We often say that the land, the building site, teaches us how to design the home. This is simplistic. There are many inputs that are needed to start the design process, including:
Who will live here?
What is their lifestyle?
What are their tastes? Their loves? Their feelings about Home?
What are the needs and have-to-haves?
What is the budget?
But the land directs so much. The viewshed, the wind and sun conditions, the relationship of the drive and the entry, the natural movement of inside to outside, all play an important role. So much so that most of the architects with whom we work won’t actually begin the design process until they can walk the site.
We’re fortunate to have a variety of landscapes within New York State. Those who are passionate about the outdoors, mountains, lakes, and the accompanying passions of skiing, hiking, water sports, and more, can find a bit of it all “upstate”. The Adirondack Mountains, the Finger Lakes Region, and even Western NY each offer opportunity for these pastimes. Shane and his family found their East Coast calling near Old Forge in the Adirondacks.
Upon purchasing a special plot of land, planning and projects began. Beginning with a garage that included a living space, the family then spruced up the grounds, rebuilt the boathouse, and in the final stage, turned attention to creating the main house.
Businesses around the country were forced to make significant changes to how they operate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. When our friends at the Benedictine Brewery called with a need to raise an outdoor pavilion for their customers, we were happy to jump into action.
Designed to mimic the original brewery and taproom with their close to 14,000 board feet of Douglas fir, we created the structure of the pavilion with matching embellishments, using chamfered edges and a clear, natural finish to the wood. Just as the original raising started in 2017, the Douglas fir timbers quickly defined the shape of the pavilion and now serve as a way for the brewery to continue serving as a welcoming way for the community to gather, taste, and believe.
This particular design project utilizes six salvaged trusses that were reclaimed from a church demolition and serve as the bones for the “A” frame shape of the 17/12 pitched roof. Our architects sketched the trusses in such a way that the two areas created a twin main volume, connected by a glass breezeway.
Taking inspiration from modern design aesthetics, we incorporated steel and strapping on the reclaimed trusses to accentuate the existing hardware and character of the wood. Each volume was then treated with a different finish material in order to provide a visual delineation.
This 3,600 Square foot design offers a split floorplan with the great-room, kitchen and accompanying loft on one side, while the bedrooms occupy the other.
We all have those dreams of wanting to leave it all behind and live off the grid. Find a place in the Adirondack mountains, on a remote lake, and just surround yourself with nature and the outdoors. The question is, how do you deliver and raise a beautiful timber frame lake house to a location that no roads have touched? The answer, by boat.
Our New Energy Works timber frame crew spent seven tireless days, traveling back and forth by barge to deliver, off load and raise by hand, this beautiful 1361 square foot bungalow. The homeowner’s plan to utilize this location in the warmer seasonal months, created a unique opportunity to use a 3x tongue and groove design for the walls, while every door frame and window were outlined with timber. The layout offered an open floor plan and offering visitors an unobstructed views of the private lake from this cozy, secluded cabin.
Tucked into Puget Sound in Washington, this site allows the homeowners to feed their passions: boating, family time, and entertaining. Easy access for boats and creating spaces large enough to house large family and friends gatherings drove the design, secondary only to the desire for a “refined lodge” aesthetic.
Known as a full timber frame, the entirety of the home and garage were crafted with timbers, specifically reclaimed Douglas fir timbers. When plans began, the designwas quite traditional. “The more we looked at the site and the possible views, the more it transitioned, evolved,” explained David Shirley, AIA, member of our designteam. “We angled the house in a soft arc of sorts which maximized views of the Sound as well as those of the Cascade Mountain range in the distance.” This change capitalized on the views and the natural wrap of the land.
Waving corn fields and tight rows of soybeans have given way to smooth grass, colorful signage, and numerous clusters of homes within the Town of Farmington in Ontario County, NY. Grow though the Town has, respecting and celebrating their rural roots is of utmost importance to the community. When LNB approached the Town about a site that was home to the second oldest structure in the County, a farmhouse that has stood for two centuries, there was some skepticism. But at the core LNB is about community. The Town became excited by the bank’s proposal: LNB wanted to embrace the old homestead, the Hathaway House, endeavoring to preserve, celebrate, and open it to the community as part of their new branch.
(More on the history of the home and property was provided by the Hathaway Sisters, who shared stories, photos, and personal memories around the old homestead, as celebrated by LNB here.)
The Canalside waterfront entertainment district in Buffalo NY, a popular destination for locals and visitors, will add another attraction this summer: a fully restored 1920’s carousel! The carousel will be housed within a gazebo-inspired timber frame pavilion with glass walls.
“The timber frame is an 80’ octagon with a clerestory. A 1500 lb steel octagon ring in the center will allow timber rafters to connect and light to come down from the clerestory,” explains Owen MacDonald, our lead timber frame engineer for the carousel. “We’ll have plenty of equipment for the raising: a large scissor lift, all-terrain forklift, two large cranes…and lots of muscle.”
We’re excited share more of the story on our long-time banking partner, LNB (Lyons National Bank), and their newest community branch which we raised just up the road from our Farmington, NY shop.
While the branch is quickly heading towards completion, we wanted to re-cap some of the processes involved in getting there:
LNB has a focus on people and is always very involved in the local communities, ethos that parallel our own. The Farmington branch site includes a historic home that is being preserved and refreshed. A new timber frame, connecting to the historic home, will accommodate the bank’s main operations.
Andy (below) was explaining–to the camera–the layout process which includes double-checking length, joinery, coding, and more, plus applying notes for all the hand touches that happen to each timber in the frame.
10″ timbers throughout the LNB frame have curves cut on a band saw using a bunch of muscle and precise eye to follow templated lines applied during layout. These lyrical additions visually lighten and open the volume of the frame. They also add fluidity as the curves will “flow” from the posts across the bottom cord of truss.
5,000 feet above elevation, a 5-month build window, US Forest Service rules controlling everything from color to shape to size to the anthropology of the site…This project required extraordinary planning, prefabrication, and architect/builder/client coordination. The cabin is located on Odell Lake which sits atop the Cascade Mountains of South-Central Oregon, God’s country by all of our definitions. Dan Hill, architect and co-founder of Arbor South Architecture the design & build group that spearheaded this west coast cabin project, provided more of the story in a guest post below:
The site is located on the west side of Odell Lake in the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range in an area with small, early to mid-century cabins under land leases by the US Forest Service. Our client had purchased the cabin and land lease with the intention of remodeling the existing 1940’s cabin. It became clear that the old structure had too many issues–including extensive mold (sick house), no perimeter foundation, multiple structural, electrical, and plumbing problems–to salvage or remodel.
State College, PA: Homeowners Jim and Cheryl came to us with a dream home request: design and craft a home for two which could also easily accommodate much larger gatherings with family and friends. The resulting simple and classic cruciform plan for their hybrid timber frame home fits the couple while incorporating space—inside and out—for others.
Jim and Cheryl, their children, and their friends attended the same university near State College in PA where game season is a great reason to join together. The couple found a site nestled at the base of a long rise to the mountains on one side, and open to expansive views into Nittney Valley on the other. “We wanted to take advantage of the views and offer additional space for intensive entertaining to flow outside,” explained Ty Allen, our design/build manager. “The result is nearly 2,000 sq ft of outdoor deck, porch, and patio space in addition to interior living areas.”
Designing a home, timber frame or other, is a very personal endeavor full of desires, questions, needs, and dreams. Through communication and concentrated craftsmanship, a physical form is developed, a shelter that will be “home”, hopefully for generations to come. Each custom project brings our team new experiences from overall site planning to materials and finishes. This month finds us in close connection with a couple who are looking for a relaxed and secluded single-level home for their land in central New York. Diana, one of our design team members, created a fly-through tour of the home and adjacent barn renderings:
Above: Architectural design software helps our teams produce images and videos with textures and color which help homeowners ‘experience’ their plans in a more realistic 3D perspective.
The fly-through begins with a view of the entry side of the home and barn/garage to the right. As the approach begins, exterior materials take form: cedar shakes and stone cladding on the home and board & batten with cedar accents on the barn. Turning to the right, we enter the end of the barn/garage into the “man cave”. This auxiliary space is high and open with the steeply sloped ceiling that will be supported by custom bow-string trusses. Reclaimed Oak will flow from the back wall across the ceiling, emphasizing the open height and contrasting with the deep-toned trusses.
Perhaps our most passionate filter, everything we do is based on the premise that we have but one earth, and it needs us to do better. In a sweet bit of coincidence, this also means that the house we build is more comfortable for you: There are fewer drafts, less outside noise, a more responsive heating and cooling system, and cleaner indoor air quality. The utility bill is less, as well.
We have pre-panelized our energy-efficient wall system, the Matrix Wall, since 1993, and have been involved with over 2,000,000 square feet of structural insulated panels (SIPs). The combination of wall and roof components create our HPE (High-Performance Enclosure System). While recent improvements to the nationally recognized Residential Energy Code for new construction are exciting, these traditional energy requirements have always been inadequate, and continue to be so. In the last half dozen years we’ve seen the interest in thoughtful energy design skyrocket among our clients. We’re thrilled!
This renewed interest, in combination with new understanding and technologies in off-site pre-construction, suggests our enclosure practices have been spot on. 2020 will see a substantial evolution of our HPE efforts through the addition of a new line of European semi-automated wall and floor building equipment.
This video showcases the framing line:
When we “semi-automate” our processes, we’re not eliminating jobs, we’re doing better work more efficiently while allowing our coworkers to work longer into their career and be safer as they do so. By increasing the amount of off-site pre-panelization we can do, our goal is to bring our quality and expertise on energy and resource efficiencies to more homes, to more builders, making High Performance Easier. We code name this effort HPEz. Here are some of the wins we see:
• Less Labor—Using more automation, reduces overall and on-site labor.
Quality design is the thread that weaves through all we do, beginning with architectural plans. Whether you are the designer or architect, or you come to us with a professional design, or you hire us to design your project, it all starts here.
The focus of our design efforts has many branches including: efficiency–both in energy and how the home functions for the family–comfort, durability, and future needs. “A home should inspire a better way for us to live,” shares Ty Allen, AIA, our design/build manager. “It should respond to your needs today and also stir us to live better, to do better tomorrow.”
We find designing shelter in this way is both a challenging and an exhilarating process. Ty: “When we begin the design process we ask a lot of questions and we do a lot of listening. It is important for us to get to know our clients. Who they are; how they think; the patterns of their daily lives; the subtleties of how they live. We want to understand their vision, and how they envision themselves living in their new home.”
With this understanding, we become an extension of them throughout the process of designing and building their home so that in the end, they have a home that simply fits.
From tree to canal lock to restaurant: In a historic timber reclamation and upcycling story, 500-year-old timbers enter their fourth life (or third use) at Point of the Bluff Vineyards in the Finger Lakes Region of NY:
In the late 90’s our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, salvaged massive, 37″ x 42″ x 48′ Douglas fir timbers from one of the Welland Canal locks in Ontario, Canada. The trees culled for the timbers were 400+ years old when they were harvested and served the canal for nearly 60 years.
From the beginning–a bit history of on the heavy timbers:
The falls and rapids of the Niagara River presented a major obstacle for an uninterrupted waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the American heartland. To circumvent the river, the Welland Canal, with eight large locks, was built. Initiated by local businessmen, the first canal was built in 1829. The present-day Welland Canal is the fourth to be constructed. The difference of 99.5 m (326.5 feet) between the levels of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie is now overcome with 43.4 km (27 miles) of canal.
During renovations of the third canal in 1927, Douglas fir timbers were installed in Lock N0. 8, one of the longest canal locks in the world. As the canal locks were updated/repaired, the wood was removed in the late 1990s and the enormous timbers, each weighing over 20,000 lbs, headed to Pioneer Millworks Farmington, NY yard.
The finishing touches are complete! This timber frame lake home in the Finger Lakes started with our design team and wrapped up with our build team over the Summer:
“New Energy Works (NEW) has done a phenomenal job for our family from the design concept to the finished lake house. In the very beginning, the team made a point to learn what was important to us and what we envisioned. Throughout the process, NEW made sure those things that were important to us were their focus.” – Jim and Tina, homeowners.
The home has quickly become the hub of family gatherings for multiple generations. Open in a 180-degree expanse, on a point locally known as Allen’s Point, our design group explained that the home’s layout is intended to make the most of the sweeping lake views.
When we met Nancy and Larry to first chat about their timber frame home aspirations, we learned that Larry is a beekeeper and suddenly we were as full of questions about beekeeping as we were with answers to home designing and building. The couple shares a special affinity for nature, much like our various teams (if you’ve ever read our bios, you’ll see a reoccurring theme of ‘hiking, biking, and being outdoors’). Taking a look at the bucolic piece of farm and woodlands near Ithaca, NY was one of the first steps to designing the couple’s home. Ty Allen, AIA, our design build manager and architect, met with Larry and Nancy on their site to explore the possibilities. Ty shared with us a bit about the overall project and process:
“When we walked the site it became clear we could create a design that would give Larry and Nancy a home which engaged with both the surrounding woods and open spaces. We knew they wanted something of manageable size and easy to maintain where they could enjoy their retirement,” Ty shared.
Recently we did a project with Black Oak Builders and Barry Price Architecture in Saugerties, NY. Interestingly for us, the majority of the project was not timber frame (though they do have a sweet little timber piece off the side of the garage that may someday house a small maple sugaring operation). No, in this case Black Oak Builders reached out to us to partner on the enclosure system for three additions to this 1800’s home; a master bedroom suite, an office/bedroom wing, and a two-story garage.
Our goal with High Performance Enclosures (HPE) is simple—to help builders achieve better building performance for their clients and to make the projects go as smoothly as possible. With our knowledge in systems building (from years in timber framing, as well as construction experience in our Finger Lakes backyard) we can bring the nuances of off-site construction to enclosure building and pre-panelization to those looking for custom solutions. Our construction team built 66 panels in about 2 weeks and headed out in a snowstorm to install the them in January. This off-site minimizes the time needed on-site, saving projects weeks and speeding up the deliverable of a finished space to a client.
The enclosure was our MartixS wall system. Built of 2×6 framing, ½ OSB, 60mm wood-fiber insulation (Steico in this case), house wrap, and vertical strapping for attachment of the siding. All designed to fit within the 8’6” shipping constraints. The Steico wood fiber insulation allows one less petroleum-based element in the system and an opportunity for carbon sequestration—both pieces that help our buildings carry a load in slowing climate change. Used with the Mento Plus house wrap (a weather resistant barrier that is extremely waterproof and air tight while allowing the wall to dry to the exterior) and the tightness of the panels themselves, the performance of these new spaces should make a sizable impact to the client’s comfort, HVAC costs, and do a favor for our planet.
The owners of this timber frame lakeside retreat enjoyed the original lake farmhouse on the site for many years. When it became apparent that their beloved lake house had outlived its use, they made the bittersweet decision to deconstruct it in favor of a new home.
The land, the lake, and home’s impact there was a driving force in the design. Our design team started with respecting the local vernacular and maintaining existing trees and then included advanced enclosure and mechanical systems, FSC-certified® and reclaimed wood flooring and siding, roofing made of recycled wood fiber and rubber, and a geothermal heat system—all resulting in energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
The broad stroke design of this home harkens to sap houses and agricultural structures of the Northeast and the flare of mountain homes for a balance of rugged and modern aesthetics. Forms evoke the traditional, such as the clerestory and the cylindrical stair tower but are tempered within via the non-traditional great room space and helical, modern stairs.
“Often I find the most beautiful designs are when you can see the function of a structure. I enjoy thinking of a balance of the purpose of a structure and function, and how the builders achieve that goal,” shared Shannon, homeowner of the Circle in a Square project. “I enjoy seeing the inner workings of things. That’s why I love timber frame structures. Take a home and its many reasons for being; there is an endless way of accomplishing the goal. You need a roof and walls and other parts and ways for them to be held up and attached. The timber frame is probably one of the most unique ways of showing how that can be done.”
Project enclosure systems are one of the biggest areas to benefit from high-performance building techniques, and there are several options: SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and our Matrix & Matrix-S Wall system, to name a few. As we push for better envelopes and efficiencies with every project, we’re applying decades of experience in creating turnkey timber frame structures to crafting prefabricated wall systems.
“When you buy a car, no one shows up at your house with all the parts and builds your new car in your driveway, right? So why build walls on-site?” asked Eric, our Timber Frame General Manager.
A project’s design is further developed in building modeling software where potential problems can be identified and solved immediately, prior to fabrication and prior to being on-site. Redundancy assures accuracy: we believe in building it twice—virtually then actually. Creating these systems off-site allows for a climate-controlled environment, reduction in material waste during construction (off-site and on-site), and increases the efficiency/speed of site production. All while minimizing our coworkers’ time out of town.
“When you have a good 3D model, the outputs are nearly endless. We can study every angle; predict–and–solve potential issues before anyone puts hammer to nail. We’ve followed this method in timber framing for years and produced some seriously complicated frames. It was logical to apply what we already know to be a highly efficient methodology to prefabricating high-performance enclosures,” explains Eric.
For years I’ve resisted writing this post. It can come off as very self-serving. Please don’t let it. Instead, I’ll attempt to be as neutral-valued as I can, and share some of my 30-year history, and perhaps just a tad of the experiences, and sometimes frustrating stories, our clients have shared…and some that I have witnessed.
The timber frame industry has a great many good people in it, associated with it, and as I’ve often said, many of the coolest clients I can imagine. So first, think about a timber framer who is involved with the Timber Framers Guild. At our Guild conferences and our meet-ups, in the committee work we do, in the publications we create, two important things occur: we learn, and are better professionals because of it; we share, and our craft is better for it. In both cases you win.
And when you ask, “Is your company a member?” be sure to dig just bit deeper. Do you attend the conferences? Do you send your shop folk and your designers? Do you give, as well as receive?
Thanks, Phil and Rocio. Little did you know how perfect your timing was when you came to us and asked for a “small but perfect home”. Fertile ground indeed, and our minds raced with the many thoughts about working on something like a precious gem, or what we called a NEW Jewel. The project is completed and officially “home” to Phil and Rocio, who continue to generously share their Jewel and their words:
“Jonathan, et al…
As I write out the final check for Invoice #9, it seems the right moment to pen a note of appreciation for the bundle of work, energy, and creativity that we currently reside in. It is not lost on us for a moment that we discovered NEW at a moment in time that was just right for everyone; Rocio stumbled onto your website looking for a builder of ‘barn homes’ and was immediately captured by the concepts and pics displayed. Everything seemed to line up: small house, close to shop, (relatively) simple design, similar vision, seasonal timing, etc. to enable you all to pull off an amazing, wonderful, beautiful, efficient, stunning, one-of-a-kind home for us.
It is quite difficult to express the deep sense of gratitude we feel towards everyone that contributed to the Jewel…many of which I don’t have the ability to send this to, or even be able to name. The artistic, creative flair combined with real-life practicality is a major component of our place we will love for many years to come.
Please pass on our thanks to everyone that was involved. We look forward to visits from any and all as time goes by.
Much of our design and construction planning focuses on reducing the energy our projects consume, not only to the benefit of those enjoying the home, but to the larger community and the planet. One of the best ways to influence this: special consideration, planning, and detailing of wall and roof systems (aka: the project’s envelope). I chatted with Ty Allen AIA, our design-build manager, who took us a bit deeper our current innovations and processes with our home enclosures:
Megan: Thanks for walking through this, Ty. I’m curious, what do you think are the key things to consider when you are designing the building envelope for a high-performance home?
Ty: Air leakage is one of the biggest areas of energy and efficiency loss. Think of it this way; you can have as much insulation you want, but if you leave the front door open, it doesn’t matter. Add up all of the thousands of potential points of air leakage, and it can quickly turn into a big energy and efficiency loss.
Generally, when we think about envelope design, one of the most fundamental things we want to do is define the pressure boundary. In other words, the line throughout the building in the wall-makeup where you’re creating airtightness. If there’s a break in the pressure boundary, say cold air leaking through the floor system into the living room, performance is lost.
After using Cross Laminated Timbers (CLTs) from KLH to form our fine woodworking shop we were excited to incorporate the big wooden panels into other projects. We’re working again with the CLT manufacturing, design, and engineering teams at KLH, this time to raise a complete CLT home in Scappoose, Oregon.
Our team has been raising/joining the CLTs this week. Here’s an animation of the planned process:
And a few current progress photos from the craftsmen on site:
What are CLTs? A quick description might be ‘giant plywood’. More specifically, CLTs are large structural wooden panels, typically consisting of 3, 5, or 7 layers of dimensional lumber, oriented at right angles, glued together. Using a crane and lulls, the panels will be lifted into place and fitted by hand. For this home project, each panel is 3.75″ thick. The raising will take our team 5-6 days, from mudsills to full enclosure.
Onlookers huddled in their coats and chatted excitedly on a cool breezy day in upstate New York while our craftsmen raised the frame for Jim and Tina’s home on Cayuga Lake. Multiple generations of the family were joined by a few guests at the site. Seeing the timbers come together and their home take shape brought plenty of smiles from Jim, Tina, their children, and grandchildren.
While there are very few flat build sites available around the Finger Lakes these days, the couple found a special spot on Cayuga Lake that is not only flat but includes a point, known locally as Allen’s Point. Open in a 180-degree expanse, our design group explained that the home’s layout is intended to make the most of the sweeping north, west, and south lake views. With plans calling for a modified “L” shape, the position of the home on the site collects those views as well as links together the north beach side with the south boat dock side of the property. (It also allows private spaces to reside in the long straight of the “L”, separate from the open public spaces.)
With the foundation in and first-floor framing in place, it was time to put the frame up. Raising days are momentous occasions, a culmination of years of dreaming and planning. We’re always glad to join these significant days as the excitement is infectious and there’s nothing quite like going from an open site to a full frame in the span of a day or two.
We’re excited to be working with Jim and Tina to create their family heirloom home in the Finger Lakes. While there are very few flat build sites available around the Finger Lakes these days, the couple found a special spot on Cayuga Lake in New York that is not only flat, but includes a point, known locally as Allen’s Point.
The home design took special focus on entertaining, employing a modified “L” shape for the home that allows private spaces to reside in the long straight of the “L”, separate from the open public spaces. At around 5,000 sq ft the plans include bunk rooms over the garage, two guest rooms, one master suite, and one guest suite meant to comfortably accommodate many.
As progress continues we’ll talk with our design group about other features such as a stone wall connecting the north and south ends of the home/property, a huge 2′ threshold into the entertainment areas, deliberate routes in and out of the home to the lake, and a continuous wrap-around porch. Before we get to that, we need to raise the frame!
On one of our typical cool, rainy, and windy Autumn days in upstate New York, I had the chance to chat with Laurie who was enjoying some sun and warmth down in Texas. We worked with Laurie and her husband Dan for over a year designing, building, and completing their multi-generational lakeside retreat home in nearby Canandaigua, NY. I asked Laurie if she would share her take on what it was like to build and decorate a custom timber frame home. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I know I spent much of our conversation nodding and smiling. Here’s what she shared:
Megan: So much is about the build site. Why Canandaigua?
Thank you to all who joined the celebration of the opening of our CLT building, the first complete CLT in New York State. While cutting a ribbon is as common as champagne for celebrations of this sort, we opted to go with something a bit more “us”. Surrounded by a crowd of co-workers and fans, our fearless leader, Jonathan, wielded a chain saw to cut a timber at the main entry. See the sawdust fly in our symbolic opening:
It has been quite a ride involving nearly every coworker to create this building. We’re excited to have our fine woodworkers of NEWwoodworks settling in and sharing their craft with us daily. Our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, is enjoying smooth shipping and receiving from their new storage space at the back of the building. We’re anxious to experience the performance of this structure over the typically bitter New York winter. We have high expectations from the combination of CLTs, timber frame, and wood fiber (out-sulation).
If you’d like to see the opening ceremony event in its entirety check below. And for other vids of our adventures check out our YouTube page.
From catastrophe came opportunity: Come help us celebrate as we officially open our Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building!
After the devastating collapse of half of our fine woodworking division’s WWII era shop in February 2015, we regrouped and put our heads together on how to move forward. Following our ethos of the Triple Bottom Line (people, planet, and profit), it became our goal to design and re-build with new-to-New-York environmentally savvy and energy efficient materials. The result: the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State.
Thanks, Phil and Rocio. Little did you know how perfect your timing was when you came to us and asked for a “small but perfect home”. Fertile ground indeed, and my mind raced with the many recent thoughts about working on something like a precious gem, or what we’re calling a NEW Jewel.
So many of our clients now are building smaller homes because they simply don’t need a bigger one. Seems smart for many reasons: less vacuuming, less heating and cooling, less taxes. And for many, less strain on the finances as we get to the point where retirement shines bright and hopeful.
I’ve closely followed the whole Tiny House thing, and a few of my friends have been drawn to it. There’s plenty about it on the web, but simply put they’re tightly designed and crafted homes of 200-400 square feet, often built on a chassis and wheels. Cool idea, but hard to live in for most, I’d reckon. For the jewel of a home in my own mind, I wanted to start with 1,000 square feet. Enough room for a pleasant common area, a couple of away rooms for bed and work, a couple of bathrooms and yes to a mudroom and pantry. (For Phil and Rocio’s, we ended up with 1,140 square feet.)
Wood fiber installation, another product which is new to the US. Also referred to as “out-sulation” since it is installed on the outside of projects, the Wood Fiber panels offer 3.5R per inch, are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, and are a carbon sink – for each 1 m3 used, up to 1 tonne of CO2 is bound within the product. Made by Steico, we found this product installed with a fair amount of ease and is performing well.
The custom CNC cut corner tree received a coat of stain and is now sheltered behind glass.
When we last visited Dan & Laurie’s project on Canandaigua Lake, Pete, one of our design group architects and the design leader for the home, walked us through the site planning. I nabbed Pete again, this time to take a look inside the project at the design considerations for creating the layout and formal floor plans.
Just like last time, Pete made a quick inquiry about little orange fish crackers. I had to let him down softly; I had nothing. Looking disappointed for a beat, he moved on reminding me that Dan & Laurie’s site overlooked the lake and came with strict site constraints (not uncommon to building near water) including height restrictions, erosion/sediment concerns, setbacks, and more. He explained that the constraints drove the overall siting of the house and garage, but there were still the interior spaces (and floor plan) to negotiate.
“Dan and Laurie’s project is meant to be a multi-generational home that will act as a central gathering spot for family and friends. Overall the home has an open floor plan with the public spaces centralized on both the main and lower levels which can easily accommodate larger gatherings. Balancing that are private spaces on the ends of the home which allow folks the opportunity to enjoy their quiet space or step inwards to join the party.”
In our experience, homes are most successful when they adapt, age, and grow with their inhabitants. It’s always pleasing when we can plan ahead for changes, such as transitioning a weekend vacation space to full-time home. Hank and Julie have given us such an opportunity. The couple has a delightful build site in Vermont and enlisted our team to design their vacation home, which will eventually become their full-time retirement retreat.
Sublime views between ski areas to the north and south guided the overall home orientation, and specifically the great room layout, for Hank and Julie’s project.
Careful consideration was also given to the traditional Vermont farmhouse vernacular. The design acknowledges this aesthetic with a main gable roofline that intersects with an asymmetrical salt box gable roofline. It incorporates the couple’s desire for mountain-rustic style with mixed exterior materials and subtle timber elements. The corner of the home’s “L” shaped layout is defined with a stair tower that has evenly stacked windows and will feature shou sugi ban siding.
With a combination of woodlands and open agricultural space, the site will allow the home to be set partially within the trees at the end of a curving drive through open land. A banked garage is angled into the hillside, giving the front of the home a modest street-side facade.
The final (final!) Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) panels have been installed on our CLT project. Forming the front corner of the building these panels represent a piece of the flexibility of building with solid wood panels and speak to our passion for planet, forest, tree, and wood.
Our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, used ingenuity, software, and CNC tooling to draw, layout, and cut the “tree” design. Our timber frame and construction teams, including Jason, Kevin, and Jim, installed the panels on a chilly Monday morning. Roofing and final enclosure, including wood fiber insulation, are underway.
We began raising the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State on our main campus in Farmington, NY in late January 2017. A combination of mass timber, heavy timber, and CLTs, the 21,000 sq ft building will house our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and offer a bit of storage/shipping for our sister company, Pioneer Millworks. CLT construction is an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction, a material that is new to the U.S. building industry.
Many thanks to Adjusters International BLC. When our roof collapsed their team was unfaltering. They were there to explain the insurance policy, help the process along, and get us what we needed.
The challenge was set: take a well-loved 1980’s family home and transform both aesthetics and functionality. Our design and build teams embraced the challenge with gusto. Ty Allen, head of our Design/Build groups and our in-house Architect, gave us the cliff notes.
The homeowners built their family lake home over 25 years ago. They raised their children and made countless memories. Yet, the 1980’s contemporary design was no longer meeting all of their needs and had become dated in style. We were building a new timber frame home on a neighboring lake and we’re told that project was part of the inspiration for couple to join our community and incorporate timber framing into their lives.
Ty explained, “I think 80’s contemporary homes are the best type of existing home to transform. They are often a clean slate with open volumes and simple details.” Remodeling requires balance – the changes for this home would be bold. “We wanted to respect the integrity of the existing home, using what was already existing as a springboard to modernizing how the home looks, feels, and works.”
“I’ll give you the whole story if you share those with me.” I glanced at the white box with orange fish dancing across the outside. Crackers for information, the deal of the day. With a smile I handed the box over to Pete, one of our design group architects and the design leader on our current Canandaigua Lake general contracting project.
“So Megan,” Pete began in his usual serious-but-joking-and-easygoing manner, “You want to know about the Canandaigua Family Retreat? Well, Dan & Laurie have been looking for the right site for about three years now. They gave us a call and asked if we’d come check out the spot they’d found. They felt really good about it, but wanted our take, which I thought was pretty cool. I like being involved from the beginning, especially because I had a good idea of what they wanted their project encompass.”
“Had their three year search reached an end?” I asked as the crackers disappeared with unnatural speed.
“It had,” he confirmed. “We knew our design plans would be influenced by stringent site constraints associated with being near the water (height restrictions, erosion/sediment concerns, set-backs, etc) and the nature of the narrow, deeply sloping land. But it was perfect for Dan & Laurie’s home.”
Timber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.
“I definitely think we designed the right size house with the perfect layout. The house lives on the land and captures views. We’re so happy we decided to build this house and we’re so happy we decided to work with New Energy Works.” – Greg Olsen.
We can’t thank Greg enough for his kind words, but we can try! Many, many thanks to Greg and Dee for working with us and becoming part of our community. Designing, raising, enclosing, and completing the fine woodworking for their home was truly a pleasure. Please enjoy this final article by Timber Home Living magazine of the Olsen’s retreat home journey. (And if you missed the others, click here.)
We’re excited to announce that we’re building the first complete Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building in New York State on our campus in Farmington, New York. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction is an economically and environmentally conscious alternative to steel and concrete construction. The new building will house or fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and offer storage/shipping space for our sister company Pioneer Millworks.
“We’re extremely excited to bring this alternative building method to New York State. We see CLTs as the wave of the future and are investing in our Western New York campus to better position the region and our industry to ride the wave,” states Jonathan, our Founder and President. “The opportunities with CLTs are abundant for businesses and housing and offer dramatic environmental benefits. Wood is a naturally occurring and renewable resource which stores carbon. It has proved time and again to preform as well, and at times better than, carbon heavy steel and concrete.”
CLTs are large wooden panels, typically consisting of 3, 5, or 7 layers of dimensional lumber, oriented at right angles, glued together. This results in exceptional strength, dimensional stability, and rigidity. The pre-fabricated wall, floor, and roof panels can be installed quickly with little job-site waste. European countries have been utilizing the panels for multi-story buildings with great structural, financial, and environmental success.
Timber Home Living magazine continues coverage of the Olsen family home, a reclaimed timber frame raised in 2014. The Olsen’s are nearly complete with their timber frame retreat home near the Berkshires. They’ve combined a mixture of materials and custom fine woodworking for a striking and modern tone. Read more:
Timber Home Living magazine continues coverage of the Olsen family home, a reclaimed timber frame raised in 2014. Beginning the furnishing stage for their retreat home the Olsen’s discovered stopping to listen to the experts surpassed their expectations for style and eco-friendly materials, including reclaimed wood from our sister company Pioneer Millworks. Read more:
Timber Home Living magazine continues coverage of the Olsen family home, a reclaimed timber frame raised in 2014. Harsh winter weather delayed progress for the mountain home. Rather than risk safety and quality, the Olsen’s and our teams decided to pause construction. Read more:
We started this job in the end of the summer of 2015 when Dan Hill and Ryan Rojas from Arbor South Design-Build approached us about building a timber frame for their client’s lake cabin on Odell Lake, Oregon. Our crew had a great time working on the project. We had 3 of our long-time team members (myself, Todd, Jimmy) plus we added our new project engineer, Quinn, to the mix so that he could see all the intricacies of how one of these projects go together on the ground. (He’s now migrated to the office to start his frame joining education.)
Odell Lake is a stunning mountain lake with beautiful vistas and HUGE fish. The cabin is in an area of Historical Significance, which means that though the owners are building a new cabin they don’t actually own the land beneath. The cabins in this area are all on a long-term lease with the US Forest Service. Because of its historical designation, the site had to have an archaeological survey done to ensure that there weren’t any important artifacts the new structure was going to disturb. It was a gamble for the owners to take as this area had been a prime fishing spot for not only the last hundred years, but for millennia before. A few arrowheads and pottery shards were found but nothing significant enough to stop the project.
Timber Home Living magazine continues coverage of the Olsen family home, a reclaimed timber frame raised in 2014. Progress on the home continues as our construction team encloses the frame with high efficiency SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and our Matrix Wall:
Timber Home Living Magazine is documenting each step in the design/build process for the Olsen family’s reclaimed Douglas fir timber frame home in Austerlitz, NY. Online and print articles will cover the home’s journey from architectural planning, to the frame raising, to enclosure, to completion.
Part 1, below, can be found in the October issue on sale now.
Brad, of our construction group, recently became certified in Passive House Basics with a specialization in “Building Envelope,” making him a Certified Passive House Tradesperson. His expertise in air sealing and the building envelope is a practice that New Energy Works is implementing to continue building well-insulated and comfortable homes.
A Passive House is a super-insulated home that balances a comprehensive set of factors from design through construction (including heat emissions from the people and the appliances used, to the solar gains from window locations in the home) to reduce the amount of energy lost and provide a superior indoor air quality. We are continuously picking Brad’s brain on the latest design and construction techniques used to build high performance homes.
When building a Passive House, there is much to consider starting in the design phase and throughout the entire process. Location of the property along with the home’s orientation and outdoor shading are just the first steps to maximize solar gains and reduce energy consumption. Passive House building principals use innovative materials in all aspects of the process including intelligent air barriers, insulation, windows, doors and mechanical ventilation system. Special care even comes down to choosing the correct appliances, hot water distribution and energy efficient lighting.
We worked closely with Bully Hill Vineyards on this two phase project to create open-air spaces that would allow patrons to enjoy stunning views of Keuka Lake along with great wine and food. Raising and construction was completed during the winter months while the business was mostly closed down, and finished for the grand re-opening in May. Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine featured this recap of the changes at Bully Hill Vineyards:
Jonathan & Maxine were interviewed by AOL Real Estate after hearing The Vermont Street Project had won Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s Home of the Year in the Houses 2011 issue. Filmed about a year ago, we still take our hats off to the production team for capturing their story so well. Enjoy the video!