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PaulIconThis is a blog written by Paul Freeman, President of Brooks Post & Beam Inc. This blog will give updates on current projects and thoughts on changes in the post and beam trade, especially on topics relating to sustainable building and energy efficiency.

Home for SaleWhy should you consider building a new home when there are so many reasonably priced existing homes on the market?  This is a good question and not as easy to answer as you would think.  In prior articles I have written why you might want to live in a timber frame home in comparison to a conventionally framed home.  So let’s assume you have already established that you prefer the aesthetic of heavy timbers and mortise and tenon joinery; you like the open, bright and airy feel of a post and beam home; and you recognize the practicality of the long term savings of a high quality home.

Timber frame homes make up less than 1% of the construction market in our country.  They tend to be custom built and thoroughly enjoyed by their owners so there is very little turnover and therefore very little inventory of existing timber frame homes on the market. So more than likely, you are faced with choosing a new timber frame versus an older conventionally framed home, which was probably built during the late 1900’s or early 2000’s, a period notorious for shoddy construction and misinterpreted building science.

Five Good Reasons to Build a New Timber Frame Home vs. an Existing Home

Location, location, location:  If you are interested in moving to a specific community for its schools, access to work, or other amenities then your choices are limited to whatever is on the market at that time.   But as long as there is land available then you could buy a lot and build a home much better suited to your needs than settling for the best fit out of whatever is available.  Which segue’s nicely into the next reason:

Custom Design: This is probably the most common reason for building versus buying; having the ability to design your dream home that is custom fit to your lifestyle and taste.  You have control over only in square footage, orientation, room sizes and proximity to other spaces in the home, fenestration, architectural features, siding selection, and so on.  The thousands of decisions you have to make when building your own home may be less a blessing than a curse, but YOU are the one making the decisions.  In an existing home you have very few choices, and typically any you do have involve demolition and reconstruction which only adds to the cost, and delays you the satisfaction of living in your new home as you dreamed it would be.

Low Maintenance:  It’s obvious that a new home would require low maintenance but you also are in control of the design features and materials that require the maintenance.  If you’re moving into retirement you might not want to spend your time painting and repairing other people’s mistakes or worn down fixtures and appliances.  When you build your own home you can select low maintenance finishes and modern fixtures and appliances.  Modern materials have many more options and are much easier to maintain for long lasting appearance and value.

Resale value:  That’s simple, when its time to move on your new home will still be quite young, an older home won’t be.  Seems obvious, but it’s not always a factor that people consider when they’re looking at the beginning of their relationship with their next home.

Energy Efficiency:  Whether you are building a conventionally framed home or a Stresskin panel wrapped timber frame, today’s insulation methods have vastly improved.  More to the point, the performance of a timber fame home with panels is dramatically higher than a conventionally framed new home.  In comparison to an older stick framed home you will save thousands of dollars per year even with today’s relatively low energy costs!

So you see, there are some very good reasons to consider a new home over an existing home, and it’s not just about the money.  Although depending on the situation it might also be cheaper to build versus buy due to the reduced maintenance and repair work and the dramatically higher energy performance of a stresskin panel insulated timber frame!

Give us a call for rough pricing on your dream home and then compare it to what is available in the existing market.  We think you’ll agree that there is no comparison and you might even find a new timber framed home was the best investment you ever made!

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Brooks Post and Beam Owners ManualBuilding a new timber frame home is not a job to be undertaken lightly. To help guide you through the many decisions with which you will be faced, we have written the Brooks Post & Beam Owner's Manual.

Whether you plan to contract out the work, be your own general contractor, or do it all yourself, this manual will explain and specify details and various tasksassociated with building a timber frame home.  Topics are covered such as collecting information in preparation for design work, locating your house on your lot, to the last finishing detail of trim or carpet. Our hope is that this manual will help eliminate those unplanned items that can cause misunderstandings, changes, and cost overruns. Having this kind of information available will give you the confidence you need to be sure that your timber frame home will live up to your present vision.

We Include specification sheets, estimation forms, architectural details, and contract forms on the following subjects:

General Information
Insurance coverage
Rough Carpentry
Timber Frame
Plumbing and Water Supply
Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
Finish Carpentry
Cabinets and Countertops
Wall and Floor Finishes
Kitchen Planning

 The Brooks Post & Beam Owner's Manual also serves as a convenient place to store documentation of your equipment and appliances, including receipts and warranties.  We also recommend you take pictures during construction and store them here for future reference.  Its an especially good idea to take pictures of all of your walls before they're sheet-rocked and after all the mechanicals are installed (electric, plumbing, HVAC) so that you remember what's behind the wall for future service or renovations.

Call me, Paul Freeman at 603-654-3210 or fill out our online Contact Form and request more information on how you can get your copy of the Brooks Post & Beam Owner's Manual.

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Customer Committment When Phil Brooks first began building new timber frame homes he quickly recognized that contractors all too frequently misunderstood the owner's wishes which resulted in frequent delays and costly changes. As former teachers, both Phil Brooks and Paul Freeman are committed to helping you learn everything you need to know in order to build your dream home. As tradespeople we can communicate effectively with others contracted to work on your home so that they too are able to understand what is necessary to build a quality home that matches your dreams.

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Colonial New England quickly earned a reputation for its hardy residents. The terrain and the weather are demanding and you quickly learn to plan ahead and be resourceful. Architecturally the Colonial and the Cape are great examples of form following function. Both of these housing styles made efficient use of materials and space, keeping construction costs down and heating as efficient as possible at the time.

This theme of making good use of the tools and materials you have at hand and consideration of their use and length of service is observed in almost everything that was made during this time. To the casual observer one might find old New Englander’s “cheap” or “conservative” however as you become more familiar with New England Life you realize that building something to last, whether it be a house or a tool, could mean the difference between life and death, or at very least comfort and misery.

Brooks Post & Beam got its start as a company that helped disassemble, repair, and reconstruct old barns as new residences in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It wasn’t long before it became clear that the demand for barn frames exceeded the supply of available barns for disassembly and renovation and that there was a market for new barns and homes cut from local trees in New England sawmills. Around the same time people were awakening to the tranquility of rural living and there was a growing “back to the land” movement. People were buying property all over the northeast and trying their hand at self sufficiency by raising their own food and generating their own energy. It was only natural that the revival of traditional building methods, such as timber framing with renewable materials and sweat equity, was soon to follow.Community effort siding a barn

As we moved into the high inflation of the 70’s and early 80’s and ultimately another housing boom it became increasingly difficult to afford to build a home. However an emerging energy crisis and the can do nature of new New Englanders were a boon to our business. Our focus on Owner-Builders, timber frame kits, and energy efficiency brought hundreds of new customers to our doors.

Today we continue the evolution of our company and affordable timber frame homes as we work closely with our clients to provide them with easy to erect timber frame kits, educational materials to build the rest of the home, and design alternatives such as hybrid homes or a phased in approach to the construction.

These are just a few of the ways that we are bringing timber frame home construction to the mainstream residential market. Please consider us for your new home or barn; you might be surprised how affordable it is in comparison to a quality built conventionally framed structure.

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I am often asked questions about log homes vs. timber frames using SIPs for the building envelope.

"Are the panels more energy efficient than logs?"

"Can you use any kind of siding with panels?"

My "tongue in cheek" response to comparison questions between log homes and timber frames is that "we're very similar except timber frame homes come without the drafts and flies!" In reality log home construction has come a long way and many manufacturers have come up with various techniques to battle the challenges facing anyone trying to make a tight envelop out of a stack of logs. There are different ways to spline the logs together, bolt, screw, and chinking to help keep them tight and prevent air infiltration or nice little warm insect nests.

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