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 timber frame (versus lower quality 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 under control while maintaining the look and feel of a timbered home.
Before starting the design process, know your budget and keep it in mind as you navigate the course of your build. There will be give and take; it’s a normal part of the process. Budget will be one of the first questions you’re asked and one of the topics you’ll revisit during your build experience.
A Home’s Footprint
Per square foot, the most cost-effective home to build is a basic 2-story rectangle. Single story structures, ells, dormers, or any type of bump-out add to the cost per square foot. We have a saying: “Go up, not out when looking for a cost-effective option.”
The rectangle may be a simple flour-sided design; however this does not mean a house with a rectangle footprint is basic. Rectangle footprints are used for all types of architectural styles and lend themselves perfectly to a barn style house. They are not only cost effective, they are also the most energy efficient as there are not bump outs or ells to heat and cool. The Grantham Lakehouse is one such home. The beauty of the home is derived from the straight-forward rectangle. Inside, the strong and sturdy timber frame has the same effect.
While the rectangle footprint may be cost effective, the addition of bump outs, ells, and dormers create visual impact and extended livable space.
Bump Outs, Ells and Dormers
Certain architectural styles do not lend themselves to a rectangle footprint. Bump outs, ells, and dormers not only create more space, they also take a design to a more elaborate level. For example, consider the Menemsha design (see photos below). Neither the front façade nor the back would be look anything like it does without the added architectural features. Ultimately, it comes down to what your style is and what you love.
Timber Frame Options
Yankee Barn Homes offers 3 options for your frame: Full Post and Beam, Partial Post and Beam, or Minimal Timber.
A full timber frame affords the most flexibility in design options. Because the frame bears the weight of the house, walls are more easily moved or not used at all. Open areas with a large volume of space are easily attained.
A partial timber design uses a true post and beam frame for the main living areas (great room, kitchen, dining room), while using little or no timber frame in the rest of the structure (or vice versa, as the client desires). You may discover you don’t need to see the posts showing in bedrooms or baths, which will save you money. Panelized construction makes using timber in limited spaces entirely possible.
Minimal timber means the home is primarily panelized. Timber is used as a decorative feature and not relied on for primary enforcement of the structure.
A Note on Frame Embellishments: Frame embellishments are most always a consideration. It makes sense that embellishments cost more, however, they often make the difference between good and great. This is yet another area where the YBH Design Team will help you decide how to get the most out of your design.
A Note on Vaulted Ceilings: Vaulted ceilings add character to your home. However, you are using up large volumes of space when you have one. Instead of a living room with a vaulted ceiling, consider 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. If a vaulted ceiling is a must have, place it in the space where you’ll most enjoy it. They are truly a spectacular feature in a timber frame home.
The most cost-effective staircase is a straight flight, either on an interior or exterior wall. Once you add turned or curved flights, particularly those with specialized windows, you add cost.
Windows are the single most expensive item in any home. Combining less expensive, but very good quality windows for a wall of glass appearance is more cost-effective than putting in a massive one-piece window unit. Show the YBH Design Team the look you want. They may be able to suggest options while adding cost savings to your build.
These homes use standard windows in differing configurations.
Specialty windows are worth every penny when the overall style and appearance of the house are enhanced through their use. Each one of the homes shown would not look the same without the use of specialty windows.
Specialty windows can make the difference between good and great architectural style.
Material Choices for Ceilings and Walls
Tongue and groove wood planks are gorgeous and add a depth of character to a timber frame home. Consider them as you would a frame embellishment and a vaulted ceiling; place them where you’re going to most enjoy them. Using wood planks in select rooms and using drywall in less showy areas is one option. Another option is to simply use drywall everywhere.
Make Informed Decisions on Finishes/Fixtures
A quality post and beam home has great bones. You don’t need 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 later. You will not regret having a sound and beautiful timber frame structure. Get your necessary items in place, then add as you go.