Q?What Is Ecological Or Green Construction?

Green building is in the eye of the beholder and varies depending on who you ask. For eco-builders, it means a clean building, using natural materials. They consider that a building must above all adapt to humans, the well-being of its occupants being capital. These partisans of green building condemn the use of toxic substances in the industrial manufacture of construction materials.

Experts in energy savings aim to limit the negative impact of human habitat on the environment through ultra-modern technologies and to reduce the amount of energy consumed by buildings, houses and apartments. They recommend enhanced thermal insulation and leading-edge construction techniques. Eco-builders consider a building over its whole lifetime. Not only do they integrate energy savings, they also take into consideration the origin of the materials used and their management (elimination, recuperation) at the end of their life.

Eco-construction, also referred to as sustainable construction or green building, proposes various possibilities of reducing the environmental impact of buildings. Green building is not a specific construction method, but it brings together a set of techniques, materials and technologies which when suitably integrated in a construction project, contribute to enhancing its environmental performance

Q?What is timber framing?

Timber framing is a distinctive style of building construction where heavy timbers are used to frame the structure instead of more slender dimensional lumber (for example, 2″x6″). Timber framing was a building practice used throughout the world until 1900 when the demand for cheap, fast housing brought dimensional lumber to the construction forefront. In the 1970s, craftsman revived the timber framing tradition in the United States and have ushered the design style into the modern era.

Q?What is the difference between Stick Built, Log Homes, Post and Beam, and Timber Framing?

Stick Built structures are framed with slender dimensional lumber instead of using logs or timber. Log Homes and Buildings are built of logs stacked horizontally, creating the walls.

Post and Beam structures are buildings that have upright posts supporting horizontal beams. These may be built of logs (round) or timber (milled square). Typically, timber Post and Beam structures are made of timber that is held with metal brackets.

Timber Framing is a specialized version of timber post and beam that is built like furniture, utilizing wood joinery such as mortise and tenon, held in place with wooden pegs.

As designs become more intricate and code requirements more stringent, the distinction between some of these common terms becomes blurred. For example, timber frames may require engineered connectors in some joints. These connectors can be hidden inside the joint instead of attached to the timber surface, preserving the traditional timber frame appearance while making use of non-traditional technologies. Also, hybrid structures are prevalent, where timber framing and stick building are both used in the construction of a building.

Q?What is different about finishing timber frames?

Construction with a timber frame differs from the current convention, cavity-wall construction, but these differences do not need to lead to increased difficulty or inflated costs. Being aware of these differences early on can help you understand building process and important design questions.

  • Permitting/Engineering: Most building departments require stamped drawings. Projects that are non-prescriptive will need to be engineered.
  • Foundation: Foundations for timber frames must account for point loading where the posts are supported, which is different than conventional stick building requirements. Precision in foundation construction is critical to assuring that the pre-cut frame will fit well. It is also important to ensure that the foundation resists uplift loads from wind and earthquakes. Timber frame builders and engineers should be able to discuss the requirements.
  • Doors and windows: Depending on the enclosure system used, deeper jambs may be required for doors and windows.
  • Drywall/Painting: You may need extra taping and prep time as you work around timber beans and decorative wood.
  • Electrical: Electrical wiring of interior walls remains the same between timber framing and stick built structures. However, if a timber framed structure is enclosed with SIPs, the SIPs will require a pre-cut chaseway to allow for wiring of exterior walls. To learn more about SIPs, visit our SIPs overview or the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) website.
  • Plumbing/HVAC/Ductwork: These should be run in interior walls and laid out to avoid interfering with structural members. If using SIPs, plan to do an energy audit and ventilate the building.
  • Energy code note: If the R-value of the chosen enclosure system does not meet requirements, you may need to do a full-house analysis to prove the system.
  • Sprinkler systems may need special design for non-cavity enclosure systems.
  • Roofing: If using SIPs, refer to the specific manufacturer’s recommendations. To learn more about SIPs, visit our SIPs overview or the Structural Insulated Panel Association (SIPA) website.
  • Design elements that typically do not change for a timber frame structure include:
  • Exterior finish options
  • Flooring
  • Interior partition walls (typically not load bearing)
Q?What is a SIP?

A SIP is a Structural Insulated Panel. One of the premier forms of building insulation, SIPs make a remarkable match with timber frame construction.

Q?How much will it cost?

Different factors affect the cost of a timber frame, including:

  • How many timbers are required
  • The species of the timbers
  • The quality of the timbers
  • The width and length of the timbers
  • The finish of the timbers
  • The efficiency of the frame’s design
  • Construction requirements based on the site
  • Any additional features in the timber frame package. In the same floor plan, you could add a bent beam and have 20% to 30% more timber in the project. The amount of time changes the cost per square foot.

Wood Selection
The type of wood you select affects the final cost of the project. Here are attributes to consider when evaluating the type of wood for a project:

  • Quality (Dryness & Growth Pattern): The choice of wood ranges from green wood, which is old growth or second growth, to kiln dried or recycled wood. Over time, stable wood that is dry and dense opens less, resulting in less shrinkage and checking. These issues are generally not structural, which means that the decision to use a type of wood can be based on aesthetics and cost. It is important to note that some of these options can markedly affect the price of the frame.
  • Species: The choice of species can have a dramatic effect on the price of the frame. Many species can be used to create the frame, and individual builders tend to have a few choices of wood species that they work with. A builder should be able to offer you the pros and cons of each choice. Some species are available in longer lengths, some offer greater strength in a small dimension, and some are considered prettier or more interesting.
  • Finish: The finish on the timbers themselves is a consideration. The choices include rough sawn wood, a sanded and oiled finish, hand hewn, adzed, sandblasted or nylon brushed. You can apply an oil, stain, or colored wash, such as a light white wash.

Site Requirements
Accessibility to your site is a factor in determining the cost. Can a truck and trailer drive right to your site, or will there be extra handling? Can a crane be brought in? These considerations apply to any home built on a site, but it is important to keep in mind.

What is included in the package?
Services include the selection of the wood and other important details. How will the frame be raised? How many staff will be on site? Is the company sending one representative or an entire crew? What equipment is included? What is the enclosure system material and energy efficiency rating? Are the drawings provided enough to acquire the necessary permits?

Take the time required to really understand the quote comparison
Timber frame companies can quote not only the different materials, but the construction details (for example, wrapping the deck, overhands, and drywall installation). It is important to make sure that you understand these details in a quote when comparing options or moving forward with an individual company.