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What is a hybrid timber frame? Why do you recommend hybrids?

In timber frame construction, hybrid refers to a structure which is only partially timber-framed. Typically this includes the great room, kitchen, entry and possibly some external accents. The hybrid approach often significantly reduces the cost of your timber package because of the reduced volume of timber required. We feel the trade-off of not having some rooms timber framed is minimal. We think timberwork works best in the more public spaces of your home which have an open plan and often vaulted ceilings. In more private spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms, the timberwork can become a bit overwhelming and can often look disjointed after partition walls are added for closets, bathrooms, etc.

Some timber framers recommend using “standing dead” timber instead of kiln dried timber. Is standing dead timber as good?

Standing dead timber is timber that has been milled from trees that have been killed by a pest or fire. It is typically more economical than kiln dried timber and is an environmentally friendly alternative to using harvesting live trees. The quality of standing timber, however, can be very variable. While it is usually dryer than green timber, it isn’t typically as dry as kiln dried timber and will shrink after incorporation into a frame. It also often contains boreholes from beetles and fibre breakage caused by wind or during falling.

Do you use steel in your timberwork?

We often use steel in our timberwork for structural or aesthetic reasons. Often, hidden steel connectors may be required in your timberwork to meet modern building code requirements. This is especially typical when building on the West Coast, to withstand earthquake loads. We also do some contemporary timberwork where steel or iron is part of the architectural look.

Will we need to have our timber frame approved by an engineer?

In most jurisdictions, the building department will require a structural engineer to approve your timber design before issuing a building permit. We work very closely with several engineers who specialize in timber engineering and can coordinate this for you.

We would like to use trees from our lot for our timber frame. Is this practical?

We get this question a lot. Using trees from your own lot is not practical for several reasons. First, we cut our timbers in a shop. This would require all your trees to be harvested and then trucked to our shop and then back to the job site. Secondly, often the timber on your site might not be a suitable grade for timber work. It might be too small or might have hidden decay. Usually, it is more practical to mill the trees on your site and use the lumber for the non-timber frame elements of your house such as beams for decks, trim, siding, etc.

What are SIPs?

SIPs are structural insulating panels. They are rigid panels consisting of rigid insulating foam laminated between 2 pieces of panel board (OSB). They range from 6″ thick to 12″ and are attached to the timbers to create the roof and walls. Once attached, drywall, siding and roofing is attached. SIPs are typically used for enclosing timber frames. They make for a very well insulated home and allow the frame to be enclosed very quickly, usually within 1 week of assembling the frame.

Can you build with green timber?

Yes. There are no structural reasons not to use green timbers. Green timbers, however, will slowly dry in the finished home. This may take several years, but when it dries it will shrink (typically 4-8%) and possibly twist. This shrinkage will result in large cracks called “checks” developing in the timber. It will also result in gaps opening up in the joinery. These gaps can be up to 1/4″.

What type of wood do you use?

We usually specify coastal dense Douglas Fir #1 and better free of heart center (F.O.H.C.). Free of heart center means that the piece doesn’t contain the pith of the tree. This means that timber was cut from a larger tree and is usually more expensive than ‘boxed heart’ timber which contains the pith. F.O.H.C. timber is more stable than boxed heart and doesn’t check (crack) nearly as much as boxed heart timber when it dries.

Do I need to hire an architect for my project?

Not necessarily. The most important requirement is a concept idea for your project. The concept idea can come from a sketch, pictures you’ve collected, a designer or from an architect. From this we can usually define the timberwork and provide a fixed price quote. At some point in the project you will require a set of plans in order to get a building permit and builder. You can have your architect or designer generate plans or we can generate plans for you.

How much does timber framing cost?

The pricing of timber work depends on several factors: volume of timber, complexity of design, species and grade of timber, finishing of timbers and whether the timber is kiln dried or green. The timberwork in our projects typically cost between $50 to $100 per square foot, but for a more accurate quote please contact us to discuss your specific project.

What is the difference between timber frame and post and beam?

Typically timber framing refers to timber construction using mortise and tenon joinery whereas post and beam usually involve bolted connections with metal brackets. Done well, both can be very attractive. We specialize in both.

What is special about Kettle River Timberworks?

Kettle River believes that the key to a successful project is attention to details. We use very sophisticated 3-dimensional computer drafting software to model the timberworks and joinery in great detail. We use CNC milling equipment to accurately cut the timbers. We also specialize in hybrids. We believe that hybrids (putting timber into only a portion of the house) make economic sense and aesthetic sense.