This spring one of our clients is just finishing his second Brooks Post & Beam home. When Mark approached me last summer his goal was to see how efficiently he could build one of our homes and retain the spaciousness you achieve with timber frame construction. As it happened at the time I was experimenting with a couple of home designs that used the fewest possible timbers and square footage of panels for the greatest amount of useable square footage. It is important to understand that timber frame costs are directly proportional to the number of pieces not necessarily the thousands of board feet of material, as labor and overhead far outpace the cost of locally sustainable eastern white pine! In addition, the panels incorporate the entire enclosure system in one component (structure, insulation, interior and exterior sheathing are all supplied in a curtainwall panel). By keeping the square footage of the "skin" of the home down you further improve its affordability.
We modified a design we call the "Monadnock Cabin" to fit his plans, this home is 24'-6" wide by 32'-6" long, measured to the inside of the walls, the actual useable space. Half of the house is a vaulted living room and the other half has a full second story with 4 ft. high knee-walls. Half of the basement is a garage and the other half is a family room with a walkout wall on the eastern side. The total square footage of this economical and efficient home is a hair under 1600 SF, not including the garage. This same footprint in a conventionally framed house would yield 1480 sf since the dimensions of stick framed homes are measured to the outside.
Recently Mark shared his final pricing with me and I was surprised at how inexpensive his overall budget came in. As he learned the first time he built with us using the Brooks Post & Beam Owner's Manual, a complete set of our drawings, and our readily available support he would be able to be his own general contractor. We had helped him in his first house understand how best to use subcontractors for challenging and time consuming work, how to take advantage of shortcuts and tricks outlined in our Owner's Manual to easily wire and plumb the house, and gain access to discounts on materials such as windows and equipment through our contractor access to special pricing.
The bottom line is he built this home for $125/SF that's only $200,000. You can't build a conventionally framed home for that and come close to the energy efficiency and quality of a new timber framed home with stresskin panel enclosure. You might be thinking that this house must be made up of "cheap" components and materials, but it is not, they have a beautiful cedar clapboard siding, "on-demand" hot water to save on energy use, energy efficient Andersen windows, architectural grade roof shingles and much more. I'll go into more detail regarding the breakdown of the costs in another article. But if you're looking to build a high quality home on a limited budget and are willing to focus your design choices around an efficient layout and use of space then give me a call, and we'll show you what we can do.