Building Timber Frame Homes – A Video

Goshen Timber Frames worked closely with Dale and Susan Parrott here in Franklin, North Carolina to design and build their timber frame home.   Their first meeting was in 2007 when they purchased a beautiful mountain lot.  As time to build drew near, the plans became reality and their new home was raised this winter.  Building timber frame homes brings us together with people like Dale and Susan and friendships are solidified.

Watch as Dale explains the process and see their home from “floor deck” to “enclosed timber frame”.  Dale worked with Matt Nielsen at  Cool Hat Media to produce the video of his and Susan’s timber frame journey.

The Laurel Brae is a cypress frame enclosed with structural insulated panels.



Designing and building timber frame homes has allowed us to make many “timber friends” and to experience the process again and again.  We discuss the style, size, and budget with each client as we define their own home.  The timber frame raising brings it all together and they move forward toward completion.

If you’d like to visit this home and others in our area, just give me a call at 828-524-8662 or drop me an email at

And as you plan and build don’t forget to Build Boldly!

Thank you for allowing us to share our passion for timber frame homes,  Bonnie Pickartz.

Planning the Wiring In Timber Frame Homes

We had a great meeting with clients yesterday.  The day was spent finalizing the electrical/wiring plan for their new timber frame home.  Difficult?  No, it’s not.  Important?  Of course.  The process works through not only where the outlets and switches will be located in the structural insulated panels and on any ceiling beams, but also all the wiring throughout the house, even in the stick-framed interior walls.  Timber frame wiring is, if anything, easier than wiring a conventionally framed home.

At Goshen Timber Frames we have a motto about wiring…”you can’t have too many outlets”.  The panels we use to enclose our homes have junction boxes and conduit pre-installed, so we work with our clients to carefully locate their wiring.  Of course, if you need one in another location later, it’s not rocket science to add one (we did).

timber frame wiring by bonnie pickartz goshen timber frames

Your designer should provide a standard, code specified wiring plan.  Then you and your electrician/decorator/builder/all other interested parties can work on it.  At the end of the day you should have a wiring plan that meets all specifications and works for you and the way you plan to live in your new home.  Don’t discount this process and don’t let it slide.  It’s one of those things that saves  you money down the road and makes life easier.

Don’t forget that ceiling wiring for fans, track lighting, and any hanging fixtures will be wired during the raising.  This makes it possible to hide the wiring in grooves in the beams prior to tongue and groove and panel installation.  Nice, clean, hidden wiring.  Again, your designer should work with you to locate beams so they compliment the lighting.  This is time well spent and shouldn’t be discounted.

Designing and building a timber frame has so many steps and it’s easy to think some aren’t important, but each step has a purpose.  Take the time to understand what you can do to make your home the best you can imagine and live comfortably for many years afterwards.

And, as you build, don’t forget to “build boldly”.



Timber Frame Homes – Enjoy the Seasons

Timber frame homes tend to have lots of windows…windows to bring in light and to expand your living space visually.  This is one of the secrets of “living larger” in a timber frame than in a conventionally built home similar in size.

As Spring is here and Summer on the way, we enjoy the ever changing vista afforded by the windows on every side.  The trees blooming and then greening up, the flowers showing colorful faces for their time, the grass greening up and even the freshly swept porch, wooing us to come sit a spell.

Our own timber frame happens to be situated where there are no “next door” neighbors, so all of our windows are uncovered (except the guest bedroom which has blinds as a courtesy to those not used to curtainless living).  This means the sun streams in all day. Timber Frame Homes and Daylighting

The difference in the Winter sun and the Spring sun is slight, but noticeable.  The Summer will soon bring it’s sunny side into our home.  Then Fall will be here, dressed in bright reds and yellows, sharing color before the quiet Winter sun comes to visit.

Because our timber frame plan was designed to maximize the concept of daylighting, we seldom turn on lights until darkness approaches.  This natural light is healthy and enjoyable and it allows us to minimize our energy costs.

Timber Frame Homes and Windows


The savings are considerable and a nice “side effect” of daylighting.

So, plan carefully, and maximize your living space with windows.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Designing Your Timber Frame Home – The Journey Begins

Designing your new timber frame home is a journey of sorts. You’ll bring
all the luggage you’ve gathered along the way. Homes you’ve seen on
television shows, homes you’ve seen in magazines, homes you’ve
driven past, homes you’ve lived in and visited…they’re all packed neatly
away, waiting to be sorted and reviewed upon arrival at the design desk.

This is where the fun begins. The kitchen you loved when you visited a
friend in the mountains may not fit into the bungalow you envisioned
when you thought about driving up the driveway each day. That great
Roman tub set up on a granite platform…beautiful in the magazine, but it
might not work in your master bath.

Form follows function. That’s the architectural rule and it’s as true today
as it was in 1852 when sculptor Horatio Greenough used it in speaking
of the organic principals of architecture. Architect Louis Sullivan
expanded it to “form ever follow function” in 1896 and that’s the rule.

So, you lay out all the pictures, ideas, and suggestions you brought on
this journey and you begin with what’s important. You consider the
space and how you’ll use it as you begin to lay out your timber frame
floor plan. You talk about the site and the budget …they are critical to
this journey. You discuss the way you’ll live and how this home will
serve you. Your house plan will address your lifestyle long before it can
be tweaked to address the style you’ll see when you drive up your

Timber frame house plans are similar to regular plans, but without the
restrictions that bearing walls bring to the table. They are much easier
to work with and much more flexible. As you begin this journey, you’ll
appreciate that difference.

As you fit your “baggage” into the plan, you’ll find some pieces work
and some don’t. You’ll find that there are ways to make the important
things come together in creative and exciting ways. You new home plan
will gradually become “your” home.

The design team you choose to work with will be critical as you move
forward. They can’t take your ideas, pull them together and say “this is
what you asked for”. They have to be unafraid to step out and make
suggestions. They need to pull from their experience with other
homeowners and most of all they need to listen. So take that first step
and begin your journey. It will be the trip of a lifetime.

Give me a call. I’d be pleased to talk with you and to tell you about my
own experience in designing my dream home and to help you begin
your journey.

Bonnie Pickartz

Just email me or give me a call at 828-524-8662.

Timber Frame Homes – Perfect Small Homes

Small Homes aren’t a trend.  They represent a way of life, both past and future.  A simpler life where home was shelter, not a status symbol or fad.  In the past, people built homes to fit their needs.  As their families grew, their homes grew, but only enough to provide the space they needed … comfortable space.

Over time we expanded our spaces, expanded not because we were more comfortable, but because we could.  Now, it’s time to step back.  We need to remember that the space we build, we have to maintain, we have to heat and cool, we have to “keep”.  That space can then take over our lives in ways large and small.

So, we’ve begun to step back, to build our homes to shelter us and to allow us to live comfortably.  We make a decision to design our homes to have space that fits our lifestyle and not to build out just because we can.  We become happier with smaller.  And maybe happier because we’re living smaller.

So, think through the way you live.  Think about the rooms that are seldom used and the size of the rooms that you do use.  Bring everything into the human scale and you’ll live easier and more comfortably.   So we encourage you to live smaller, live more simply.  Don’t forgo elegance and charm, live smaller and live better.

Timber frames allow us to build smaller.  We have no wasted space for bearing walls and hallways.  Space is divided to best fit the way we live.   Timber frames and small homes, what a great concept.

Thanks for letting me share, Bonnie Pickartz.





A Timber Frame Opportunity

Occupy Goshen Timber Frame Homes

Heating and Cooling Timber Frame Homes

The cost to heat and cool a home is the lion’s share of a utility bill.  Whether you use natural gas, electricity, or propane, the comfort factor is offset by uncomfortable utility bills.  Timber frame homes, wrapped in energy efficient insulated panels, offer relief from high utility bills.

While we do take other steps to keep our power usage at a minimum (we use fluorescent lights throughout and all of our appliances are Energy Star rated), we believe that the tight, well-insulated envelope that encloses our home is key in keeping our utilities in check.

We live in a timber frame home in the mountains of North Carolina.  We’re told that the past winter was the coldest in 35 years and that the past summer was one of the hottest on record.

Our HVAC system is a fully electric heat pump.  We use propane for cooking and for our tankless hot water heater only.   We have more windows than most homes and have high ceilings throughout.   In theory, our costs to heat and cool should be above average.  But…we spend a fraction of the cost of homes of comparable size.    The latest reports indicate that our home uses one third (that’s One Third) of the electricity of a similar home in our area.

Our power bills for the last 24 months are shown in this report…

Our costs actually decreased slightly in the past year instead of rising with the colder/hotter temperatures we’ve experienced.  

Many people ask if vaulted ceilings will result in higher energy usage.  I have to say that we spend much less on heating and cooling than we did when we lived in a conventionally built home of the same size.  And that home had 8′ ceilings throughout. Goshen Timber Frames clients have seen similar costs savings in their own timber frame homes.

So, when you plan your new home, remember that these energy savings will continue to save you money each month and will save you even more money as energy costs rise.  I know that the proof is in the savings.


Building A Timber Frame Infographic

This infographic brings it all together!

All the stuff you need to know to design and build your timber frame home…condensed.

What’s Old Is New Again in a Timber Frame Home

When we built our timber frame home, we made every effort to work with reclaimed, recycled, reused, repurposed, and re-just about anything materials. It was important that our home felt old while living new.

One of the choices we made was to buy a washer-dryer combination that was energy efficient and let us put clothes in to wash and take them out (of the same machine) dry and ready to fold or hang.   There were several models on the market and we decided that the LG unit would serve us best.  Except…there wasn’t one new unit to be found.  The older model was off the market and the new one wasn’t yet available.

So we searched for a gently used unit that would not only let us know if we really could live with a washer/dryer combination that took 3 hours to wash a dry a load of clothes, but would also save us money.   Craig’s List came to the rescue and a short trip to Atlanta landed us just the right piece of laundry equipment.  Since our timber frame featured lots of gently used items, this wasn’t a problem for us.

Now, we thought we were onto something unique and new.  We couldn’t find anyone who had used one that wasn’t a smaller apartment or RV sized unit (which didn’t rate very well).   We loved the concept of no washer to dryer switch (and no moldy smelling clothes if we forgot to switch them).

And today, we still love our washer-dryer.  It serves us well and fits well into the laundry closet we designed into our home.  Timber frames allow for lots of flexibility in room placement, so our laundry space is tucked off of a hallway, accessible to the bedroom and bath.

And now, the surprise for us.  We think we have the latest technology and love showing off our “easy” washer/dryer.

I’m looking through some old magazines (really old …1956) and find an ad for a Philco Duomatic.  Surprise…it’s a washer/dryer combination and sold for a whopping $369.95.  Who knew?  So while we aren’t dismayed, we were a little shocked that it never took the market by storm.  Maybe it was before it’s time.  Most people didn’t have dryers in 1956 (at least in my neighborhood).

So old is new again in our timber frame home.  And we are loving it.  Washing, drying, now if someone will just invent a machine that folds clothes.  We would be “cooking with gas”….but that’s another story.

So, plan your home, build it, and fill it with things you love and that you’ll use and enjoy.

And that’s enough for now.

See you soon, Bonnie Pickartz.

Aging with Grace in Timber Frame Homes

As David and I designed our timber frame home, we wanted to think forward to a time in our lives when we might not want to climb up the stairs to our bedroom…or maybe when we could no longer make that trip.  However, it was important to us that we kept the footprint small, so building up rather than out was the best option. So we worked with our designers to make sure that the first floor would be accessible if we happened to be wheelchair bound.

Making the hallway (all five feet of it) wider than required and all of the doorways 34″ or greater meant that we could get around with ease.  Open spaces in timber frame homes offer opportunities to move furniture and create flexible spaces that will change as needed. The exterior doors are wide and it would be no problem to add a ramp if needed.

With my wonderful clawfoot bathtub replaced with a walk-in (or roll-in shower), we would be good to go.  Life would go on, uninterrupted by lack of access.

This concept will allow us to age gracefully in our home…a nice nod to a future we can’t control.  If we are still going up the stairs at 99, so be it.  But if we can’t make that trip at 69, we’re ready for that, too.

While talking about accessibility may not be your idea of a good time, it is important to consider it when designing your new home.  Timber frame plans adapt easily to wider halls (since halls are typically minimal or non-existent) and open spaces.  So have a heart to heart talk with your timber frame designer or architect and consider aging in place an important part of your design process.

And…come visit us.

We’ll leave the door open for you.

Later,  Bonnie Pickartz