If you’re in love with your home’s location but want to add the elegance of timber living, here’s how to get started:
Discover Your Direction
Whether you’re tripling the size of your home or simply adding a sunroom you’ll need to weigh your budget against your desires while considering the design and any needed improvements to your existing home. Start by visiting your local zoning office to discover if there are any lot restrictions, such as setbacks, wetland regulations or architectural review boards that you’ll need to grapple with.
Determine a Budget
Work with your local lender to obtain a home-equity loan. “It’s far less hassle than a second mortgage,” says Tracy Keyser with M&T Bank in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “There are no closing costs and it’s faster, too.” The final cost of your project will be based on the work needed to the existing structure, the price for the timber or post-and-beam portion and local labor costs.
Existing Home Strategies
If your addition is substantial in size, you may have to upgrade numerous systems in your existing home. This can include the heating and cooling system, water heater and electrical and septic systems. These upgrades can run into many thousands of dollars.
Ideally, your new addition’s design should flow seamlessly with the existing home. The goal is to provide new amenities while creating the illusion that they’ve always been there. You can ask an architect to make this seamless design happen, but doing so can add 20 percent or more to the cost of your project. A less expensive solution is to use a timber producer’s engineering and design staff.
• Build out, rather than up.
• Study stock designs for ideas to use on your home.
• Don’t try to hurry the design or elect to start until even the smallest details are decided.
• Pay close attention to how floors and ceilings will match up between the new and old sections of the house.
Choose a Producer
Choose a timber or post-and-beam home manufacturer that specializes in additions. Also consider the producer’s location and proximity to your home site. You’ll typically pay more for freight if a company is located across the country.
Select a Builder
Ideally you should choose a builder or a contractor with a background in remodeling and experience in timber construction. If the builder is lacking either, see if he or she would attend a construction workshop to understand the complexity involved in the project.
Pay attention to crew sizes and how many projects a builder will be handling simultaneously.
• Will the builder supply you with references?
• Will you have to relocate your family or pets during this project?
• Is the schedule for completion included in the contract?
Because it often disrupts family life for an extended period of time, remodeling ranks with death and divorce as one of life’s largest stressors. Make sure you have room for a project of this scale in your life before committing to it.
Keep It on Budget
To avoid going over budget, avoid last-minute change orders (alterations to the original design). Some builders see these as a profit center. Changes in the design or material specification also can cause an avalanche of other change orders.
Read the full story in the October/November 2005 issue of Timber Home Living.
Photo by Franklin and Esther Schmidt