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Author Topic: Timber frame or stick frame  (Read 23521 times)

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Offline Engineer

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Re: Timber frame or stick frame
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2009, 11:40:14 AM »
i'm 1/2 way through building my own timberframe.  I think the pro's speak for themselves.  Here are the biggest cons I've experienced (so far...):

1. Raising - if you dont have 20-50 friends that are reliable - add 5-15k to the project cost for crane time depending on frame size, design, and how many people you have helping/knowing what they're doing.

2. SIPS - lordamercy.  pricey.  Or, brace the ever living bejeebers out of that frame, and skin it with 2x6, blown in cellulose, and 2" rigid over that. That isnt too much cheaper than SIPS, but still.

3. Bank/Appraiser will not care its a timberframe, energy efficient, or a work of art.  Dont expect to get any extra money if you need a mortgage - quite the opposite actually.  But, this will be the same for anything you do for a better house.  I think if you told the appraiser that the timbers were vinyl, the siding was vinyl, you'll burn vinyl for heat - I bet they'll value the home at 10 million dollars.

yeah I'm bitter about some of it.  would i do this again?  yup.

I did my own house over a period of 3-1/2 years (foundation in May 2004, moved in December 2007).  I have an ICF basement and TF/structural panel upper.   I was able to rent a crane for two days for a hair under $2500, including a reasonably competent operator.  I had a crew of eight on site, including my father, father-in-law, brother and myself, for the raising.  It was easy.  We rented a Lull (telehandler) for the panel installation.  I priced out several panel companies, as well as a DIY rigid foam skin, spray foam (icynene) as well as cellulose, R2000, and just building a conventional wall and using fiberglass.  By the time you ironed out all the material and LABOR costs versus the long-term cost savings in heating and cooling, the SIPS were the best choice by far. 

I have also had my house appraised three times by three different independent appraisers, plus the municipality.  ALL of them placed a much higher value on the house due to the construction methods and materials than a conventionally-framed house.  I heat my house and all of my hot water for a family of seven by burning eight to ten cords of wood a year, wood that I harvest off my own land and pay nothing for.  If I had framed this conventionally, with your typical fiberglass insulation and bare concrete basement, I would be blowing through cordwood like it was toilet paper.  That right there, saving a couple thousand dollars or more every year, is worth whatever the additional cost of SIPS are. 

Would I do it again?  Probably not.  Not because I intend to live here for a very long time, but because the completed TF home is not a very flexible design for making changes.  It is easy to cut a hole in a wall to add a window, or add a partition wall for a closet, but trying to change plumbing and electrical is a nightmare.  My planning could have been a lot better.  Maybe it's just me.  I will say that anybody who does a TF home would be wise to spend some money on a good, qualified architect to help them with their planning - it's extremely important.

Offline John_Haylow

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Re: Timber frame or stick frame
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2009, 08:24:51 AM »
Lots of good information to think about here. Thank you all for your replies.

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Offline ljmathias

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Re: Timber frame or stick frame
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2009, 07:40:35 AM »
I've built several stick frame houses and barns, and I think there is another consideration: how much help you can count on over the span of the project.  For example, I'm finishing up the rough interior of my son's family home now, stick built almost entirely by me alone, although I did have a group of six or so help with the trusses over a half day time frame (did the last 8 by myself though, with lots of thought and care).  With stick frame for a small home (1000-1500 or so), one person can pretty much do it mostly alone.  With TF, lots of heavy timbers and a lot more difficult and time consuming.  Sure, you can hire a crew to cut and fit up a TF pretty fast, but that's a lot of money.  Cost is also much less, especially right now with lumber prices low.

The other side is beauty and longevity: nothing beats a TF for both.  I plan to get back on the TF shop I started last year as soon as my son's house if finished (aiming for Christmas) although my other son just mentioned that he'd like a bigger place to raise his family... being 'retired' even if only half-time is sure time consuming!

There's also the question of "value."  As mentioned above, a TF house is actually worth more money, although that's not the only component in "value: equals performance over cost.  Sure re-sell price or appraised price is useful, but if you plan on going debt free on it (Dave Ramsey speaks again) then the initial 'price' isn't quite as big a consideration and getting a mortgage isn't either so you don't really care about appraised price unless you need it for replacement home owners insurance.

As you can see, I still struggle with TF versus stick-built myself, and I love TF homes!  Time, money, available help, mortgage and appraised price plus "greeness" of your construction and upkeep... all figure into your equation somewhere, just need to get them each in the right column of pro or con, then decide.  BTW, homes in the US are generally built to last about 15 years before major repair/remodeling, 30 years for major, major update/remodeling, and 40-50 till tear down and build something else on the land.  Even a TF will have updates and remodel issues, something to keep in mind also... despite the attractive aspect of that it can last for centuries.  Unfortunately, I won't, and even my kids might want a change of location or a remodeled home in the future... who knows?  With rising ocean levels, I'm looking at beach-front housing here in mid-Mississippi which would involve changing our homestead to beach rentals perhaps.

LT40, Long tractor with FEL and backhoe, lots of TF tools, beautiful wife of 50 years plus 4 kids, 5 grandsons AND TWO GRANDDAUGHTERS all healthy plus too many ideas and plans and not enough time and energy

Offline moonhill

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Re: Timber frame or stick frame
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2009, 11:15:23 AM »
I am not sold on the time issue, I don't stick frame much mostly timber work, if it takes longer it is not much and could be less if other factors are taken into account, like finishing off the interior systems not to mentions short cuts in joinery decisions.   As mentioned stress skins can go on in a day or two with windows right behind that. You can work smartly by yourself even with large timber.  For that fact leave the frame out and build a panel house that will cut the systems down to a minimum.  Set some pre fab truss work on top and your almost there, that should last the 30-50 years.  Just do it, whatever it is.   

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Re: Timber frame or stick frame
« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2009, 05:53:20 PM »

   It takes as much wood to hold the roof up no matter if you do it with little sticks or big ones.  Most timber frames have way more wood in them then needed and some of it is becasue of joints.  Another reason is for looks.
  You can use steel plates and bolts as well as sockets.  There are simple post and beam homes that have timber tites holding them up.  I hybird frames and sticks all the time.
  There are framers who use just hand tools and the old ways to do the joints and look down on lesser work.  I am here to tell you that if my GrandPa would have had a cordless drill and timber tites he would have made less tenions.


  As for cost if you have the trees and saw the cost is the same or even less with post and beam.  I have set up some frames all by myself by doing it one piece at a time.   My 14 year old daughter and I put up this cabin with just a tractor helping us.


  So do not be afraid to try.  Even if you just do a frame in the middle you will be very proud of it.

Offline Rig

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Re: Timber frame or stick frame
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2009, 10:10:36 PM »
I've been a timber frame builder and a general contractor for 20 years. I've tracked the cost of homes built conventionally and with a timber frame.

In general, the timber frame costs more because the frame needs to be wrapped with some kind of wall for insulation. As a rule of thumb, the extra cost is about that of the timber frame itself, if all the interior and exterior finishes are of the same quality.

I've learned to stay away from hybrid buildings, where part of it is timber framed and and integrated part of it is panel or stick construction. A hybrid is more costly and less appealing than a pure timber frame, properly designed.

As with any kind of building method, the cost and efficiency depends on the quality of design and the skill of the builder. There are many ways a skilled timber frame builder can keep the costs down for a timber frame home, and many blunders by inexperienced designers and builders that lead to excessive costs.

The other factor that increases the cost of a timberframe home is that once you begin to see a high quality building, you tend to opt for the better flooring, better cabinets, and better fixtures. I've seen it happen many times. The up side of this Upgrading is that you wind up with a very nice place, with a high resale value.

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