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contents timber framing showcase


timber creations

A timber frame contractor who specializes in commercial buildings, this Northern California builder has experienced steady growth since 1993. Each member of the staff at Timber Creations feels part of a team that delivers something of lasting value to the company’s clients.


swiftsure timberworks llc

Using practicality and aesthetics to build their projects, SwiftSure Timberworks LLC in Medford, Oregon believes that those two components are integral elements in their work. Owned by Tim and Shona Allen and their son Colton, they bring 40 years of experience to the table. 114

houses & barns by john libby

For over 35 years, Houses & Barns by John Libby has worked as a timber frame design-builder of high-end houses and barns in the Northeast United States. Well known in the industry for its highquality timber framing, the company also custom crafts its structures to match the style that each individual client desires.


Above:View of the cupola form inside at the South Fermentation barn.


new energy works


gunnstock timber frames


blue ox timber frames


clydesdale frames co.


pineridge timberframe


timberwolf tools

6 american builders quarterly winter 2009

moresun custom woodworking inc.

MoreSun Custom Woodworking Inc. specializes in fine woodworking, such as heavy timber frame work, custom cabinetry, staircases, and other types of projects. Owner Stephen Morrison became interested in woodworking during a high school woodshop class. Having gained diverse experience in the trade, he and his crew are multitalented, making the business more competitive.


high plains timber frames, llc

Fort Collins, Colorado-based High Plains Timber Frames, LLC utilizes hand-cut timber frames and hand-fitted joinery in the niche timberframing industry. Timber framing is a complicated, but highly decorative trade with definite green benefits. High Plains Timber Frames hopes to grow the business since it started actively advertising.


legacy timber frames inc.


For over 20 years, Legacy Timber Frames Inc. has offered clients in-house custom design services from designing the timber frame structure to providing a full set of construction drawings. Its hand-crafted timber frames range from timber accents to large homes.



TIMBERPEG is a national timber frame company that designs and manufactures timber frame homes and light commercial structures. The company offers over 50 standard timber frame models that are adaptable in style, layout, and size. The company has independent representatives across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, and France.


oakbridge timber framing, ltd. Building dream homes for 20 years, this familyowned and -operated subcontractor specializes in timber framing. OakBridge Timber Framing, Ltd., which designs, builds, and installs full timber frames and hybrid frames across the country, strives to be as high-quality as it possibly can.


vermont timber works

Headquartered in North Springfield, Vermont, Vermont Timber Works designs, engineers, fabricates, manufactures, and installs beautiful timber frames for residential and commercial projects. Well-known for its challenging, unique frames, Vermont Timber Works creates custom frames across the country.


potterman hollow, llc

Founded by longtime exterior-structures builder Travis Tolman, Potterman Hollow, LLC is a timber framing company located in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The company specializes in exterior structures using Douglas fir, Cedar, Redwood, and recycled, salvaged, or reclaimed timbers. Although Tolman has no plans to franchise, the company’s geographic footprint has reached outside of Idaho to Utah, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wyoming.

future building of america company

With escalating lumber prices, higher insurance premiums, and the rising costs of labor, more builders are turning to Future Building of America Company's “stress skin� construction. It requires less on-site work and speeds up the construction process tremendously, which equates to total-project cost savings for the builder. 144

oregon timberworks

By combining time-honored craftsmanship and sustainable materials with creative and sensible custom design, Oregon Timberworks is dedicated to making its projects a success from inception to completion. It delivers top-quality timber frame construction, while paying close attention to material selection, as well as other decisions that can have a profound impact on the environment.


selkirk timberwrights, llc

Selkirk Timberwrights, LLC is a specialty manufacturer, supplier and assembler of timber frame for affordable and high-end housing in the Idaho panhandle and Washington state. Most of their work is hybrid timber frame using Douglas fir wood in a traditional rustic, elegant style, cut with portable Makita lumber versus fresh-cut lumber.


hamill creek timber homes


timberbuilt, inc.


cougar creek timber frame, llc


timber frame business council

The Timber Frame Business Council is a nonprofit organization providing information and resources to support and strengthen the timber frame industry. The council serves as a liaison between timber frame fabricators, engineers, contractors, and architects. Members are organized by associates, companies, small companies, suppliers, sustaining companies, and sustaining suppliers.

american builders quarterly winter 2009




Christopher Howe

James P. Askew Regina Raiford Babcock Grace Baker John Ballard Pasha Carroll Daniel Casciato Robert S. Johnson Jennifer Kirkland Amy McNeil Ashley Morris Matthew Overstreet Katie Gutierrez Painter G.L. Williams

copy editors Michael Danaher Dave Hudnall Jamie Ludwig Scott Morrow Anne Riegle

associate editor Noah Rothschild

published by bg+h, llc

design department

Christopher Howe, ceo & publisher Cory Bowen, president Pedro Guerrero, coo

Jordan Williams, design director Monica Jost, designer Kelly Kutsche, designer Bill Werch, designer Sae-Mi Kang, intern Donghwa Kim, intern Renee Rondinone, intern Kun Yang, intern

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production assistant Amie Kesler

executive assistant Anya Hostetler

account representatives Kim Callanta Cheyenne Eiswald

accounting department Judy Peacock Karen Bowen Tate

sales representatives Desmond Chester Titus Dawson Alex Drozd Justin Joseph Christopher Miller Ray Moore Noah Rothschild Brandon Watts Krista Lane Williams

8 american builders quarterly winter 2009

director of editorial research Jeffrey Powell

editorial researchers Jordan Castillejo Heather J. Keith Lauren L. Lackovich Jessica Levin Kristina Levit Heather M. Matson Darrington H. Moore Brooke Seldin Johnathan Skidmore Eli Terrell Joseph Tomasello Colleen Wall 28 E Jackson Blvd. Suite 300 Chicago, IL 60604 Printed in South Korea. Reprinting of articles is prohibited without permission of BG+H, LLC. To order reprints, call 312.447.2370.

editor's note

Right: Strings Pavilion, a 600-seat music pavilion with all timber and steel structural components, modeling by Spearhead Timberworks. Today’s leading American builders know that clients want to treated as individuals and approached with a fresh perspective. Delivering custom solutions for clients of every size keeps our featured builders on the leading edge of design and construction in America. President of Modisher Contracting Services in Hawaii, Jim Modisher, says, “Each client’s vision of beauty is unique. It is our job to actualize their personal vision of beauty to the fullest extent possible.” Berry Development president David Berry, in California, says of his company’s work with clients in the US and Mexico, “We see our job as delivering value to our clients as they define it.” In this issue, we feature a number of timber framing companies who round out the traditional craftsmanship they offer with customized service and modern construction technology. “For us, each project is individual, custom made, and designed to fit the specific personality of the owner—we don’t take the cookie cutter approach,” says Kansas-based Clydesdale Frames Co. owner John Van Bruggen. New Energy Works founder Jonathan Orpin, in New York, says, “We still can't bring ourselves to offer our clients a pre-distilled set of plans because we know that the customdesigned, architectural process is sacred…” The green building wave continues to wash across the country, and more builders are considering the sustainability and energy efficiency of their projects. The Timber Frame Business Council executive director Pam Hinton says, “Timber framing lends itself to a wide variety of architectural styles. It is more energy efficient, sustainable, and durable than stick-built frames, as evidenced by several studies...” Absolute Concrete Construction company president Sonny Hall says, “The LEED program helps keep money in the

local economy, which is a very good way to help the US economy.” The vice president of Winkelman Building Corporation in Minnesota says, “We tell our smaller clients— small businesses, schools, nonprofits—you don’t have the budget not to go green.” Underlying all the innovation and technology that define modern builders is a desire to offer value and embody meaningful business values. “When it comes to issues of craftsmanship—how things fit together, both structurally and aesthetically—we don’t accept anything but perfection,” says Mike Mader, owner of PineRidge Timberframe. Leif Calvin, President of California’s Timber Creations says, “It is important to us and our clients that our buildings embody lasting values.” DiMarco Construction’s Jim Kingsley attributes his company’s lasting success to the value its offers through strong relationships. “Because we pride ourselves on establishing long-term relationships with those we work for,” he says, “we have not felt much pressure from the slowdown.” We invite you to explore the values of these top builders and discover how they contribute to a sound future of American building. Christopher Howe CEO and Editor-In-Chief

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber frame business council membership organization aspires to support and strengthen the timber frame industry by Daniel Casciato


hile stick framing is still the dominant method of home building in the United States, ask anyone involved in the craft of timber framing and they will tell you it is a smart, beautiful, and more eco-friendly way to build. “Many people build timber frame homes for their aesthetic quality, large open spaces, and the ability to install large windows,” explains Pam

Hinton, executive director of the Timber Frame Business Council (TFBC), based in Gettysburg, PA. “Timber framing lends itself to a wide variety of architectural styles. It is more energy efficient, sustainable, and durable than stick-built frames, as evidenced by several studies, as well as structures still standing after several centuries in Japan, China, Virgin Islands, and Europe.”

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timber framing showcase timber frame business council

The TFBC grew out of the Guild in 1995 as a nonprofit c (6) trade association to serve the business needs of timber framers.

When business slows, it is time to redirect our energy to educating the construction industry, and the general public, about the benefits of timber framing. Pam Hinton, Executive Director Timber Frame Business Using the TFBC’s most traditional Council At A Glance definition, “timber framing is a specific type of post-and-beam construction

location in which a frame is created from

solid wood timbers that are connected with wooden, furniture-like joinery, area of specialty secured with hardwood pegs. The trade association frame is covered with any of a number members of enclosure systems. Normally the 245 timbers remain exposed to the interior of the building.” gettysburg, pa

Above: Oregon TimberWork's CAD drawings of a home where the timber frame was assembled in Corbett, OR in the scenic Columbia River Gorge using recycled timber. Far right:With the help of a large volunteer community, the EasternWhite Pine frame now rests atop Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes Region. Image courtesy of New EnergyWorks.

As timber framing has become a more popular way to build, in recent years the need arose for an organization to assist those working in the timber framing industry. Since 1995, the TFBC has been the connection point for companies and builders alike, providing information and resources to support the industry. Hinton points out that the TFBC should not be confused with the Timber Framers Guild, another timber framing organization. Although the two organizations work closely

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together, each organization has a distinctly different mission. The Timber Framers Guild is an educational organization, dedicated to establishing training programs for timber framers, disseminating information about timber framing and timber frame building design, and generally serves as a center of timber framing information for the profession. The guild offers individual memberships and is a charitable nonprofit c (3) organization. Currently 245 members strong, Hinton notes “[The TFBC’s] mission is to strengthen the timber frame industry by promoting the benefits of timber framing to the public at large, as well as to other timber framing professionals.” Hinton continues, “The TFBC is the only organization dedicated to enhancing the quality, integrity, and marketability of the timber frame industry, and is committed to strengthening and advancing the business, communications, and research capability of its members. [The TFBC]

timber framing showcase timber frame business council

is a fairly small, but close-knit group of companies.” In fact, members agree to abide by an ethical code of conduct. Like all membership organizations, TFBC provides services to its members, as well as the industry as a whole. “Using the searchable membership list on our Web site, you can contact certain companies by email link, and ask them what they offer,” explains Hinton. “A visitor to the site can locate companies who provide the desired services, interview those companies, and determine those companies with whom they can develop a good working relationship.” “Members of the business council get updates on the latest industry trends, access to marketing materials, company profiles on our Web site, discounts to our educational programs, and a project-lead service from prospective clients interested in building a timber frame project,” says Hinton. “Essentially, the TFBC attempts to combine resources, pool funding, and

purchase services to support our mission and to benefit the membership." Another benefit for members is access to a Speakers Bureau Training Program that gives them the certification needed to be an instructor for the TFBC architect program. “It puts the timber framer in front of an audience that he/ she needs to be involved with from the beginning of a building project, and introduces the concepts of timber framing to the profession,” shares Hinton. Timber framing began making its comeback in the United States in the 1970s, and remains popular today, despite reports that new home construction is starting to slow down. According to a recent TFBC survey of timber frame construction companies, 39 percent forecast a slight increase in future sales. Businesses located from New England to the Midwest were more likely to answer “decrease slightly,” while respondents from the Pacific West and western Canada believe that

core values of the tfbc • Nurture the unique culture of the industry and its people • Conscientiously promote members and industry • Provide quality business education and industry research • Create mutually-beneficial strategic partnerships to extend TFBC’s resources, and support the effectiveness of the organization • Enlist the support and involvement of members in developing and executing the organization’s goals • Provide excellent customer service to all customers

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase timber frame business council

TFBC's programs and services address the needs of three distinct audiences: consumers TFBC is focused on marketing timber framing to buyers of both buildings and land, and promotes residential, commercial, and special projects, such as bridges, barns, and decorative timber frame elements.

professionals TFBC has programs and services devoted to architects, engineers, designers, specifiers, and others who are involved in the timber framing business. One example of a program for architects is its AIA-approved program for continuing education credits. The TFBC provides a one-hour course on timber framing basics to teach architects about this building style.

members TFBC is also engaged in recruiting new members, developing programs and services for current members and suppliers, and member-to-member business networking.

Timber framing lends itself to a wide variety of architectural styles. It is more energy efficient, sustainable, and durable than stick-built frames as evidenced by several studies. Pam Hinton, Executive Director future sales will increase significantly or slightly over the next 24 months.

Above: Etching of a typical timber frame house in Brunswick, Germany, circa 1885. Image courtesy ofWikimedia Commons. Right: CAD drawing from OregonTimberWorks.

“As new construction dwindles, timber framing has yet to slow; but everyone understands that the other shoe is about to drop,” says Hinton. “When business slows, it is time to redirect our energy to educating the construction industry, and the general public, about the benefits of timber framing so that when a new home is built, consid-

82 american builders quarterly winter 2009

eration is given to all the benefits of a timber frame house. Timber framing truly is a lifestyle choice, and we see those who have been saving for their retirement home are not as affected by the downturn in building starts.” According to the same TFBC survey, New York had the highest concentration of timber frame construction, followed by North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, and New Hampshire. TFBC estimates the number of timber frame

timber framing showcase timber frame business council

Founding members of the TFBC include:

bensonwood homes

premier building systems

big timberworks, inc.

riverbend timber framing

blue ridge timberwrights

san juan timberwrights, inc.

earthwood homes of oregon

the cascade joinery, inc.

new energy works


normerica authentic tf homes

timbersmith, llc

north woods joinery

vermont timber frames, inc.

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase timber frame business council

a message from bear creek lumber Bear Creek Lumber understands the value of timber frame building, which incorporates the complex mechanical union of wood solids to create a structure of strength and legacy.Timber frame ventures are intricate, and all of your construction partners need experience and skill to ensure successful project completion. By combining the skill and experience gained from working with many timber frame projects, we offer premium customer service, consultations, finish options, pre-stain/coatings, material choice, and logistics support.

homes built last year was between 1,500 and 1,800. The average age of a timber frame client was between 40 and 50 years old, and 50 and over was the second highest category. “Many timber frame homes built are retirement or dream homes, and it is not known how many are used exclusively as a second home,” Hinton says. As she looks ahead to the future of the TFBC, Hinton shares that the goals of the TFBC are to increase the number of its members, as well as increasing the public’s awareness of timber framing and its benefits. “We also want to continue to develop the business acumen of our members,” Hinton concludes. abq

Benefits of Timber Framing

emotional appeal The feel of a timber frame building is one of warmth, strength, and security. Timber framing allows the homeowner to vary the amount of the wood throughout the home. By using a mixture of T&G, drywall, and other materials, the home owner is not tied to one theme or look.

design flexibility Typically a timber frame home has no interior load-bearing walls, thus the floor plan can be very open, and can be changed as the needs of the occupants change.

durability/longevity Timber frame buildings are structurally very sound and last hundreds of years. For instance, timber frame buildings constructed in Europe and Asia still exist after hundreds of years. Additionally, modern timber frame structures erected in the US have survived major natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes, when neighboring homes have been condemned.

energy efficiency A variety of enclosure systems can be utilized with a timber frame home to create an envelope of insulation. Timber framing is an extremely energy-efficient building system.


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84 american builders quarterly winter 2009

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"We've got 28 years of hands on custom cutting experience, with no computers in our yard. We specialize in douglas fir, cut to grade, inspect each piece and cut timbers up to 41' in length and plane all four sides up to 16" x 16". We have a large inventory of air dried timbers... just give us a call, we can do it all."

Joinery Service for Timber Frames, Log Home Roof and Beam packages, Timber Frame Accents, for commercial customers.

Sauter Timber, LLC


“custom anything ”

BOARDS BY GEORGE LUMBER INC. 209 Lardeau River Road P.O. Box 132 Meadow Creek, British Columbia, Canada V0G 1N0 Phone: 1-250-366-4235 ★ Fax: 1-250-366-4690 Email: ★

505 Cardiff Valley RD. Rockwood, TN. 37854 P. 877-800-7663 • F. 865-354-6316

timber framing showcase Foreword by Jennifer Kirkland

Above: Spruce Peak Lodge in beautiful Stowe, VT, Vermont is Timber Works largest clear span timber frame to date—an 80-foot octagon.

function and beauty meld in the timber frame homes that our featured companies create. From the Pacific Northwest, where a family-owned business emphasizes a balanced blend of aesthetics and practicality, to an East Coast company that utilizes sustainable design and strives to build natural homes, these companies share a vision of unique, finely crafted, and highly efficient construction. A timber framing company owner in New York has traveled the country seeking a wide variety of influences in style and materials to incorporate into his company’s designs, which he demands be creative, fresh, and new. A Kansas company tailors each project to the personality of the owner, ensuring it is unique and makes a statement

about the people living in it. Building upon a tradition of craftsmanship and beauty, these artisans draw from today’s technology and innovation to take timber framing to a new level of refinement and comfort. An Ontario company demands structural and aesthetic perfection for all its work in the US, Canada, and Japan. An Idaho timberwright compares joinery in timber framing to high-end custom furniture work, describing the great care and precision that each requires. To maintain technical excellence and quality, a Vermont timber framer does all its own engineering in-house. Building beautiful and efficient homes is at the heart of these timber framing companies.

new energy works

new york builder creates fine and sustainable shelters by Daniel Casciato

Above: With the help of a large volunteer community the EasternWhite Pine frame now rests atop Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes Region. Right: Shining like a beacon in the night, this residential timber frame home enhances the lakes ambiance.


ffering a wide range of services, including architectural and interior design, fine woodworking, and select general contracting, New Energy Works has always focused on making sure the end product is the highest quality. In addition to an extremely motivated staff, the company has experienced such growth because of the quality of its craftsmanship, and the resource-efficient timber frame homes and commercial structures that it provides for its clients. Such was the foundation upon which Jonathan Orpin, president and founder, built the company in the mid-1980s. Orpin recalls at the time he started the company, “We were concerned with

88 american builders quarterly winter 2009

the energy conditions that existed—a crisis not unlike the one we're having now.” Orpin notes, "We also became interested in this craft as a way not only to inspire people to build higher quality homes, but to also make sure no one would tear one down to make room for a Wal-Mart parking lot.” There are two types of homeowners who seek a timber frame, according to Orpin. “One is looking for a highly crafted, design-intensive process that emphasizes natural materials. Then there are those inspired by our lowenergy requirements and thoughtful sourcing, like recycled wood and cellulose insulation.”

timber framing showcase new energy works

We continue to improve the quality of our team, while those who have stayed, have stepped up in an everimproving atmosphere. Jonathan Orpin, President & Founder

new energy works at a glance location: Upstate New York area of specialty: Residential and commercial timber frame construction

average annual sales: $10 million

sales growth in 2007: 12% employees: 100 employee growth in 2007: 20%

From the beginning, Orpin designed, built and ran his business as environmentally responsible as possible. And now that the notion of being more eco-conscious is becoming more mainstream, that philosophy is leading to higher revenue. Last year alone, New Energy Works experienced a 20 percent increase in revenue. “Those communities we serve are becoming more thoughtful about the resources they choose, and the impact their new build has on the environment,� explains Jennifer Young, the companys marketing manager.

A member of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and the US Green Building Council, New Energy Works is one of the few timber framers to offer in-house architectural design, frame engineering, custom woodworking, and select general contracting. This full integration allows the company to work seamlessly with clients and more effectively with outside architects and builders. The company also owns a reclaimed and sustainable wood company, Pioneer Millworks, to source recycled timbers for frames, flooring, custom interiors and millwork.

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timber framing showcase new energy works

Above: For Jonathan Orpin, As his timber framing company contin- “We're more than just skilled craftsmen building timber frames,” says Young. president and founder of New ues to expand, Orpin wants to continEnergy Works, timber framing has ue improving the quality of his talented “Were also sophisticated, big picture always been a sustainable, smart staff. Earlier this year, he added the thinkers creating the whole house. We way to build inspired homes. 100 th member to his team of highlytake our clients from A to Z in a way skilled professionals, craftsmen, engimany timber framers can’t do.” Orpin neers, and designers. “We continue to improve the quality of our team, while adds, “We still can’t bring ourselves to offer our clients a pre-distilled set of those who have stayed, have stepped plans because we know that the custom up in an ever-improving atmosphere," designed, architectural process is sashares Orpin. cred when it comes to creating a personal and efficient home, whether large or small.” Orpin believes, “Each parcel, lifestyle, and family is unique. What’s right for one owner isn’t personal for another.”

DREAM We’re inspired by the greater good.

highly-crafted, By thefeatures Above:This rendering our LEED-Hthe well platinum certifieddesigned. west coastBy show home set to thoughtful sourcing break ground mid-2008.


of materials. By nature. By the comforts of shelter. By our


challenges and joys. By smart and caring people. By great clients.


d e sign ers | timb erf ra m er s SW-COC-002810

NEW Y O R K : : O REG O N : : 8 00 . 48 6 . 0 6 6 1 NEW ENER G Y W O R K S . C OM

The FSC logo identifies products from well-managed forests. ©1996 Forest Stewardship Council A.C. USGBC logo is a trademark owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and is used by permission.

90 american builders quarterly winter 2009

Reflecting on his 25 years of business, Orpin feels that too many small business owners believe the reason they are in business is solely to make money. “A long time ago we determined that the reason were in business is to create shelter. In doing so, we created a community of people who create homes and are therefore able to make a living.”


gunnstock timber frames

wyoming company offers clients a fresh approach to heavy-timber construction


iven the long history of the timber framing trade, one may think that there is little room in the field for innovation. Gunnstock Timber Frames, a heavy timber design and construction company located in Cody, by Matthew Overstreet WY, proves that such is not the case. Above all, Gunnstock owner Chris Gunn takes pride in his company’s flexibility, both as to the range of products it can provide, and the variety of aesthetic environments the company’s products can create. “We’re not timber frame purists. We like to explore a lot of different areas,” shares Gunn. Above: Frame of a home in Cody,WY made out of Douglas fir. One way Gunnstock differs from tradi-

tional timber framers is the company’s willingness to perform numerous services, as well as embarking on a wide variety of projects. Gunnstock designs, fabricates, and also raises architectural timber elements, engineered timber trusses, and complete timber-frame homes—basically anything that involves heavy wood construction. Such flexibility as to the type of services provided has the advantage of opening up the market, and brings the aesthetic advantages of timber-framing to home owners who may not want, or need, a complete timber frame package. “The addition of a timber frame element, even a small one, can really change

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase gunnstock timber frames

We like to enjoy every day we go to work, and for us that means keeping things creative, fresh and new. Chris Gunn, Owner

gunnstock timber frames at a glance location: Cody, WY area of specialty: Heavy timber design and construction

average annual sales: $500,000+ employees: 3

Above: Owner Chris Gunn and his the dynamic of a home,” Gunn notes, sheep dog,Wally, with a small truss cut “We’re willing to work with homeownfor a local residence. ers to help them do whatever it takes to make their home special, whether that is a complete timber frame, or just what we call a ‘lawn ornament’—a single, creative, exterior heavy-timber element.” Gunn is quick to point out the advantages of incorporating timber elements into a conventional stick-frame home. “A covered entryway or exterior gable truss can really raise the curb appeal of a home, especially on a remodel,” he

92 american builders quarterly winter 2009

says, “It’s something every homeowner should consider if they are interested in giving their home a little extra pizzazz.” Apart from offering a wide variety of products, Gunn and company also pride themselves on their ability to offer unique and innovative design ideas. “We’re a young company,” Gunn explains. “We like to enjoy everyday we go to work, and for us that means keeping things creative, fresh and new.” Gunnstock takes particular pride in exposing clients, and even architects and other builders, to design ideas with

which they might not be familiar. Gunn finds that people often don’t realize timber can be used to create numerous different interior styles apart from the rustic aesthetic with which it is typically associated. “I think people get caught up in a certain mode of thinking regarding timber elements,” Gunn says. “Of course you can leave the wood rough-sawn and achieve a rustic look, but you can also plane it until it is smooth and shiny and achieve a contemporary, formal look, or take that additional step and apply a light, milky, whitewash-like stain and achieve a very modern look—people often don’t realize the array of options available.” Gunnstock is also not afraid to incorporate non-traditional materials into its projects. These may include architectural steel, or organic, live-edge materials, such as tree limbs. “Personally, I really enjoy incorporating naturally curved wood,” says Gunn, “It’s both beautiful and challenging.”

The company’s unique design aesthetic, as well as its willingness to innovate, stems in large part from the owner’s unique background. Prior to setting up shop in Wyoming in 2007, Gunn spent the better part of a decade traveling throughout the United States viewing and working with many different types of timber frames. Regional stylistic differences are very pronounced—from the very traditional New England-style, to the more rustic, aesthetically-adventurous Western-style. Gunn attempts to blend the best elements of each to create a unique product, but also one which can be tailored to fit the client’s tastes. “It’s all about throwing out ideas to create a bigger box for our clients to work in,” Gunn explains. So far Gunnstock’s strategy of innovation and flexibility has proved successful. Certainly the future is bright for this young, innovative organization.


timber framing showcase gunnstock timber frames

a message from enercept Enercept™ manufactures energy efficient structural insulated panels (SIPs) like the ones used in this timber frame project. We are proud to supply panels to reputable builders like Gunnstock Timber Frames. We specialize in fully customized SIP panels for basement/foundation walls, above grade walls, floors and roofs. Building with SIP panels saves homeowners 40 to 60 percent on utility costs when compared to stick framing. Using SIPs also creates a tighter building envelope for better indoor air quality.

Supplier of structural insulated panels for Blue Ox and Gunnstock Timber Framers Protect the fine craftsmanship of your timber frame with Enercept SIPs • Energy efficient – save 40% to 60% on heating/cooling costs • Better indoor air quality/control • Fully customized – quicker installation • Added strength • Over 25 years of excellence • Panels made with FSC Certified wood products available FSC #SCS-COC-001525

The Builders’ Choice 800-658-3303

blue ox timber frames

focusing on clients, employees and practical green solutions


ince founding blue ox timber Frames, a cu stom timber framing firm based in Alexandria, MN, Ben Miller has had a clear vision of what he expected from his company. “From day one it’s been our goal to become by Matthew Overstreet one of the leaders in the industry,” Miller says. “For us that means not only being first in revenue or sales, but being at the forefront of home design Above: Exterior of a lakeside timber and construction… we want to creframe home. ate original content, not just follow Right: Grand fireplace with timber trends.” frame accents creating a unique, warm and inviting focal point. Approaching its seventh year in busi-

94 american builders quarterly winter 2009

ness, Blue Ox Timber Frames appears to be well on its way to achieving Miller’s goal. The company, which designs, engineers, and fabricates timber frames and architectural timber work for both residential and commercial structures, has experienced steady growth since its inception. In 2008 Miller expects Blue Ox to complete upwards of 15 frames, and an additional 12 to 15 decorative projects. The company has also steadily expanded its client base, assisting clients not only it its home region, but also across the country.

timber framing showcase blue ox timber frames

blue ox timber frames at a glance location: Alexandria, MN area of specialty: Custom timber design and construction

employees: 9 projects completed annually: 30

Not unexpectedly, to achieve the company’s goal of becoming an industry leader, its first and foremost concern is quality. A shop which cuts and fits each timber by hand, as opposed to machine, is largely dependent on the skill level of the company’s craftsmen. To guarantee that Blue Ox is able to retain the best people in the industry, and to keep them motivated, Miller, who in a former career worked in international finance, utilizes a system of specialized incentives. For example, if a project is completed on schedule, the craftsmen involved may be eligible for bonuses or additional vacation time. “The goal is to create a community atmosphere,” Miller shares. “We are only as good as

our people, so we want to make sure that everyone is focused on moving the business forward.” Although Blue Ox has a skilled inhouse design staff, unlike some timber framing firms, the company recognizes that sometimes to achieve the highest quality product consultation with outside design firms is desirable. As such, the company frequently partners with several award-winning design firms, especially on more detail-oriented projects. “We’re in the business of building dream homes,” Miller explains. “Our clients demand the best, both in construction and design, and that’s what we provide.”

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timber framing showcase blue ox timber frames

Right: Observatory cabin at a unique lakeside, three-story home. Center: Great room reflecting warmth and character of a timber frame home. Far right: A great room is a good use of space for entertaining.

We’re in the business of building dream homes. Ben Miller, Owner

a message from enercept SIP manufacturer, Enercept™, is proud to supply panels to quality builders like Blue Ox Timber Frames. We specialize in fully customized SIPs for basement/foundation walls, above grade walls, floors and roofs. SIPs are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and two times stronger than stick framing. Our SIPs are used in residential, commercial and industrial applications. Enercept™ also provides panels made with FSC-certified wood products (#SCS-COC-001525) when requested.

Blue Ox’s willingness to collaborate with outside designers is squarely in line with the company’s overall philosophy. “I have always been of the philosophy that I’ll never wake up in the home,” Miller explains. “We’re concerned with building it right, but other than that we put the homeowner in the driver’s seat. We listen to what they have to say, then let the pencil do the talking.” However, Blue Ox’s flexibility does not suggest that the company does not have firm ideas about what makes a highquality timber-frame home. One area

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Miller is particularly passionate about is what he calls “practical green solutions.” In today’s ecologically sensitive building climate, the green solutions many builders attempt to incorporate, while done with good intentions, may often be difficult to justify in light of the client’s needs and budget. “Our approach is instead to work within people’s means to devise practical green solutions,” Miller states. He explains that this can include anything from the incorporation of passive solar elements into the home to simple efficient resource management, making sure that no more materials than necessary

timber framing showcase blue ox timber frames

are used, and that the home’s timber comes from sustainable stocks. One area in which Blue Ox is certainly ahead of the curve is the incorporation of reclaimed materials. Although the use of reclaimed timber, notable for its environmentally friendly nature and aesthetic appeal, may increase labor costs, in light of the company’s stated commitment to build “dream homes, not cheap homes,” Blue Ox uses reclaimed timber in 15 to 20 percent of its projects. By continuing to lead, not follow, Blue Ox Timber Frames hopes to enjoy continuing success. abq

clydesdale frames co.

rediscovering the lost art of craftsmanship by Matthew Overstreet

Above: Owner, JohnVan Bruggen, helps control the swing of a timber frame bent as the crane guides it into position. Right: Most of the timber frames built in North America are residential structures.


In fact, Clydesdale, which designs and ome might say that in the fabricates timber frames for homes and world of modern home construclight commercial structures, stands tion, the art of fine craftsmanship out among timber framers in that the often takes a backseat to the profit company explicitly rejects the high motive. This is certainly not the case volume approach. Van Bruggen and with Clydesdale Frames Co., a timber framing company based in Hutchinson, his team of craftsmen take the time to hand cut and pre-fit each frame. This KS. For Clydesdale Frames, dedication approach differs from that of so-called to craft and tradition, as well as establishing a personal relationship with “automated shops” which due to higher overhead, must necessarily be more each client, is the cornerstone of their concerned with total output. “There’s business model. “For us, each project a big difference in concept,” Van Brugis individual, custom made, and degen explains, “Handcutters don’t focus signed to fit the specific personality of on volume, and that allows us to develthe owner—we don’t take the cookie op a much more personal relationship cutter approach,” says owner John Van with our clients. It’s not just three days Bruggen.

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timber framing showcase clydesdale frames co.

For us, each project is individual, custom made, and designed to fit the specific personality of the owner— we don’t take the cookie cutter approach. JohnVan Bruggen, Owner and you’re out the door.” Clydesdale’s concern with craft is a must for a company in the timber framing business. In a timber framed structure, the timber posts and wood joinery that compose the frame are open to view, making the frame itself an important part of the structure’s interior aesthetic. Consequently, a timber framing company must be concerned not only with creating a strong, stable frame, but also one which is physically appealing. This includes an evaluation of everything from the way the timbers fit together, to wood species, and even stain selection. After nearly a decade in business, Clydesdale finds itself well-positioned to address even the most unique design concerns. Van Bruggen notes that apart from the company’s in-house design services, they also frequently work with outside architects to achieve design goals. While timber frames are known for their aesthetic appeal, it is less widely known that timber frames are also one of the original green building technologies. Van Bruggen points out that although timber frames, due to the visibility of their components, often appear more substantial than conven-

tional stick frames, a timber frame will typically require less board footage per square foot of living space. He also takes pride in the durability of timber frame structures. Timber framing

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timber framing showcase clydesdale frames co.

clydesdale framing co. at a glance location: Hutchinson, KS area of specialty: Timber frame design and fabrication

employees: 7 average annual sales: $1 million techniques have been used for centuries and many ancient timber-frame structures still stand today. “A timberframe house will stand 500 years, if not longer, “Van Bruggen says, pointing to the example of timber-framed temples in Japan, some of which are over 2,000 years old. Apart from aesthetic appeal and durability, timber framing can also result in cost savings through decreased energy consumption. A typical Clydesdale home consists of a timber frame encapsulated in a skin of structural insulated panels (SIPs). A timber-frame home utilizing SIPs insulated with urethane foam, the material recommended by Clydesdale, creates a solid, air-tight, energy efficient structure, unrivaled by

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that of other building techniques. When the advantages of a timber frame home are coupled with Clydesdale’s reputation for craftsmanship, it is easy to see why the company has experienced steady growth over the past decade. Remaining focused on quality over quantity, Clydesdale has assisted a diverse range of clients across the Midwest, and in locations as far-flung as Idaho and Texas. Van Bruggen and his team take pride in the structures they create, but also in the relationships they have cultivated. “After 70 or so raisings, we have 70 or so friends,” he says. That statement, perhaps more than any other, sums up Clydesdale Frame Co.’s philosophy. abq

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pineridge timberframe

canadian timber frame company seeks to successfully fuse tradition and technology


imber framing, perhaps even more so than other aspects of the construction business, has a reputation as a localized art, with each region having its own unique stylistic traits. As such, it is rare indeed to come by Matthew Overstreet across a timber framing company with a truly global reach. PineRidge Timberframe of Mount Forest, ON, is one such company. In recent years PineRidge, a timber frame design and manufacturing firm, has completed projects across the United States, Canada and even as far away as Japan. Above: Exterior of a lakeside timber frame When asked how PineRidge is able home. Photo by James Spahn. to appeal to such a wide variety of

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consumers, owner Mike Mader is quick to point out the knowledge and experience of his six-person design team. “We put a huge emphasis on design,” Mader says, “We recognize that the timber frame is just one element of the overall design scheme, but that it’s something that must be done correctly.” PineRidge, which completes upwards of 30 projects annually, designs over 95 percent of its projects in-house. Having been in business for almost 20 years, Mader and his team developed a customized procedure for helping the

timber framing showcase pineridge timberframe

tradition. Perhaps nothing illustrates client participate fully in the design this better than a recent project in New process, and ultimately, get a home York state in which the company asthat meets his or her precise specifisisted in building historical recreations cations. PineRidge’s design process of 18th century Dutch homes. Working includes in-depth discussions with the client, tours of existing PineRidge alongside carpenters and artists from homes, and numerous site visits, taking Holland, Mader and company designed into account features such as the topog- and manufactured all the timber work raphy, views, and home placement. To for the homes, including intricate, facilitate client communications, Pinhand-planned siding. eRidge has also developed what Mader refers to as a “wish list”—a seven page Often PineRidge’s ability to create auquestionnaire designed to give both thentic-looking traditional structures is client and builder a better understand- utilized in more conventional settings. ing of what exactly the client wants. As Mader explains, many clients want “It’s all about working with the client to the look and feel of reclaimed timber, figure out what they want, what they can afford and what will work,” Mader explains.

Forwood Forest Products Inc. has supplied specialty lumber products to North American and overseas customers for over 25 years.We specialize in appearance timbers and profiled products in Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, andWestern Whitewoods. Our services include managing the production quality as well as delivery logistics to meet project timelines. It has been a pleasure working with Mike Mader and the crew at PineRidge Timberframe.Their beautiful designs, service and support are second to none.We look forward to continuing to supply the premium products that help turn these projects into dream homes.



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D o u g la s Fir We st e rn R e d C e d a r S p ru c e P in e H e mlo c k: A p p e a ra n c e Timb e rs & S p e c ia lt y Lu mb e r



Since 1984


Of course, design is only one aspect of the timber framing process. PineRidge also manufactures the structure, provides the structural insulated panels and window systems, and if necessary, assembles the product on-site. In each of these areas Mader and company are quick to recognize the importance of craftsmanship. To this end, in 1998 PineRidge was the first timber framing shop in Canada (and only the second in North America), to go fully automated. By utilizing computer-aided equipment to shape joinery, posts, and beams, PineRidge is able to achieve an unmatched level of precision in its designs. Mader believes the resulting attention to detail is one of the defining features of a PineRidge home. “When it comes to issues of craftsmanship— how things fit together, both structurally and aesthetically—we don’t accept anything but perfection,” Mader says, “Our clients recognize that.”

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Despite utilizing the latest technologies, PineRidge has not lost touch with

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american builders quarterly winter 2009


but find it impossible to fit within their budgets. “With our equipment and experience we’re able to recreate the look and feel of reclaimed timber with new materials at a substantially lower cost,” Mader says, “that allows us to give our clients an option they might not have had otherwise.”

pineridge timberframe at a glance location: Mount Forest, ON area of specialty:

All told, PineRidge Timberframe seems to have successfully fused technological innovation with traditional notions of craftsmanship. This is a strategy that Mike Mader and company believe will serve them well in the future. abq

a message from team industries PineRidge utilizes SIPs roofs manufactured by TEAM R-Control, because TEAM’s roof panels add a high insulation value to PineRidge homes, and contain all the structural elements needed, without detracting from timber frame designs. Top timber framers like PineRidge have discovered that Team R-Control roofs greatly reduce energy consumption when combined with their construction systems. In fact, PineRidge recently agreed to also build homes using SIPs panels for roofs and walls for energy conscious customers who are not interested in the timber frame look and who desire mold and mildew prevention.

Timber frame design and manufacturing

client base: United States, Canada and Japan

jobs designed in-house: 95%


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Find out more about Team R Control, the leader in “green building” at or by calling 800.356.5548 ext. 43

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timberwolf tools

maine distributor powers the timber framing industry


s the timber framing industry has grown in the United States and Canada, Maine-based Timberwolf Tools has surged to the point where it by Daniel Casciato is now the largest distributor of timber framing power tools in North America. These high-quality tools include chain mortisers, portable band saws, largediameter circular saws, chain-beam saws, wide portable planers, drill stands, notchers, and other timber Above: (left to right) The Timberwolf framing specialty devices. Tools staff: Marc Boutan, David Powell, Kate Libby, and Andrew Powell. In its first decade of existence, Tim-

berwolf offered entry-level tools from brands like Makita and Oliver. After adding German brand PROTOOL eight years ago, business tripled. Then two years ago, Timberwolf became the distributor of two more highquality timber-framing tool brands, Mafell and HEMA, and last years sales jumped again. According to company president Dave Powell, the finest timber framing tools are manufactured in Germany, where timber framing is the dominant tech-

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timber framing showcase timberwolf tools

These tools dramatically improve the accuracy and productivity of timber framers. Dave Powell, President

Top: Portable band saw for accurate scroll cutting of 12” timbers. Bottom: Chain mortiser efficiently cuts rectangular openings for tenon connections.

nology for connecting wood structures. Traditionally, that's also the case in Japan, where some of the company’s other tools are manufactured. “These tools dramatically improve the accuracy and productivity of timber framers compared to using hand drills, chisels, and hand saws as were used before power tools became available,” explains Powell, adding that Timberwolf offers a full spectrum of tools, so that builders can buy the tools appropriate for their applications and budgets.

That was Powell’s vision for the company when he was placed in charge. Timberwolf was initially part of a construction company, founded by John Libby and called Barn Masters, Inc., for which Powell worked as an operations manager. In 2001, Libby split Barn Masters into two companies, Timberwolf Tools and Houses & Barns by John Libby, because the tool business had grown to a size that justified a dedicated staff and its own identity. Since it became an independent company, Timberwolf has emphasized innovative ways to display products on its Web site, including video clips of tools in use, while implementing a shoppingcart system where tools and accessories can be ordered day or night, seven days a week.

“When carpenters are just entering timber framing or a homeowner is building a simple barn, its often most cost effective to use entry-level tools," says Powell. “But as timber framers become more efficient and expand the complexities of their frames, higherperformance tools become a necessity.” “Our talented staff has always focused on taking very good care of all of our Timber framing is both a superior con- customers and making sure that their tool-purchasing experience is enjoyable struction system for homes and barns and an art form in itself. Timber fram- and satisfying,” emphasizes Powell. ers build their frames as if they are a large, beautiful piece of furniture. The Timberwolf’s president has always believed in a team approach, so emprecision power tools offered by Timployees are trained in all aspects of the berwolf enable craftsmen to produce business, including product details and tight-fitting joints and finished frames superior customer service. As he looks with fine details. ahead to the company's future, Powell's goals are simple. Yet the company’s success is as much about strong relationships as high performance. For Powell, it’s important to “We want everyone who has a need for maintain an excellent relationship with timber-framing tools to come to us and find the solution right for them,” he customers, vendors, and employees. says. “We'd also like to meet as many of our customers as possible through their “We just all want to have fun serving customers and treat each other as we’d visits to our demonstration area, trade shows, and our visits to their sites. hope to be treated,” says Powell. “The rest of the details of the business work We're developing programs to increase themselves out as long as we’re all will- our face-to-face experiences with cusing to work hard and focus on what our tomers that would like to meet with our knowledgeable team.” abq customers need.”

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timber creations

building commercial structures to represent the client’s values and brand


pecializing in commercial timber frame structures, Timber Creations in Santa Rosa, CA, uses both technology and hand-crafted traditional techniques to produce lasting by G. L. Williams and inviting structures. The company helps its clients see the true value of timber framing by educating clients on how a building can be more than just a structure; it can provide a special setting that creates a retreat from the outside. Done well, timber framing can create a unique atmosphere, and Above: North Fermentation barn, can strongly influence the mood of its catwalks at nave of structure. inhabitants.

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Founder and president of Timber Creations, Leif Calvin, explains, “There is an honesty about a timber frame building that speaks to us, and to our clients. People can try to use decorative beams, or what we call ‘trim-ber,’ but it is not the same. And our clients know that it doesn’t have the same effect on the human spirit.” Some of the company’s notable projects include the Silver Oak Cellars Winery, in Napa Valley, CA; the Nickel and Nickel Winery Barn, in Oakville, CA; and the Ratna Ling

timber framing showcase timber creations

Above: Clients and timber framers of the South Fermentation barn. Leif Calvin, president is pictured in the center. Below:“Log jog” competition in celebration of another completed project.

timber creations at a glance location: Santa Rosa, CA area of specialty: Commercial buildings

employees: 5+ Retreat Center, in Cazadero, CA. The projects Timber Creations builds combine the spirit of European and colonial American buildings, with modern engineering. Yet, the paradox is that what the company does is only possible because of the computer.

builds goes through rigorous engineering checks. The first of these checks is in-house, and occurs during the design and layout phase. The project is then reviewed by an engineer who specializes in timber frame structures. If any changes have been made in the design, the proj-

There is an honesty about a timber frame building that speaks to us, and to our clients. Leif Calvin, Founder & President Computer modeling is essential to help clients visualize what they want and whether their wishes can be achieved, while it also allows Timber Creations to engineer the solutions. Every structure Timber Creations

ect must be approved again by the client. Only when everyone is satisfied does the project plan get submitted for plan check. “We are building for now, and for the future. It is important to us and our clients that our buildings embody lasting values,” emphasizes Calvin.

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timber framing showcase timber creations

It is important to us and our clients that our buildings embody lasting values. Leif Calvin, President

Left: North Fermentation barn, design intent was to contrast the old building with the new high-tech stainless steel wine making equipment. Right: Conference center at the Ratna Ling.

Calvin is quick to acknowledge that the The company uses other high-technolrelationships the company maintains ogy means to ensure its structures live up to those values. In addition to using with architects, engineers, vendors, and subcontractors are critical to its very high grades of lumber, the comsuccess. Calvin sums it up this way, pany enlists Fraserwood Industries to dry the lumber to the core using RF/V “We understand we are part of a team. And that the team exists to serve the (Radio Frequency/Vacuum) kilns. structure, and what the structure This process dries the wood with minimal checking, while preserving its represents to the client. On a practical level we think that is why we are strength and beauty. Moreover, when successful and will continue to be sucappropriate, Timber Creations sends cessful. On another level, we feel that the wood out for computer-controlled part of that spirit gets built into each cutting before hand assembly and inbuilding.� abq stallation.

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swiftsure timberworks llc

timber framing family builds personal pride into each building


wiftsure timberworks llc is a licensed Oregon general contractor founded in 2002, whose sole focus is on timber framing. It is a family by G. L. Williams business owned by Tim and Shona Allen and their son Colton. They operate a 3,000-square-foot shop that specializes in handcrafted timber joinery.

Even though he can boast 30 plus years of experience as a framer, Tim says that the craftsmanship involved in timber framing has added a new, artistic Above: Inspired by influential American dimension to his work. “Timber framarchitects, Greene & Greene, this boat dock ing is an intensely creative process. arbor is made from AlaskaYellow Cedar. Every aspect of our daily work—from

designing the joinery to selecting the timbers to using the specialized tools of the craft—gives me a level of personal satisfaction I hadn’t experienced as a framing contractor.” Tim and Colton were both conventional framing contractors. They had framed in Canada, Colorado and Japan. After the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, the call went out for construction workers. Tim, who was in Vancouver, BC answered an ad and within two weeks, the two of them were building houses in Japan with eight other framers.

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timber framing showcase swiftsure timberworks llc

Left: Raising central log columns for the Hanley residence frame. Center: Colton, Shona and Tim Allen. Right:Timber ceiling in great room and kitchen of the Pratt residence.

They were hired to do what the Japanese call “2 x 4” framing. They did it for about three years until the end of 1997. While in Japan, Tim and Colton became impressed by the beauty of exposed joined timbers as part of the structure of a building. From 1998 until 2001 the Allens worked in Colorado, west of Denver.

synthesis of function and beauty. And the client gets to live in and enjoy something special.” In 2002, they moved to Medford, OR and started SwiftSure Timberworks LLC. The first project they built in Rogue Valley is an authentic Greene & Greene home in Jacksonville, OR called “the Lilac House.”

As a builder, the payoff from this work lasts well beyond the monetary. Tim Allen, Owner

swiftsure timberworks llc at a glance area of specialty: Residential and commercial timber framing

location: Medford, OR employees: 7

The builder, Rodger Whipple, had reThe mountain lodge style of homes searched and found an authentic set of they were contracted to frame in the Greene & Greene plans that had never ski resorts featured a liberal use of heavy timber trusses and exposed tim- been built. He waited years to find ber beams. They got the opportunity to the right situation and location. When participate in 2001 when they were do- he was ready to build he visited the ing the conventional framing on a large SwiftSure shop, and upon seeing their work, hired them as the timber framer private residence in Colorado. The for the home. home was a mixture of conventional and timber frame. “Building the Lilac House gave us a kind of satisfaction we hadn’t experienced When the timber framer got behind schedule, he negotiated a deal to allow in all those years framing houses and the Allens to complete half the timber- apartments,” Tim says. “As a builder, work under his supervision to keep the the payoff from this work lasts well beyond the monetary. I can take my job on track. It was so rewarding they grandchildren there and say, that is have never looked back. beauty, and we built that, and hopefully they will be able to take their “It feels good to do work you can take children there as well.” abq pride in,” Colton says. “With timber framing, we get to build the perfect

112 american builders quarterly winter 2009

houses & barns by john libby

maine timber framer continues to astonish customers by Daniel Casciato

Above:Timber frame accents inside this house provide a balance of sophistication and rusticity. Right: EasternWhite Pine timbers and curved knee braces, reminiscent of the ship building heritage in Maine.


ow! this three-letter monosyllabic exclamation is music to John Libby’s ears. Through the timber frame building process, Libby, president of Maine-based Houses & Barns by John Libby (HBJL), focuses on delivering an end product that will leave his customers astonished. “Our clients expect a high value for their money, and when it’s completed they get more than expected,” Libby shares. “The ‘wow factor’ is a big part of that. We love to hear from our customers that the final product is better than they expected it to be.”

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Exceeding customer’s expectations is something Libby learned from his father growing up in Presque Isle, ME, and working along side his father in the family’s small construction company. Libby’s father believed in getting the job done right. Every customer was important, and nothing gave him more pleasure than exceeding client’s expectations. Serving clients in Maine, as well as other New England states, today HBJL continues that tradition of high value and exceptional customer service

timber framing showcase houses & barns by john libby

Above: John Libby, founder and president. Center:This newly constructed EnglishWall-style 1790s barn, was one of the inspirations for the new Signature Series of barns the company now offers. Right: An authentic three-story home created using Douglas fir timber frame and a stone/brick façade.

exemplified by Libby’s father’s work. The company provides all the services a customer needs to develop their timber frame barn or custom home project. The company’s architect and artisan builders collaborate with clients from beginning to end, ensuring client-driven designs, heirloom-quality

allows the crew to focus on the task at hand, and provides for a more orderly and respected atmosphere, explains Libby. Unlike other builders that focus solely on mass production, HBJL focuses on one project at a time to insure tight

Our clients expect a high value for their money, and when it’s completed they get more than expected. John Libby, President

houses & barns by john libby at a glance location: Freeport, ME area of specialty: Highend timber frame homes and barns

employees: 8 years in business: 35

construction, and total satisfaction. “The clients get to know our incredible staff while we’re building the house, and they’re often sorry that the project is over because the crew is going away, and they will miss them,” adds Libby. “We have a phenomenal crew of guys. They’re very talented, knowledgeable, and highly regarded by our clients.” At each client site, HBJL prohibits such activities as smoking, radios, and messes—the site must be clean when the crews are finished for the day. This

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quality control. “We also do this to give specialized attention to each of our clients,” explains Libby. “The client better understands all the details and decisions being made because we’re solely focused on that project.” The only exception to this rule is its Signature Barns Series, the company’s new line of timber frame barns. It offers the same outstanding quality and timeless design that are trademarks of the company’s structures, without

timber framing showcase houses & barns by john libby

the time investment or design fees required in crafting a custom barn. While the Signature Barn Series timber frames can be built and hand cut to order, those who desire a turn-key building have three trim package levels to select from through the company’s Web site. Barns can further be tailored to a client’s needs with available modifications such as increased size, incorporating various design elements, or adding in energy-efficient heating and energy systems. Since its founding, HBJL has been committed to working with energy-efficient materials. “We are always looking for new and proven building materials that will help hold down costs of operation for the owner and make it less costly to heat,” adds Libby. As he looks ahead, Libby cites the economy as one of the major trends that will be shaping the timber framing industry in the near future. “Some of the houses we are dealing with now are smaller than in the past, but they are still very well built,” says Libby. “Some have timber frame features as opposed

to being timber framed entirely, it’s driven by clients’ desires more than anything else. But what hasn’t changed is that we always make sure there’s still a huge ‘wow factor’ at the end.” abq

moresun custom woodworking inc.

woodworking firm brings artistry to timber framing


tephen morrison’s interest in woodworking began in a high school wood shop class. Since that time, it has developed into Morrison’s by Amy McNeil full-time craft and his business, MoreSun Custom Woodworking Inc. Morrison credits his high school teacher with piquing his interest in woodworking. “He was inspirational,” says Morrison. “He was knowledgeable and if you were interested in a project, he would find the resources to help you, no matter what.” Morrison further recalls, “He brought in pictures of his house. He Above:The MoreSun crew working had built the cabinetry and furniture to set hip rafters on a boat house. and had done all the woodworking. It

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became my goal to live in a house that I had built everything in.” Morrison started with simple projects, but soon realized the scope of what he could accomplish. With a goal in mind, Morrison gained more experience in the craft. At one point he worked for a shop that specialized in antique reproductions, and later a cabinet shop. Morrison then took a hands-on timber framing job. “We would take a portable sawmill and a team of draft horses, go into the woods, choose trees, mill timber, and cut a timber frame onsite,” explains Morrison.

timber framing showcase moresun custom woodworking inc.

When we come in to set a timber frame, other crews stop what they are doing and watch. Homeowners make it an event and invite friends and family over. Stephen Morrison, Owner The company’s versatility has helped Morrison opened his own company, fuel its success. “Since we’re able to do MoreSun Custom Woodworking Inc. many different things,” Morrison says, in 2002 and incorporated his wide “we’ll often be hired for one part of a range of woodworking skills into his project which will lead to other parts.” business. MoreSun Custom Woodworking specializes in fine woodworkOne of MoreSun Custom Woodworking, including heavy timber frame ing’s current projects is designing and work, custom cabinetry, staircases, building the timber frame for a 7,000and other types of projects. “We set square-foot home. Morrison and his up a business where we would not get caught in just one area,” says Morrison. team will work on many aspects of

Left: Flying timbers over Lake Burton while building a boat home in northern Georgia. Center:The MoreSun crew stands proudly on a newly raised Cypress timber frame. Right: Stephen Morrison, owner and lead timber framer, fine tunes a post on a timber frame raising in northern Georgia.

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase moresun custom woodworking inc.

moresun custom woodworking inc. location: Mt. Rest, SC employees: 4 average projects per year: 8+

Above:White Oak timbers frame the skeleton the home, including its 82-foot deck. of the MoreSun workshop. Another recent project required taking 18 Cypress trees from swampland and incorporating them into a home’s structure and design. “The trees were

fully structural as well as decorative,” Morrison says. The company’s first project, though, was to fulfill Morrison’s goal. He built his own home and workshop, even making them solar-powered. “The solar electric system is connected to the grid so if we need more power we can pull from it, and when we are producing an excess, our system sells it back,” he says. Morrison’s diverse workmanship is apparent from his range of abilities, as well as from the response he receives from clients. “When we come in to set a timber frame, other crews stop what they are doing and watch. Homeowners make it an event, and invite friends and family over,” he says. Morrison feels fortunate that clients see his work as art. abq


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120 american builders quarterly winter 2009

high plains timber frames, llc

colorado timber framer looks to grow in niche market


he timber framing industry is unique, blending artistry with precision cuts and intricate joinery to produce beautiful accents and sturdy beams. Corey Tips, owner and founder by John Ballard of High Plains Timber Frames, LLC (HPTF), was aware of the challenges when he founded the company in 2005 in Fort Collins, CO. Tips learned his chops as an apprentice in Germany, a country that reveres the use of timber. Above: Peg detail in a front porch railing. “I was interested in carpentry, and

I wanted to be a carpenter,” he says. “But I didn’t know how cool it was going to be until I got there.” With Colorado’s housing industry in a slump, HPTF’s revenues have been down over the past two years, and currently Tips is the sole employee. Although the company had revenue of $50,000 in 2006, 2007 generated only two small jobs. Tips, however, is positive business will pick up, especially

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase high plains timber frames, llc

Above: Corey pegging brace, Steamboat Springs, CO. Below:Trusses housed in log posts, Steamboat Spring, CO.

there are four primary benefits to utilizing timber framing over conventional stick framing: 1. Emotional appeal: the feel of a timber-framed home is one of warmth, strength, and security, and allows the home owner to vary the wood appearance throughout the house. 2. Design flexibility: the floor plan can be more open since typically there are no interior loadbearing walls. 3. Durability and longevity: timber frames are very structurally sound and can last hundreds of years. 4. Energy efficiency: a variety of enclosure systems can be utilized, creating an envelope of insulation and a very efficient building system.

since he recently started actively advertising. “We’re kind of a niche thing,” he explains. Primarily focusing on framing, Tips’ area of expertise is hand-cut and handfitted joinery. “We can build anything,” he says. “Entire houses, porches, accent [pieces]. A lot of people will have non-structural accents like trusses or beams in the living room.” Everything is hand-cut in Tips’ shop, which reduces waste and weathering. “It’s really beautiful and has an incredible longev-

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ity that can be used again. You can take [the frames] apart really easily.” Although timber framing typically uses less wood, incurs less waste, and has other benefits such as eye-appeal, longevity, and durability, it is not without its challenges. “It’s really a different building system,” Tips says. “You have to come up with alternative enclosurelike panels. There are also hybrid timber frames which are half timber frame and half conventional frame. I’d encourage people to do a hybrid, be-

timber framing showcase high plains timber frames, llc Tips is also a member of the Timber Framers Guild, which unites framers from around the country to work on projects, and to attend conferences. Installation is also a challenge because “It’s a fairly close-knit community,” he says. Tips is currently building a 13' by the enclosure has to be screwed in 13' cottage utilizing compound joinery from behind so as not to affect the and smaller timbers for the Denver Log beauty of the exposed timber. “You & Timber Expo. In addition to timber can’t just go shooting nails into these work, down the road he may get into timbers that we’ve been working on the installation of structural insulated forever,” Tips says. Tips primarily utipanels. He looks forward to the day lizes Douglas fir from the Northwest, when he can own his own shop rather including Idaho and Wyoming. “Here in the US we’ve taken [timber framing] than renting. “I’d love to build a shop,” he says. “Other than that I’d just like to a higher level. It’s highly decorato have more work.” abq tive—every joint has to be perfect. We go to great pains over these joints to make them tight and make them look good.” cause it’s more cost effective, and you get the timber frame parts where you want them.”

high plains timber frames, llc at a glance location: Fort Collins, CO area of specialty: Hand-cut and hand-fitted joinery

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american builders quarterly winter 2009


legacy timber frames inc.

timber frame builder's keys to success: quality, integrity, and reliability


nnemarie and daniel l. roseberger, cofounders of Legacy Timber Frames Inc., located just outside of Saratoga Springs, NY, believe the homes they build should be inspired by Daniel Casciato and shaped by their customers’ dreams.

Above:The screened porch and deck create outside living space with a lake view and add to the architectural interest of the home. Photo by Tom Stock.

“We love being part of the whole experience from first design meeting to ‘frame up’, sharing with the client the exciting process of creating their dream, then being invited back to the house-warming party, and seeing the pride and delight in the owners’ faces,”

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says Annemarie, president of Legacy. Annemarie and Dan say they share a common goal with clients: to give them a timber frame that’s truly ‘a Legacy’ in every way. “Every single person on our team genuinely loves and takes pride in what they do," says Annemarie. “We listen to the customers. We focus on quality and integrity. We live in the possibilities.” In addition to this hands-on personal

timber framing showcase legacy timber frames inc.

Above:The timber framed breezeway and front porch make up this Adirondack mountain home. Below:The cathedral master bedroom includes an angled bay wall to capture the 180-degree view of the lake. Photos by Tom Stock.

legacy's common projects include: • Timber trusses for hybrid homes • Simple camps • Great room additions • Starter homes • Retirement homes • Showcase homes • Horse barns attention, quality craftsmanship, customers also benefit from the owners’ 20 years of experience. Dan, vice president of Legacy, and Annemarie met while working for a timber frame company in Feura Bush, NY. She was a designer and he was a sub-contractor who erected the frames and installed SIPs When that company closed in 1988, they started Legacy, which manufactures and erects custom, handcrafted timber frame structures.

to continue hand-crafting our traditional frames. We take pride in the fact that each frame is cut specifically for each individual client. We’ve never cut the same frame twice.” Typically, Legacy custom designs each home, or work with the client’s architect in the design process. The company can provide an erected frame and installed SIPs outside of the Capital District of New York and locally provide an enclosed shell.

• Hotel entryway • Retirement living center great room • Boat houses • Pavilions • Trophy homes

“In the early years, we cut our own “We cut the frames in our shop and deframes and were involved in every liver them to the site ready for assembly aspect of construction from pouring by our crew,” says Annemarie. “The concrete to painting,” Annemarie time required for assembly is a matter says. “As the company grew, we chose of days, so we travel almost anywhere to focus on what we do best—custom timber frame structures. We've chosen to erect our frames."

american builders quarterly winter 2009


legacy timber frames inc. at a glance location: Stillwater, NY THE TIMBER FRAMER’S PANEL COMPANY

area of specialty: Timber frames for residential, light commercial and agricultural construction

employees: 9

Specializing in Energy-Efficient Wall Systems

year founded: 1988

Legacy’s frames are joined with traditional joinery and octagonal oak pegs. No nails, metal fasteners or interior partitions are used to connect the timbers or support the structure. “This is the building technique used throughout history, and has proven to be stable and enduring, as well as beautiful,” says Annemarie. abq

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Foard Panel Inc. of W. Chesterfield, NH is the leading supplier of SIPs for timber framers in the Northeast. For 15 years, Foard has been manufacturing and installing panels that exceed Energy Star guidelines and reduce fuel costs for both residential and commercial buildings. These high performance wall systems are available with EPS or XPS insulation. Both types offer impressive R-values that outperform stick frame construction. Project managers and engineers work directly with builders to ensure that customers receive maximum thermal performance and best building science techniques. “Foard Panel is equipped with the technology necessary to produce a higher quality building product and the staff who can provide personalized customer service as well as superior technical support.This combination has kept our timber framers coming back year after year,” says Steve Horton, president of Foard Panel.


quality built homes and excellent customer service key to success


hen the national association of Realtors recently published the top trends in eco-friendly home building, they included timber frame homes as one of the top 15 beby Daniel Casciato cause of its green benefits. “Timber framing is becoming much better known and is more popular than ever,” says Jonathan Vincent, AIA, director of design for TIMBERPEG, a timber framing company based in West Lebanon, NH. “That's particularly because Above: Environmentally friendly home built with of the quality and because it's different. lots of windows to allow for natural light. It provides an alternative to the tradi-

tional stick-built homes,” adds Vincent. In business since 1974, TIMBERPEG designs, cuts, and ships timber frame packages all across the United States, as well as to other countries. While most of its business comes from the East Coast, timber framing is also popular on the West Coast, in Colorado, and in the Southeast. According to Vincent, one of the benefits of a timber frame home is its SIPS, walls, and roofs, which prevent heat

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase timberpeg

Above: The openness of this new home allows its owners to see the beautiful views of their natural surroundings from almost every room. Center: This homeowner wanted to have the appearance of a European mountain chalet. Right: The owners of this residence replaced an outdated and inefficient 1960s ski chalet with this energy-efficient timber frame home.

houses." and air conditioning from escaping. “That provides an efficient thermal envelope which is highly energy efficient,” Keys to the company’s success are simple, says Vincent. “We try to maintain explains Vincent. “Another benefit is the highest quality and best service that that they also go up fast because the pieces are pre-cut. So the frame can be we can,” he says. “We do everything we possibly can to keep our customers erected pretty quickly, and the walls happy, and have local representatives and the roof can be added in a matter on the spot to deal with any issues imof days.” mediately.” What gives TIMBERPEG its competiAlthough construction costs continue tive edge is that it is a well-established to rise, while house prices are falling, company, and it is larger than other

Timber framing is becoming much better known, and is more popular than ever. JonathanVincent, Director of Design Vincent explains that TIMBERPEG timber framers. “We have separate has responded to that difficult trend by manufacturing facilities on both the building smaller homes. “We’ve been East and West coasts, so we don't have to ship timbers back and forth. We cut seeing a demand for smaller, more where the timber grows,” says Vincent. compact, and more efficient houses,” he says. “That’s the trend now. People “This provides energy savings. We also recognize that quality is more imporwork in a variety of styles. We’re not just one type of house, or one look. We tant than pure size.” abq do everything from traditional New England, to a mountain style with overhangs and heavy trim, which is very popular in the Northwest and in North Carolina. We also do very modern

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oakbridge timber framing, ltd.

consummate knowledge and woodworking skills fuel ohio subcontractor’s success


ounded in 1986, oakbridge Timber Framing, Ltd. is a familyowned and operated subcontractor with a history of pride and quality construction. Headquartered in Howby Regina Raiford Babcock ard, OH, this timber frame specialist designs, fabricates, and erects custom Above: Wood and stone harmonize in the timber frames and panels for high-end angles of this Bookwalter design. homes. “We enjoy this type of special-

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ty work, building dream homes,” says John Miller, OakBridge’s owner. Miller and his friend, Levi Hostetler, had worked together previously for another timber frame company that disbanded. They loved timber framing work so much that they launched their own company. The result is Oak-

timber framing showcase oakbridge timber framing, ltd.

Left:The disclosed timber ceiling of this Bookwalter kitchen adds comfort the space.

We are proud of every [frame] because every one is somebody’s dream. John Miller, Owner Bridge, which has completed construction projects in 22 states and does business nationwide. Owned by John and Aaron Miller, the company constructs 15 projects annually.

dream,” says Miller. One notable recent project was a large luxury home in Ashland, OH with a barn-like frame. In addition to frames for custom homes, OakBridge creates pergolas and outdoor structures. For example, the company has created several bridges for bike paths over the years. “One of our bike-path bridges in Ohio has been the site of several weddings, and that gives me such joy,” says Miller.

Ranging from great room additions to 9,000-square-foot luxury vacation homes, OakBridge’s projects come in a wide variety of sizes. But regardless of the size, Miller and his crew take a lot of pride in each project. Currently, this subcontractor is building a traditional frame for a 6,000-square-foot house “All of us go out on site to install the in Cincinnati and its next scheduled frames—even office personnel—beproject is a frame for a 4,000-squarefoot home. “We are proud of every one cause we believe that is the pride of the job when you go out and install,” Miller because every [frame] is somebody’s

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase oakbridge timber framing, ltd.

Above:This Frederick home design is built to adds. Half of the company’s projects last with a timber frame structure combined are full timber frame and the remainwith energy-efficient, insulated panels. der are hybrid timber frame projects. OakBridge’s staff uses traditional tools, including handheld chisels, mallets, and circular saws to create highly decorative joinery.

The company’s wood shop employees are continually learning more about wood, experimenting, and coming up with new techniques to create tighter joinery. “My dad, who is 70, has worked with us for our whole history and he is learning new things yet,” says Miller. “Each piece of wood is like a person in that it reacts uniquely. You have to learn its characteristics, its beauty.”

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Primarily, OakBridge uses northerngrown oak and Douglas fir for framing. The oak is all structurally graded before it arrives in the wood shop, and then it is aesthetically graded in house. To stay abreast of the industry, Miller attends conferences and supports local timber framing organizations. He is a life member of the Timber Frame

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Instead of growing in size, Miller plans for his company to grow in terms of quality and customer service. “We want to be known as having the best customer service around, the best quality around,” he says. Miller would like to tackle additional large residential projects in the coming years.

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timber framing showcase oakbridge timber framing, ltd. Guild, and OakBridge Timber Framing is a longtime member of the Timber Frame Business Council as well. Typically, OakBridge is booked out with framing projects one year in advance. The company insists on installing its own frames because of the crew’s pride in its work and to maintain the quality structure of the frames during installation. “It is hard, but sometimes we turn down work because we do not want to sacrifice our quality,” says Miller.

As a subcontractor, OakBridge wants to be even more responsive to the needs of the general contractor. Miller is proud that many of the people for whom they build stay to become friends. “We want to be there for the whole process for them,” he says. “We want to be just a phone call away.” abq

oakbridge timber framing, ltd. at a glance headquarters: Howard, OH market: National services: 95% residential, 5% light commercial employees: 6

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american builders quarterly winter 2009


vermont timber works

with a focus on timber framing, vermont company creates structures that inspire


n the heart of new england, Vermont Timber Works of North Springfield, VT, designs, engineers, fabricates, and installs timber frames. Founded in 1997 by Daniel Kelleher and Douglas Friant, the company has by Regina Raiford Babcock created beautiful homes and commercial buildings around the country. Each project is custom-designed, handcrafted, and engineered to meet the Above: Interior of an octagon-shaped needs of each client. Adept at creating living room with Red Pine ceiling beams. several types of structures, this framer

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has created a wide variety of commercial buildings, including park buildings, pavilions, churches, welcome centers, museums, and public spaces. “Any time there is any really heavy timber framing design in the project, that is going to attract us,” says Sandy Connolly, director of sales and marketing. One of this company’s grandest commercial projects was the Spruce Peak Base Lodge at Stowe Mountain in

timber framing showcase vermont timber works

Stowe, VT. This grand ski lodge features the company’s largest clear span timber frame, an 80-foot octagon. In addition to working closely with Engelberth Construction, BSA Architects, and BVH Engineering, the structural engineering for the timber frame was done by Vermont Timber Works’ inhouse professional engineer. Boasting double-corded timber trusses with steel gusset plates, this commercial building features custom-designed Douglas fir heavy timber roof trusses. The custom homes built by Vermont Timber Works are all high-end, and feature a variety of traditional complicated timber joinery techniques. “Even if you are building a simple barn you get the same quality as the person requesting a fancy residence,” says Connolly. “All of our joinery is done by hand. We have no fancy machines here.” Additionally, in recent years, Vermont Timber Works has been integrating more reclaimed timber into its projects. Vermont Timber Works’ roots are in home building. In 1987, the company’s founders Friant and Kelleher designed post and beam homes from start to finish. As Vermont Timber Works, this

jority of our projects are on the East Above: Sands Barn Frame, weathered Coast because of location, shipping, hemlock timbers with traditional joinery, and expense,” explains Connolly. The Mike McLaine pictured. company’s crew of carpenters travel to building sites across the country to do the timber frame raising, depending on the client’s requirements. “[The timber frame] is shipped in pieces and it is like a big puzzle you put together on the other end,” says Connolly. Having a top-notch crew is critical in traditional timber framing. Fortunately, Vermont Timber Frame has a

All of our joinery is done by hand. We have no fancy machines here. Sandy Connolly, Director of Sales & Marketing framer has decided to focus solely on timber framing. Now, this company designs and pre-engineers all of its heavy timber frames in-house. The company is currently building frames for several homes on Long Island, including one in Chappaqua and one in Sagaponack, which also feature reclaimed timber in the framing. “We work all over the country but the ma-

high-quality crew that has been with the company for many years. “We have a good crew out there and we certainly train our guys,” says Connolly. The firm has a training program to keep its employees in top form. The company is prospering by using the Internet for advertising, and also to educate the public about the company’s mission and the unique character of

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase vermont timber works

vermont timber works at a glance location: North Springfield, VT

area of specialty: Designing, engineering, and installing commercial & residential timber frames

employees: 20 year founded: 1997

from installing wall systems, to rooftimber framing. Adds Connolly, “We ing, and even interior finishes, Vermont do a lot of Internet advertising and we Timber Works prefers to focus excludo a lot with our Web site.” Vermont sively on timber framing. The company Timber Works has a team of three custom designs each frame to suit the salespeople. Each salesperson does needs and the wants of the client. blogging to create more interest in the art of timber framing, and to draw “We do our own engineering in-house traffic back to the company’s Web so we can figure out exactly what is site. With a gallery of project photos, Vermont Timber Works’ well designed needed to make it work,” says Connolly. Much of this company’s work is Web site is full of information and exhighly technical, spanning distances of amples of the company’s handiwork. over 60 feet with heavy timber trusses, or using graceful arches and curves for “There are a lot of different timber framing companies out there and there a highly finished look. “Some people are many levels of quality,” shares Con- want the cookie-cutter thing and that is great, but generally the people who nolly. “We only focus on the timber seek us out want something more frame, so we have the most versatility of design.” While some timber framing unique and more handcrafted,” says companies provide a variety of services Connolly. From churches to barns, from summer camps to museums, Vermont Timber Works enjoys the aesthetic and structural challenges that unique post and beam projects bring.

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“The timber frame structure is not something you have to have, it is something you want to have. You can build a conventionally framed house, or you can build a commercial building with a conventional frame. You have to want timber framing and you have to want to pay more to get it,” says Connolly. Working with owners, builders, and architects, this framer will be creating rustic yet elegant structures for years to come. abq



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potterman hollow, llc

idaho company carves its niche as an expert in outdoor structures by Katie Gutierrez Painter Above:Timber bent being tied-in to stick framing over rear deck of a cabin in Island Park, ID.


n 2004, longtime exterior structures builder Travis Tolman had a revelation: “I had specialized for nearly 20 years in building exterior structures like gazebos, arbors, and pavilions,” explains Tolman, president of Idaho timber framing company Potterman Hollow, LLC. “Jobs ranged from multimillion dollar public works projects, to simple backyard structures—and on both ends of the

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spectrum, a lot of those projects borrowed from timber frame techniques and aesthetics.” To complement his existing company, and to specifically pursue a timber framing business, Tolman founded Potterman Hollow. Utilizing Tolman’s extensive experience in outdoor exposure, Potterman Hollow quickly built a reputation as a leader in outdoor

timber framing showcase potterman hollow, llc

timber framing, a niche that comprises about 15 percent of timber framing jobs, shares Tolman. Today, the majority of Potterman Hollow’s work is design-build, primarily utilizing Douglas fir, with some cedar and redwood, for its structures. The company has grown to employ a team of 13, and now includes the more traditional segment of the timber framing market: enclosed interior frames. Tolman emphasizes, however, he does not intend to become a homebuilder; rather, he prefers to complement the general contractor whenever possible. “We made that decision partially because of our fascination with the craft of timber framing,” Tolman says. “We’re interested in being very good at the one thing and complementing builders’ efforts in that way.” By all accounts, this strategy has been successful. One of Potterman Hollow’s notable projects is a pegged mortise and tenon pavilion at Rockhill Mennonite Community, a planned retirement/ extended-living community in Bucks County, PA. Additionally, the company is presently in the final concept stages of a pro shop for Teton Reserve, a real estate and golf course community nestled in the Teton Mountains in Vic-

tor, ID. To incorporate a unique truss with the traditional timber-frame feel the client requested, Tolman’s team drew on Mountain West barn design. “We borrowed from an unusual barn roofline to create a very open, vaulted

Left: Gazebo fabricated by Potterman Hollow and installed by sister company, Exterior Structures, in Alpine, UT. Right:Travis Tolman, president and CEO.

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american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase

We made [the decision not to be a home builder] partially because of our fascination with the craft of timber framing. Travis Tolman, President & CEO

potterman hollow, llc

space,” Tolman explains. “Barns have traditionally been designed for one purpose: to get the most volume under the roof. We borrowed this design from the barn world to give our client a maximum amount of interior volume.”

potterman hollow, llc at a glance location: Idaho Falls, ID area of specialty: Exterior structures such as covered bridges, landscape structures, and entry monuments

employees: 13 employee increase since 2004: 300%+

Potterman Hollow is also working with another resort developer to develop a timber frame theme that will apply throughout the resort, including in entry monuments, the lodge, and all of the common buildings. The resort is a

$100,000 million mixed-used development, which will include golf and skiing. Such high-profile projects bode well for Potterman Hollow’s future, for which Tolman has a distinct objective. “Over the next five years, I’d like to see Potterman Hollow become the premier source for expertise and timber frame product in our region,” says Tolman. “I don’t care to become a national company but I’m interested in being a significan’t player on a regional basis.” abq

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140 american builders quarterly winter 2009

future building of america company

using structural insulated panels to save money and energy for clients


n 1989, when rick kennett purchased Panel Building Systems, a general contractor and manufacturer of SIPs in Farrell, PA, he believed this was the wave of the future. A year by Daniel Casciato later, he changed the company’s name to Future Building of America Company to reflect this perception.

“People are looking for better ways to heat and cool their houses and Above:Interior of a home with a buildings,” says Kennett. “Nothing visible timber frame. compares to SIP insulation. If you’re

not using them to build, you’re not doing the best thing that you can for yourselves.” SIPs consist of two “skins” of oriented strand board called Structurwood® and a core of rigid expanded polystyrene foam, laminated together to make a wall or roof panels. Each individual panel is designed, engineered, and built to fit a specific location in each building plan.

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase future building of america company

With energy costs as high as they are, we can heat and cool your house for half of what you can do with conventional insulation. Rick Kennett, President & Founder

Above: Open floor plans make all living spaces connect aesthetically throughout the home. Right:This fire place shows a contrast of stone, hardwood, and wood ceilings mixed with plaster.

In addition to being energy efficient, SIP insulation reduces outside noise penetration, giving the added advantage of a quieter interior environment. Yet SIPs are not a new building innovation; they originated during World War II by the Army Corps of Engineers, which built spotter homes in the Bering Strait to look for Japanese ships.

1970s, when the energy crisis resurrected it.”

“These homes were able to withstand the winds coming off the Bering Strait and were heated with only a candle,” says Kennett. “However, since energy costs were low during that time, SIPs did not become popular until the

Kennett describes his company as a three-fold business. In addition to residential, they work with churches and commercial buildings.

142 american builders quarterly winter 2009

Kennett adds that SIP insulation is 2.35 times stronger than conventional framing techniques. FBA is so certain of its quality that they offer customers a lifetime guarantee against delamination or failure.

“Churches are big buildings and difficult

timber framing showcase future building of america company

future building of america company at a glance location: Farrell, PA area of specialty: Manufacturer of structural inslated panels

sales growth in 2007: 15% employees: 15


to heat,” says Kennett. “We’ve been building churches with the help of an architect, who designs churches with SIPs because it helps churches lower their heating and cooling bills.”

square-foot timber frame. If you’re looking to have a timber frame cut and erected, and you’re not talking to us, then you’re probably paying too much for a lesser-quality frame.”

Another major part of the company’s business is designing and erecting timber-frame homes. Wrapped with SIPs, timber frames are extremely energy efficient.

As Kennett looks ahead, his goal is to make more people aware of timber frames and SIPs.

“With energy costs as high as they are, we can heat and cool your house for “These are special homes,” says Kennett. half of what you can do with conventional insulation,” he says. “The house “Nothing can match the beauty of a also becomes safer and much more livtimber frame. We designed the dream able. People will spend a nice buck to home at the Pittsburgh Home Show a build anything. They want quality. It’s few years ago, and at the time, it drew our job to make sure that they get the its largest attendance ever. The show quality that they want.” abq extended its hours each night because people were lined up to see our 6,200-

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oregon timberworks

timber framer excels in quality, craftsmanship and design


ill sturm’s love of designbuild and sustainability was the foundation upon which he started— and continues to grow—his timber by Daniel Casciato framing company.

“I love being connected to the design and the building of timber frames,” Above:The Hawaii house, a says Sturm, president of PortlandOTW-designed timber frame based Oregon Timberworks, which home from back to front. designs and builds sustainable timber

144 american builders quarterly winter 2009

frame homes. “Sometimes the hardest part about the job is walking away when you’re finished because you have to walk away knowing it’s not yours.” Sturm started his timber framing company eight years ago after moving from Georgia to Oregon to attend graduate school. Sturm wanted to attend the University of Oregon and enroll in a master’s program, but decided to

timber framing showcase

My love of design-build and sustainability started the company. Bill Sturm, President

oregon timberworks

oregon timberworks at a glance location: Portland, OR area of specialty: Residential timber frame

average annual sales: $500,000 sales growth in 2007: 40% employees: 2 wait a year, and instead began working building homes. Once he had an opportunity to build a timber frame house, he never looked back. Sturm believes the company has been successful over the years by focusing on quality, craftsmanship, and design. “Also important to our success is that we work with our clients and treat them as individuals,” he adds. “We're all about forming individual relationships with our clients, and that sets us apart from other timber framers. We don’t end up with just clients in the end, but friends.”

In its effort to use local resources, Sturm proudly points out that 95 percent of what the timber framer uses comes from the state of Oregon, both in terms of subcontractors and materials. “We hand-cut the frame and design, and build most of our own structures,” says Sturm. “We pull the design from our clients, and design a site-specific house. We're not pigeon holed into any one style.”

Left: Davern frame. Right: Bill Sturm, owner, in front of a custom 1700-square-foot, all timber frame home with SIP inclosure and passive solar heating and cooling, Maupin, OR.

While he prefers projects in the northwest, Sturm’s company has erected timber frames in Hawaii, Wyoming, South Carolina, and Georgia. With many of the non-local projects the company works on, Oregon Timberworks attempts to use local suppliers and labor where possible, in order to support local economies and limit energy expenditure.

While building his company, Sturm has made sure to support local craftsmen and the local economy. “That’s important to me and to the people I work with,” he says. “You have less expenditure of energy and less pollution and “Sustainability will continue to be a waste by dealing with local subs and trend, not only in the timber framing working with local products.”

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase oregon timberworks Below: Davern frame on Columbia River.

market, but the overall housing market. I think ‘building green,’ for good or bad, has become a tag phrase,” Sturm says. “It’s definitely a good thing that we’re moving in the right direction. People are really becoming concerned about energy efficiency.” Sustainable building practices are nothing new for Oregon Timberworks as the company has been focused on eco-friendly building and design since its inception. “We have completed projects that are now labeled green and mainstream since the beginning of this company,” Sturm shares. “That has always been important to us. We do a lot of passive heating and cooling with our homes. We try to implement alternate energy as much as possible. We try to

use structural insulated panels (SIPs) on the walls and roofs. Two recent homes we designed are ready for solarpowered systems. We designed the home so the owner can add solar arrays when he has the budget for it.” Sturm’s plans for the company are to continue to let it flourish. “We currently have a shop in Bend and Portland but would like to facilitate our Bend shop as our primary facility because Portland is expensive to work in,” he says. “Obviously, we want to continue to do a good job for the clients we have now. Long term, we’ll continue to innovate the timber frame from the agrarian design. The array of possibilities is endless and we want to see how far we can push that box.” abq


regon Timberworks is a full service timber frame home company offering custom home design, engineering, full timber frame fabrication and erection on your site, as well as SIP supply and installation. Oregon Timberworks is located in Portland & Bend, Oregon where we work with clients from all over the world to design custom timber frame homes and raise them on their site.

Bill Sturm Oregon Timberworks OR CCB #155823 WA Lic # OREGOT 1954P8 503-460-0176

selkirk timberwrights, llc

building with modern equipment and centuries-old craftsmanship


ordered on the east and the south by rivers, Priest River, ID is an idyllic mountain resort town. Surrounded by recreational parks and natural beauty, Priest River is also by Regina Raiford Babcock home to Selkirk Timberwrights, LLC, a specialty manufacturer, supplier, and assembler of timber framing. Selkirk Timberwrights builds beautiful, wellconstructed homes and commercial buildings across the Idaho panhandle, Washington State, and the greater inland Northwest.

Mike MacAlevy, owner of Selkirk Timberwrights, began in woodworking over 20 years ago. After a stint working with custom home builders and post and beam millwork contracAbove:Inside view of 60-foot timber frame tors, Mike started his own business in porte cochere. the high-end furniture and trim work

industry. “That is how Selkirk came to be, we have had working with a different company’s architectural millwork contractor when an opportunity came about to do timber framing,” says Tanya MacAlevy, co-owner and director of marketing. Founded in 2005, Selkirk Timberwrights has tripled its business and has become well-known in the industry. One of the company’s homes an upscale residence in Liberty Lake, WA was featured in 2006 on the Street of Dreams, one of the nation’s premium luxury home tours. “This was the first time the show had come to the Spokane area and we were fortunate enough to be a part of it,” says Mike. This builder specializes in hybrid

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timber framing showcase selkirk timberwrights, llc

Right: Custom Pergola timber frame. Center: Owners, Mike and Tanya MacAlevy. Far right: A classic example of a hybrid home using timber frame trusses and conventional stick-framed walls. timber framing; for example, a timber framed great room with structural insulated panels completing the rest of the structure. Mike’s experience with designing and engineering high furniture and managing a furniture production floor of 100 employees has helped him to run his new company smoothly. In July, this builder completed an extensive four-story condominium com-

plex in Priest River, ID. At 100,000 square feet, this challenging project is allowing Selkirk Timberwrights to show all that it can do. Currently, this company’s projects are 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial.

developers on commercial projects. For an affluent resort, this builder created 40 luxurious cabins, ranging in size from 3,500 to 5,500 square feet. “The cabins around here are pretty large!” jokes Mike.

The commercial projects range from office and professional buildings to retail spaces and clubhouses. Selkirk Timberwrights also works with large

On the residential side, Selkirk Timberwrights constructs affordable and high-end custom homes. This builder recently completed a 12,000-squarefoot house in Post Falls, ID. This large-scale custom hybrid featured several truckloads of timbers. “There were both applied timbers as well as structural timbers in this house and the house has a beautiful timber framed great room, entry way and 60-foot porte cochere,” says Mike. Selkirk Timberwrights, a member of the Timber Frame Business Council, does a lot of in-house training for its employees as well as working with the Becket, MA-based Timber Framers Guild of North America apprentice program.

Custom Timberframe Structures And Components With Traditional Joinery. PO Box 1134 Priest River, ID 83856 Phone: (208) 448-0459 • Fax: (208) 448-0469

In 2007, Selkirk Timberwrights completed between 60 and 80 projects ranging from small to large. The company will definitely be growing and in the next ten years they plans to go national. “We have gotten phone calls all the way from Connecticut, up to Alberta, and up above Edmonton— that has been just in this last year,” says Tanya. In July, breaking ground on its new

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We have gotten phone calls all the way from Connecticut, up to Alberta, and up above Edmonton— that has been just in this last year. Mike MacAlevy, Owner woodworking shop to increase their number of projects and hire additional crewmembers. Scheduled to be completed in the fall, the wood shop and office space will be 6,500 square feet. “One of our hopes is that after we double our woodshop space, we will be able to put more people on and do more installing. It is so exciting,” says Tanya. “The future is exciting and scary at the same time,” jokes Mike. abq Beere Timber Company is an organization dedicated to providing its customers with premium quality timber and exceptional service. Our offering focuses on custom-cut kiln-dried timber for high-end residential, commercial, industrial, and resort applications

selkirk timberwrights, llc at a glance headquarters: Priest River, ID regions: Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana

employees: 7 board timber footage used in 2007: 1/2 million feet

worldwide. Whole, fresh-cut timber is sized according to our customers’ specifications and dried using radio frequency vacuum (RF/V) kilns to ensure uniform moisture content. Because we select our timber carefully, never compromising on quality, our product is ideal for exposed-beam applications and timber-frame construction. Our expertise in the lumber industry, and the valued resources with whom we work in tandem, results in timber designed to leave a lasting impression. #16 – 650-Clyde Avenue, West Vancouver, B.C. V7T 1E2 Ph: 604-925-9655 Fax: 604-925-9656 Toll Free: 888-925-9655 Email:

spearhead timberworks

unique approach for canadian timber framer leads to success in market by G.L. Williams


pearhead timberworks is located in Nelson, BC. From here they are called upon to manufacture and assemble timber frame structures all over North America. The majority of their clients are architects or engineers who have seen their work or have worked with them in the past.

Spearhead is located in an area of artisans and designers, including youth from the two furniture colleges nearby. That means that they can do everything from the structure to the furnishings. They are also leaders in Above: Strings Music Pavilion, a 600- computer modeling for the building seat music pavilion with all timber and industry. steel structural components. Right: Ron McDougall, vice president. Spearhead Timberworks’ vice presi-

150 american builders quarterly winter 2009

dent Ron McDougall explained it this way, “As pre-manufacturers we have been using 3-D modeling software for years. As the delivery of complex construction documents evolves, we find ourselves in possession of a highly detailed information model that can be mined as needed to resolve numerous components such as site built steel, foundations, glazing interface, work points in space, etc. Now we often sit shoulder to shoulder with the architect and structural engineer, through the internet, to collaborate on the evolution of the Building Information Model (BIM).” Examples of this process in their portfolio include collaborating with Bohlin

Cywinski Jackson on the Craig Thomas Discovery Center in Grand Teton National Park Wyoming. McDougall comments, “We enjoyed success in resolving the complex challenges through our 3-D modeling and dialogue with BCJ project architects Ray Calabro

timber framing showcase

chosen not just for their computer design skills but also for their ability to listen. As president and founder Ted Hall puts it, “Listening is the key, you have to be creative in your mind and open in your ways.” To understand how Spearhead melds creativity, technology

spearhead timberworks

We take pride from having great design manifest itself in our buildings. Ron McDougall,Vice President and David Miller.” The firm has also recently completed Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs, CO by Architect Bill Rangitsch of Steamboat Architectural Associates. Spearhead has worked with RKD Architects of Vail, CO, providing services such as their Building Information Modeling Process. RKD have been named on Mountain Living Magazine’s “Top 100 Mountain Architects” for three years running.

and craftsmanship one must examine the process one of their projects goes through. A project starts with an inquiry, which is handled by either Hall or McDougall. Approved projects are assigned to one of their in-house project managers and designers who sees the project through. This process is one technique Spearhead implements to maintain old world pride of craftsmanship, and is greatly appreciated by the architects and their

“We are passionate about good design,” McDougall emphasized. “We take pride from having great design manifest itself in our buildings. It is the fundamental source of satisfaction to us. There are always budget considerations. Our goal is that the money spent shows in the design and execution of the building.” In order to accomplish this goal, Spearhead has built relationships with clients and vendors all over the world. Much of their software, tooling, and construction hardware is sourced from Europe. Spearhead has a staff of over 50 employees. Approximately 40 are craftspeople including furniture makers, and they employ a number of project managers and designers as well. With their multi-talented staff, Spearhead can do a complete building and furnishings if the client so desires. Project managers and designers are

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timber framing showcase spearhead tmberworks

Above and right:The $10.6 clients, who like knowing that there is million Canyon Point home. an experienced manager on-staff who is uniquely involved with their project. The project manager will work the project through the computer modeling stage utilizing all of Spearhead’s resources, adjusting until everyone approves of the design.

their work pays off, because potential problems at job site problems can be resolved at Spearhead’s 25,000-squarefoot facility. Spearhead believes you solve problems at rehearsal, not after the curtain goes up.

Once the project is ready, it is able to be shipped to the site. McDougall says, Next, the model is downloaded to the “What we do liberates design. The recourses that we save with our approach CNC machine in the shop where more are freed up and redirected to make members are added to this project great design possible within an existing team. The staff’s years of experience budget. Project dollars invested in the have proven that the time spent here trial fitting, doing subassemblies where BIM process during design development pay huge dividends in a volatile appropriate, and double-checking

construction environment, reducing costs and ultimately liberating more of the budget for innovative design.” It is this combination of old world craftsmanship, personal investment, modern powerful tools, efficient methods and the constant striving for perfection that define Spearhead Timberworks. Cultural trends show an increased appreciation for timber construction, Spearhead’s staff members believe their company is positioned to do very well in the future. abq

hamill creek timber homes

locally-sourced wood helps timber frame company stand out from competition


amill creek timber homes, located in Meadow Creek, BC, is one of the few timber frame firms in North America that truly offers its clients the complete package. Not only does Hamill Creek have the capacity by Matthew Overstreet to design, manufacture, and construct all types of timber frame structures and architectural timber elements, Above: Hamill oversees the the company actually mills all its own building process from beginning wood products on-site from locally to end, maintaining a sourced timber. “We have the saw mill reputation for quality at all times. and specialized timber framers on-site

so we can make whatever is needed to support a project,” explains business development manager Jeff Bowes, “Not just the timber frame, but wall panels, roof systems, windows, doors, flooring, and even custom-cut siding and trim.” The company’s location in the heart of timber country gives Hamill Creek unique access to some of the world’s best timber, adding additional value to its products. “All our timber comes

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase hamill creek timber homes Top:Timber framing allows for wide expanses of seemingly unsupported living space, soaring window walls, and open spaces. Bottom:Timber provides exciting possibilities in architectural and structural design.

hamill creek timber homes at a glance location: Meadow Creek, BC

area of specialty: Timber manufacturing and construction

employees: 40 average projects per year: 65+ shop size: 16,000 square feet

timber cut per year: 1.2 million feet of boards

All our timber comes from interior forests, which means it is drier and has a tighter grain—it really is phenomenal wood. Jeff Bowes, Business Development Manager from interior forests, which means it is drier and has a tighter grain—it really is phenomenal wood,” Bowes notes. Hamill Creek also does a brisk business supplying other timber frame companies—among the most knowledgeable of timber consumers—with both raw timber and finished wood products.

154 american builders quarterly winter 2009

Hamill Creek’s unique access to highquality timber also results in significant cost savings. Due to the dry nature of interior timber, Hamill Creek is often able to obtain a low moisture content in its frames without the necessity of costly kiln drying. Moreover, transportation costs can be kept to a minimum.

timber framing showcase hamill creek timber homes

Overall, Hamill Creek’s close con“Some of our logs travel less than 4 nection to the entire supply chain, the miles from the place they are felled,” associated cost savings, and the qualityadds Bowes, “That has obvious advantages both for us and the environment.” control advantages of such, have allowed the company to be competitive Additionally, Hamill Creek’s proximity in markets all across Canada and the United States. The company completes to plentiful timber resources allows it 60 to 70 projects a year and employees to ensure that all the timber used in its operations has been harvested from over 40 people. Recent successes insustainable, ethically-managed stocks. clude a million-dollar renovation of a The company’s continued commitment resort complex in Snowmass, CO, and to environmental sustainability is illus- the securing of a contract for a 26,000square-foot private home in Hawaii. trated by the fact that Hamill Creek is one of the few timber frame companies “We really are a little known gem in the to receive Chain of Custody Certifica- industry,” shares Bowes. abq tion from the Forestry Stewardship Council, a prominent certification agency. Above: Hamill Creek has been involved in developing numerous exclusive island homes and prestigious resort communities.

Hamill Creek Timber Homes Creating Custom Timber Frame Homes since 1989 Box 151, Meadow Creek, BC Canada, V0G 1N0 Ph. +1 250 366-4320 Toll Free 1-888 713-1800 Email: 155

american builders quarterly winter 2009

timberbuilt, inc.

new york timber framer aims to exceed customers' expectations


imber frames have enjoyed a renaissance in popularity in recent years. One timber frame executive, Brian Kempisty, partner with Timberbuilt, Inc., believes the popularity by Daniel Casciato of timber frames is growing for three reasons: its look, its energy efficiency, and the baby boomer market. “[Timber framing] has the beauty of huge Above:The Kempisty house in Ellicottville, NY. wood timbers and also the flexibility," Right: Home of Duncan Ross at Arrowhead Spring shares Kempisty. “Unlike a log home, Vineyards near Lake Ontario in NewYork. you can have any interior or exterior Far right: George Clements, founder. finishes that you like, and make it as

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rustic or elegant as you wish.” The energy efficiency and green aspects of timber framing have also made it a popular trend of late as more people are realizing the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle. “Finally,” Kempisty continues, “the biggest segment of our population is baby boomers. Many of them are looking toward retirement and building their dream home. This is a very familiar client for us.” Kempisty himself was a Timberbuilt

timber framing showcase timberbuilt, inc.

client, and became so impressed with the art of timber framing that he joined the company as a partner last year. "I was fascinated with the type of construction, and the look of a timber frame, as well as its energy efficiency,"

experience for the people within the homes. Today Timberbuilt, based in Ellicottville, NY, accomplishes that goal through the high quality timber frames, as well as the innovative design services the company provides. "The

Erecting frames and installing panels is all our crew does, which makes them extremely accurate and efficient. Brian Kempisty, Partner he recalls. "As they were building our house, George Klemens, the founder, and I became good friends. We struck up a deal to become partners, and joined in this venture together to grow Timberbuilt and expand across the East Coast—and eventually to the Rockies." With a sincere desire to make less of an impact on the environment, Klemens started the company in 1988. Klemens also sought to provide a better living

frames we design leave our customers in awe of what we have just built," Kempisty says. "In most cases we blow away our clients' expectations. Quality has been our key. We beat their expectations, and they're astonished by their homes. We create our homes with comfortable sophistication—a high style and high level of sophistication, but still offer very comfortable living spaces."

timberbuilt, inc. at a glance location: Ellicottville, NY area of specialties: Designing, developing and building timber frame homes and businesses

average annual sales: $1.5 million sales growth in 2007: $300,000 employees: 14

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase timberbuilt, inc.

Left:Timber frames of townhomes located on the Holimont Ski Resort in Ellicottville, NY. For typical customers, the company provides design services, complete timber frame packages, and SIP panels. To ensure the utmost quality of each project, Timberbuilt is present on-site throughout the duration of the build so that it can erect all of its own frames and install the SIP panels. "This ensures that our customers get quality installation, and any potential problems are eliminated," Kempisty says. "Erecting frames and installing panels is all that our crew does, which makes

GA, as builders/dealers. "We'll be able to provide more services in the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks, and upstate New York areas," says Kempisty. "As part of our growth plans, we continue to look for builders/dealers who'll work with clients and allow us to offer them a builder who has the capabilities to proTimberbuilt currently has a facility in vide them with finishing services, high North Collins, NY, which produces quality design, timber framing, and the timbers, handles design work, and panels. This will allow us to expand installs timbers and panels. Last year, our business, and offer high quality as part of its growth strategy, offices were added in Ottawa, ON, and Jasper, energy efficient homes to more people." them extremely accurate and efficient. Many framers utilize builders around the country to erect frames, which could lead to potential problems, and is not the most efficient or cost effective for our clients."


cougar creek timber frame, llc

washington state timber framer makes clients its primary focus


on and cristy carlson have a simple philosophy for the success of their timber frame company: provide the best quality timbers and service for the cost to clients. The by Daniel Casciato Carlsons started their business, Cougar Creek Timber Frame, LLC, six years ago after 30 years of combined experience in other phases of the building Above:The first home completed in the Sun- industry, including commercial concadia resort west of Seattle in the Cascade struction. “We saw a niche for a small Mountains. It is low maintenance and energy company with a high level of service, efficient with a full SIP wall and roof system. to design and supply timber frame

homes and components to the market on the West Coast,” says Don. “We create unique designs, and we develop ideas of other designers and architects to fulfill the desires of the client.” The company’s number one goal is to have satisfied clients. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the products and services and make it better for our clients,” says Don. Timber frame construction goes back

american builders quarterly winter 2009


timber framing showcase cougar creek timber frame, llc

Left: Main Hallway arches in a classic riverfront hundreds of years, and with the use home near the town of Leavenworth,WA. of CNC machinery, constructing a Right: Don and Cristy Carlson, founders. frame with precision timber frame joinery takes only a fraction of the time. Cougar Creek's state-of-the-art CNC machinery produces a more

in the world for review before one timber is cut." Cougar Creek also designs trusses, entries, and other components for residential and commercial projects with a flair that creates an old world atmosphere, or a modern design, what-

We saw a niche for a small company with a high level of service, to design and supply timber frame homes and components to the market on the West Coast. Don Carlson, Cofounder accurate product that maintains the traditional look of timber framing to satisfy the most discerning homeowner and builder. "The process begins with ideas from the client or designer," explains Don. "Then it's created in the latest CAD program, and can be emailed anywhere

160 american builders quarterly winter 2009

ever the client desires. From simple to elegant, traditional to unique, the company provides the highest quality workmanship to satisfy the most discriminating of clients. The company recently took on a partner, Eric Benson, in the Seattle area which gives Cougar Creek a presence

timber framing showcase in the Puget Sound region. Utilizing the technology of computers and the Internet, Don and Cristy are able to run their business from the small Washington town of Winthrop. The company can ship anywhere across the West. In the world of building today, green is the buzzword, and Cougar Creek buildings are one of the best ways to be responsible to the environment without the excess cost often associated with green building. "Because the timbers are cut on a CNC machine to precision, there is very little waste, and any excess material is recycled," says Carlson. "The SIPs that we use to enclose the building are also cut with

CNC accuracy, and all materials from that process are recycled. That means almost no jobsite waste." Moreover, the panels are 50 to 60 percent better insulated than a stick frame building. "The beautiful Douglas fir timbers will last 20 to 40 times as long as stick built," he says. "If you saw the Olympics, the Forbidden City buildings are mostly timber frame construction. Building long lasting, custom-designed structures from beautiful wood is our goal. Our company was born out of the love of wood and timber frame, and we want to share that with our clients." abq

cougar creek timber frame, llc

cougar creek timber frame, llc at a glance location: Winthrop, WA area of specialty: Residential timber frame

sales growth in 2007: 30% employees: 5

american builders quarterly winter 2009


last word

icf wall systems hurricane protection along the gulf coast greenblock worldwide corporation, a leader and pioneer in the insulated concrete form (ICF) industry, has announced that they have begun marketing their ICF products and installation services throughout the southeastern Gulf States. With their roots in Europe, Greenblock has been promoting the use of their ICFs as a disaster resistant, energy-efficient alternative to stick frame and concrete block construction for the last forty years. “The benefits of ICF construction here along the Gulf Coast are many,” says Herb Murphy, new Alabama-based territory manager for Greenblock. “ICF walls create structures that can withstand hurricane and tornado force winds. And the high R-value of the walls will save home and building owners a considerable amount of money on their energy bills. Bottom line is ICFs are a better way to build in this area and I'm looking forward to introducing Greenblock to the building community here,” continued Murphy. The bulk of a building's environmental footprint is caused by the energy con-

sumed in the heating and cooling of the structure over its lifetime. The highperformance thermal envelope provided by Greenblock ICF construction can offer significant contribution towards reducing the energy consumption needed to control the interior climate of the structure. Additionally, the lack of air infiltration and the resistance to moisture through the exterior walls eliminates the growth of mold and pest penetration thus creating a healthy indoor environment for occupants. Projects seeking a green certification from the United States Green Building Council, NAHB or Green Building Initiative, benefit from involving Greenblock ICFs with their project. Greenblock insulated concrete forms are:

energy efficient The expandable polystyrene foam in a Greenblock wall provides a consistent R-24 Thermal Resistance over the life of the product. Coupled with the thermal mass characteristics of concrete, as well as the lack of air infiltration in an ICF wall, the Greenblock system provides a wall comparable to that of an R-50 wood-framed or CMU wall. ICF structures are up to 70 percent cheaper to heat and 50 percent cheaper to cool than traditional wood frame or concrete block construction.

sound resistant Structures using Greenblock achieve documented levels of STC (Sound Transmission Classifications) 50 or higher. Wood frame and CMU structures are typically rated an average STC 25, meaning people inside of the structure can hear and understand voices outside the structure. However with Greenblock, outside noise such Left: Installation of an IFC concrete wall.

162 american builders quarterly winter 2009

as traffic, airplanes, construction and even lawnmowers and leaf blowers are greatly reduced, making the structure a quiet, peaceful sanctuary.

strong and safe Greenblock structures are much stronger than traditional building methods and materials. They provide exceptional protection from severe forces of nature, such as hurricanes and tornados. Greenblock foundation walls resist cracking and buckling up to five times better than concrete block walls. Greenblock walls are built with steelreinforced concrete and fire-resisting expanded polystyrene foam, and they have a two to four hour fire rating depending on which product is used. ICF structures also improve indoor air quality by eliminating the holes and crevices that can trap moisture and foster mold and mildew growth.

environmentally friendly The decision to construct with Greenblock ICFs is an environmentally responsible choice. Buildings constructed with ICFs significantly reduce the negative impact on the environment through sustainable site-planning, energy-efficiency, lower HVAC requirements and improved indoor air quality (builders can earn up to 20 LEED points). Greenblock ICFs are non-toxic; using no CFCs, HCFCs or formaldehydes, the absence of “offgassing” eliminates the possibility of air pollution or ozone depletion. Source:

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American Builders Quarterly, Issue 18  

The information source for construction executives