Frequently Asked Questions

Helpful facts about timber frame/post and beam homes

General Questions:

What is your warranty?
Woodhouse® is the only company in our industry to provide our clients with a transferable limited lifetime warranty. Please contact us to learn more.
How many homes have you built?
Woodhouse® usually builds between 30 and 50 timber frame projects a year, including homes, additions and various commercial buildings. Since 1979, we have completed almost 1,000 timber frame projects with the same care and attention to detail, and in the process, we’ve built our reputation one home at a time.
Are you familiar with designing homes for the handicapped or physically impaired?

Yes. We have designed homes for a number of non-ambulatory clients, as well as those who are hearing or sight impaired. As part of the process, we listen to discern the unique needs of each client and then tailor the home design accordingly.

Also, more and more people are requesting “adaptive” home design to ensure that the home is comfortable throughout their life and regardless of how their physical capabilities evolve. This has become a very normal process for the Woodhouse design team.

Can we visit your factory?

Certainly. In fact, we encourage you to do so and have a beautiful timber frame guest suite within which you can stay during your visit.

The typical visit includes spending the night at the guest suite, making yourself some breakfast in the suite kitchen, touring our joinery shop and the structural insulated panel manufacturing facility, sitting down with our design team to do a consultation, and visiting several homes that the owner of Woodhouse has built in order to see our finished product.

Where can we see a Woodhouse®?
Call your local Woodhouse® representative, who will arrange to show you a Woodhouse® timber frame near you. Or, if it’s convenient, you’re welcome to visit the Woodhouse campus in Mansfield, PA and tour our model home as well as see multiple homes built by the Woodhouse owner.
Do you have a bank reference?
Yes. We enjoy a long-standing working relationship with an established bank in the Eastern USA, which will furnish a financial reference upon request.
Do you have any references?
Yes. We would be happy to introduce you to satisfied Woodhouse® customers. Your project manager will provide you with a list of references.
Who can we talk to at Woodhouse®?
You’re welcome to talk to anyone at Woodhouse® at any time. However, depending on where you are building, you will have a regional project manager assigned to you. Your project manager will be experienced and well versed in all aspects of constructing Woodhouse® timber frame homes, and will make it their mission to provide you with the highest level of professional service.
Once we get started, how long until we can move in?

Once your Woodhouse timber frame package has been designed, delivered and erected, the construction process for finishing your home to move-in condition will probably take from six months to a year, but it depends on a few key factors.

First and foremost, is the scheduling and coordination of all the tradespeople. Efficient project management can cut weeks and even months off the construction timetable.

Second is the size of your home. The larger the home the longer it usually takes.

Third is the detail of the finish. For example, construction of a simple, New-England-style home with minimal trim will typically take less time than one with more ornate finishes and detailing.

All of these questions can be answered by your Woodhouse regional project manager or your Woodhouse Independent Builder Dealer. For more information, please contact Woodhouse at 800-227-4311.

We want Woodhouse® to build our home — how do we begin?

The first step is the design phase, which typically includes a visit to your building site and an in-depth design consultation.

How do we get started with Woodhouse®?

Give us a call, come and visit us, and/or arrange to see a Woodhouse® model home. No matter where you are planning to build, you will be assigned a personal Woodhouse® representative who will guide you through every step of the process from design to construction.

Will you build anywhere in the country?

Yes. We have built Woodhouse® homes all across the country and in many foreign countries.

Why should we choose Woodhouse®?

Woodhouse® has over 35 years of experience offering the highest quality timber frame packages, backed by the highest level of professional services available. Our staff is long-tenured with multiple employees working for Woodhouse over 30 years.  Our design services are second to none in the industry employing state-of-the-art modelling tools to help our clients see what they are designing.  And we back up our product with the best warranty in the timber framing industry.  Quite simply, we make it our business to be the best.

Do I need to hire an architect?

It is not necessary to hire an outside architect although you are welcome to do so. Woodhouse® offers complete architectural design services and has an experienced team of designers to help design your home – from conceptual sketches through to complete construction documents for permitting and construction.

If you do have your own architect, we would be happy to work directly with them in taking their plan and vision and making it work with a Woodhouse timber frame package. As always, we are willing to accommodate you in any way — making your timber frame dream come to life.

What is the timeframe to construct a timber frame home?

With a custom home, the design process typically takes at least six months, but for some customers it’s a labor of love that takes a number of years to finalize. However, choosing to use or modify an existing predesign plan can certainly speed up the design process. Lead times for crafting our timber frame packages range from eight to 12 weeks depending on the materials chosen. Once delivery has been made, erecting the timber frame can take from one to six weeks depending on the size and complexity of the design. Finishing the home to move-in condition will typically take a further six months to a year, again depending on the scope of the home.

What are the advantages of a timber frame home over a log home?

Less exterior maintenance:

Unlike log homes, with a timber frame home, the structure is fully enclosed and never exposed to the elements. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) create an exterior that can be finished in any number of styles (including logs).

Better insulation and air infiltration:

Log homes are notorious for being poorly insulated and prone to air-leaks. Wood is not a good insulating material and, over time, it shrinks creating gaps around the doors, windows, and chimneys of log homes. Timber frame homes, on the other hand, give you many options on how to finish and insulate your home. SIP panels create a nearly air-tight environment and once the home reaches room temperature, it stays within a few degrees at all times.

Greater interior design flexibility:

In a log home, the logs also serve as the interior of the home, which can sometimes be dark, overwhelming and limits options for finishing the inside. Timber frame construction gives you the same flexibility as a traditional home. Whether you choose to paint, sheet-rock, or leave the interior rustic, your timber frame home will retain that unique aroma of wood for many years after it’s built. Additionally, the frame itself is free-standing and this allows for amazing option with open floor plans. There are no walls in the center of the frame supporting the roof and this makes it possible to create great rooms, mezzanines, multiple rooms layouts as well as a wall of windows.

Higher resale value:

The limited market for log homes means they often take longer to sell and can’t command the same premium prices that timber frame homes do. Timber frame homes have a higher resale value.

Design:

What if I need engineer or architect approved drawings?

Woodhouse® retains an architect and engineer who are licensed in many states. If you prefer, we can work with your local architect or engineer. The cost for these services will vary depending on your location and the requirements of the state in which you are building.

Will you work with my architect?

Yes. But it works best when both Woodhouse® and the architect work together from the very beginning. Also, be aware that some architects’ designs are more adaptable to a timber frame system than others, so it’s important that our design team be involved early on.

Will Woodhouse® use someone else’s plans?

Yes. Assuming that you have purchased the rights to use your plans. This is to protect you and Woodhouse® from infringing on the copyright owned by another company or individual. However, architectural styles cannot be copyrighted and, in many cases, our designers can approximate the “essence” or “feeling” of various home styles without infringing on any copyrights.

Do you have pre-designed home plans?

Absolutely. Woodhouse® offers a complete line of predesigned plans that you can customize to suit your needs.

Do you offer custom design services?

Yes. Woodhouse® has a full staff of architects and professional designers who are experienced in all aspects of timber frame design.

Construction:

What if I need engineer or architect approved drawings?

Our philosophy is no. At Woodhouse®, we believe it’s best to make the home as tight as possible and then install an air exchanger (also known as a heat or energy-recovery ventilator) to control how the house breathes. The old adage that a house has to breath is correct. However, rather than a haphazard approach, we believe it’s better to manage air movement efficiently and mechanically using an air exchanger.

 

What about air exchangers? What do they do? Why do we need one?

As the name implies, an air exchanger is a system that brings fresh air into the home and exchanges it for the stale inside. As part of the process, the air exchanger captures and retains the heat from the outgoing air to maintain energy efficiency. In older homes, fresh air came in through leaks in the construction. However, SIPs create such a tightly sealed structure, using an air exchanger is necessary to always ensure a healthy flow of freshly filtered, moisture-controlled air to the home’s occupants.

What is the best heating or cooling system for our timber frame home?

This really depends on your requirements, budget and climate. Because of the superior insulating properties of the SIPs used to enclose all Woodhouse® timber frames, your home will be more easily and evenly heated than any other type of home.

Generally, it will require about half the BTUs required for a conventionally built home of the same size and volume. We’ve used everything from in-floor and/or below-floor radiant heat, solar heating, wood stove heating, forced hot air, electric radiant baseboard, and hot water baseboard heat.

Your Woodhouse® representative is experienced in sorting through these issues and will help you determine what system is best for you.

What does the term “housing” refer to and what is the big deal about it?

Housing,” as in “fully housed” refers to timber frame joinery wherein a pocket is created in one timber to contain the entire end of another timber or frame member. “Housing” helps resist the twisting and checking of the housed member and hide gaps that can appear as the timbers shrink.

Do all timber frame companies “house” their timbers?

No, most companies do not. It requires quite a lot of extra time in the cutting of a timber frame to create this “housing”. Woodhouse® “houses” all timbers whenever it is appropriate to do so, which means throughout most of the timber frame.

How important is the grade of the timber?

Very important. Depending on the species, the grade and specification can be critical. For example, the Woodhouse® Douglas fir standard requires only dense growth, free-of-heart center (FOHC), number one or better, appearance grade, and with no bark or wane. The reasons are significant: FOHC Doug fir checks less; dense growth means less checking and twisting; number one or better provides straighter grain and fewer knots resulting in a better appearance; no bark or wane also improves the appearance.

Different species of wood have different specifications. For example, our red oak timbers are boxed heart to minimize checking. The grade of our red oak is also superior to any and every other oak frame. Every species reacts differently and each requires unique specifications to optimize its distinct characteristics for use as a timber frame.

Will recycled timbers check and twist less than newer timbers?

Actually, older timbers are likely to be more stable than new timbers. However, that is not always the case. In fact, we have had the experience of cutting into a two hundred and fifty year old timber only to watch it twist, check and drip sap!

Do you use recycled timbers?

Yes. However, there are many factors to consider when using recycled timbers, so, if this is an important component of your timber frame home, please ask your regional project manager to work through the details with you.

What type of timber do you recommend?

Although we have used many others, we primarily use 5 wood species in our timber frames: southern yellow pine, eastern white pine, red oak, white oak, and douglas fir.  Aside from purely subjective factors like personal preference, there are other issues that can make a specific type of timber better suited for a particular project.

For example, the comparative strength of the lumber can impact the design of the timber fame, in terms of the load it needs to support, and the distance of spans, etc. We can help you weigh options and select the ideal timber for your home. No matter what type of wood you choose, Woodhouse® will use the highest grade and specification in the industry, and all of our timbers are custom milled for each individual project.

What are knee braces?

These are the usually smaller diagonal timbers that typically connect a timber post to a beam above. The brace has a tenon on both ends that fits into a corresponding mortise in the post and the beam, where it is pegged in place. Generally, the braces are straight or gently curved, the latter being a style element taken from shipbuilding where a large curved brace afforded more room in the ship’s hold. The braces serve to strengthen the timber frame by resisting “racking” (an engineering term for leaning or tilting when a force is exerted against the structure) and by carrying the load from the beam above to the post below.

Do I have to have braces in my timber frame?

Technically no. We have designed frames without traditional braces and with shorter keyed braces that are less obtrusive. In every case, the design of each frame takes into consideration the impact that braces will have on living and traffic areas, door and window placement, and other factors.

What is joinery?

Joinery is the term given to the myriad of different types of connections between timbers. Typically it means that one timber either penetrates or receives the other as, for example, in mortise (hole) and tenon (tongue) all fastened with wooden pegs.

Are there different types of joinery?

Yes. The evolution of specific joinery styles can be traced from early European and Eastern traditions right up to today’s contemporary American joinery methods. Woodhouse® distinguishes itself with unique and exceptional, tight-fitting joinery that’s engineered to last many lifetimes.

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

This depends on with whom you are speaking. At Woodhouse®, we use the term interchangeably. However, some individuals and companies try to make a distinction between the two by implying that post and beam entails less complex joinery as opposed to a fully joined timber frame. In some instances, with some companies, this is true. However, at Woodhouse®, whose corporate name is “Woodhouse® Post & Beam Homes, Inc.,” we have always crafted fully joined timber frames. In fact, every Woodhouse® timber frame is fully joined using “full housing,” mortise and tenon, dovetail and numerous other types of joints.

What is the best way to insulate a timber frame?

Different timber frame companies offer different ways of enclosing their timber frames. After more than 35 years, we know from experience that structural insulated panels (SIPs) are the best system to use. Some companies also sell built-up systems that involve wrapping and strapping insulation to the timber frame. Known as “wrap and strap,” these systems may save the supplier money, but they are much more labor-intensive to install and can pose serious issues for infiltration and insulation.

What are SIPs?

This is the acronym for “Structural Insulated Panels” and refers to a structural panel where a foam core is bonded between an interior and exterior skin of OSB (oriented strand board). There are numerous types of foam cores and other types of skins available, as well as many different methods for bonding them together.

Why do you use SIPs?

We use SIPs because they create the most energy-efficient structure available today.  They also reduce labor cost and reduce waste on the building site.  Quite honestly, with the technology available today, it just makes more sense to work with panels than to build a home out of small pieces of wood that are hand-cut on site.

How about finishing my home … can you recommend a builder?

We can certainly provide a recommendation for any builders in your area that have already completed a Woodhouse® timber frame home. However, past experience is not really a prerequisite. Finishing a timber frame home is within the capabilities of any skilled contractor.

How long does it take to raise a timber frame?

It depends on the size and complexity of the timber frame structure. A large home of 5,000 square feet with soaring cathedral ceilings and intricate trusses may take up to two weeks, while raising the frame of a modest New England saltbox usually takes less than a week.

What is the best way to get my timber frame raised?

This is up to you. You can use a Woodhouse® Independent Builder Dealer or your local builder. In either instance, we will send a TR (Technical Representative) to supervise the raising and ensure everything goes smoothly. However, there is no reason for concern, even if this happens to be your builder’s first timber frame home project. Woodhouse® timber frame packages are designed so that any experienced and competent builder can erect them quickly and easily.

Does Woodhouse® erect timber frames?

Not directly. You can use a Woodhouse® Independent Builder Dealer or your local builder.  We can also recommend installation teams for any location.

Do you build timber frame additions?

Yes. Woodhouse® builds everything from additions, one-room cabins, small homes, large homes, churches, restaurants, and just about any structure that is appropriate for a timber frame.

Can a timber frame home go on a regular foundation or any site?

Woodhouse® will design a suitable foundation plan based on the specific point loads for each one of the individual posts as well as the timber frame structure as a whole.

Does Woodhouse® offer financing?

Although Woodhouse® does not offer financing, we can direct you to a reputable mortgage company that is familiar with how Woodhouse® works, and that has provided financing to other Woodhouse® customers in the past.

What will my bank think about this type of house?

Financing is easy and straightforward. Even if your bank is unfamiliar with Woodhouse® and/or log or timber frame home packages, most banks are very willing to provide financing. If necessary, we can put your banker in touch with the bank with which Woodhouse® has doing business for over 15 years. In addition, your Woodhouse® representative is experienced in dealing with banking issues and will be happy to help you secure financing.

How does Woodhouse® compare in cost to other timber frame companies?

In our opinion, no other company offers the same quality, service and value as Woodhouse®, and we’d be happy to prove it by helping you make a fair comparison.

What about the resale value of timber frame homes?

The resale value for timber frame homes is very strong. In fact, every Woodhouse® timber frame home that we know of that’s been resold, was sold for more than the market price for a similar sized, conventional stick built home in the same area.

How does the cost of a timber frame compare to a log home?

It all depends on the type of log home you are comparing. The better log home packages can be every bit as expensive as a high-quality timber frame home package. In addition, the quality of products and services being sold in the log home industry varies greatly. Some of the pre-cut, machine-profiled packages may appear to be quite inexpensive, but that can change when finishing costs are taken into consideration. Packages that use western-style, hand-scribed or full-logs are generally more expensive than timber frame packages.

Is timber frame more expensive than stick built construction?

Typically, a timber frame home costs 15 to 25% more to build than a custom designed, stick-built built home of equal size and with the same quality of finish. That said, the cost depends on the complexity of the design of timber frame. For homes that don’t incorporate expansive vaulted or cathedral ceilings, the costs can be much closer to that of a traditional stick-built home.