When home plans are discussed, we tend to talk about floor plans, elevations, sections, details, and foundations. We need to make “efficiency” one of those key elements.
Your timber frame home should be efficient in every manner. It should, of course, be energy efficient. It should be space efficient. It should make efficient use of materials. This list can go on and on, with efficient being the key word.
Of course, designing only the amount of space you use is the first step. While we’d all like to have unlimited room to roam and to escape, be realistic. Think through the way you live as you design your new timber frame.
Don’t build too small and then necessitate remodeling in a few years…but don’t build rooms that no one will ever occupy (maybe Aunt Jo will come to visit someday, but if you are building that room just for her and she’s never left her hometown, then maybe you can better utilize that money and rent her a nice room at the local B&B if she arrives). Don’t build just to keep up with the Joneses or Browns. They will be spending money to maintain those rooms when you can be spending yours to travel.
If there are two of you for eleven and three quarter months of the year, do you need three more bedrooms and three more baths for the two weeks you have company?
A timber frame does give you the flexibility to move walls without major engineering. This means you can enclose or open up rooms as your life and lifestyle changes.
Efficient use of materials is important. Plan your home wisely, using products that are sourced locally or regionally whenever possible. Don’t put in cabinets that you know you really don’t like…planning on installing better ones in a few years. Buy the best you can afford and live with it. Hardwood and tile should be a “forever” product, so chose carefully.
Energy efficiency, of course is such an important part of building. A timber frame, wrapped in energy efficient insulated panels is an excellent choice. The panels provide a tight, well insulated shell and will be far more efficient than any form of conventional framing.
Our new home is so comfortable. It is small (smaller than some would like and larger than some might want), but just right for us. We used many salvaged materials in our home (not for everyone, but something we love) and it is wrapped in panels, providing shelter from cold and heat.
Building efficiently will reward you for years to come. Small steps will make a big difference.