Vermont Custom Builders of Barns & Homes


Centuries old traditional building techniques are used to offer customers an alternative to standard stick-built. The basic difference between the two is that a timber frame is made of larger wood pieces spaced further apart and is left exposed whereas a stick-built frame would be hidden with sheet rock or plaster. As we show you photos and descriptions of building our own timber frame barn, some of the other differences will be apparent.

In tune with historic homes, Vermont Country Builders continues to erect timber framed homes and barns. We use centuries-old methods-erecting with timbers that have mortise and tenon joints and are locked into place with wooden pegs. The smell of the native wood and dominance of the beams overwhelm homeowners as they travel back in time and into their future. Whether dressed up as a home-or a simplified as a basic barn blending into the landscape-this type of construction is timeless and never loses its appeal.

Grand Barn by Vermont Country Builders
Timber Frame Construction
1. Foundation
The concrete mason is floating the poured floor using a power trowel. A stone facing thoroughly dresses up the foundation and alleviates the overhang of the thick insulation panels that are applied to the outside of the frame. In this instance we skipped the basement and had the plumber install radiant heat tubing in the slab.
Timber Frame Construction
2. Mortise-and-tenon joints
After planning and precisely marking the rough beams, the joinery begins. With wide chisels, wooden mallets, saws and drills, the frame members start taking shape readying for the dance they will perform as they are fitted together and hoisted into place. Rough-cut native hemlock is more workable when it is green, but extremely heavy so equipment is brought in to lift and maneuver the timbers. Beam Photo
Timber Frame Construction
3. Bents
Unlike standard framing where the carrier runs lengthwise with the building, the bents run crosswise. The 8" x 8" posts are attached to the girder, which support the floor joists, and then structurally reinforced by the 45-degree braces. Once locked into place and pegged, they are stacked and await the day of assembly. Stacked Photo. Raised up and set in place by a large crane, the bents are leveled and temporarily braced.
Timber Frame Construction
4. Top Plates
The eave side top plate joins all the bents together. Come-alongs are used to square up the entire frame. Full 14' sidewalls have created a 4' knee wall in one of the three sections upstairs. The rest have shorter knee walls allowing more ceiling height on the first floor and resembling many old barns. Another Photo
Timber Frame Construction
5. Nailers
In an effort to achieve a rustic-look we sheathed the frame with vertical pine boards. Horizontal 4"x 4" members were consequently required as nailers. These are not needed on projects where sheetrock will be used as the wall face. Sheetrock Photo.
Timber Frame Construction
6. Wooden Pegs
Large holes are drilled through the joints and hardwood dowels are prepared for use by whittling down one end. Shaping Peg. Pounded by sledge hammers, the pegs bore through one beam's joint into another until flush. The end, which had been chiseled, protrudes through the timber. Peg in Place.
Timber Frame Construction
7. Roof
Rafters are cut at an angle to create accurate, thin historical roofline. Note the "ladders" built to extend the gable overhangs. Economic kiln-dried spruce rafters were used on this project as the upstairs is used only for storage. Some timber frame rafter options include heftier beamed "common" rafter, trusses, or horizontal purlins (see photo at top of page) that support the rafters.
Timber Frame Construction
8. Skins
Hi R value stress skin insulated panels (SIPS) produce a tremendously tight thermal envelope around the frame. There are two types-EPS and urethane-each having their own advantage. In advance of the SIPS, vertical pine sheathing is applied. Sheathing Photo. Splines align the panels, and expanding spray foam fills the crevices and completes the seal. The panels are offered in 4' widths and lengths up to 20' long. Truckload Photo.
Timber Frame Construction
9. Finishing
Quality doors, windows, siding, trim and standing seam roof complete the exterior. Characterizing a New England Barn a row of lites or transom sits atop the glass doors. Interior Close-up When coupled with a whole house fan a grand four-gable cupola will significantly help ventilate the open interior. See Drawing.  •  107 Quiet Acres Road  •  Manchester VT 05255  •  802-367-3021     Follow us on Facebook

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