Home inspectors

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Timber Framed Homes

Timber framing is a specific type of post and beam construction in which a frame is created from solid wood timbers that are then connected by wooden joints. It can also be constructed of bent framing, which is erected in sections by crane. The timber frame is the actual supporting structure.

Because the frame carries all the structural weight of the house, the beams enable the structure to have large open spaces, often two stories high, vaulted ceilings and large expanses of window and open interiors that flow from one room into the next .

A timber frame can be incorporated into almost any style of home, in urban or rural settings, with exterior treatments of wood, brick, stucco, stone, or any other material desired. Normally the timbers remain exposed to the interior of the building. Timber frames look like conventional housing from the exterior and the interior -- with the addition of exposed beams -- can look elegant with all the walls finished conventionally.

Timber framing is considered a "building system" which means part or all of the home is pre-fabricated in a controlled environment before being delivered to the building site for completion. Once a timber frame is erected, the home is about 40 percent complete. Timber framing is also compatible with many other building systems and materials such as structural insulated panels, logs, engineered wood products and stud systems.

There are three stages of building a timber framed home. First, the entire home must be designed; then a timber frame must be fabricated and raised; and finally, the pieces of the home must be pulled together and built. Some timber frame companies offer complete design and general contracting services; some offer design and fabrication services; and finally, some just design and erect the timber frame itself, but do not handle overall construction services. Consumers must decide whether what level of service they want and who will be responsible for each part.

Consumers may decide to work with a timber framing company which has a portfolio of plans from which to choose. A consumer may also modify an existing plan for timber framing. It will be important to have the designated architect or designer work directly with a timber framing company early in the design process to avoid any duplication of services and to ensure the integration of timber framing details into the plans.

The general contractor is responsible for the actual construction of the home. They take the house from foundation to finish. Most general contractors coordinate all the labor and materials. It is their job to deliver your house on time and within budget. While experience with timber frame homes is not absolutely necessary, it's important that the designer and/or the timber framing company communicate to the contractor the construction details unique to timber framing construction.