A few years back New Energy Works provided a timber frame for a new hybrid custom home in Oregon located on an idyllic eight-acre plot of land. Recently we returned to raise a matching classic timber frame barn on the property clad in reclaimed wood siding from our sister company Pioneer Millworks.
“We built a new timber frame house with New Energy Works a few years ago, it is not a totally timber frame house, it’s a hybrid, but one large section is completely timber framed,” said Ric, the homeowner and builder. “The property had an old metal pole barn on it that we used during the construction of the house, but once the house was done, the old metal barn was an eyesore, so we decided to build a new big, beautiful timber frame barn that would go with the house.”
This new addition to the acreage is a space for gardening, projects, and parties, but was designed to be easily adaptable in years to come. A labor of love inside and out, this barn is part of the long-term plan for the development of the property by the recently retired homeowners.
The West Coast team was on site this spring raising what can only be described as a cathedral-like horse barn. One of the most intense barns New Energy Works has designed & raised, this one with the added challenge of being in the Alvord Desert in southwest Oregon.
The Alvord is actually a (mostly) dry lakebed that stretches for miles: flat and lifeless with a chapped sandy surface. It’s worth the visit, but be prepared, there's only one gas station and no grocery stores for 100 miles.
The team spent two weeks on site raising the frame in 40 mile an hour winds, blazing hot sun some days, and snowstorms on others. Still, when picking giant bents, you can’t bring a timber framer down when their passion and spirits are high.
“I had a lot of fun doing it. And I mean that. We got to play with some interesting crane rigging,” Darren Watson our west coast Timber Frame Lead shared, getting rather building geeky with glee. “Skookum with pulleys…two different points…spreader bar…and keeping it balanced. It was pretty neat.”
Featuring an interview with our own David Shirley AIA, NCARB from our west coast team, the sweeping feature touches on almost every aspect of this New Energy Works project including design, timber frame, and high-performance enclosures.
Recently our team revisited one of our favorite restaurant locations near our Farmington New York campus to install a decorative custom-made reclaimed Douglas fir truss.
This flagship Dibella’s Italian Market location is in the nearby town of Henrietta and features extensive woodwork from our fine woodworking division NEWwoodworks, who have over the course of several years crafted a series of heavy timber craftsmen style tables, butcher block counters, and booth tabletops featuring reclaimed Heart Pine provided by our sister company Pioneer Millworks, as well as built in shelving & paneling among other features.
This past year we retuned once again to the location to raise an expansive fully custom 44-foot-long freestanding parallel-cord truss that artfully divides the expansive dining space. The choice to use reclaimed 12x12 Douglas fir timbers with Heart Pine accents speaks to the idea of old-world craft which Debella’s embodies.
What do pizza boxes, a canceled wedding, and a community hand raising have in common? This backyard pavilion in Oregon.
For homeowners Matt & Laura, 2020 was rough. Both work in the front-line medical industry and their dream wedding was looking less and less likely to ever happen. The couple decided that they would turn tradition around, forgoing a traditional one-time wedding ceremony and instead spending what would have been their wedding fund on an outdoor timber frame pavilion they could enjoy with their friends and family for many years to come.
At first, they used empty pizza boxes laid out on the ground to envision their ideas for the space, eventually deciding on a layout for their timber pavilion that included an outdoor pizza oven and Argentine grill, among other amenities.
When Julie built her ranch style home in Oregon back in 1989, she wanted a classic timber frame, but was unable to find anyone in the area building timber homes at the time. With a background in the construction industry and woodworking, she was her own general contractor on the home and got as close as she could to the timber frame aesthetic by including exposed beams and wood pillars.
“We are retired now, but what we did for a profession was excavation and heavy equipment rental, site work, a lot of high-end homes, municipality, public excavation work, like high schools, streets,” Julie told us. “Funny enough, we helped develop the neighborhood we live in about 35 years ago. We built our family home here, and at that time I wanted to do a timber frame structure, but no one in the area was doing them. What we have in the main house is open beam and wood pillars, which is as close as I could get to timber framing in 1989.”
More recently when Julie began considering retirement, she reached out to New Energy Works to design and build a timber frame addition to her much-loved family home. The reverent timber space that now houses her at home woodshop is designed to be a flexible space that can adapt to her fine woodworking needs today but could also be converted to functional living space in the decades to come.
The new pool house on this well-known property in Upstate New York presented a design challenge for our team; how to design and build an up-to-date stand-alone structure while respecting the renovated historic home it is adjacent to.
“This project was a wonderful challenge for our in-house design team. The owners were very receptive to our ideas and excellent collaborators,” said Eric Fraser of New Energy Works east coast team. “In the end the success of this project is thanks in no small part to the clients communicating their needs with our team and being actively involved in the process from start to finish.”
The owners wanted to create a functional recreational space for their family & friends that had contemporary elements but would fit naturally into the context of the 1937 estate and surrounding neighborhood. Utilizing reclaimed Medina stone from the property for the large fireplace, Tudor inspired roof lines, and custom stained Douglas fir timbers helped to blend the pool house into its surroundings.
Bryan Bleier from our HPEz team and Kyle Barber from our design team recently attended the 16th annual PhiusCon(formerly North American Passive House Conference) at the historic Palmer House in Chicago IL. The guys specifically attended this year’s conference to connect with like-minded professionals in the industry and talk about New Energy Works investment in our High Performance Made Easier ™ (HPEz) enclosure systems as well as the teams ongoing commitment to develop sustainable and accessible higher performing homes.
PhiusCon is the leading passive building conference for climate-specific zero energy design, construction, and building science expertise. The conference is presented by parent organization Phius which is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to decarbonizing the built environment by making high-performance passive building the mainstream market standard. Phius also certifies the majority of passive house projects in North America with their locally tailored, globally applicable passive building standard.
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 Carouseland ending with an acapella performance at Christ Church in Rochester and touring the Baroque period organ project there.
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…
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!
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.
As does Yosemite, where we are returning next week to finish the exterior timbers on the top of this hill.
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.
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.
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.
Take a peek into some custom timber frame home plans from our design + build team.
On the lake in New York:
The narrow, tapering site in the Finger Lakes Region of NY presented a challenge for maximizing views of Canandaigua Lake. Following the setback as closely as possible for the bedrooms while pushing the layout in on each side of the living space gave way for a large deck as well as private deck space access with lake views from each bedroom.
Taking a bit of inspiration from Pacific Northwest and modern architectural styles, opposing shed roofs help lower the overall mass of the southern facing side of this home, allow for high windows between the roofs, shade from summer sun (yet allow winter sun in), and shelter the main level deck.
A covered porch forms the welcoming entry leading to a tall vestibule with a quick corner turn to glimpses the surrounding landscape, then into a light-filled hallway with picture frame views of the lake. Approaching the common area the views keep expanding until you are immersed in the living space.
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.
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.
Not too country, not too modern farmhouse, not too lodge-like. The design for this modest home near Allegany State Park in Pennsylvania pays homage to the family’s Japanese heritage while integrating some traditional timber frame and barn form influences. Below is a bit of the design story along with a digital fly-through of the project:
The great room offers an interpretation of barn design with high open ceilings and a spacious loft. Facing west, consideration was made to the impacts of the sun with a deeper overhang shading the non-gable end. Curved bottom chord parallel trusses with black steel tension rods and canted braces span the great room and frame the view to the gently sloping active farm fields and hills beyond.
The main entry greets visitors with large overhangs and low-pitched roof in a nod to classic Japanese forms while details such as the window grills and a stone foundation echo traditional farmhouse aesthetics.
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.
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.
In November of 2018 we had a community raising for the Mount Angel Abbey’s Benedictine Brewery. One hundred volunteers gathered early, listened thoughtfully to a strategy introduction and a safety meeting, and got it done.
Of the people who showed up to help, about 50 or so were from Mount Angel Abbey, the monastery at the top of the hill where we were working. We had our team and timber framers from companies who are part of the Timber Framers Guild from all around come to help. (You can read about that amazing day in a previous blog post, and we’ve included the raising video at the end of this post.)
This season, the Brewery has been up and running with plenty On Tap. We’re excited to be working with them again, this time extending their covered outdoor space to accommodate and shelter more folks:
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.
Transitioning from public to private space, from one level to another, from inside to outside: the staircase. We enjoy the creativity that can be expressed in the functional and essential staircase. Stairs are like furniture that flows, curving, lifting, descending; solid, floating, short, or lengthy…and always dependable.
Our fine woodworkers and our designers think of stairs as sculptural and architectural elements. Often a focal point in the home the options for customization are many. Materials, shape, location, and integration with the frame.
Rob D’Alessandro, General Manager of NEWwoodworks, our fine woodworking division, shares, “Stairs are always a challenge, but fitting them within a timber frame adds a whole new element. Proportion: the scale of the stair components so as not to be dwarfed by the heavy timbers. Integration: joining into the frame itself. Material choices: not all wood species are durable and aesthetically pleasing with Douglas fir timbers. There may be other elements, such as metal details that relate the staircase to the timber frame. These are just a handful of the considerations when creating each staircase.”
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.
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.
“If you’ve never seen a timber frame made from longleaf southern yellow pine, then you really ought to,” Jonathan remarked, “the resins just glow.” Fascinating how one sentence can lead to numerous conversations, learning, and a search of our photo collection…
We commonly work with Kiln Dried Douglas fir, but big timbers, reclaimed timbers, have been near and dear to us since opening our doors over 30 years ago. The New Energy Works story started with a collapsed building and a new house crafted from timbers salvaged from that wreckage. Today we remain smitten with reclaimed timbers.
As an additional option to kiln-dried Douglas fir, the antique timbers offer extra stability and can always be cut to size for any design/plans. Douglas fir and Heart Pine are our favored industrial reclaimed timber species–we always have them available thanks to our sister company, Pioneer Millworks.
Last week we were alerted to awesome photos of a Whole Foods Market in Chicago, IL that features our trusses in the bar area and reclaimed wood from our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, throughout. It’s funny how often “finished shots” of a project don’t arrive until a year or two (or more!) after its completion. This project was no exception having opened in early 2017. I struck out to learn more about it, connecting with Mark Scherrer, Senior Associate at BRR Architecture and lead architect for this particular Whole Foods, known to us as “Lakeview”. Mark recalled the store with ease and answered questions before I even asked:
Each Whole Foods Market is one-of-a-kind, very purposefully designed. Mark explained that for Lakeview: “We knew we wanted the store experience to end with a big design feature. There’s a sense of ‘arrival’ to the Red Star Bar that you feel when looking out from the grand lobby, and customers are encouraged to make this part of their overall shopping experience.”
“It is!” Eric insisted with a laugh, raising his hands in defense.
Seeing as Eric is one of the most sincere and honest people around, I figured he had to be right. “Okay,” I replied. “Let’s talk glulams.”
Glulam use around the world has developed into some crazy, creative, and nearly unbelievable structures:
Some of the basics on glued laminated timbers (glulams) that I commonly hear: they come in just about any size and shape (meaning they can make spans that solid timber simply doesn’t grow to); they can achieve geometric shapes and structural performance that is otherwise unattainable with solid timber; they’re inherently stable and dry; they have visible layers of wood. As a visual person the look is always top of mind for me which is where this conversation started:
As the change of seasons approaches with Winter easing into Spring, we’ve noticed our calendars filling with celebrations, conferences, benefits, and parties. The locations vary greatly in size and complexity, but all offer a sense of community, warmth, and growth—we’re excited for the experiences they’ll provide. All of this scheduling has inspired us to share your existing timber frame event spaces and take a look forward to what’s ramping up in community building spaces:
Timber frame trusses allow for capacious or cozy clear spans within a structure. A minor number of posts are required allowing for infinitely adaptable spaces to fit a variety of needs and offering uninterrupted views across the room (and across the dance floor)—minimal posts, maximum personal interaction.
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.
A project popped up on Instagram, catching my attention with its custom timber trusses in a clean and crisp great room. It seemed familiar and I made a call upstairs confirming this was one of our projects, designed by Carol Kurth Architecture + Carol Kurth Interiors, raised in the Hudson Valley. I wanted to know more and was lucky enough to catch Carol Kurth (FAIA, ASID, and LEED AP) and her colleague Christine Lent (AIA) for a chat:
It was easy to hear the smile in Carol and Christine’s voices over the phone. Their energy was palpable and inspiring when talking residential architecture. Turns out like many homes, project planning started a few years back for this ‘mountain lodge’ and evolved over time into a ‘modern lodge’. It never lost the main purpose as: “a weekend retreat for a warm and close extended family who spends lots of time together”.
Designing a home for your parents? Charles Patterson was up for the task and created this modern, clean-lined timber frame home for his folks in Pennsylvania.
“It was quite a journey designing a home for my parents,” explained Chuck, AIA LEED AP at Schamu Machowski + Patterson Architects. “Timber framing was a contextual idea; we wanted a simple, clean, modern house but didn’t want to create something that was foreign to residential Pennsylvania.The rich warmth and scale of a timber frame or barn-like structure was logical to serve as the bones of the house.”
The streamlined form of the two-level home is highlighted with crisp exterior materials and tones. White oak timbers were the choice for this frame—they have a gentle texture and tones that grow warmer and softer as the wood ages.Desiring a natural look and feel, the timbers were left unfinished. The frame design eliminated traditional corner braces furthering the clean lines and allowing each post and beam to take center stage.
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.
I had taken to saying this project was moving at “monastery time” for Mount Angel Abbey’s Benedictine Brewery. Meaning, of course, it was progressing at its own pace, and not overly concerned with a particular speed or efficiency the secular and commercial world might expect. It had been three years since Chris Jones, the project manager and enterprise guy for the monks and I had started talking, excited at the idea of doing a traditional timber frame raising with people from the monastery, the community of Mt. Angel, friends and coworkers, and more. I had this crazy vision of 50 or so monks in flowing red robes with pike poles and ropes.
On a recent Saturday, it (almost) all came true. No robes. This was likely a good thing.
One hundred volunteers gathered early on November 11th, listened thoughtfully to a strategy introduction, a safety meeting, and got at it. November in Oregon is dicey at best, but I really laughed as I watched the weather forecast. Here’s a screenshot from a day or so ahead of time:
I couldn’t help but acknowledge the amazing timing of sunny weather to some of the brothers. “We worked really hard on that one,” they laughed.
Of the people who showed up to help, about 50 or so were from Mount Angel Abbey, the monastery at the top of the hill where we were working. A willing and fun group. My son Jake, who was running the drone video, said he was surprised at how normal they seemed. Okay. I had to agree. Normal, with a bit of a prankster-ish edge, I’d add.
In a previous post we talked about ‘island living: pull up a stool’. Kitchen islands are a popular spot for wood tops, but what about the overall kitchen materials and design? What considerations are made to keep the chef(s) connected with family and guests? What about storage space? Wood species and finishes? Rob, GM of our fine woodworking division, NEWwoodworks, and Andrew, interiors specialist in our design group, offered some insights.
“Why custom?” Robclarified before answering: “We like to tailor the kitchen to exactly what the client wants and needs. We can match, and hopefully enhance, the way they cook, serve, eat, entertain and live.”
Kitchens are often considered the heart of the home. Andrew shared a little history: “Interestingly enough the kitchen has gone full-circle in the lifespan of our country. In the span of 200 years we’ve gone from one room cabins where gathering around the hearth was simply a way of life, to the affluent days of the to-be-left-unseen butler’s pantry and galley kitchen separate from the dining/social areas of the home, to a revival of the central hearth concept appearing today in the form of ‘open plan living’.”
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.
Designing your timber frame home starts from the outside in. Ty Allen, AIA and our design/build collaborated with Timber Home Living on a short article about the beginning of this process. Read the article below or, if you’d like an original, pick up a copy of the December 2017 issue of Timber Home Living magazine.
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.
I was sorry to disappoint Pete for our design discussion, but I was indeed empty handed except for my notebook and pen. I reluctantly shook my head. With his usual cheer and chuckle, Pete continued, “That’s okay, Megan. Next time…both.”
I had sequestered Pete on the porch this sunny afternoon to learn more about a large lake home project the team had designed. It was raised late last year on Smith Mountain Lake and, rumor has it, is steadily nearing completion.
“I can’t say I’m feeling very linguistic today,” Pete admitted. It turned out he had been doing sheer wall calculations, which meant crunching numbers, all morning. Regardless of a head full of figures and formulas, we managed a good conversation diving into details of the design/build for this family vacation home. I even learned a new term:
Need storage space? Display space? Can’t find a piece of furniture that’s the right size? Let’s talk built-ins.
What is a built-in? We’ve found a variety of pieces answer this question. Their unifying characteristic is a permanent fastening to the structure they live in. They are specifically sized to fit an existing space and are optimized for efficiency. Ranging from large to small, from simplistic to complicated, from cabinetry to bunks and benches, built-ins are varied and specific.
Our fine woodworking team, NEWwoodworks, and our design team deep dive into these pieces, aiming for designs that will suit current and future needs of the homeowners. Creating flexible pieces in a fixed or permanent space is a challenge solved with collaboration—internally and especially with the family that will live with, and interact daily with, the resulting fixture.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Richard Brown AIA, founder of RBA, about a newly completed project in Portland, Oregon. The modern, yet traditionally inspired design has a reclaimed timber frame core combined with stick built spaces. Nestled along the hillside with views of Mt. Hood, Richard explained that this will be the main home for a creative couple—a modern house with traditional queues. We conversed about this project and the broader driving forces behind his architectural creativity:
What can you tell us about this project’s build site? It’s a really beautiful site in Portland, which are getting to be rare in major cities as our population grows. This site had a home removed a few years back in anticipation of a development which never happened. There are great views to Mt. Hood and good access to sunlight. The homeowner is an avid gardener, so we intentionally sat the home into the shade away from where sun falls to leave space for gardens and a meadow area.
Has it really been a decade since we opened in Oregon? No. Actually, it’s been 9 years. Summer, 2008 I landed out here after a few years of research and prep just in time for the roughest economic face plant many of us have known (and I’ve known 4 others in our 30 years).
I liken that whole beginning to parachuting out of an airplane amidst blue skies into a thick but fluffy-enough bunch of clouds. Once inside, there was some suggestive bumping about, some troublesome turbulence, but not a clear sign yet of what lay ahead. Then suddenly I break through those clouds and the scene below me opens like a battlefield movie: burning buildings, scorched earth, hungry villagers with widening eyes and the air full of acrid smoke. (Yes, yes I’m exaggerating for effect. There were no burning buildings.)
That was the starting of our west coast effort at the beginning of that darned big recession. In looking back, it might have been better to hang out on the beach for 4 or 5 years rather than make the effort we did to build our business in such a setting. But I am neither prescient nor idle, and so work we did.
…and we’ve made great progress, and well, we’re pretty glad we didn’t just hang out on the beach. I would have gone insane.
Today we’ve grown to 25 coworkers in timber framing, carpentry, design, engineering, and millworks, and the buzz is on.
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.)
Grab a stool and a cutting board, or a plate, or a pencil, or a toothpick, or a tablet, or…?! Welcome to the kitchen island. Food prep, snack counter, breakfast bar, coffee cafe, homework hub, central party point, family communication center—its uses are nearly limitless.
If a kitchen is ‘the heart of the home’, then the island is arguably a home’s centerpiece; imperative at meal times, after school, and during gatherings with friends and family. “I truly enjoy the engagement with and connection most people feel towards this area. I have the most fun working with our clients on their islands. These structures are the ‘sweet spot’. Looking back on 21 years of this work with New Energy Works, I think islands are often the best part of any job,” said Rob, General Manager and lead designer for NEWwoodworks.
As we approach kitchen design, islands are carefully considered, discussed at length, loosely outlined, discussed more, and finalized in detail. “When we have the opportunity to design this area our goal is to bring a thoughtful and logical approach to creating a comfortable, functional, and engaging space incorporating the family’s varied wants and needs,” continued Rob.
While site constraints are common with any project, this particular building site on Otsego Lake demanded that any new structure fit within the previous camp’s footprint – no larger, no change in orientation, no closer to the shore. However, there was opportunity to play with the height of a new project and always room for thoughtful use of space.
The Southeast side of Ostego Lake is forever wild. The Northeast is home to a state park, the Western side is a large, privately owned estate. Thanks to good timing several years back, the client purchased this site with an existing three-season camp, on the Northwestern end of the lake. Removal of the old three-season camp revealed a tight 24′ x 31′ footprint.
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 design for Jim and Regina’s home on Oseetah Lake (connected to lower Saranac Lake in NY) is affectionately referred to as a modern take on Adirondack style architecture. Oseetah Lake is well-known for paddling and fishing, as it has a mean depth of 3 ft. This build site is one of nine lots on a 500 acre privately owned natural preserve around the lake. The home will be situated on a small swale off a ridge with lake views.
The couple referenced both contemporary and traditional mountain style architecture as they described their vision to our team. Adding to our road map for design was their design questionnaire – one of the most thoroughly completed we have ever received. These questionnaires are an invaluable tool when we’re beginning the design process. Many thanks to Jim and Regina for sharing their time and attention to detail!
The resulting first draft plan is very open with with overlapping living spaces. The form of the home calls for opposing sweeping lines in a contemporary, ‘lighter’ timber frame full of natural light and lake views.
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. 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.
For over 20 years NEWwoodworks, our fine woodworking division, has specialized in handcrafted cabinetry, furniture, stairs, doors, and other custom designed interior furnishings from their shop in Shortsville, NY. The Shortsville-Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce (SMACC) is a volunteer organization that promotes progress and a positive business climate. NEWwoodworks has supported local Shortsville activities for many years, including the annual Wild Water Derby, and has been recognized by SMACC as business of the month.
“Crafting projects from antique reclaimed wood is a unique privilege,” remarked Rob D’Alessandro, General Manager. “We’re excited to be recognized by the Shortsville Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce as a Business of the Month.”
NEWwoodworks has built a reputation as the go-to shop among designers and architects for taking on challenging, one-of-a-kind, custom woodworking projects. Each piece is hand-crafted using sustainably harvested and often antique wood by skilled craftsmen and design software. Thanks to experience, talented hands, digital technology, and good-old-fashioned creativity the more unique, the more difficult, the better the project.
The craftsmen at NEWwoodworks have knowledge and abilities which ensure every project is a work of art, whether it’s doors, cabinetry, stairs, tables, wine rooms, or commercial fixtures. They have worked with world-famous retailers, hotels, restaurants, and spas to bring the vision of the brand and the designer to life. Great attention is paid to the details: hand-forged hardware, oil rubbed finishes, and antique wood-with-a-story-to-tell are a few of the features incorporated in their products.
Refreshing older timber frame structures to meet modern vernaculars and layouts is an interesting challenge. It reminds us what an extremely flexible building method timber framing is. With the frame carrying the load of the enclosure, interior walls are free to be moved and adapted.
Daniel and Sheri asked for our help in redesigning their 1980s timber frame. The layout and fenestration wasn’t meeting the needs for their large family. The re-design for the existing frame has created modern, open layouts. One major change was the window design for the front fascia. Removing a beam and replacing it allowed more light and wider views from inside the home.
When the lot faces south and the view is of Mount Hood, only great design should result. The 3,600 square foot home encompasses one floor living with a tower room for getting away and a garden level for guests. Natural material, intimate volumes, and local craftsmanship make living here easy.
Jim and Pam, the homeowners, wrote:
“It has been a great ride! Once we got into the timber raising, your crew showed their colors. They were fun to watch and talk to – a great bunch. What a good adventure for us…wow, it is a real cool house. I will cut this short since I could go on and on – thanks for your passion and help and guidance.”
Read the entire case study on Cascade Range Outlook here.
Many of our clients want a connected space that works well as the living room, kitchen and dining area, and are looking for this in a more intimate volume than some of the bigger great rooms we often see in timber framing and other large houses. We call this the Commons. Done well, it can feel just as comfortable when two sit down to read for the evening or twelve come for Easter dinner.
Located near downtown Rochester, this project put a contemporary twist on timber framing by combining elements of pavilion, trellis, and pergola designs. The resulting 1,000 square foot space serves as a break room, gathering space, lunch room, and more with its relaxed open style. Employees can enjoy nature through large windows and doors that open to the exterior spaces. The radio frequency dried Douglas fir timbers are oversized to accommodate heavy snow common to upstate NY.
Patrick Rodgers of The Pike Company, the project builders, wrote:
“Pike and our many great subcontractors including New Energy Works poured their heart and soul into this project. Great Design + Great Build = Great Design/Build. We really enjoyed the teamwork and getting the best results through early collaboration, and most importantly, are excited the customer is happy. Well done.”
The architect for the Break Room Retreat project was HBT Architects.
Timber Home Living recently featured one of our West Coast timber frame homes in their April 2016 edition. To accommodate their revolving list of family and friends, Bill and Dianna dreamed of a cozy guest cottage near their home on Yosemite’s Merced River. According to the homeowners, the dark-stained Douglas fir beams woven throughout the home’s design “absolutely make the house”.
We recently teamed up with hsbcad and hsblabs to experiment with their new add-in for Autodesk® Revit® – hsb3DPrinting. The program enables you to decompose a Revit building model into logical, scaled elements, print them on a standard 3D printer, and then assemble the model by clicking or gluing the elements together. Here are the results of one of our residential projects in Central New York:
Years of dreaming and planning culminated in Tom and Maureen’s lakeside home. Situated on a steep slope, down a drive with several switchbacks, the site was both challenging and exciting to our construction group. Porches and decks welcome family and friends to enjoy lake views from outside, while reclaimed flooring from Pioneer Millworks and custom cabinetry by NEWwoodworks offer warm elegance inside. The design takes advantage of the site with large windows and walk-out lake access on the lower level.
Location: Naples, NY
Architect/Builder: New Energy Works
Size: 3,320 sq ft
DesignNY Magazine featured one of our legacy home projects in their 2015 annual edition. Located on the high banks of Lake Erie, the latest installment – the main house – shares the views with a whimsical timber framed guest house, carriage house, and gazebo. The house includes an open three story stair tower with a central peeled timber mast, custom steel spinner-head bolts anchoring each post, and walnut inlay sheer keys in the reclaimed Douglas fir beams. NEWwoodworks crafted the multi-level staircase from a clean grade of Douglas fir with hand carved inlayed walnut.
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.
Timber frames express structure as craft. We love that. They are also a natural fit for energy saving designs. This is great for the Earth and for money-saving empathies. We’ve challenged ourselves to achieve Net-Zero in energy use, or as close to it as we can get, for every project without compromising design.
The Oregonian wrote an article on The Vermont Street Project our timber frame showhome in Portland, Oregon. The piece is packed with great design highlights and tips, images, a slideshow, and floor plans. Read it all here.
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!
We’re a unique organization and not just because of the various interesting personalities around here. We have an internal architecture design group that works side by side (literally!) with our engineering group. Don’t worry, if you’re already working with a design professional, you can go directly to our engineers. But if you’d like to have your own set of plans drawn from your musings, then a chat with our design group would be in order.
With us, the design process starts with a conversation. Here, our designers begin to roughly sketch the site plan, sections, and elevations as they develop the conceptual approach to a project. This allows them to get the “big ideas” down to steer the project as it moves from miscellaneous thoughts to a cohesive design. The first sketches for a recent project in Lone Jack, Missouri noted a necessary connection between the home and the adjacent barn. For this project each decision was influenced by the other future inhabitants of the home: 15 rescued dogs of varying pedigrees, sizes, and pasts.