Timber Frames

Have you ever driven by a home that really caught your eye?  The one with the welcoming front porch? Perhaps it was the lines of a house or the placement of an unusual window.  While driving through neighborhoods built in the last century, you’ll also notice the many shapes and sizes of front or side porches.  These lovely outdoor covered spaces gave the dwellers a place to relax at the end of the day – converse with their neighbors or even just watch the children at play.  Some front porches are screened in while others created a more formal entrance.  Some wrapped around the house on two or three sides.  No matter which part of the country you lived, porches were very common and used – a lot.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the word ‘porch’ began to represent its present meaning.  This meaning, in its American sense, generally refers to a “roofed, but incompletely walled living area contiguously attached to the frame of a house.”  (McAlester, Virginia and Lee.  A Field Guide to American Houses: Alfred Knopf, 1996)

View our gallery of Timber Frame Porches

What is your style?

Today we are seeing a resurgence of covered entrances in various styles – some of which offer no protection from the weather or sun.  But they definitely add interest to he home’s architectural style. These elaborate coverings are created using timber framing.  Some are very ornate and feature complex joinery with curves or just overly large timbers.  These entrances give you a hint of what’s to come once you walk through the front door which presents anticipation and curiosity.

Here at Homestead Timber Frames we encourage outdoor living spaces within your home design no matter where you live.  We try to match your lifestyle within the walls of your home while allowing you to experience getting into a chair outside easily.  A few steps from the kitchen we see screened in porches for enjoying meals or quiet reading spaces.  So many of our clients take pleasure in having their morning coffee on a porch just off the bedroom or kitchen.  And when winter hits, they can just watch the snow falling and smell that brisk air – all under a covered roof.

We notice people yearn for the older ways of living that include rocking chairs along the front porch to ‘sit and visit a spell’.  Many mention the need for a place to hang porch swings or day beds!  These spaces require a minimum of 8’ if you want to walk in front of someone while they’re seated . One of the most rewarding things about sitting on a porch is enjoying a summer rain or listening to the night time insects.

Welcoming Timber frame porch addition to existing home
Timber Frame Gathering Porches

Another popular request is for a large timber frame ‘gathering place’ at the end of the house . It may includes a fireplace or an outdoor kitchen.  This space is usually 16’ x 14’ or larger depending on how many people you usually entertain. A gathering place works perfectly off the Great Room. This allows you to open up large doors to combine the two spaces. The fireplace could also be a double sided allowing the interior space to have a focal point as well.     

Timber Frame porches can consist of simple or very complex ‘bent’ styles.  The three most common truss choices are King Post, Queen Post or Hammer Beam variations.  The size of timbers used in a simple design can add to the ‘wow’ factor you are looking for. They will also allow you to appreciate the warmth of the wood timbers and the traditional joinery used to connect them.

Full exterior photo of timber frame porch--two stories with a fireplace. Talk about a welcome mat.
Adding a Timber Frame Porch to Your Existing Home

Timber frame porches may be added to an existing home also. This allows space for those who want to expand their living space to enjoy the outdoors.  Large porches often feature timber frame alcoves for the kitchen area and wings for the dining area. Or you can create a more intimate atmosphere with lowered eaves in a smaller size.  When adding a timber frame structure to your existing home we pay attention to the style of your home while matching roof pitches and proportions.  As always, your budget will dictate the overall expanse of the project.

Projects involving a timber frame porch addition will require a general contractor. They will be responsible for preparing your footings/foundation and installing the roof.  The Preliminary Design phase should involve your Contractor.  At the end of the preliminary design phase you will approve the plans and enter into a production agreement. It is at this time that you will receive a full set of Construction Drawings will that you can share with your contractor.

Outside view of upper story of welcoming timber frame porch add-on
Creating a Front Entrance with Timber Framing

A welcoming front porch creates a sense of so many things in a home . They can represent pride and style. They also provide covering from the weather, and a space for the person entering your home to have a moment before the door is opened.  Strong, big timbers provide a sense of security and strength to your home.  Natural materials give the impression of wholesomeness.

The creative aspects are limitless in developing a ‘one of a kind’ heavy timbered front entrance. It should be designed just for your home and fit your personal style.  Let us help you create the welcoming front porch that best fits you.

Thinking about building a timber frame barn? Bet you never considered all of the uses of the timber frame barn. The barn has made for popular agricultural fixtures and repurposed homes for decades.  Even barns built specifically as homes have been in high demand since at least the 1970’s.  While these structures still serve such purposes very well, we’re here to get you to notice them in a different light.

A timber frame barn is just as versatile and useful as any other timber frame structure.  Sure, you can use it as a horse stable or a home – which we’ll discuss in detail shortly –   but there are plenty of other things you could do with it as well.  Let’s look at five great reasons why you should look into building a timber frame barn.


If you’re looking for a timber frame home that’s unlike any other, consider a barn.  The timber frame barn becomes a spacious home that appeals to lovers of a more rustic style while giving those who enjoy a contemporary aesthetic an expansive decorative playground.  Building a timber frame barn home gives you an alternative that’s just as cozy and inviting as a bungalow or a rancher, not to mention it frees you to dream up a space that’s truly unique to your own personality and lifestyle.

If you want a barn to last, timber frame barns built to your custom specs are the answer.

Timber frame barns make for commercial spaces that fit restaurants, outdoor stores, garden centers or other large retail spaces.  Exposed heavy timbers can lend a quaint down-home quality that can accent your stone or steel building. A timber frame barn offers many opportunities for balconies and natural light while offering the warmth and strength of the wood.


Hosting a wedding or a party in an event barn has been trendy for a long time now.  If you’ve been looking to become an events host but haven’t been able to settle on the perfect venue, a timber frame barn will give you what you’re looking for.  These structures are suited just as well for contra dancing as they are lavish weddings, and they can be built to easily accommodate large crowds.  The addition of a stage and some theatrical lighting will turn your heavy timber barn into a grand concert hall or playhouse with plenty of seating or standing room.

Artists rendering of elaborate two story timber frame "party" barn with fireplace and outdoor porch

There’s no space better suited for a garage, a workshop, or a man cave than a timber frame barn.  Open floor plans ensure that you’ll have plenty of space for vintage vehicles or table saws and drill presses, while bars, pool tables, and home theater setups fit right at home alongside rustic exposed timbers.  Of course, if you’re not planning on showcasing your vintage car collection or needing your own hangout space, timber frame barns make for excellent large garages to store your everyday vehicles with enough room for a moderate sized workspace or an apartment on the second floor.


Of course, a heavy timber barn provides a great livestock stable.  The aisles are more than large enough to make room for individual horse stables, and you’ll have plenty of room on your upper and lower levels to store hay bales and farming tools.  If you’re looking to build a livestock barn, you’re likely seeking a traditional look with very few frills.  You don’t get any more traditional than a handcrafted timber frame!

Stalls in custom timber frame barn.

What you see here is just a sampling of what you can do with a heavy timber barn.  If you’d like to learn more about how a timber frame barn could suit your needs, give us a call or visit us today.  We’ll be happy to assist in the development of a grand heavy timber structure that’s just right for you.  

What does a timber frame home cost to build? Without prior knowledge, it is easy to assume that building a timber frame home is the same as any custom home. While there are some similarities, it’s really like comparing apples to oranges. Considering the extra production, craftsmanship and materials that go into a timber frame home, the process becomes much more complex, but it can be done!

The costs of building a timber frame home versus a conventional stick frame home can vary depending on how you want to finish out your home. The area of the country you’re building in may play a role in building cost as well. To know exactly how much extra cost you’ll be incurring with a timber frame home, you’ll first need to know whether you desire a full timber frame or a hybrid. Many people who are interested in timber framing may not even realize the difference between the two, but it can make a noteworthy difference on the price of the home.

Full Timber Frame?

A full timber frame will require a foundation that can support the load where the posts are located in the house. A hybrid may only have a few posts with ceiling joists or decorative heavy timber trusses in various rooms and other timber accents to tie it all together. Oftentimes we’ve even seen a full timber framed great room combined with an otherwise conventionally built home. Just remember there’s so much more today you can do with timber framing when building a custom home. The styles reflect Modern, Craftsman style, Traditional and European or Mediterranean in nature. What’s so unique is that you may not need as much timber as you think for the look you’re after.

Hybrid timber FRame?

Typically, a hybrid with conventional framing costs roughly 15% more and a traditional frame. It may be 20% higher than a custom conventional stick frame house, depending on design factors. Square footage, fixtures, window packages and other finishes can all greatly impact the final costs. with that in mind, these are things to reflect on before you even start the design process. Our Team will ask you to do some homework on finding costs of fixtures, flooring, windows, etc. in order to have a good knowledge base to draw from. The goal here is to have a well designed and quality built home in the end.

According to Timber Home Living, alternatives enclosure and insulation options can come with a 4-6 percent higher up-front cost. However it could end up saving you money in the long run with lower energy costs. A great example of that is Installation is quicker, too. An experienced timber framer can help you understand all of your finishing options and what is best for your specific desires.

Additional Timber Elements

Other considerations are that most timber frame homeowners are very fond of adding exterior heavy timber accents or timber frame porches that add interest to the home. These are important factors to think about, as they add costs but also a lot of visual interest to the overall project. Our goal at Homestead Timber Frames is always to design within your building budget. We do believe that a bit of heavy timber on the exterior of your home will help balance what’s on the inside and give your home that ‘curb appeal’.

3 Keys to Finding the Perfect Location

So you’ve decided to finally invest in building the timber frame home of your dreams. Throw a man-cave in somewhere, a dining room fit for a king, and a kitchen that chefs would fight to cook in and you’re ready to go.

With all of the glamour that comes with building your dream home, it’s easy to get excited about your finished product, and overlook some of the smaller details. Many times, our clients will come to us with a specific plot of land in mind to build their new timber frame. Whether it’s on the top of a mountain, beachfront property, or somewhere in between, you’ll want to consider these 3 things before making a decision on your plot of land.

Building the home of your dreams begins with the plans. Our custom timber frame house builds will surpass your expectations.

Not All Land is Created Equal

The first step to take before you put any money toward your new property is to look into any land-use issues. These can include easement rights, zoning regulations, and the physical lay of the land. Not every piece of land you find is going to be suitable for building. Processes such as leveling the slope and removing trees can have a monumental impact on the style and budget of your timber frame home if you haven’t planned for them.

The next thing to look for in choosing the right property for your dream home is to make sure that the soil will pass a percolation test. A percolation test, also known as a “perc” test, determines the rate of absorption that the soil has for a septic drain field. It is imperative that you conduct a percolation test in order to correctly design a septic system. This test is critical to see if your timber frame home can be connected to public utilities, which we’re pretty certain you’d like to have.

The first building blocks of your timber frame construction on site.
Distance is A Factor

You’ll also have to decide on how far you are willing to go for the nearest hospital, grocery store or any other necessary establishment. A secluded property sounds great in theory, but it’s important to remember the possible delay in emergency services reaching you. This doesn’t have to make or break your decision, but it is extremely important to take into consideration.

The Perfect View

One of the biggest perks that comes with buying land is a stellar view of the natural wonders around you. So obviously you’re going to want to find a beautiful piece of land to build your dream home. When you’re trying to escape the confines of city life or the suburbs, it’s easy to fall in love with a specific plot of land. Just make sure that land is suitable to build on before you buy it. A fairytale house on top of a mountain can still be a reality for you. The key is to pair the right hilltop with the right fairytale house allowing you the ability to start building the timber frame home of your dreams.

The foundation for your timber frame home is in place and the timber frame is ready to be raised.

It goes without saying that the fireplace is a common fixture in timber frame homes.  It’s virtually impossible to find a photo of a great room that doesn’t prominently feature a grand stonefireplace!  In a timber frame great room, it may seem coincidental that the fireplace is staged as a focal point – after all, why would you want to take attention away from a timber frame structure?  In reality, where your designer locates the fireplace should be completely intertwined with the development of the overall timber frame design.  Today, we’re going to learn why.

The question of the fireplace in general comes up during the planning phase.  You may not know how you want it to look or where you want it placed at this point, but that’s okay – all you know is that you want one, and that’s a big help to your design team.  When designing a timber frame great room for a client who desires a fireplace, the timber frame and the fireplace should complement the other.  Timbers can be used to accent the fireplace or let the fireplace be the focal point with the timber frame in the background.  Designing a timber frame great room around the fireplace is the best thing for both the functionality of your fireplace and the aesthetic of your room.

You’re probably asking yourself what kinds of design mistakes could result from incorporating the fireplace later – there’s one in particular that you may not think of as a mistake, given how commonplace it may seem in photos of timber frame great rooms with fireplaces.  There are plenty of images out there featuring fireplaces with heavy timbers running through them, which is incredibly unsightly.  Making the fireplace the starting point of your great room design allows your designer to create the timber frame design to avoid running heavy timbers through your fireplace chimney.  It also allows us to create interaction between your fireplace and your heavy timbers in a way that fits aesthetically with the overall design of your home. 

Once we enter the design phase, placement of your fireplace becomes the foremost concern.  Will you be looking to place your fireplace on an outside wall or an inside wall?  Perhaps you’ll want to mix things up and place it in the center of your room.  No matter where your fireplace may sit, we’ve got many ways to put it to good use in your timber frame home.  A stone fireplace with a high-reaching chimney placed on an outside wall with a handsome heavy timber truss in front of it makes a perfect centerpiece that will tie your room together, whereas a nice stone or Craftsman style fireplace could make a nice ‘wall’ to locate a stairwell behind to a second level loft.  A centrally-located fireplace can also create a great transitional point between your great room and your dining room or kitchen.  Another reminder is that locating your chimney on the inside an exterior wall may be less costly than having the stone covering the chimney located on the outside.  Inside your home, the chimney can be built with the stone/brick showing as much as your budget allows while finishing out the flu with conventional walls. 

A well-positioned fireplace will lend atmosphere, warmth and a wonderful focal point to your timber frame home or pavilion no matter how modern or rustic it may be. If you’re looking to start building your timber frame home, call or visit us today.  We’ll be looking for you! 

This craft we love so much – the craft of timber framing – has certainly seen its ups and downs over the centuries.  It came over the pond with the Colonials and stuck around at least until the early twentieth century.  By the early 1900s timber framing was a memory as consumers turned to “stick” homes and kit structures.  Then the late 1970s happened…

A group of idealistic young builders set off the timber framing revival. They chose to value the longevity of structures crafted the “old-fashioned way” over building “stick” homes from mass-produced lumber.  Ever since, timber framing designed homes have ridden high on a wave of popularity that shows no sign of waning.

With publications and websites devoted solely to timber framing new potential clients fall in love daily with heavy timber structures. Sometimes their interest is simply for the looks of the timber frame, however most of the time it is for the fact that heavy timber structures offer a sense of comfort and endurance that “stick” built homes do not.  Advances in media and digital marketing have allowed timber framing companies to put themselves in front of people much easier than ever before.  This means that there’s no shortage of new clients seeking timber frames.

Advances in technology have allowed timber frame shops to fabricate structures in a fraction of the time it took years ago.  Some shops now use CNC machines to cut their joinery, using human labor primarily for the test fitting and raising periods.  Other companies – like Homestead – value the approach of crafting frames by hand with mallets and chisels.  Power tools, however, play a role in helping us get your frame to you that much quicker.  These days cranes and extendable boom fork-lift speed up the raising process.

Our craft has also seen no shortage of new joiners willing to roll up their sleeves and keep it alive.  We receive calls from construction professionals young and old who are interested in joining our craftsmen to learn timber framing.  Colleges and Credit schools across the country and around the world offer woodworking programs that teach timber framing. There are also organizations such as the Timber Guild that offer valuable apprenticeships.

In short, the future of timber framing remains bright, and we work diligently to keep it that way.  As time passes us we will never run out of new ways to keep our art in front of our growing client base.  As long as schools continue to incorporate timber framing in their curriculum we will not be short of new joiners.

Those who show their support for timber framing and timber framers reap lifelong benefits that you simply can’t get out of a conventional structure.  For instance, a timber frame home will stay with your and your family for generations to come. Timber frames that still stand across the world after thousands of years of storms, earthquakes and man-made disasters are a living testament to such a fact.  You’ll also be able to tell others that you live in a home that was truly crafted by hand.  How many people today can say that?

If you’re interested in flying the flag for timber framing, don’t be shy. Pay us a visit!  Walk around our shop, smell the fresh sawdust, and learn more about the timber framing craft from a team that genuinely loves and believes in what they do.  Sit with us and talk about your own timber frame plans.  We can't wait to see you.

Preparing For Your Initial Home Planning Meeting

The excitement of building a new home is a very palpable thing. The joy in the air can be felt the minute you walk through the door, and the energy is infectious! In the same way that you are excited to see your timber frame home come to life, we too are excited to see your dream come true.

With each highly anticipated milestone reached, there is plenty of preparation inherent with the process of building a home. It all starts with a little bit of homework before we even step foot in the conference room. Here are eleven ways to prepare for your initial meeting with us that will help ensure that the process of building your custom timber frame project proceeds smoothly and efficiently.

1 – Cultivate a Photo Reference Book: 

With the help of the internet, putting together a binder or scrapbook of ideas has gotten much easier. Image oriented search engines like Houzz and Pinterest allow you to create idea books and boards of your favorite ideas. Additionally you can share boards and books with us long before we meet face-to-face. Start an account with both sites and begin gathering everything that fits your vision as you see it.

2 – Wants Vs. Needs: 

You may have a budget in mind as you begin the process. You should keep in mind that it can easily slip out of your control as the want list gets longer. There are many hurdles when it comes to budgeting, but wants and needs will likely trip you up most. Develop separate lists for each category and begin stripping away the wants you feel will inflate your cost the most. Remember–bigger doesn’t always mean better!

3 – Diagram Your Rooms: 

Having a good idea of where you would like each room located can be a big help to the design process. Create a bubble diagram like this one that indicates the placement of each room and bring it with you to your first design meeting.

4 – Make a List of Questions: 

Questions are a vital part of the learning process and we welcome each and every one you may have. It’s only natural when making such a big decision to ask questions about anything from the process of the build to the timeframe from design to raising. We encourage you to make a list of questions you’d like to ask before we meet. It helps us pinpoint ways in which we may help you.

5 – Visit Our Shop: 

There’s no better way to understand what kind of work will go into your home than to stand side-by-side in sawdust with our joiners. You’ll get a shop tour the day you meet with us, but you are more than welcome to come in beforehand to meet our joiners, watch them work, and ask questions.

6 – Attend a Raising: 

Just as visiting our shop will give you a bird’s-eye-view of a timber frame taking shape; attending a raising will allow you to see our joiners at work as they install someone’s frame. Not only is it awe-inspiring to watch, it’ll give you an idea of just how quickly and accurately your own frame will go up. Often we will invite the public to attend select raisings, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for upcoming events.

7 – Read Up on the Basics of Timber Framing:

This can go a long way in clarifying a lot of the terms we’ll be using. We give each client who comes in a list of books we deem essential reading to learn about the craft of timber framing. If you’d like a copy of the list, click here to contact us.

8 – Follow our Social Media: 

If you discovered Homestead Timber Frames through our website, have you visited our social media pages? There are plenty of wonderful photos and insightful articles to be found on each profile we maintain. We currently keep a presence on the following sites:  Houzz, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, with a revamped YouTube page forthcoming. Follow us for timely updates!

9 – No Need to Rush:

It’s completely understandable to want to jumpstart the process as soon as possible once the excitement of building a new home has set in. However, it’s a good idea to hold off until you’ve crossed two big hurdles:  Having a patch of land; and knowing the cost of building a custom home in your area. Until you’ve found where you want to plant your roots and you have a clear figure on how much it may take to build what you want, it’s going to be tough to bring your dream to life. It’s also important to take your lifestyle into account. Our timber frame homes are tailor-made to suit the way our clients live. If you’re looking to lead a quiet life by the river on twenty acres in the country, your home will look vastly different from the city dwellers’ who require a great deal of space for guests and entertaining.

10 – Keep a Devoted Notebook: 

As you’ll likely be taking notes through the duration, keep a notebook solely devoted to the process of building your home. It’s a great way to keep your thoughts, figures, and ideas organized before you come in to discuss details. It will also come in handy during the latter half of the process.

11 – Look At the Bigger Picture

It’s very easy to focus on one or two small details. It’s much easier to let them overwhelm your project before it even gets moving. Take a step back and look at the whole idea as opposed to a few small parts. You may decide that those little details are the most important factors in your eventual design. Furthermore you may even see that you don’t need them at all.

Now that you’ve read through these eleven tips, bring your inspiration for your own dream home and come see us.  Let the excitement of building that new home become a reality today. We’ll be looking for you!

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