Timber frame homes typically cost more to build than a 2×4 “stick built” home. The reasons for this include the cost of a high quality wood timber frame (versus inexpensive wood studs), superior insulation, and the typical use of expansive glass areas. However, there are ways you can keep the cost of a timber frame home down while maintaining the feel of a post and beam. Before starting the design process, you need to know your budget and keep it in mind as you navigate the course of the build process. There will be give and take; it’s a normal part of the build process. Budget will be one of the first questions you’re asked and one of the topics you’ll revisit during your build experience.
Keep it Simple
Per square foot, the least expensive home to build is a basic 2-story rectangle shape. Single story structures, ells, dormers, or any type of bump-out are going to add to the cost per square foot. We have a saying: “Go up, not out”, to save money.
Forgo the Vaulted Timber Frame Ceiling
Vaulted ceilings may add character to your home, but you are using (and paying for) large volumes of space when you have one in a first level floor plan. Instead of a living room with a vaulted ceiling, put a 10’ or 12’ ceiling over this space. You will retain the sense of volume in the room while the space above becomes additional usable square footage.
No Frame Ornamentation
Arched cornices and embellishments on a timber frame are lovely, but so are the clean lines of a post and beam frame. The less embellishment you have in a timber frame, the lower your cost will be.
Staircases and Windows
The least expensive staircase is the straight flight, either on an interior or exterior wall. Once you hit turned flights or curved, you’re talking more money. Same thing with windows, you can combine less expensive, but very good quality windows for a “wall of glass’ effect less expensively than putting in a massive one-piece unit.
Build a “Hybrid” Timber Frame
A hybrid design uses a true post and beam frame for the main living areas (great room, kitchen, dining room), while using partial or no timber frame in the rest of the structure (or vice versa, as the client desires). You may discover you don’t need the posts showing in bedrooms and/or baths, which will save you money.
Use Drywall for Ceilings and Walls
Tongue and groove wood planks are beautiful, but they are definitely more expensive. You can also choose to use wood planks on select areas of your home and use drywall in less “showy’ areas.
Make Informed Decisions on Finishes/Fixtures
The important thing to remember: a quality post and beam home has “great bones.” You don’t need to have top-of-the-line everything right from the start. Prioritize your list of “must haves” and decide what should be installed as you build and what can be done or upgraded at a later date. We promise, you will not regret having the sound and beautiful timber frame structure. Get your necessary items in place, then add as you go.