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The Oldest Teenagers We Know

New Energy Works Oregon Timber Frame Home

I’ve spent the last 30 years with my coworkers designing and building projects for some very cool people. It’s a large part of what keeps me so engaged. Creating spaces and shelter, one at a time. There are some pretty steep challenges: sites, viewsheds, tastes, need-to-haves and nice-to-haves, budgets. And then there is the couples thing: I like to say I’ve been designing and building homes for 30 years, and bridges between partners for just as long! And with no apologies. What is more natural than two people who are a couple, who have differences in their vision? We are often attracted to our compliment, not our same self.

New Energy Works Oregon Timber Frame Home Rendering
Designed as a home to “unite two households”.

You’d think then that when a couple comes together “later” in life, and both with a full and proud history of accomplishments in business and in family, that all these competing needs in the design of a new combined home would crash together like a rip tide in a tightening channel.

Greg and Tish may as well have been married for their whole lives. A thoughtful brow, a sideways glance, a pause, and whoever would speak was speaking what both were thinking. Will I be that thoughtful, that empathic, that…well I’ll say it…smart in a few more years? Dang I can hope.

New Energy Works Timber Frame Home Oregon David Shirley, AIA with Clients
David Shirley, AIA, our lead west coast designer clowns around with Tish on their housewarming gift from the New Energy Works team


The home offered its share of design and engineering opportunities and challenges. Funny, when I say “design and engineering challenge” I quickly realize that these become the oxygen-filled thrill of being a craftsman. Anything we think up as designers is of no value until our coworkers with a saw and chisel, reading the grain and knots of a timber, join it to other timbers and lift them all into the air. (Lord I can’t wait for my next raising.)


New Energy Works Oregon Timber Frame Home with Keyed Beam
3-10x10 Kiln Dried Douglas fir beams were keyed (or locked together) with 2x7 oak blocks to form the monitor over the commons


This monitor along the ridge of the great room was our heaviest single lift. The triple keyed beam allowed the whole to be of greater strength than the three individual timbers, as big as they are. Making all the faces line up just so is, indeed, craft.


New Energy Works Oregon Timber Frame Home Keyed Beam In Shop and on Raising Day
With two 10”x27” keyed beams spanning 40’ each, the monitor barn inspired timber frame provides ample amount of open floor plan below and allows natural, indirect light throughout the interior. Once pre-assembled this was our biggest and heaviest (over a 10,000 lb) raising lift in Oregon.


New Energy Works Oregon Timber Frame Home with Tower Room

I love tower rooms. Many of our homes take this approach to getting higher up, rather than a somewhat cliché loft. Greg and Tish’s idea of a tower room had as much to do with card tournaments and thoughtful cocktails with friends as it did with the wrap around balcony and views of the heavenly hills of Sweet Home, Oregon. And to get up to the room we first took the straight stairs to a mid-landing before winding up a perfect curved stairwell to the top. Or, there’s a small elevator. Either way, worth the trip.

New Energy Works Oregon Timber Frame Home Back Patio Space
Sheltered space for entertaining flows outside where even the grill is under roof, protecting chef and guests from sun and rain.

Tish and Greg swirl about in a cloud of fun. Why not have fun, seems the vibe. Their housewarming party was the best attended I can remember, with good food and live music. But only a few knew that when Greg stood up to welcome everyone, here’s what he had to say, “I know that you all think you’ve come today to help us celebrate our new home together, but what you don’t know is that you’ve come here to celebrate a wedding.” Yeow. And sure enough, Greg and Tish were married right then and there, having known each other for many years, having been together as a couple for a few, having designed and built their new home, and now making the most beautiful public pledge for everyone to witness and share.

The man who stood up as Master of Ceremonies said it best with his toast, “Here’s to the oldest teenagers we all know.”

Aw, would that we all deserve such a title someday.

See more photos of this Oregon timber frame home by visiting the case study.

Written by Jonathan Orpin, Founder and President of New Energy Works. Jonathan spends much of his time in search of the next cool project, the best sources of timbers, the latest sustainable building technology that can help fight climate change. His 30+ years of timber framing experience includes pounding pegs and working with the Timber Framers Guild to continue education for the next generation of craftsman and timber frame businesses.