There is something about a timber frame house that conveys a warm, rustic feel. Even a modern large home still has that log cabin aura about it.
A true timber frame home has huge exposed beams with handcrafted interlocking joints devoid of any nails. This building technique is thousands of years old, originating in North America in the1600’s thanks to migrating Europeans. This was the accepted form of building until the mid 19th century when the beams were replaced with two-by-fours and stick frame construction came to be.
The frame is assembled using beams made of a hearty wood such as Douglas Fir or White Pine which are joined together with a “mortise” (the hole) and “tenon” (the tongue), and held together with wooden oak pegs. The frame is then enclosed with insulation panels and 2×4 or 2×6 studded interior walls.
Timber frame homes are perfect for open concept designs since the exterior frame provides all the support, and there are no load-bearing interior walls. The strong beams allow for wide-open rooms and high vaulted ceilings. It’s not unusual to see cathedral ceilings in timber frames as much as two stories high.
Not to be confused with log homes, which are made of logs rather than stick (2 x 4) and dry wall. Also not to be confused with post and beam homes which may be made from plywood instead of solid logs. Instead of handcrafting the interlocking joints, post and beam builders use joist hangers and nails.
Heating bills are much lower in a timber frame home; often owners see a 20% to 50% reduction in their utility bill. If you plan on passing your home down to your children, no problem, timber homes are built to last for hundreds of years. These homes are incredibly sturdy and are much better equipped to handle the stress of earthquake tremors than conventional homes.
If you’re interested in exploring the idea of building a timber frame home speak to professionals who are experienced in the building process. Visit some timber frame companies, explore their model homes and research the various plans that are available. This should give you a good idea of costs and you can establish some sort of budget for the project. After that, decide whether you want to assume the role of general contractor or if you plant on hiring someone for the job.