Frequently Asked Questions
Q What is a timber frame structure?
A Post and Beam is a general term for building with heavy timbers incorporating any type of connection between a Post (vertical member) and a Beam (horizontal member) such as steel plates, bolts, or mortise and tenon. Timber framing refers to using heavy timbers joined by traditional mortise and tenon joinery and wooden pegs. Posts are typically placed 8 ft to 16 ft or more apart. The wooden posts and beams are exposed in the interior of the structure.
Q What types of wood are used?
A We typically use Eastern White Pine, Douglas Fir or Eastern Hemlock. Other species of wood may be used as well. Our wood proudly comes from multigenerational family mills.
Q Is the cost of a timber frame structure similar to a conventional stick frame structure?
A Simply yes, when you consider all of the facts. The cost of a timber frame can be slightly higher due to the custom hand craftsmanship involved. However, if you compare the attributes of a timber frames' naturally open floor plan and the ease of creating a cathedral space to the premium expense of having these in a conventionally built structure, then the cost is very comparable.
Additionally, the cost to create a stick frame structure as energy efficient as a timber frame enclosed with SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) is quite similar. On average, the timber frame and panels represent 25% of the entire project cost, thus 75% of the cost is the same as a conventional structure (ie. the windows, doors, roofing, siding, mechanical work)
Q What type of finish is typically applied to the interior posts and beams?
A You have the option of us conveniently applying a premium penetrating oil finish for you, made by Heritage Natural Finishes (www.heritagenaturalfinishes.com) Handcrafted in small batches of natural ingredients from sustainable resources, the penetrating oil finish is made without toxic heavy metal dryers, chemical processing, petroleum distillates or bleaching. The oil finish is safe for the environment, the people applying it, and for you living with it in your home.
Q How is the frame raised?
A We use a crane to assemble and erect a timber frame. If your frame is regional to us, we have two on-site cranes available for rent. If you are a long distance from us, then a crane local to you would be used.
Q How is the structure insulated?
A One of the great benefits of building a timber frame is using SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) to enclose the structure. Our sister company- Foam Laminates of Vermont is onsite and available to meet all of your panel needs. Efficient R-values can range from continuous R-16 to R-65. SIPs can be used for your roof, walls and floors.
Q How do you run electrical wires through panels?
A Foam Laminates' SIPS are provided with 1 ½" centered electrical channels within the panels. The channels run horizontally in the panels at a height of 16 "above the finished floor. This channel location can be varied at the request of the client.
Wiring is run from building corners into the channels using wire snakes. Switches and exterior lights are commonly found next to door openings. To position electrical switch boxes in locations other than on the electrical channel, the wiring is run vertically behind the door nailers and fed through a manually probed hole in the foam core toward the electrical box. If electrical boxes are required in locations other than near door openings, the following procedure is used. Typically called the "hot nut" method, a large metal nut is hung from floral wire. The box opening is cut in the required location and another is cut plumb below this location at the electrical channel height. The nut is heated with a propane torch and fed from the upper box location downward toward the electrical channel. This will quickly create the channel required for wiring that box.
Q Is plumbing run through the panel walls?
A No, as with conventional framing, running plumbing in exterior walls is not recommended. Water pipes set in exterior walls are at a much higher risk of freezing. Piping is run through interior walls to their required locations.
Q Do I need a crane to install the panels?
A For most houses, a crane is not only useful but it speeds up the application process. If your frame is regional to us, we have two on-site cranes available for rent. If you are a long distance from us, then a crane local to you would be used.
Q How are overhangs framed?
A The panels themselves can create your eave and gable overhangs. For smaller details, a conventionally framed 2X ladder can be used. See the www.foamlaminates.com website for more details.
Q Will the house be too airtight?
A Homes enclosed by structural insulated panels are airtight by nature. But, it is important to know that since 2012, the International Residential Code states that ALL new homes (including stick frame) must have an air exchange system. In cooler climates we recommend a Heat Recovery Ventilation System (HRV). The HRV brings fresh air into a building while it simultaneously expels stale indoor air. At the core of a HRV, the outgoing warm moisture-laden indoor air transfers the energy to the incoming cool air thus warming it and recovering the energy. A balanced system is achieved and the indoor air quality is significantly improved.
Q Why should we choose Vermont Frames to handcraft our timber frame?
A For over 35 years, Vermont Frames has been constructing timber frames with the exceptional Vermont quality and craftsmanship that you expect. We've crafted structures as small as a shed for solar panels, to homes over ten thousand square feet. We attend trade meetings and keep up with the latest technologies. We've erected frames all over the United States and Canada, as well as Europe. All of the planning, timber frame construction and structural insulated panel manufacturing takes place at our facility in Starksboro, Vermont. We do not work with middlemen or independent representatives- we are all located in the same office where communication is important to us. We all understand how important your project is and we work extremely hard to meet all of your expectations. We enjoy making our customers happy.