Forum > Timber Framing/Log construction

Another (?) 12'x16' Sobon Frame -- Getting Going

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First post :)

I've taken a class at Shelter Institute and have been doing a bunch of reading, and I'm convinced that, with some help here, I could build the 12'x16' frame from J. Sobon's book, "Timber Frame Construction." (I think it's also known as the Heartwood Class Frame, and a variation is in Will Beemer's book, too.) The problem is it's close but not quite what we're looking for: ideally we'd have an additional foot of headroom on the first floor, and there'd be a 3' kneewall in the loft (Sobon mentions this is doable with the timber sizing he specifies.)

So the question I have is, how do I go about starting this? "Fourteen Small Timber Frames" from the Guild has the plans for the basic structure, but I'm assuming I don't just wing-it, modifing the dimensions to get what we want :) That means either pulling out the drafting table (once upon a time I was an architecture student) or learning a lot more about SketchUp (which I think I'll be able to do -- I have some drafting experience) and generating some cutsheets.

And that's another question: given some plans for a frame, do you generally create cutsheets first, or should they flow right from the plans? At Shelter we were given cutsheets, which is nice, but I'm wondering if that's the norm. I'm assuming, also, that I should pass these designs along to an engineer to make sure I'm on the right bus and haven't designed something that's going to collapse on us when those winds pick up in Down East Maine. Thoughts?

Some time in the future I'll be asking about getting these designs past planning boards, too, because -- oooof, we've got one.


It's my opinion that you should talk to the planning board now. Find out what they're going to want. Then work towards that goal. If you do your drawing now. And the don't comply with the planning board then you'll have to do them again.
Do them right the first time.

If they say the design needs to be stamped by a structural engineer then you need to get them on board.
You can't just draw the plans and say to a engineer, please stamp my plans. They won't do that. They need to oversee the drafting of the plans in order to comply with engineering license requirements.

Most experienced timber framing engineers are familiar with Jack Sobon's design as well as Will Beemer's book/design.
They'll just need to calculate the differences you have created by modifying the design. And they will need to see if your design will support the loads for your area. Such as snow load, and wind load.

The planning board or your building inspector may need your timbers to be grade stamped. If you're milling your own timbers, then you can get a traveling grader to come to your site and inspect your timbers. Not a huge problem to overcome.

Good luck with your project.

Jim Rogers

> It's my opinion that you should talk to the planning board now.

Well that definitely sets me off in a different direction -- and thank you for explaining why that is. I think you just saved me a ton of time and effort.

My worst nightmare (as far as this project goes) is going to the board, telling them what we'd like to build, and they saying, "no, you can't build that, it's not a stick frame." There's no mention, explicitly at least, of timber framing in the State of Maine building code. I'm a little concerned. But talking to them early (and getting a contractor in the loop) sounds like the right way to go.

Thanks again, super helpful!

There have been and are being built lots of timber frames in ME. 
You may just need to educate the planning board about how strong a timber frame is.

You could try and find a timber frame company near you and ask them if they had any trouble with your town's departments. 
They may have some advice for you.

Jim Rogers

If you read the state building codes, you will probably find a statement  saying whatever is not covered in these building codes is covered by the National Building Codes and they should also cite which revision of the code is relevant.

The state offices should be more than familiar with timber frame buildings.


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