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Sisters Oregon Timber Frame Home by New Energy Works


I’ve been timber framing for more than 30 years. Very often over this time we’ve worked with owner builders. These folks span the same wide range as any other custom builder, from hands off the tools and just managing everyone, to placing every form, nailing every connector, and setting the last piece of bathroom tile.

Mostly though, it’s somewhere in between, smack in the middle. Scott & Jill are that way, and on a recent stop in after we’d been done with our part for a couple months, I was once again reminded of my oft-stated, “Human potential is an amazing thing”.

When I first visited their site in Sisters, Oregon, the two were busy clearing brush and building a pump house. They could see where they were going, had the views of The Three Sisters Mountain Range captured just right, and knew how the driveway and entry porch would eventually welcome guests. My coworker David had finished their plans but truthfully, Scott had sent us about the most detailed set of preliminaries we have ever received. They knew what they wanted.

And they knew how to work for it. You might remember the post from August when we raised their timber frame in 100+ °F and bright sun. We then went back and installed tongue and groove and structural insulated panels (SIPs). But everything else was Scott & Jill and their own set of subs and coworkers…and a lot more hard work of their own. Here are some shots on a recent snowy afternoon by our coworker Kelsey Boyer.

These are images of a well organized, quality job site. And of so much of a dream unfolding. I once asked those two how they are still so much in love (as was evident, if you get my drift).  “Shared dreams and the perfect partner,” was about the response. Stay with us over the next months. We’ll visit again and share the progress.


living room


Anthony Venezia  has been spending his weekends this past year building a highly crafted high-performance home in Canandaigua New York. This construction project is designed to be a modern and sustainable home for Anthony and his family and features dark stained Douglas fir timber accents as well as two-tone Shou Sugi Ban exterior siding and white oak flooring & stair treads from our sister company Pioneer Millworks.

Most importantly, the home utilizes our High Performance Made Easier ™ (HPEz) enclosure system which enabled Anthony and Luke to construct the home to the efficiency standards they wanted to achieve with the project. 

Now that the family home is nearing completion, we caught up with Anthony to discuss how the project got started, why he wanted to build sustainably, and what it was like building a home for his family with a high-performance enclosure system that was manufactured off-site.




Q: How did this high-performance construction project get started?


Photos by: Jane Beiles
Photos by: Jane Beiles


For one couple in rural Connecticut the concept was to create a multigenerational space to enjoy with their five children, friends, and extended family. Part of a sweeping master plan for their property, this understated antiqued party barn is intended to adapt as the family grows and ages over time.


Photos by: Jane Beiles
Photos by: Jane Beiles


Architect Mark P. Finlay, who has a long-standing relationship with the family, defined the core concept for this family barn as a multigenerational building with a long-term plan. The current incarnation of the space is that of a party barn where the owners children can spend time with their friends out of the main house while remaining on the family property.


Photos by: Jane Beiles
Photos by: Jane Beiles


“It’s a multigenerational design.” Explains Mark. “We worked it through and talked about the functions of the building, how it’s going to work, who is going to use it, how it would be used in 20 years versus now. We really talked through the whole thing. It’s part of a three generation, or 50-year, plan. It is a building with a singular design idea that will work really well in the future because it can adapt to a lot of different functions.”


On a recent weekend I visited 21 sites in New York from Friday night until Sunday evening.  I was touring with some west coast-based members of our timber framing team.  The goal is sharing, connecting, and learning from recent and ongoing projects as well as some from our long past.  I think I’ll write more about this trip in an upcoming post, as we were all deeply affected, with a Friday night ride on the Buffalo Heritage Carousel and ending with an acapella performance at Christ Church in Rochester and touring the Baroque period organ project there.


Buffalo Heritage Tesla
The Buffalo Heritage Carousel | New Energy Works Dana, Jonathan, Kelsey, and Bill riding the carousel in Buffalo
Organ Project
Tuesday Pipes – Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards - Eastman School of Music (


The tour left us all pretty stunned.  Even for me, who had been part of these projects.  Seeing it all together like this was magic, if a bit overwhelming.

Towards the end of Sunday, we were at our longtime clients Tom and Karen’s place in the Finger Lakes when Tom said, “Hey our neighbor Larry stopped by and when he heard you were coming was adamant you guys visit him as well.”  Wow, a total warm wind of memory whipped right through.  Larry H.  We built for him in 1988.  And when his name comes up, so do the stories…




Affectionately referred to as “Trout Point” by the homeowners, the timber framed addition to this family home was built with recreation at heart. Seamlessly integrating with the existing house, the bar and game room is a place where the homeowners and their friends can kick back and relax while enjoying Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. 

Featuring a custom woodworked bar, dart board, wine storage area and integrated shuffleboard court crafted by NEWwoodworks, this space allows for year-round fun with family and friends. The entire project allowed for creative expression in its design and execution with results that the homeowners describe as a dream come true.

Because of the homeowner’s willingness to freely embrace the talents of the design and build teams they assembled for the project; these clients are regarded by everyone who has played a role in the addition as dream clients for creating an atmosphere where creativity could flourish, and partnerships thrived. We caught up with a few of the key players who shared their experience on this most beloved of projects.




Pavilion Raising


Recently we raised a pavilion/carport for Tom Kime and his wife Karen as part of a large-scale renovation project of their property on Seneca Lake in New York. Tom is the president of Lyons National Bank (or LNB), who has worked with New Energy Works on projects large and small for many years. We caught up with Tom & Karen recently to talk about the raising of the pavilion, their remodeling project, community partnerships, working with likeminded folks, and the goodwill a well-made pie can bring to a jobsite.


Pavilion Raising


The renovation project itself is part of a group of connected family properties the couple enjoy with their adult children and grandchildren. Bringing in contractors with longtime business ties to LNB to work on the property is nothing new for Tom & Karen, they have long believed that close relationships are the key to doing good business and that a sense of community among vendors leads to better results.

“Most everyone we work with are customers of the bank.” Tom says. “We like doing business with people who are customers of ours and that relationship goes both ways.”


Pavilion Raising


For owners Doug Doetsch and his wife Susan Manning, their roots of apple farming in the Catskills Mountain Region of New York run deep. Doug has apple farming in his blood, tracing his ties to the area back five generations on both sides of his family including apple farms of the 1800’s, through prohibition era bootlegging of hard cider and applejack, to his own childhood growing up on orchards in the area. Apple farming is something of a Doetsch legacy.


Seminary Hill


After moving away for thirty-or-so years to establish a career in international finance law, Doug returned to his roots and recently founded Seminary Hill, an organic orchard & cidery in Callicoon.

With the help of renowned orchardist Michael Philips and an expansive team of local like-minded folks, the Seminary Hill team started planning the holistic twelve acre orchard in 2012. It now includes more than 1,500 trees with an astonishing 60 varieties of American, English, and French heirloom apples and pears with plans to expand in the coming decade. The orchards ecosystem is based on the sympathetic planting of pollinating and pest-repellent plants and flowers so that the apples and pears can be grown without the use of chemical pesticides. Organic all the way.


Seminary Hill


Boat only


About a year ago, Dave Cratty wrote about a timber frame raising on a remote lakefront job site in the Adirondack Mountains that was only accessible by boat with no roads, no Wi-Fi, and no cell phone service.


Boat only


Recently we returned to the site in the Adirondack State Park to hand-raise a second structure to complement the first Lake House.


Boat only


This new main cabin had to fit into the existing footprint of an older structure with a design that was limited by height restrictions. It also had to be completely raised by hand in the off-grid setting. Since there was no way to get heavy equipment to the site, each timber was delivered by barge and offloaded by hand.


Boat only


Every morning the New Energy Works team would drive an hour from their hotel, boat across the isolated lake to the job site, work until dark, and then make the journey back. As arduous as it sounds, the team loved the remote nature of the work, the commute, and the old-school methods of the timber frame raising.  


For homeowners Ben & Kate and their three young children, the seven-year journey to their forever home just outside Ithaca New York was a long and winding road filled with life lessons, dreams, and joy.

Image removed.


“For our entire adult life, my husband and I, we always dreamed about building a house. We just wanted to build a home that we would live in forever that would suit our own needs and come from our own ideas.” Says Kate. “Seven years ago, our dream started to become a reality when we found this plot of land and we really fell in love with it. It was all woods, and we cleared a section of the land, but we needed to save to build our dream home. So, we decided to buy a double wide trailer and live in that, in the corner of the property, while we continued to plan and dream.”


Image removed.


When the Kate & Ben began this process and took a leap of faith into trailer life seven years ago, their youngest son (who is now 5) hadn’t even been born yet. As the happy family grew and evolved over time, albeit in tight quarters, so did the design of their future dream home.


Image removed.


We work all over the country, but you already knew that.  And while there is no doubt that it’s great to get back home the night of a raising when it’s local to either our Western New York or McMinnville, Oregon shops, the truth is most of us like to travel, and that we get to do!  

Summer Photos


Out here on the West Coast, where I spend most of my time, we’ve had a summer of unreal views and sights (and sites). Someone asked me recently where we’ve been.  Lessee...  Yosemite, Leavenworth, Flathead Lake, Carmel, Lake Lapeer, Michigan…  Wait Michigan?  You bet.  


Most of our clients and much of our industry are looking for their timber frames in Douglas fir, so doing these out of our west coast shop makes a lot of sense as we are in the midst of Doug-fir-land here in Oregon.  We also feel strongly that whenever possible our timbers should be kiln dried.  It just makes a better final product.  And yes, we’re in the middle of kiln country as well.


So, sending a large set of hammer beam trusses and bents to a beautiful Michigan lake fits.


Summer Photos


Summer Photos


As does Yosemite, where we are returning next week to finish the exterior timbers on the top of this hill.  

RCN Pavilion


Rochester Childfirst Network has been serving the children of Rochester New York and the surrounding area since 1857. To provide some context as to how long that has been, the American Civil War began in 1861, four years after R.C.N. began their mission to care for children in Rochester.

Over the years RCN has changed with the needs of the community, beginning as an organization aimed at addressing the dire needs of orphaned, poverty stricken, and homeless children with vocational schooling, which were commonplace issues of the late Victorian age continuing into the industrial revolution. Today the group has transitioned to offering community based early education and care programs on their South Avenue campus in downtown Rochester.


Photo of Children
Photo courtesy of Rochester Childfirst Network


RCN’s mission centers on not-for-profit advocation at local, state, and national levels for early education and care practices for all children with a guiding vision that every child should grow up safe, strong, and able to achieve their full potential.


Photo courtesy of Rochester Childfirst Network


When Vogue Magazine listed the most anticipated hotel openings for 2020 there was a rumble through our community. The magazine cited properties in Paris, Palm Beach, Palermo and…Canandaigua Lake, a mere 10 miles from our Farmington NY campus–The Lake House, a project we were already intimately familiar with.


The Sandbar located in the Canandaigua, NY
We want to help people understand what hospitality truly means. We want to set a new standard of taking hospitality and guest experience to a level never before seen,” shared project manager/developer, Bill Caleo in a Finger Lakes Times article. Bill is co-founder of The Brooklyn Home Company and grandson of Marvin and Micky Sands of Canandaigua Wine Co. and then Constellation Brands.


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?

Waterside view
Unlimited views from every angle of the property


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.

 One of only three breweries in the United States owned and operated by monks, the Benedictine brewery raising in 2017 was a community effort and one that we will always remember.  You can catch up on that story and watch a video of 100 folks hoisting the frame here: (

Benedictine Brewery


Benedictine Brewery

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.


Guest Author: New Energy Works, Dave Cratty

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.  

external shot


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.

Timber Frame In the Adirondacks--The View


Timber Frame In the Adirondacks


Timber Frame In the Adirondacks


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 design was 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 design team. “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.

No, it is not built into an earthen bank, rather this traditionally inspired timber frame ‘barn’ has had a financial bank built into it. Welcome to the newest branch of LNB (Lyons National Bank):


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.

The first bent is raised for the new LNB Farmington NY branch, early 2020. Photo (C) Jim Kerins.
June 2020 the new LNB Farmington branch is making quick progress.

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.

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.

Photo (C) Scott Hemenway

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.”

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:

37″ x 42″ x 48′ Douglas fir timbers from the Welland Canal Lock. The trees were at least 400 years old when they were harvested in the early 1900’s. 


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.




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:


Ty explained that the site offered a good combination of open space and mature woods. There was a desire to embrace both with this custom home.
Ty explained that the site offered a good combination of open space and mature woods. There was a desire to embrace both with this custom home.

“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.

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.


In keeping with local vernacular, the road side facia of this cottage home is modest and welcoming.
In keeping with local vernacular, the road side facia of this cottage home is modest and welcoming.


From Jonathan:

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.

Author, Jonathan Orpin: founder and president of New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks; board member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild, enjoys some time on the water.
Author, Jonathan Orpin: founder and president of New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks; board member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild, enjoys some time on the water.


Photo courtesy of the Timber Framers Guild.
Photo courtesy of the Timber Framers Guild.


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:
Phil and Rocio along with pups Luca and Sherlock enjoy a moment on the porch of their nearly completed NEW Jewel.
Phil and Rocio along with pups Luca and Sherlock enjoy a moment on the porch of their nearly completed NEW Jewel.


“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.


Phil and Rocio

Dayton, Oregon”