Designing for Cold Weather Climates

Design for Temperate Climates


In this blog I would like to discuss Temperate climates and what specific design characteristics we can employ to react to the distinct conditions of this zone.


The main characteristics of the temperate climate include:


-Cool to cold winter days

-Cold winter nights

-Warm to hot summers with moderate humidity

-Generally have 4 seasons

-Does not experience the wide variations of some of the more extreme climates


A temperate climate typically includes a hot and dry season followed by a wet and warm season and then winter conditions.  This makes it a challenging climate to design in.  The goal is to keep a balance between conflicting requirements.  In the winter, you need to seek solar radiation gain and then provide shading in the summer.


Here are some design ideas:


-Orient building axis east/west to maximize south side

-Windows should be moderate in size with double glazing

-Windows should face south to collect heat during the winter, but should be shaded during the summer months

-Needs appropriate amount of thermal building mass to absorb excess heat during the day and return it to the space at night

-Plan for cooling ventilation in the summer months but block the wind in the winter

-Insulate building envelope to high standards

-Deciduous trees are beneficial for blocking sun in the summer but letting sun through in the winter


Designing in temperate zones is challenging, but by utilizing a few of these design techniques, it will greatly improve the comfort within your home and overall energy demand. 

The Many Perks of a Timber Frame Homes


Read the article that Canadian Timberframes wrote for the Mountain Living Homes Blog around the energy efficiencies of timber frame homes.




Designing a Home For Warm Humid Climates Where Germane


I discussed the hot arid climate in my last blog and how we can accomplish a more comfortable living environment within our homes by following a few design guidelines. Next, I want to talk about Warm Humid Climates and what we can do to address this specific zone.


The main characteristics for a warm humid climate include:


-High rainfall and high humidity

-Temperature is relatively high and fairly even throughout the day and throughout the year

-Winds are light and even non-existent at times

-Heavy precipitation and storms occur frequently


The main objective with a warm humid climate is to reduce the impact of sun and to provide cooling with wind as much as possible.


Here are some design ideas:


-Provide maximum shading of solar radiation with large overhanging roofs on the north and south sides

-Try to shade every window if possible

-Minimize east/west exposure as much as possible

-Orient house on north/south axis to provide maximum ventilation and free air movement.

-Use large openings on north/south for cross ventilation

-Avoid heat storage and use reflective outer surfaces

-Use tiled floors and not carpeting

-Use vegetation to moderate solar impact by creating shade


These are some important ideas to consider as you begin the process of designing your new home in a warm humid climate. Shade and ventilation are really the key and by thinking about this in the beginning you will have a superior finished product in the end.


Our Q 3 Company Duct Tape Award goes to......


Thanks Judy for taking personal pride & ensuring top notch quality control on the application & consistency of our staining & Finishing. Plus contributing to our company culture by suppling treats to her fellow co-workers (mostly out her own pocket)!

The Management Team :)

The Art, Romance & History of Timber Framing

Read the Blog that Canadian Timberframes wrote for Mountain Living around the romance, the art & history of timber framing.




Parade of Homes in Summit County, Colorado

What an amazing Parade of Homes in Summit County, Colorado this past weekend. After 2 days of beautiful weather and inspiration the "Unofficial Canadian Judge" Jeff Bowes, gives first and second place to Allen Guerra Architects for their two projects in Breckenridge.


One in the Highlands subdivision, and the second seen here, is a home skillfully placed on Penn Lode Drive in Shock Hill, featuring castle architecture, heavy timber, and modern elements… an absolute show stopper! Congratulations to Suzanne and her team”


Designing Homes for Hot Arid Climates


In my last blog I discussed how the various climates that we find in North America can influence design and how the four broad climate types we find calls for varying design techniques. The first climate that I want to discuss is the Hot Arid Climate.


The main characteristics for a hot arid climate include:


-Hot dry summer and a cold dry winter

-Very little rainfall and vegetation coverage

-High temperature difference between day and night

-Very low humidity

-Desert areas include wind and dust


The main idea in a hot arid zone is to reduce uncomfortable conditions created by the extremes of heat and dryness. Houses must remain cool in the hot summers and warm in the cold winters.  During the summer, sun is the enemy. It is important to provide maximum shading of direct solar radiation during the day and flush out any stored heat during the cooler nights.


Here are some design ideas to accomplish comfort:


-Place windows to take advantage of cooling breezes in summer

-Have very small well shaded windows on the eastern and western walls

-Include extensive area of wall and windows on the north side

-Shade windows from summer sun but expose winter sun to interior of house

-Use compact floor plan with less external wall area to minimize eastern and western walls

-Maximize nighttime cooling with high level windows or vents to let out the hot air and draw in cooler air

-Utilize shaded courtyards with water features that draw the cool moist air into the house

-Use vegetation to increase shading

-Paint interior and exterior walls light colors

-For warming at night, capture and store solar energy in solid material such as a concrete floor or brick walls to release at night


By utilizing these design considerations, a more comfortable living environment can be achieved with less mechanical means and thus much less energy use.  And ultimately you will arrive at a much preferred and more comfortable home.


Wood shopping for amazingly large logs that will be crafted into enormous feature timbers!


One of the great parts of being a fully integrated company is taking a spectacular log through to finished product. In this case we had the privilage to purchase BIG wood :)


This impressive log will at some point be crafted into enormous timbers. We specialize in custom builds and our machinery can impressively handle much larger pieces of log & timber than many other outfits can handle. 


Stay tuned for the operational challenge of unloading this impressive piece of wood that one day will make one of our clients extremly happy that they will have a feature in their home that many could only dream of.


Newly Finished Timber Frame Home in Bowling Green, Kentucky


Settling into their new timber frame and enjoying the home that they had dreamed of having! Spend some time on a 'virtual' tour through this Bowling Green, Kentucky home. We have loaded great photo's of their lot, exterior & interior living spaces. Browse through the whole building process: from design, through construction and now the finished home!


This home is a great example of the many products that Canadian Timberframes has to offer.

The home is fully dialed in with:

  • A complete timber frame
  • Antique circle sawn finish
  • Pre-stained T&G throughout
  • Our R37 insulated roof build up
  • Our pre-manufactured wall systems
  • Exterior timber deck, stairs and railings
  • Pre-finished Western Red Cedar siding, trims & facia
  • Exterior windows & doors


You will be able to see many of our products throughout the finished pictures.

Designing your Home for the Climate you are Building in

Designing for Specific Climates



Did you know that each specific climate warrants different design details than others?  A home located in the Arizona desert calls for contrasting design characteristics from one located in the Rocky Mountains or one that is sited on the ocean’s coast.  Below is a short list of distinctive design characteristics for each broad climate type that we typically find in North America.


Hot arid climates:


In hot arid zones, the main objective is to reduce uncomfortable conditions created by the extremes of heat and dryness. Usually in this climate there are great variations between day and night conditions. It is important to provide maximum shading of direct solar radiation during the day.  Usually these conditions can be controlled easier with compact designs that incorporate shade and controllable ventilation.


Warm humid zones:


This climate is characterized by high rainfall and high humidity.  The temperature differences are minimal and winds are typically light.  The most important design considerations involve providing maximum ventilation by designing large openings. Also, providing maximum shading of direct solar radiation is important. Generous shading devices can assist with this.  Vegetation can also be used to provide shade.


Temperate conditions:


A temperate climate typically includes a hot and dry season followed by a wet and warm season and then winter conditions.  This makes it a challenging climate to design in.  The goal is to keep a balance between conflicting requirements.  In the winter, you need to seek solar radiation gain and then provide shading in the summer.  Also, you need to provide wind protection in the winter and proper ventilation in the summer.  Some of these requirements can be satisfied by providing semi-compact forms and an orientation to benefit from the winter sun.


Alpine zones:


The alpine climate is characterized by low humidity and high temperature ranges.  There typically are cold winters, warm summers and highly variable spring and autumn conditions.  Good access to sunlight is important, therefore maximizing southern exposure is key. Stretching a building out in the east/west direction helps with both sun exposure and essential ventilation which is imperative in the summer months.


This is just a preview of a few of the design challenges that you may encounter with these specific climate types.  For my next few blogs, I will focus on each climate separately and discuss specifically what we can do to design buildings smarter and more environmentally friendly for the setting we each live in.  Stay tuned….

Jeff Bowes on site with Home Owners in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Jeff Bowes, President & Partner at Canadian Timberframes was on site with the owners of this outstanding timber frame home while it was getting shot for an upcoming feature in a timber magazine.



This home is designed by Kelly & Stone Architects.  They are dedicated to providing innovative yet sensible architectural design solutions. This client fell in love with K&S designs and is pleased to have them work on their retirement home. 


The contemporary feel to the traditional rustic mountain charm uses mono trusses to give this home a more modern up-to-date feel.  The trusses used this way create a unique style to the home.  The slopes juxtaposed against the rolling smooth greens of the golf course, help make this home stand out in it's setting. 


Stay tunned for updates to this project when our new photo's come in and the editorial story is released.


Canadian Timberframes Summer Newsletter, 2015 Edition

Summer 2015

Summer time, a time to relax a bit more, enjoy the outdoors, BBQ’ing & dining under the stars. An energetic time of year. We have harnessed that energy and brought several exciting changes to our product, services and operations. Read all about these changes & get updates on many of the exciting project we have on the go.



Common Floor Plan Concepts for a New Home

How do you begin describing to your architect what kind of floor plan you might want in your new home? Is there a certain type of layout that might fit your lifestyle better?  Is there a way to organize the spaces within your home to suit your specific family?


Well, let me begin by explaining a couple of common floor plan concepts that many homes incorporate within their overall design.


Open Floor Plan:  This is the most common type of floor plan over the last ten years or so.  An open floor plan caters to a more relaxed, but busy lifestyle.  Homeowners tend to entertain less formally and want to spend quality time with their family whenever possible since their life is more hectic.  An open floor plan provides a space that is both welcoming and relaxing and allows everyone to gather in the same larger space together.


With an open floor plan, there is typically a “great room.”  In this “great room” is contained a kitchen, a living space and an eating area.  These spaces are typically open to one another but may be delineated slightly with ceiling changes or furniture arrangements.  Sometimes a formal dining room is eliminated entirely and a dining nook serves as the family eating area.  The idea with an open floor plan is that everyone feels a part of the conversation even if one person is cooking in the kitchen, one is doing homework in the dining nook and another is watching TV in the living area.


Typically within an open floor plan, there are auxiliary spaces like a pantry or utility room, mud room, home office, etc. that are usually sited to be adjacent to the great room space.  Also, the master bedroom is often located on the main floor level.  Additional bedrooms may be located on the main floor level as well or may be separately upstairs or downstairs, depending on the configuration of the site.


Outdoor spaces are also typically located adjacent to this larger great room space and may contain an area for grilling, an outdoor sitting space or dining area as well.



Closed Floor Plan:   In contrast, a closed floor plan is one that was more common in older homes.  This concept separates spaces from one another with walls and/or doors.  There is usually a separate room for the kitchen as well as a formal dining room. 


The advantages to this plan are that it is easier to handle noise and smell.  By keeping areas separate and being able to close doors, unwanted noises and smells can be isolated.  Also, in closed floor plans you can more easily hide messes when guests come over.  The full sink in your kitchen can be shut off from the rest of the house.   In addition, closed floor plans offer more privacy to their occupants. 



There are definitely advantages to both floor plan concepts.  You just need to ask yourself which layout suits your lifestyle better.  And maybe, it’s even a combination of the two.    There are endless options to a floor plan layout, so the decision is yours!

New Designs in our Design Portfolio

Check out our collaboration with Blue Sky Architecture.

And our new cottage design


Our Q2 Company Duct Tape Award goes to.....

Congratulations Joachim! The award was well deserved!

The Canadian Timberframes Management Team :)

What is the difference is between an eave and a gable end roof of a house?

What is the difference between an eave roof and a gable end roof?

We have had various discussions about roofs in our latest blogs such as Architectural Roof Types and the Importance of Roof Pitches, now lets dive deeper into these two roof types. What is the meaning of an eave and gable roof and how do they differ?



An Eave is defined as the edge of the roof that overhangs the face of a wall.  This is the portion of the roof that protrudes beyond the side of a house or building.  In contrast, a Gable (or Rake) is the overhang of a building that occurs on the side that is topped by a gable roof.


Why do we need eave and gable roofs? 

Well, they are important features of a building and actually serve a purpose.  The primary function of eaves is to keep rain water (or melting snow) off the side of a house.  It prevents water from entering the house at the point the roof meets the wall.  Gable (or Rake) overhangs pretty much provide the same sort of protection, but at the end wall of a house.


Some other purposes for eaves might be to prevent erosion of the foundation footings below the house by carrying the water away from the edge of the building. They also help to reduce splatter from water as it hits the ground below.


In some home designs deep roof eaves and gables may serve to protect the home from solar gain.  They may also be designed to allow important sun angles in to heat the house in the winter and then keep the hot sun out in the summer. 

Steamboat springs colorado gable roof example

The photo above is a beautiful example from our Steamboat Springs Timber Frame Home.


Eaves and gable roofs in historical architecture?

Historically, eaves haven’t been just about protecting a building, they have also been a place of decoration and ornamentation to define specific architectural styles.  For example, a craftsman style home can be categorized by its large eaves and gables that contain decorative brackets.  Also, back in the days of Roman and Greek architecture, the buildings contained cornices finished with decorative molding which served the purpose of eaves.  In addition, in Chinese architecture they utilized dougong bracket systems which are unique structural elements of interlocking wooden brackets.


See more Timber Frame Homes & Commercial Buildings


What parts make up an eave and gable roof?

Eaves may terminate in a fascia which is a board running the length of an eave to protect the ends of the roof rafters.  The underside of the eaves may contain a horizontal soffit fixed at a right angle to the wall to seal the gap between the rafters from weather. 


I hope that this discussion involving eaves and gables (or rakes) gives you a better understanding of their differences and why we need them.  Can you imagine how ridiculous your house might look without them?

Timberframe Tour De Force

Coming to a Muskoka Dock Near you!


See one of our finished master pieces featured on the Cover of the 2015 Edition of Cottage Country Hideaways Magazine plus an impressive 9 page feature article exploring this massive home and inspiring design and architectural features. Enjoy the 2,000 square foot great room, the lower level spa complete with steam room, sauna, wine room & relaxation area, take a gander at the extraordinary indoor pool and more.


Attached is the cover shot and digital feature article , open and enjoy the read & images of this truly spectacular home.


Understanding the Importance of Roof Pitches


You are working with your architect on designing your new home and he or she starts talking to you about roof pitches.  Do you want a 4:12 roof or an 8:12 roof? How about a 9:12 roof instead of a 10:12? What is a roof pitch?  I’m so confused! 



Well, the pitch of your roof is the angle at which the surfaces slope. The roof pitch is written in a ratio of inches. It is the number of inches of rise for every 12 inches of horizontal distance. For example, a roof with a 4:12 pitch rises 4 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal roof run.  To visualize this, picture the roof pitch as a right triangle.  The angled side is the roof, the vertical leg is the rise and the horizontal leg is the flat roof run.



Are there certain pitch standards to abide by when designing your roof?  Not really.  Many builders consider a low-pitched roof to be anywhere from a 2:12 to a 4:12 slope.  Then, a 4:12 to a 9:12 is typically a medium pitch range and anything from a 9:12 and above is considered a steep-pitched roof.  The most common residential roof slopes range from a 4:12 to a 9:12.



Typically, the steeper your roof pitch, the more expensive it is to have installed.  Builders usually need special equipment to build steep-pitched roofs and there is also additional risks for workers.  However, a steeper roof removes water, ice and snow more quickly than its shallow counterparts and usually means a longer lasting life for your roof. 



So, what is the correct slope to use on your new home?  In my opinion, utilizing a couple different slopes (one lower-pitched and one higher-pitched) adds interest to the overall composition.  However, you have to be careful not to use too many different slopes in one design.  If you do, the look of the house becomes jumbled and it becomes more difficult to build (and expensive.) 


It’s really up to you and your architect and what looks good for your particular design.  The options are endless!


Roof Types and the importance within Design

Architectural Roof Types


We all know that roofs are an integral part of a house and probably one of the most important elements.  Roofs keep us dry from the rain and snow, shade us from the sweltering sun and block us from the unyielding wind.  Usually roof forms are dictated by technical, economic and aesthetic considerations. Did you know that there are more than a dozen basic roof types and even more combinations of those?  I’m just going to touch on a few of the more popular basic forms for homes:


Flat:  Flat roofs are just that, flat.  They are typically used where the climate is arid and drainage is of secondary importance. They are a very popular roof type for warehouses, commercial spaces, office buildings and often residential structures.


Shed:  This is the first category of many sloped roof types that I will be discussing. The shed, sometimes referred to as “lean to” or “mono-pitched” contains only one pitch.  You can think of it as a flat roof that has been tilted slightly.  It is often used on just a portion of a home.  The shed roof is usually used in combination with other roof forms to create a home with interesting rooflines.



Gable:  A roof with two slopes that form an “A” or triangle is called a gable roof. This type of roof is very common on North American homes.  The gable roof can contain roof pitches that are very shallow to ones that are extremely steep.  Also, numerous gable roofs can be placed together at perpendicular angles to cover a home with many wings.



Clerestory:  A clerestory roof is one that combines both a gable and shed roof.  A clerestory usually contains a higher gable roof that sits atop a short wall with a shed roof below.  This allows for windows to be placed within the short wall for light within the interior of a large space.


Hip:  A roof that starts with a gable shape but has a sloped end instead of a vertical wall is called a hipped roof.  The hipped roof slopes upward from all four sides of a structure, having no vertical ends. This type of roof is very common in residential designs.


Gambrel:  A gambrel roof is a type of gable roof with two slopes on each side, the upper being less steep than the lower. This roof form is very common in barn designs.


Mansard: This type of roof is a hipped gambrel roof, thus having two slopes on every side. It can provide extra attic space or other rooms without having to build an entire additional floor.


Pyramid: As the name suggests, this type of roof is shaped like a pyramid.  This kind of roof is usually on a small portion of a house or on small structures such as a garage or pool house.



So there you have it, the basic roof types of residential construction.  To design a visually stimulating house, a few different roof types may be used together or several of the same forms may be utilized in different ways.  This creates a home that uniquely responds to both its interior function and its exterior individuality.



Barrel Racing Sponsor

Canadian Timberframes sponsored the recent 2015 Delbert Johnson Memorial Barrel Jackpot

The barrel racing took place at the Golden Rodeo Grounds.

Great event, awesome riders, lots of spectators enjoying the show.

Congratulations to all the competitors.

New interest from Louisville Kentucky, Alpharetta Georgia, Sandpoint Idaho and Palm Beach Gardens Florida,

Spring time is heating up and people are starting to plan for their dream getaway.

We are receiving lots of interest from the US, and have many projects going on throughout NA.


Recently we have had people reaching out from Louisville, Kentucky


Sandpoint, Idaho


Alpharetta, Georgia


and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida


We are here to provide what ever support and information you need. Whether you are just starting out, or have designs in hand. We look forward to surpassing your service expectations.



Getting interest for timber frame getaways in Rexford New York, Manassas Virginia, Carmel Indiana & Sweard Nebraska

We are generating a lot of interest from the US, clients seeking out the premier boutique timber frame manufacturer, Canadian Timberframes to design & build their glamorous timber frame getaway.


Interest from Rexford, New York


Interest from Manassas, Virginia


Interest from Carmel, Indiana


And more interest from Sweard, Nebraska


Being the premier supplier of Timber Frame Homes across North America, we thrive on the diverse interest that comes in across the United States. Looking forward to helping you out with your dream getaway or home.

Building our new Drying Shed

Just finished the raising for our new drying shed outside our manufacturing facility in Golden BC.

The massive 48' finished logs used for the shed are a common sight, seen throughout our lumber lot and down by our mill.  Big logs are what we use & work with every day. BC interior douglas fir grows like giants around here.


Trucks loaded with Timber for Lamont Alberta

2 B Train trucks were loaded & tarped for the ride to Lamont Alberta and the timber raising next week.

28 total lifts of materials were loaded, including the timber frame, T&G for the ceilings and our R-50 custom roof materials. There is 432 total pcs. just for the timber frame, consisting of over 12,000 board feet of pre-stained Douglas Fir timbers. Keep coming back to the website to see our updated project pictures.

Understanding Common Architectural Styles

Have you ever driven by a house that you really liked and then tried to explain the exact style and what you like about it to someone else?  Did you know that a house rarely contains one single architectural style?  And by the way, what is an architectural style?  Well, architectural style is a way we classify buildings according to their features, materials and historic period.  Buildings that belong to the same style often share similar characteristics.

There are probably hundreds of architectural styles, but I am going to highlight just a few of the more common styles of today.


Download our free Photo Lookbook & find an architectural style that inspires you!



Craftsman Style Architecture:

Craftsman style homes (often referred to as Cottages or Bungalows) get their name from the arts and crafts movement back in the early 20th century.  Designers sought a return to the time of uniquely crafted decorative arts during a time of mass production.  A common feature of craftsman style is the utilization of glass, wood and metal creating something that is both simple and elegant.  It also includes low-pitched gable roofs with wide overhanging eaves, exposed rafters, decorative brackets and porches at the front of the house.


Explore the Craftsman Style



Ranch Style Architecture:

The Ranch house style homes originated in the 1930s. This house combined modernist ideas with the concepts of the western ranches to create something very informal for a casual living style. Common features of a ranch house include a single story with a long, low roof line and large overhanging eaves. The exterior materials usually include brick, stucco, wood and glass.


Explore the Ranch Style



Contemporary Style Architecture:

Contemporary homes (also referred to as Modern) got their start back in the 1950s.  They are often characterized by their odd, irregular shapes and often tall windows and lack of ornamentation. The exterior also contains unusual mixtures of wall materials like stone, wood and brick. Inside houses an open floor plan with cathedral ceiling or flat roofs.


Explore the Contemporary Style




Chalet Style Architecture:


A Chalet is native to the alpine region in Europe.  They were introduced to North America in the mid- 1800s. They are usually constructed of wood with a heavy, gently sloping roof and deep eaves.  The front-facing gable roof is usually embellished with rustic ornamentation made of hand-sawn timbers.


Explore the Chalet Style




Colonial Style Architecture:

Colonial style homes comes from the American colonial period. This style often refers to a rectangular, symmetrical home that is 2 or 3 stories with a high pitched roof and multiple dormers. They usually contain multi-paned double-hung windows placed symmetrically. The exterior materials include clapboard siding with shutters.



Mediterranean Style Architecture:

The Mediterranean style comes from the heritage of mission churches built by Spanish colonists. Some characteristics include adobe-like stucco exterior with a flat or low-pitched roof and clay tiles. There are usually balconies with wrought iron railings.  Another common feature is and deeply shaded porches and possibly interior courtyards.



These are just a few of the many styles of architecture, but hopefully this will be helpful to begin a discussion with your architect about what features you might really like to include in your future home.


Looking for potential timber home design inspiration? Download our free Design LookBook.

One of our most advertised vacation properites, now has it's design drawings loaded

The Design: Elevations, 3D Models and floor plans were finally loaded to one of commonly advertised and talked about vacation properties. Get under the hood of this spectacular home.


New Design uploaded for our Vancouver Island Project

We are constantly updating our projects as new photo's or Design drawings come to us.


We have just loaded the design drawings (Elevations, floor plans & timber frame plans) for this Vancouver Island Cottage. Read the story, peruse the construction photo's and watch this project come to life.


New construction photos added to our Sioux Falls, South Dakota project.

New construction photos added to our Sioux Falls, South Dakota project, a 7,000 sq ft home.


Canadian Timberframes is proud to be a Certified Dealer for Loewen Windows

We are excited to bring the outstanding quality and craftsmanship from this Canadian company to our customers. One of the key elements for Canadian Timberframes in making our decision to become a certified dealer was not only the quality but the Douglas Fir used in the production of their products. The Douglas Fir will give our customers the finished match they are after in building their luxury timber frame home.


Alexandre Lathion, a Canadian Timberframes designer & timber frame technician had the chance to take part in their annual dealer training that was held in their factory of Steinbach Manitoba last week.

During the 4 day training session, he got an in-depth look at the process and manufacturing facility; he was able to tour the production lines and headquarters of this company founded in 1905.

With over 500 employees and a production facility of more than 600'000 square feet Loewen has the means to produce an outstanding product. "More so than the means it is the passion and pride that struck me"  said Alexandre  during his visit, "real craftsman are actually involved in the fabrication and design process of these windows and it shows in their end product."


They produce it all, from the very traditional double hung windows to their modern lift and slide system. Loewen also offers a custom window making department to meet any of your design needs...the only limit is your imagination.

With a wide variety of designs and applications, as well as a Canadian dollar price point Loewen is a great addition to our offering and we are looking forward to quoting the windows on your next project.


The Quarterly CTF Duck Tape Award

The quarterly CTF Duck Tape Award was presented today at our town hall meeting.



The award was presented from last quarters recipient to this quarters winner:


This Duct Tape award goes to......

Klaus Stelzig, Senior Designer & Timber Frame Technician

For the outstanding achievement of:

Design and interfacing excellence!!

Congratulations Klaus!!

Zoning & Municipal Restrictions

Irritating Rules and Regulations


Your architect is ready to begin your new home design, or so you think.  However, before he or she even puts a pencil to a piece of paper for the first time, there are certain parameters that must be followed. These terms I am keying as “Irritating Rules and Regulations.”  No matter how much of a pain they are, you unfortunately must abide by them to build your house. Some of these include:



Most land is labeled and distinguished for some purpose.  Some land is marked as being for residential use while some is only for commercial or industrial use.  The zoning may also restrict the number of units or buildings upon a specific piece of land.  This term is probably less irritating than some of them, for you don’t want to live next to an industrial plant, do you?


Height Restrictions:

Most municipalities have regulations on how tall you can build your new home.  This is usually spelled out in the city or county building codes.  If you own a flat lot, then this probably isn’t going to be a big deal.  However, if your site is sloped, this may be a major headache.  Personally, I find this irritating regulation one of the most challenging.  Clients commonly come to me wanting a house with a nice vaulted great room space with a loft area above and a walk out basement below.  This can be very challenging especially if the maximum height is 30-32 feet tall. 


Also, every jurisdiction has a different way they measure height.  Some measure from existing grade, some from finished grade, and some from somewhere in between.  Some measure to the top of the ridge and some measure halfway up the sloped roof (You’ve got to be kidding me!)  Anyway, just be sure that prior to getting too far with your design, your architect knows the exact method of measurement!


Building Envelope/Building Setbacks:

Almost every piece of land has a designated setback requirement or building envelope that your building has to remain within.  This is to insure that you aren’t building right on top of your neighbor and usually has to do with fire protection as well as privacy.  You are usually required to have every piece of your house (including overhangs) within the building envelope, but sometimes low decks and patios are allowed within setback areas.  Check with your local jurisdiction to be sure.



Easements are imaginary lines that protect something. It may be existing utilities or even natural landforms or waterways.  Also, municipalities may have easements along roadways and streets for traffic safety, etc.  Typically, no buildings are allowed within these areas.


Design Guidelines:

If your home is located in a neighborhood with an HOA, more than likely they have architectural design guidelines that you must follow.  Some neighborhoods have barely any restrictions while some have quite the lengthy and costly process.  Often the design guidelines are more restrictive than what the municipality requires.  Design guidelines can regulate items such as the appearance of your house, color, landscaping requirements and much more.  Be sure you know what you’re getting into before you begin the process.



These are just a few of the irritating rules and regulations.  Unfortunately, there may be many more.  The way to conquer these annoying rules is to research and know what you are getting into before you jump in head first!


Communicating your ideas to your architect through a design questionnaire

The Design Questionnaire


You are looking forward to beginning the design of your new home project, but where do you begin?  How do you communicate your ideas to your architect?  Well, a good place to start might be a design questionnaire.  Many design firms have a form that they use for clients to express their ideas.  Many times the form they use might be in the style of a questionnaire.


Design Questionnaires usually start with specific client/owner information.  This data is used for communication with the client as well as to notate on the drawing sheets for the construction documents.


Another question might address the site or lot where the new building will be located.  This information is helpful for the architect to know what sort of site conditions they might encounter when positioning the new house. Questions regarding the steepness of the land as well as views and sun exposure are very important when siting a building. Utility location and utility availability is also key information to know when considering the location of the new home.


Then, the questionnaire might propose general house questions.  For example, it could ask why you are building a new home, when you would like to have the house completed and if you have hired a general contractor to work with yet or if you might want to build the house yourself.


Another important question is what architectural style you might want the house to be. Do you want a rustic cabin or would you rather have a more contemporary ranch style home?  These are critical concepts to know prior to jumping into the design.


Aesthetic and structural information is also key to know.  Have you thought about what sort of foundation or structure you might want? Do you want to include timber within your home? Also, the questionnaire might start your thinking about the specific interior and exterior finishes you want to incorporate.


Also, design questionnaires usually list every room you might want in your new home.  This gives you an opportunity to list specific sizes or room relationships that are important to you.  This is also a good place to list outdoor adjacency or specific sun exposure requirements.


Specific plumbing fixtures or appliances can also be included on a questionnaire.  This information can be very helpful in designing spaces such as a kitchen or bathroom layout.


There may be additional items included in a questionnaire that I didn‘t cover, but these are a great way to start your design journey. The more information your architect knows initially, the better end product you will get!  

Understanding the Architects Design Phases: Schematic Design; Design Development; Construction Documents

The Architect’s Design Phases

Working with an architect seems like a complicated process, am I right? But, did you know that most architects utilize a typical design process to complete the design services for your new home? By knowing just the basics before talking with your architect, the process will seem a lot less daunting.

There are typically 5 phases that an architect practices to complete a project.  However, in smaller projects such as new homes, I usually employ only 3 of them:


Schematic Design:

Schematic design is the first phase.  In this step, an architect talks with the client to determine the project requirements and goals.  The architect usually starts with rough study drawings that illustrate the basic concepts of the design.  This most often includes spatial relationships as well as basic scale and forms the owner might desire.  Also, initial research of  jurisdictional regulations is completed at this time.  Initial cost estimations are also investigated based on total project size and complicity.

Schematic Design often produces rough drawings of a site plan, floor plans, elevations and often illustrative sketches or computer renderings. See examples of designs/floor plans.


Design Development:

Design development collects the results from the schematic design phase and takes them one step further.  This phase involves finalizing the design and specifying such items as materials, window and door locations and general structural details.

Design development usually yields a more detailed site plan as well as floor plans, elevations and section drawings with full dimensions.  

This is Canadian Timberframes Lake House Design for a home in Alberta which can be viewed here.



View more Canadian Timberframes Residential Design Plans 



Construction Documents:

Once the architect and client are comfortable with the drawings produced from the design development phase, they can move on to the construction documents. The construction document phase produces drawings with much more detail which are used for the construction of your project. These drawings typically include specifications for construction details and materials.  Once the CDs are completed, the architects send them to contractors for pricing or bidding as well as to the building department for required permit approvals.

Construction documents often include a complete set of architectural drawings (site plan, floor plans, sections, details, etc.) that are combined with structural drawings (and possibly mechanical and electrical drawings) that have enough detail for the contractor to build your project.

Other Phases:

In larger projects there can be a bid or negotiation phase as well as a construction phase service.  These typically aren’t utilized in smaller home projects, but they are an important part of larger residential, commercial or industrial projects.



So, there you have it.  That in a nutshell is the complete process of an architect’s service.  By being aware of this entire process, it will hopefully help your overall anxiety of your new home project!

Bear Rock in New Hampshire, is an example of one of the homes I have designed with Canadian Timberframes and has its drawings posted.

Breaking down architectural language - descriptions and examples of commonly used terms

Architectural Drawings


You have decided to hire an architect to help you with your new home design.  Suddenly, your architect starts spitting out all of these architectural terms that you have no idea what they mean!  Are we speaking the same language?  How are we ever going to design a home together when I have NO IDEA what he or she is talking about?!


Well, I am here to help clarify some of these architectural terms so you can carry on an intelligent conversation with them.  Let’s first discuss the basic terms for the drawing set (or blueprints.)


Site Plan:

A site plan drawing is a bird’s eye view of your house on the piece of land, lot or site.  A site plan sometimes shows topography which involves connecting points of the same elevation height with lines.  These lines show how steep or flat your site may be.  The site plan also shows your property lines, any building setback lines as well as utility locations or existing structures.  It may also locate any ditches, hills, waterways, rock formations, etc. 


When looking at a site plan drawing, typically an outline of your house as well as the driveway location is shown.  Also, if your site is sloped, some new grading lines might be exhibited.  These grading lines show how the soil is re-graded to work with your new driveway and house.


Your architect will use the site plan to decide how to start designing your home.  They will take numerous things into consideration like street/road location, existing neighbors‘ homes, sun exposure, building setback lines, etc. to determine the best layout and orientation.

Floor Plans:

A floor plan is a drawing showing the layout of your new home.  A floor plan is probably the most common type of drawing you think of when you talk about building plans.  A floor plan is like taking off the roof of your house and slicing about 4 feet above the floor level.  A floor plan shows the layout of exterior walls, interior rooms, kitchen and bathroom layouts, etc. 


There may be multiple floor plans that involve a basement plan, a main level plan or even an upper level plan.  Each room is typically labeled and may show the potential positions of furniture and plumbing fixtures.  The floor plan will also have dimensions that show the size of each room and location of each wall, window and door.


Building elevations are drawings that show what the outside of your house will look like. It’s a flat view of a building seen from one side. Elevations show windows, doors, roofs, decks and exterior materials.  They help communicate what a building will look like.


Building section drawings involve cutting vertically through the house and pulling away one side to expose what the house looks like on the inside.  Sections are helpful to show roof forms, ceiling heights, stair configurations and interior room compositions.  They also help in determining floor and roof construction as well as room treatment options.

These are just a few of the more common drawing sheets involved in a building drawing set. But, you’re not an expert yet…stayed tuned for more talk about architectural language.  There’s a lot more to learn!

Need help finding an architect, builder, or designer for your timber frame project? Contact us.

Why Use an Architect? And What is the Value in It?



So, you have been thinking for years about building your own home or maybe doing an addition to your existing home because your family is growing.  But, the task seems just too daunting.  How do I know that this is the right move to make?  How will I ever begin the process? 


 Have you ever thought about using an architect for your project?    Does using an architect on your new home project really add value?  Well, I believe it does and here’s why:


-Process.  An architect can guide you on where to begin and the correct steps to complete your project.


-Spatial organization:  An architect can make your spaces more functional, efficient and comfortable.  You can get something that is tailored to your specific needs. 


-Specific site conditions: Architects can perform site studies, research municipal requirements and secure planning and zoning approvals.


-Sustainable “Green” design:  Most architects are experts in sustainable design.  They can help you in using recycled materials, green roofs, solar panels, natural light, air and water treatment systems as well as many other green practices.


-Budget management:  Architects can assist in helping you understand what the overall cost of the project might be.  They can also save you money through the creative use of space and materials.


-Builder selection:  An architect can help you in selecting a builder that is right for both you and your project.  Typically, architects have worked with many builders and have insight to who might be best fit to your specific project.


-Creativity:  Architects are trained to present options that you might not have considered. They have the ability to lift your project out of the everyday and create something that is both beautiful and distinctive as well as efficient and environmentally responsible.


This is all good and well, but can’t a designer or draftsperson do the same job as an architect?  The answer is no.  Unlike designers, architects are trained to add not only creativity to your project, but valuable technical skills and analysis of your particular needs.  Therefore, an architect adds value to your project and brings it out of the ordinary.  You will end up with a better product (and better place to live!) in the end.


So, if you find yourself asking “Should I really spend that extra money on an architect?”  remind yourself that it is totally worth it and you will be so happy you did!

Canadian Timberframes Quarterly Town Hall meeting & Duct Tape Award

Part of our town hall is giving out our Quarterly Duct Tape Award. This award is usually is given to an employee who has been nominated for their outstanding work, or going above and beyond their regular roles.

This quarter the award was given to Rick Schacher, our Sawyer, presented by Pierre Lussier, VP & Partner. Pierre gives Rick  the illustrious Duct tape Award & gift certificate. Thanks Rick for your constant hard work, amazingly fast pace, your reliability & always staying until things get done!! Congratulations :)


Introducing our new Architectural Blog


We are very excited to introduce to you a new blog for Canadian Timberframes “It’s in the Detail”. Alison Noble of Blue Sky Architecutre will blog for us, about hot topics or common architectural questions that are of interest to clients.


So, if you have any ideas or suggestions, email us at with the subject line being: Architectural Blog ideas.


We wanted to give everyone a little background on Allison before her blogs start, so we thought an interview was the best way to introduce you to her.


Interview with Alison Noble - March 9, 2015

By Jeff Bowes, President & Partner, Canadian Timberframes

CTF: Alison, tell me about how you got interested in architecture?

AN: In high school, I really became interested in architecture after taking a road trip through the Colorado mountains and looking at all of the beautiful rustic mountain homes.  So, I decided to take a drafting class at my high school to see if this was something I wanted to pursue in college.  The class really piqued my interest in drawing and design, so I decided that enrolling in an architectural program at college was the way to go.

CTF: Tell our readers about your education.

AN: I attended Kansas State University's 5 year Bachelor of Architecture program.  While at Kansas State, I studied in Tuscany, Italy for a semester.  I had an amazing time learning about Roman architecture and getting to experience it first hand!

CTF: How did you get started in the Biz?

AN: My first architecture job out of college was for a firm that designed schools in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  After a year of monotonous institutional work, I moved to the mountains of Colorado to work at a firm in Breckenridge that designed custom homes and small commercial projects.  During my 4 years in Breckenridge, I decided that designing custom homes was really my passion.  As a result, I decided to begin my own architectural firm designing what I really loved.  I have had my own business now for almost 10 years.

CTF: What drives you in life? What are your passions?

AN: I really enjoy designing custom homes because houses are something people come back to everyday.  It is their comfort and their security.  I enjoy helping clients design a place that is part of their everyday life and design it to be efficient for them yet beautiful at the same time.

CTF: Every architect has a style, what is yours?

AN: Living in the Colorado mountains has really influenced my style.  Having the beautiful mountains surrounding me as well as historic cabins and mines has shaped my designs.  I love creating rustic homes that blend seamlessly into their surroundings.  However, I have designed homes in many locations across both the United States and Canada and each site is unique.  I enjoy taking each individual setting (whether it be a lake view or a prairie) and generating something amazing that complements the surroundings as well as the client's wishes.

CTF: Tell us about some of the past projects you have been involved in.

AN: One of my favorite projects that I have designed has to be a large home in Collingwood, Ontario.  I worked with CTF on this home to create an amazing hill top retreat for the client.  The entire home is constructed of a gorgeous timber frame structure that encompasses several bedrooms, a large recreation room and an indoor pool structure.  The timbers were upsized to match the scale of the house and were given a rustic look to complement the feel of the home.

Another project I really enjoyed creating is located in Nuttal Ridge, BC on the Pacific coast.  This is a perfect example of fitting a home into its native landscape while taking advantage of the numerous surrounding views.  Along with CTF, we designed a home for the client that complements their relaxed cottage lifestyle.

CTF: Alison, what do you love most about your job? 

AN:  I enjoy both the creative and technical aspects of my profession.  However, I really enjoy the creative side.  I love inventing spaces that inspire the way people live using both design and light.  I also really like the problem solving and creating a layout that works best for a particular lifestyle.  Finally, I love seeing the way people react when they see the spaces for the very first time that I designed for them.  It's very rewarding! 

In Closing:

Alison, we at Canadian Timberframes, wanted to thank-you upfront for your time & expertise that you are lending to us and our readers. We are very excited to offer this ongoing blog. Over time, we would like to be able to add in to our website a comments function so this can become a more interactive experience for all.


We look forward to your first blog next week: Why Use an Architect? And What is the Value in It?


With sincerest thanks,

Jeff Bowes

Winter 2015 Newsletter

2015, our focus will be on creating valuable content.  It is important to us at Canadian Timberframes, to ensure
that we are providing the ‘goods’ that you need to do your homework and offer it in a digestible, easy to access way. We
would love to hear from you, what your needs are, what is ‘the hard to get information’ that is necessary for you to make
decisions around designing & building your custom dream home.

Click on some of our featured projects in the Newsletter

Luxury Retirement Home

Colebrook, New Hampshire

Hidden Ridge Alpine Home

Timber Home Living April Small Spaces Issue

This 1,150sqft cottage featured in Small Spaces, Timber Home Living April issue was cut and manufactured by Canadian Timberframes for another timber frame company, show casing our exceptional value in manufacturing world class residential timber structures.

To see the construction photos on this cottage go to the Blue Bay Cabin Project


New Design & Build in Ontario

Enjoy the new design for this alpine home that was just loaded along with the construction photo's.

The home has a lot of outdoor living with multiple decks and patios to extend their living space & ability to enjoy the spectacular vistas their new home has to offer.

Click on the link to read the story



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