the opportunity and flexibility to add or change color and contrast, creating a suitable backdrop for artwork, furniture, pictures and the like.

How long does it take to build a timber frame home?

The building process is comprised of two basic stages. The design stage is an iterative process that usually takes four to six weeks to get decision ready drawings to you. The response time on revisions is typically two weeks depending on the complexity or simplicity of the actual revision. Once this design process has been completed and you are comfortable with the design, you are now ready to place an order and enter into the production agreement stage. It is then typically ten to twelve weeks from the time timber frame manufacture receives the initial deposit until the frame and panel package is ready for delivery.

Actual construction time will vary with; the size, complexity, site conditions, weather, etc. Typically, a frame is raised in 2-5 business days, and dried in to the weather in another 2-3 weeks. Completion time will depend on the nature of the project and the schedule of your project. For a residence, a comfortable building envelop would be seven to nine months to complete a 3,000 square foot custom home.

Are there any special foundation requirements?

Typically, the timber frame system does not require any special foundation details. If a design poses, special requirements Central Va Construction will provide a sound solution.  Interior posts have an associated point load and are most often located over wooden or steel support columns in full basements and concrete piers in crawl spaces.  The foundation wall supports exterior point loads.

How are plumbing and wiring handled?

On exterior walls, allowances can be made for plumbing and electrical; however, it is a better construction practice to keep plumbing out of exterior walls. Much of the plumbing and wiring in a house occur within interior partition walls that are conventionally framed. Plumbing drops from second levels are generally designed to occur inconspicuously (i.e. within a drop ceiling over a closet space).

Can I make an addition to my home later on?

This is often quite simple. Since the timber frame is the structural component any exterior walls between posts can easily be removed to make way for outside doors or a connection to a complete addition.

What is a hybrid?

The term hybrid refers to combining building systems as in a partially timber framed, partially conventionally framed structure. This is a common practice due to design considerations or in order to expedite construction and/or reduce cost. Many of our home designs can be built this way, for example the public areas such as foyer, great room, dining and kitchen areas may be timber framed while the bedroom areas may be built with conventional framing.

Do you do more than residential frames?

Yes. A timber frame with its beautifully exposed timbers is an outstanding choice for any project that has the intention of attracting and maintaining public interest. Signature structures can be created for stores and restaurants, churches, office buildings, lodges, pavilions, bridges, equestrian structures and more.

What will a bank think of my project?

Our experience shows; that provided a person qualify for a loan, their timber frame project is usually well received by the bank. While several banks refuse to lend money on log homes (probably due to a bad experience in the past or concern about resale value), we have found that our clients do not experience any difficulty acquiring financing.

What about resale value?

Information here is limited simply because most people building a timber frame home have no intention of selling it. While location, design and other factors do enter in, it has been our experience that folks building a timber frame typically acquire instant equity and the few homeowners who have sold, have actually done quite well for themselves.

Can I act as my own general contractor?

Some areas prohibit owner-built homes, but if allowable, it can provide a wonderful opportunity for some talented individuals to build their own home. Whether or not this is, a viable option will depend on the terms of your construction loan, the amount of time you have available, your abilities and your local building restrictions.

Acting as your own general contractor may save some money and it can be a very rewarding experience. However, do not underestimate the amount of work that is involved. This is a full time job, it requires an extensive knowledge of; basic construction, home building, local building codes and with the ability to evaluate, supervise and schedule the work of many sub trades in order to keep the project on schedule and on budget. We at CVAC can handle all of this for you easily and efficiently.


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