Project Planning Guide
Visit the other sections of the Product Planning Guide for detailed information on the process of building a timber frame and valuable tips to consider as you get going.
Browse the photo gallery to find out what's possible with Cabin Creek Timber Frames. Visualizing the home you want to live in is all part of the design process, and we want to help you along the way.
Common Timber Frame Terms
CHECK or CHECKING – appears as a crack in the log or timber and occurs as the wood is seasoning; separation of wood cells along the grain as a result of uneven shrinkage (differential tension and compression stresses in the wood structure); a natural and unpredictable result of the
seasoning process that generally does not affect the structural integrity of the log or timber.
Things to Think About
We’ve listed the tips on this page to help make the most of your design. We’ll cover some of the unique advantages of timber framing that can impact your design choices, and we’ll go feature by feature to talk about best practices for room design that we’ve seen play out over the years. Our goal is to provide you with the details you need to make informed decisions about your design.
Tips on this page are organized into sections. Scroll down to view all sections or click one of the links below to skip ahead.
- Unique Timber Frame Design Elements
- Dining Rooms
- Family Rooms
- Living Rooms
- Foyers or Entry Areas
- Roof Lines and Roofs
- Structural Engineering
Building with a timber frame not only gives you a stronger structural frame than building with stud walls or stick built frames, but it also opens many new design possibilities. Read on to learn more:
- There are no load-bearing walls in timber frame structures. This means that you can change the floor plan with no structural consequences.
- The working structure of the timber frame is array is beautiful and can be seen from the interior, studied, and enjoyed.
- Timber frame structures can feature as many doors and windows as desired because they can easily be fit between the timbers. This means that there is plenty of space for large windows and access to natural light.
- A timber frame sealed with SIPs uses energy efficiently and provides effective noise insulation. These structures often cost less than half as much to heat and cool as traditional homes built with dimensional lumber and fiberglass insulation. This also means that HVAC systems can be sized smaller and prevent the need to extend ductwork to exterior walls, both offering savings.
- Use of sustainable materials contributes to a lower carbon footprint and lower cost to the environment.
- Usually less wood is used in a timber frame than in a stick built structure, and timbers can always been recycled at the end of the building’s life, sometimes centuries down the road.
- The building process creates almost no waste. Any waste created at the Cabin Creek Beamery is used for fuel to heat the Beamery in the wintertime, carbon-neutral, and there is little to no job site waste when the frame is raised.
- Place the kitchen near the dining room; you should not have to go through another room to get to the dining room from the kitchen.
- Place the kitchen near a service door to the outside of the house for less hassle when bringing in groceries.
- Use a durable, weather-resistant floor that goes all the way to the outside door.
- Position the Big 3--the sink, stove and refrigerator--so that their center fronts form the corners of a work triangle. Each leg of the triangle should be at least 4’ but no more than 9’. The sum of the three legs should be between 13’ and 26’. The triangle should be all open space.
- The dishwasher and the refrigerator doors should not be placed where they would open into any entry into your kitchen.
- The dishwasher should always be placed near the sink.
- Standard, single door refrigerators: 32" - 34" wide, allow 36" of space.
- Double door refrigerators take up more space. Check the actual size recommendations in the manufacturers manual.
- Dishwashers: 24" wide.
- Range/Oven: 30" wide. Newer professional grade range/ovens can be 48". Check with your product manufacturer.
- Standard double sinks: 32" wide.
- Base cabinets (including tops): 36" tall and 25" deep
- Upper cabinets: 12" deep, placed 15 to 18" above the base cabinets.
- There should be at least 24" of counter top on one side of the sink and 18" on the other. This not absolute, but we do not recommend using less.
- There should be at least 15" of countertop on the latch side of the refrigerator. Once again this is not an absolute but a strong recommendation.
- There should be at least 15" on one side of the cook top and at least 9" on the other. Once again this is a strong recommendation. Kitchens are expensive to refit.
- "U" is the most efficient.
- "L" works well for an eat-in kitchen.
- Galley or corridor works well in smaller houses and apartments.
- General kitchen spacing: You need at least 36" of space between cabinets/appliances and other cabinets/appliances or islands; 42"-48" separation is strongly recommended, though. This becomes a crucial measurement when trying to incorporate an island. Islands take a significant amount of room and should not be squeezed in.
- Allow 42” from the edge of the table to the wall so that there is ample room. For example, a 3' x 5' table needs 10' x 12' space.
- Allow 30 square feet per person. For example, 6 people x 30' = 180 square feet or a room 12' x 15'.
- Place the family room near the kitchen, often open to the kitchen.
- The family room is usually in the rear of the house, which offers more privacy and it is usually not visible from the front door.
- A small family room is around 12’x16’ while the average is 14’x18’.
- The living room is usually located at the front of the house, often opposite the dining room.
- Typically has at least one long wall for placing a sofa and for hanging formal pictures.
- Minimum size is 12’x16’; average size is 12’ to 14’ wide by 16’ to 18’ long.
- Minimum size is 6’x6’; 6’x8’ or larger is better.
- You can create the illusion of separate space by employing a “wing wall” or a different type or style of flooring.
- Plan for at least one long wall against which to place the head of the bed.
- Closets traditionally are placed toward other rooms to help with noise reduction or they can be placed on an outside wall to help with insulation. Once again, SIPs panels can help to negate the insulation factor.
- Closets are typically 25” deep. Your drywall specialist is able to split a 4’ wide section with a minimum amount of fuss.
- Bedroom closets usually range from 4’ to 8’ wide.
- Walk-in closets provide more free space than wall closets. Walk-in closets are usually “U” or “L” shaped.
- The new closet “systems” provide much better functional use of closet space.
- Hallways should always be at least 3’; 4’ is ideal.
- Book shelves can easily be placed on one or both sides of a hallway. This allows not only for functional use of the hallway but also gives collectors much needed display space. Keep in mind that the hall should be made wider if you plan to use this feature.
- The smallest three-fixture bath is 5’x8’.
- The smallest two-fixture bath is either 3’x7’ or 5’x6’.
- The minimum suggested door size is 32”. You can go with a smaller 24” door, but a wider door span will allow more flexibility in the event of a wheelchair, for example.
- Standard tubs are 60”x32” wide; 6’ tall with shower surround.
- Standard showers are 36" x 36" or 48" x 36", 6' tall; minimum sized shower is 32" x 32”, but this is unusual.
- Standard toilet sizes are typically 28" deep by 20" wide and need 24" in clearance in front of and 12" on each side.
- Bathroom vanities are usually 31" tall by 18"-22" deep, including the countertop). A double bowl vanity should be a minimum of 5' wide, single bowl vanities should be at least 18" wide, though 2' is a more realistic minimum. Sinks need at 30" clearance in front.
- Bathroom plumbing is most cost efficient when placed back-to-back and stacked floor-to-floor in relation to other bathrooms in the house.
- Rooms that appreciate morning sun, such as kitchens and the bedrooms of early risers, should face east. Rooms that you don’t want to heat too quickly should also face east, as in the case of most kitchens.
- The north side of the house is always colder than the other sides, so consider carefully which rooms will be facing north.
The spans that you create in your timber frame are only limited by the size of timbers you can find, but we recommend that you don’t exceed a span of 32’. Timbers that are longer than 32’ are difficult to find and consequently more expensive.
- In general, the steeper the roof’s pitch, the better the house looks. Attractive pitches you can aim for include 6/12, 9/12, and 12/12. Consider that 12/12 roofs are hard to work on, but can offer you more square footage beneath, if desired. If you prefer a less steeply pitched roof, the knee wall can be made taller to add more room to a second story or loft area.
- If your house has multiple roof lines, try to keep them at the same pitch.
- When considering your roofing materials, keep in mind that what looks best, including shakes and metal, also cost more. The cost of labor for installing shakes or metal roofs is also significantly higher.
- Make sure that you install shingles or metal roofing that has been certified for application to SIPs. Most building departments require that you have written documentation from the manufacturer on the certification. Cost should not be used as an indicator that the shingles or metal roofing meet these higher standards. Shingles that are not certified for direct application to SIPs can bubble or wave up.
- Contact your local building department for detailed information on the regulations for stairs.
- Stairs that are 4’ wide offer good benefits in the long term. For example, if you need to help someone up the stairs, it is easier to walk beside them when there is more room available.
Always check with the building department in your area regarding structural engineering. Some locations require that timber frame plans be stamped by a structural engineer before construction can take place.