Tag Archives: post and beam

Barndominiums 101: What They Are & What We Offer

Barndominiums, or barndos for short, are some of the most popular home designs to emerge in the 21st century; and for those who love the look of classic American barns, it’s not difficult to see why! With their wide-open interiors, high ceilings, and modern design features, barndominiums make beautiful family residences that are both highly unique and timeless in their appearance. Although there’s been some debate in recent years over what a barndominium is, the reality is a barndo can be many things depending on how you see it. If you’re interested in learning more about barndominiums, their origin, and, more importantly, what we offer in the way of these structures, keep reading below! 

What is a Barndominium?

As the name suggests, barndominiums are essentially part barn and part condominium in the sense that they offer the aesthetic of a traditional barn and the function of a condo or home. Though primarily designed for living, barndominiums can also include hobby workshops, garages, horse stalls, or anything else you envision, making them the perfect fit for those seeking a multi-purpose structure. In many ways, barndominiums are synonymous with our barns with living quarters and barn home designs, considering all three offer similar features and floor plans. However, the primary difference between our offering and most barndominiums on the market lies in the construction method used to create these structures, as we typically use post and beam construction or timber framing as opposed to steel framing or post-frame construction

Where Did the Term Barndominium Originate? 

Despite being a relatively new concept, it may surprise you to learn that the term barndominium has existed for over three decades. Initially coined by Connecticut real estate developer Karl Nilsen in 1989 to describe residential properties that include boarding facilities, barndominiums now encompass everything from renovated barns to metal-built barn kits and pre-engineered wood buildings. Although Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper are to thank for breathing new life into the term, a big reason barndominiums are so popular today is their affordability and ease of construction. While barndominiums converted from old horse barns and agricultural barns can be expensive and time-consuming to renovate, the average barndominium is a prefabricated, steel-framed building that is generally cheap and easy to build. 

What We Offer

We typically use post and beam construction or timber framing to create our “barndominium” structures. Though these methods are generally more costly than steel framing or post-frame construction, there are a few excellent reasons why we utilize heavy timber construction over cheaper alternatives. One of our main reasons for using post and beam construction or timber framing is that these methods result in incredibly durable and beautiful wood structures that can last up to a century or longer. While steel-framed or post-frame barndominiums may come with low upfront costs, these structures will only last up to 50 years if maintained properly and are usually far less attractive and unique than their heavy timber counterparts.

Another reason for using post and beam or timber frame construction is that these methods offer superior insulation for your barndominium project. Considering wood is a naturally insulating building material, you can expect your structure to keep you and your family warm and cozy during the wintertime; whereas with steel-framed barndominiums, you may not even be able to build these structures in areas that experience extreme cold because of their poor insulation qualities. Though homeowners can add winterization features to their steel-framed barndo, this means spending more money on something that won’t last that long and doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle certain climates or weather occurrences. 

Lastly, a huge reason why our offering is far better than steel-framed and post-framed barndominium kits is that we offer the same benefits associated with these builds minus many of the setbacks. We utilize prefabrication as part of our process, which means all the framing lumber used to create your walls, roof, and floor components is pre-cut, drilled, and labeled before arriving on your job site. As a result, our clients can expect a highly efficient and accurate framing process that takes 30% to 50% fewer framing hours than a conventional build and saves them considerable time and money during construction. Our barndominium-style structures also include several desirable features associated with steel-framed barndominiums, including vaulted ceilings and open-concept layouts, while featuring exposed heavy timbers that only come with post and beam and timber frame structures. This added touch makes a considerable difference inside your space, as these exposed timbers will give your barndo a truly authentic barn appearance. 

Thinking of building a post and beam or timber frame barndominium on your property? Request a free quote today or give us a call at (888) 975-2057! 

 

Knife Plates 101: What Are They & Why Do We Use Them?

We talk a lot about our prefabrication method and, more specifically, the benefits of utilizing our pre-cut heavy timbers for your installation process. However, something we don’t discuss nearly as often as our pre-engineered heavy timbers is what we use to keep our posts looking beautiful over time and protected from moisture build-up and rot — aka knife plates.

Knife plates are steel connection hardware pieces welded to fit seamlessly with our pre-cut heavy timber posts. When used during construction, knife plates create a buffer between our heavy timbers and the structural footing below so any moisture in the foundational concrete can’t easily seep up into the wood. Knife plates also keep our heavy timbers rooted firmly to your foundation, creating a sturdy framework that acts as a substantially better alternative to post-frame and pole barn construction. Additionally, these hardware pieces help keep the connection between your structural concrete and posts hidden so you can enjoy a cleaner look for your exterior framing components. With all these benefits to consider, it’s easy to see why we implement knife plates as part of our process. That said, it’s important to understand some key differences* between our standard knife plates and those we offer as an available upgrade.

*The information listed below applies to exterior installations only. When used for interior applications, our standard knife plates create a clean, seamless appearance for your heavy timber posts. See below for reference:

Our Knife Plate Options & Their Benefits

At DC Structures, we offer two different choices for knife plates — the first being our standard knife plates. Our standard knife plates are powder-coated steel connection pieces that are installed on elevated concrete pedestals poured above your structural footing. These concrete pedestals provide a solid, weatherproof barrier between the ground and posts, making our standard offering a practical option for clients in areas that experience heavy rain and snow. This option is also ideal for clients who aren’t sure what their finished grade will be, as this method is more malleable to uneven or sloped lots.

Our second option, on the other hand, is our horse-friendly knife plates. These are steel connection hardware pieces that are hot-dipped galvanized and powder-coated for maximum protection. The primary difference between this option and our standard is our horse-friendly knife plates are bolted directly into the structural footing and feature an I-shaped design that raises the bottom of our posts to a pre-determined elevation.

One of the reasons why customers like our horse-friendly knife plates is because this option creates a sleek, polished appearance for your posts once your finished surfaces are complete. Instead of resting on concrete pedestals, your posts will appear as though they’re sitting right above your finished surface, providing a seamless look for your exterior. Another advantage to our horse-friendly knife plates is that your crews can install them before adding your surface material. By situating your posts above the area where your finished surface will be, your framing crews can easily map out and complete your drainage, utility hook-ups, and mechanicals before installing your surface material.

Most importantly, our horse-friendly knife plates are a great investment for horse owners and pet owners alike because they offer optimal safety for your animals. Because of the way our horse-friendly knife plates are designed, our clients can use sand, pavers, or other types of horse-safe material for their finished surface. This gives our customers who prefer softer surfaces for their turnout, paddock, or stall areas more leeway in deciding which surface material is best for their horse barn or riding arena project. Additionally, this option means our clients don’t have to worry about their horses tripping or injuring themselves on pesky concrete pedestals surrounding their posts. With your knife plates completely hidden and chew protection added to exposed corners of your posts, you can keep your heavy timbers in great shape and your horses protected from preventable accidents.

The choice between our standard knife plates and horse-friendly knife plates ultimately comes down to your preference. For instance, if you live in an area subject to inclement weather, you may be inclined to choose our standard knife plates as a precaution. Even so, there are plenty of ways that we can make your selection work for you and achieve your desired appearance and function.

Interested in learning more about our standard and horse-friendly knife plates? Be sure to visit our Options & Upgrades page or give us a call at (888) 975-2057 to speak with one of our representatives.

Part II: The Lumber Surge Explained & What This Means for DC Structures

Like every home builder, DC Structures has had to adjust its pricing to match supply and demand as a result of the lumber surge. However, there are a few unique ways we’re able to keep costs reasonable for clients while adhering to desired timelines and ensuring our clients have only top-quality lumber for their projects.

One of the most important things to note about the lumber surge is that the materials in high demand right now are dimensional lumber and engineered wood products. This includes several lumber products that we use in our pre-engineered building kits, including:

(Photos of TJI Joists & LVL-I Joists: Weyerhaeuser)

  • OSB Plywood: Otherwise known as oriented strand board, OSB plywood is a conventional sheathing material we often use for our subfloors, roof, and wall sheathing
  • TJI Floor Joists: These are lightweight joists, or structural components used to create a rock-solid floor framing system, made from engineered wood.
  • LVL Joists: Similar to TJI floor joists, laminated veneer lumber is an engineered wood joist used for floor framing. We frequently use LVL joists in our building kits, especially when a building has multiple floors.
  • Architectural Glulams: These are engineered wood products designed with an appearance-grade surface. This material is not as in demand as the others.

While these lumber products are driving up the cost of our pre-engineered building kits, we don’t experience the same problems as other home builders when it comes to supply. This is the case for a few reasons.

For starters, a lot of home builders buy from retail lumber yards, which are currently experiencing major shortages in dimensional lumber and engineered wood products. Because they purchase lumber as needed, this means many builders are facing lengthy delays in the material acquisition process. This leaves their clients in a less than favorable position, with many forced to extend their project timelines past their desired move-in date.

At DC Structures, however, we benefit from buying large quantities from our mill-direct suppliers. Due to the volume we purchase, we can get in-demand lumber products that other home builders simply can’t and with quick turn-around times. We’re also fortunate because we have a huge lumber market here in the Pacific Northwest and we have several ways to acquire premium quality lumber for every project. To put it plainly, we don’t have the shortages we’re seeing in other markets and can continue business as usual when it comes to procuring material.

Another thing that’s unique about us is that we primarily rely on FOHC Select Grade Douglas fir timbers to frame our pre-engineered building kits. Our heavy timbers are considered to be a niche item in most conventional structures, with standard homes utilizing faux or box beams instead. The size of our timbers is also uncommon for light-frame construction. Because the most in-demand wood products right now are dimensional lumber and engineered wood products, this puts us in an extremely favorable position with lumber mills here in the Pacific Northwest and allows us to source the finest heavy timbers at competitive pricing for clients.

Lastly, our prefabrication method makes it possible for our team to save clients time and money during construction, as every piece of framing lumber is prepared ahead of time to facilitate a lightning-fast assembly process. Our prefabrication process also takes far less labor than any conventional build and results in less noise, waste, and dust on your job site.

 
So while there’s no telling when lumber prices are going back to normal, our team can ensure our clients have the best deals on the market and the best results for their dream home.

If you’re interested in learning more about our commitment to keeping costs down during this time, get in touch with one of our design specialists today!

Part I: The Lumber Surge Explained & What This Means for DC Structures

You don’t have to be a market analyst to recognize that lumber prices are at an all-time high. One trip to your neighborhood hardware store will show you that the price of a single 4’ x 8’ plywood board is on par with hand sanitizer at the start of the pandemic. Although the dramatic climb in lumber prices is nothing new, and demand for lumber has consistently increased since April 2020, the sudden surge in pricing over the past few months is something of an anomaly and one that shows no signs of slowing down.

(Photo: Nasdaq)

The good news is that lumber prices won’t stay this high forever, but we don’t know when they’ll drop or if it will happen within the year. In the meantime, the team at DC Structures is doing everything we can to keep costs reasonable for clients as we adjust our pricing to meet the demands of the market. While starting prices on our building kits are subject to change, our clients can rest easy knowing that we offer a steady supply of premium quality lumber for our projects and will always honor agreed-upon timelines.

If you’re interested in investing in one of our pre-engineered building kits, but feeling anxious about the surge, don’t worry. We’re here to help you make the best and most informed decision for your build. In this two-part series blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the surge, including its origin and how the current market affects homeowners and homebuyers, as well as what our company is doing to sidestep challenges caused by the surge.

Read below for a brief overview of the circumstances that caused the lumber surge and what this means for homeowners and homebuyers in general.

Why Lumber Prices Are Skyrocketing


When the pandemic hit, no one could have predicted lumber prices would soar as a result of nationwide stay-at-home orders. In bracing for the economic impact of the shutdown, sawmills halted their operations across the country and lumber suppliers eliminated much of their inventory. New home construction also plummeted, with the expectation that buyers would be tight on money and reluctant to invest in a brand-new building for their property.

Then something else happened a few weeks later—the pandemic fueled the biggest housing boom since 2006, followed by a historic surge in lumber prices.

(Photo: Mortgage News Daily

The reasons are complex and driven by the unique nature of 2020’s stay-at-home orders. City dwellers who were able to work from home started looking elsewhere for housing, realizing paying for a rental in the city wasn’t worth the extra money if they didn’t have to commute anymore. Mortgage rates also dropped significantly, hitting record lows as a result of the Federal Reserve lowering rates at the onset of the pandemic. This drove increasing demand for new and existing suburban housing, as city dwellers flocked en masse to the suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas in search of more space for less money.

During this time, homeowners hunkered down in their homes also started renovating their spaces, buying up lumber in large quantities from their local home improvement stores. Restaurants faced with the task of creating safe but comfortable outdoor dining also bought lumber for outdoor structures. Lumber began flying off the shelves at increasing rates while inventory remained relatively low. This created the initial surge in lumber prices, as supplies couldn’t keep up with the spike in demand.

What we’re seeing now is an accumulation of these factors mixed with a serious housing shortage, a lack of dimensional lumber and engineered wood products, labor force issues, and an insatiable demand for new housing and renovation work. This week, prices reached an all-time record high, with the price per thousand board feet of lumber up more than 300% since the beginning of the pandemic. This means lumber is now priced at more than four times its cost as of last May. Imagine going to an auction where everyone relentlessly bids on items until the price is driven much higher than the actual value. This is what’s occurring at the present moment, with supplies limited and analysts predicting demand will increase in upcoming months.

What This Means for Homeowners and Homebuyers


Homeowners planning to remodel would be advised to wait if possible. With dimensional lumber priced at nearly $60 a sheet in most markets, the cost to renovate parts of your home is more expensive than many homeowners are prepared for. You might also focus on renovating parts of your home that don’t require lumber. This can include everything from your backyard landscaping to simply repainting.

Homebuyers, on the other hand, have a bit more flexibility with their decision-making. With mortgage rates at historic lows, there’s never been a better time to buy. However, homebuyers seeking existing homes have limited inventory to choose from and may compete with dozens of other buyers. For those interested in building their dream home from scratch, however, the challenge is finding a company that can develop their vision and guarantee the best results for their project on their timeline and budget. This is where DC Structures comes into play.

Stay tuned for Part II of this series where we discuss what DC Structures is doing to keep costs down on our pre-engineered building kits and what clients can expect when partnering with our company.

The Difference Between Timber Frame and Post and Beam Homes

Known for their stunning craftsmanship and unparalleled warmth, heavy timber residences are some of the most sought-after home designs for today’s homebuyers. Yet, you may be surprised to learn that most people can’t tell the difference between the two of the most popular styles for these homes – timber framing and post and beam construction.

Timber framing and post and beam construction are centuries-old building methods that utilize large heavy timber posts and beams to create the frame of a structure. The walls of the building are placed on the outside of the frame, creating a beautiful interior characterized by exposed structural timbers and high ceilings. Because these methods are similar in style, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. To the trained eye though, it’s easy to determine which is which by simply paying closer attention to the detail in one’s space.

The key difference between timber frame and post and beam homes lies in the method used to secure the frame’s joinery. While post and beam homes employ metal fasteners and connectors, both exterior facing and hidden, to join its heavy timber posts and beams, timber framing relies on wooden pegs only to create a rock-solid frame. If you’re having trouble visualizing how this works, just think of timber framing as Legos, in which all the pieces are designed to fit perfectly with one another.

Since timber framing is very labor-intensive due to the precision and skill needed to execute this style, timber frame homes are also much more expensive than post and beam homes to build. This is partially why the majority of timber frame homes being built today utilize a combination of timber framing and conventional building methods to achieve the same look and feel at a lower cost. These types of timber frame homes are commonly referred to as hybrid timber frame homes, which is the term we use to classify our line of timber frame homes.

Ultimately, the decision to invest in a timber frame home or post and beam home comes down to how you want your interior to look and feel. If you’re looking for a stately home with dramatic interior spaces, a timber frame home would likely be a great fit for you and your family. If you’re interested in a home with plenty of flexibility and classic style, a post and beam residence might be a perfect option for you. Regardless, timber frame and post and beam homes are timeless designs that are guaranteed to stun any guest and last you and your family a lifetime.

If you’re looking for the perfect heavy timber home for your property, be sure to check out our line of timber frame and post and beam home kits today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post and Beam vs. Post Frame: Which Framing Method is Better for Your Barn Kit?

As you may have noticed from your research, there are many nuanced terms associated with the barn building process – even more than DC Builders lists in its glossary! While industry terms like dormers and cupolas are helpful to know in general, there are some essential terms that every buyer should understand before deciding to add a barn to their property. Among the most important in our book are post and beam construction and post-frame construction, considering these two framing methods are often confused for one another but couldn’t be more different in their approach. While we offer both post and beam and post-frame construction as framing options for our barn kits, there are a few advantages and disadvantages with either to consider for your project. 

What is Post and Beam Construction? 

Post and beam construction is a centuries-old building practice that utilizes heavy timbers joined by metal fasteners to form the frame of a structure. Like timber framing, post and beam construction uses large timbers in place of dimensional lumber to create dramatically open interiors that are generally free of structural constraints. Due to the strength of these heavy timbers, post and beam structures do not require load-bearing walls to support the upper floors and roof. This construction method also sees that the exterior walls of the building are positioned on the outside of the frame. As a result, our clients can enjoy the look of exposed wood members in nearly every area of their barn. 

The Pros of Post and Beam 

Aside from their obvious beauty, there are several benefits to building a post and beam barn on your property. One of the major selling points of this construction style is its superior structural integrity, considering post and beam buildings are some of the most durable structures built today. At DC Structures, we use select-grade Douglas fir — one of the best wood types for residential and commercial construction in North America — as our standard framing material for our post and beam structures. Grown here in the Pacific Northwest, these specialty timbers will keep your barn standing strong and looking beautiful for generations to come. 

Another notable benefit to post and beam construction is its open-ended design, considering there are no pesky load-bearing walls to work around inside your building. With only minimal wood posts to consider as part of your design, you have complete freedom to do as you wish with your interior area. The lack of load-bearing walls in a post and beam building also means clients can place their windows, doors, and horse stalls wherever they see fit in their space. With this extra flexibility, you can explore endless options for your barn interior. 

Lastly, our post and beam barn kits make construction easy and efficient for our clients and their builders. Thanks to our Simple Build System, every piece of framing lumber used to create your exterior walls, floor components, and roof arrives pre-cut, drilled, and labeled on your job site. As a result, our clients can enjoy a framing process that takes far less time, money, and labor than a conventionally framed structure while guaranteeing the highest quality results for your project.   

The Cons to Post and Beam 

While there are minimal setbacks to building a post and beam barn for your property, something that can deter people from investing in a post and beam barn is their upfront cost. Because post and beam buildings are more costly to construct than many metal-built, stick-built, and post-frame barns, these structures may be out of range for some buyers interested in building a barn kit. However, post and beam buildings are far more likely to retain their appearance and durability over time than cheaper alternatives, making them a long-lasting, worthwhile investment for those who can afford their initial price tag. With a post and beam barn, you can expect your structure to last you decades, if not centuries while increasing in value over time. 

What is Post Frame Construction? 

Commonly associated with pole barns, post-frame structures are pre-engineered wood-framed buildings that use large pressure-treated wood posts or laminated columns to create the structural frame. This construction method relies on the strength of its wood posts or columns to support the upper floors and roof system, with these members often buried 4-6 feet in the ground. Many low-rise buildings like warehouses and agricultural facilities are post-frame structures, considering post-frame buildings offer wide-open interiors and exceptional loadbearing capabilities. This construction method, combined with clear span truss construction, can also provide the ideal framework for an indoor riding arena. 

The Pros of Post Frame

Like post and beam construction, post-frame construction is known for its flexibility of design and ease of construction. Thanks to its interlocking frame and support columns, a post-frame structure does not require load-bearing walls, resulting in wide-open interiors that are malleable to one’s vision. Post-frame buildings are also easy to construct, considering these structures are often pre-engineered to facilitate a fast and efficient framing process. Like post and beam buildings, post-frame barns require fewer materials and labor to build than a conventionally framed building, making them a sound investment for clients seeking a cost-effective structure that can go up quickly. 

A big reason why people like post-frame barns is because these structures offer a low-cost yet wide-ranging alternative to stick-frame and post and beam buildings. Because post-frame barns do not require a support foundation or basement, these buildings are usually much cheaper and quicker to build by comparison. This construction method is also suitable for large, low-rise buildings, making it the ideal solution for commercial, agricultural, and industrial applications. With its wide-open interiors, durable framework, and relatively inexpensive price tag, post-frame buildings are a worthy consideration for many buyers in the market for a barn.  

The Cons to Post Frame

Although post-frame barns might seem like a better investment than post and beam structures to some, there are a few significant downsides to post-frame buildings that buyers should consider before making their decision. For instance, post-frame buildings are typically designed as low-rise structures due to their simple framework and cheap cost to build. Although these structures can function as multi-level buildings, an upper floor or basement will inevitably drive up construction costs for buyers and require more planning in the design phase. Another disadvantage to post-frame structures is that many banks won’t offer construction loans on post-frame barns designed for residential use. If you’re looking to build a post-frame barn with living quarters, you’re more than likely to run into roadblocks with securing financing for your project. 

Something else to consider is that while post-frame buildings are considered sturdy, these structures have an average lifespan of 40-60 years. Though burying pressure-treated posts in the ground has its cost benefits, these posts are far more susceptible to moisture build-up and eventual rot than those installed above the ground. With our proven post and beam method and powder-coated knife plates, we can keep our heavy timbers protected from damage associated with moisture and dirt and ensure the longevity of our post and beam barns. Additionally, many post-frame buildings are not nearly as attractive as post and beam buildings, considering the methods and materials used for a post-frame structure typically result in an average-looking barn. With a post and beam barn, you can look forward to a beautiful interior and exterior that stuns with its heavy timber elements.

Making Your Decision

The choice between a post and beam barn and a post-frame barn ultimately comes down to your preference and the plans you have for your structure. If you’re seeking an economical, low-rise building for commercial use, a post-frame barn may be the right solution for its intended purpose. However, if you’re looking for a beautiful wood structure that can house your horses, hobbies, vehicles, and even an upstairs living space, a post and beam barn could be the perfect addition to your lot. 

DC Structures has a proven record of success in designing and producing post and beam structures that last. Take a look at our catalog to see how we can transform your vision into a reality.