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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! 

 

Do You Need an Architect for Your Project?

If you’re new to the process of building a custom home or structure, you may be asking yourself if you need to hire an architect for your project. While our commercial buildings will always require the involvement of a Design Professional of Record or licensed architect, the chances of needing a licensed architect for your residential project are usually slim. In any case, it always helps to know when an architect’s involvement is required and when it’s not necessarily needed. If you’re wondering whether to partner with an architect for your DCS project, read below to learn more about why someone may hire a licensed architect, why it’s not always required and what we can do if you need one for your custom build.

When You Will Need an Architect

For Commercial Projects

As mentioned above, all commercial buildings will require a Design Professional of Record or licensed architect to be involved in the design and development of the project. The main reason behind this is that a licensed architect has specialized knowledge of building codes and safety regulations associated with the well-being of the public. With guidance from a licensed architect, our architectural designers can verify the proper egress widths, exit distances, fire extinguisher cabinet locations, and other “Life Safety” related features of your structure to ensure code compliance, with “Life Safety” referring to the design and operational features in buildings that help protect occupants in an emergency or fire. We can also facilitate a smooth submittal process with state and local jurisdictions by involving a licensed architect or design professional early on.

In some instances, your jurisdiction will say that you do not need an architect involved in your commercial project. While that may be so, our designers will still comply at the state level to confirm your structure meets code minimums. Where MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) or civil construction drawings are not required, you will also need a liability waiver from your jurisdiction. In most cases, however, clients will need MEP, civil, architectural, and structural drawings to move forward with their projects, and sometimes even additional stamped plans like those for Title 24 from outside consultants and engineers.

For Residential Projects

Although most residential projects do not require the involvement of an architect, there are a few instances where you will need one. For example, if you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, the association may say that your custom home needs to be designed by a licensed architect to maintain a cohesive look with the other houses. Likewise, it may be the case that your jurisdiction requires that you work with a licensed architect for your new home or addition. However, this all depends on where you live and how strict your association or jurisdiction’s building requirements are.

Because building requirements can vary drastically by county, city, and HOA, we try to stress the importance of doing your research early on to verify whether a licensed architect or design professional needs to be involved. If an architect is required, they must be integrated at the very beginning of our process to avoid any unnecessary setbacks. It’s also beneficial for clients to involve an architect early in the process, considering this will save them money and ensure their architect does not have to re-design the structure or re-create construction documents for building department approval.

When You Won’t Need an Architect 

For all other residential projects not located in a strict HOA neighborhood or jurisdiction, a client typically does not need a licensed architect or design professional involved so much as they need an architectural designer for their home or addition. Like an architect, an architectural designer is responsible for collaborating with clients to establish their project goals, budgets, and visions before creating schematic design plans and construction documents based on these discussions. At DC Structures, we work with a team of experienced architectural designers to create custom structures for our clients, from horse barns and riding arenas to timber frame homes and cabins. We also regularly work with a contracted licensed architect on projects that require one and have a structural engineering partner that reviews and stamps our design plans and construction documents to ensure code compliance.

What We Offer 

Regardless of whether you do or don’t need an architect for your project, there are several ways our team can help you design and coordinate your dream structure. Below are a few services we provide as part of our dynamic offering:

A Full-Scope Design Service

DC Structures offers a nearly all-inclusive design service for clients with residential and commercial projects in the U.S. and Canada. Our in-house design team will create your architectural and structural sheets, which will then be reviewed and stamped by our structural engineering partner and our contracted architect in instances where his expertise is required. Though we do not offer geotechnical services and civil drawings as part of our design services, we can help you determine any additional documents or plans you may need as part of your building permit application to ensure a successful submittal.

We Work with a Licensed Architect 

If you need an architect for your project but don’t want to go through the hassle of finding an outside firm, we have a contracted licensed architect that we regularly work with and can utilize for your project. Our architect is a SIPA-registered Master Builder & Design Professional with over 21 years of experience in the design and construction industry who assists us with multiple projects every year. We also have several architectural designers on staff who are on the path to becoming licensed architects and will soon be available for projects requiring their expertise.

We Can Also Coordinate with Your Architect

Occasionally, clients will come to us with an architect in mind or one already contracted for their projects. In these instances, we have no problem working directly with your architect to create a design that fully embodies your vision. One thing to note is that clients need to involve your architect early in our process so we can easily coordinate with them. If they come in after we’ve created the design plans and construction documents, they will likely have to do an analysis and recreation to establish responsible design control before building department submittal.

Structural Engineering Comes Standard 

Prospective clients often ask us if we include structural engineering as part of their design and materials package or custom designs, and the answer is yes! We partner with a structural engineering team — licensed in all 50 states — to review and stamp our design plans and documents and ensure our structures are code-compliant.

Available for Local Site Visits

Certain jurisdictions may require site visits from architects, engineers, or representatives. While some job sites may not be feasible for us to visit, our architectural designers have traveled to and conducted site visits for various projects in Oregon. If you have a locally based project that requires a site visit from an in-house designer or architect, we will coordinate with you to send the right person out to your site.

We hope this blog post answers any questions you may have about hiring an architect for your project! If you feel like you need more information or are ready to get started on your design, give us a call today at (888) 975-2057 or request a quote!

15 Ways to Use Our Barn Kits

Something we pride ourselves on here at DC is the incredible versatility of our barn kits — not just in the sense of what you can do with your design, but what purpose they can ultimately serve on your property. From backyard party barns to wineries and even “bat caves,” we’ve converted our building models into all types of structures for our clients and continue to surprise customers with the many unique configurations we can achieve.

Though it may be hard to visualize the possibilities for your barn kit at first, there are plenty of ways our team can help you create a one-of-a-kind structure that fully encompasses your needs and style. If you’re eager to get started but feeling unsure of what you want to do with your building model, here’s a glimpse at the numerous options available for your custom barn design. 

Barn Home

Let’s say you love the look of our Oakridge Apartment Barn Kit but want it to function as a barn-style home for you and your family. With the help of our talented in-house designers, you can easily create a beautiful, long-lasting residence based on our Oakridge or any other barn design you see fit! We offer hundreds of customization options for your structure to ensure your barn home matches your personality and taste. We can also combine multiple building kits to create an all-encompassing residence that meets your every need. 

Barndominium 

Barndominiums are all the rage with millennials, and it’s not hard to see why. With their classic barn-style appearance and multi-use layouts, barndominiums make attractive and efficient structures that can serve several unique purposes on your property. It’s important to note that many barndominiums on the market are metal-built structures, whereas we frame ours with select grade FOHC Douglas fir heavy timbers. Before investing in a barndominium, consider what type of barndominium you’re looking for in terms of material use, style, and function. 

Event Venue 

Whether you’re planning to build an all-inclusive wedding and event venue or a simple gathering space for small parties and celebrations, we offer dozens of pre-engineered barn kits designed to suit your needs. While most of our wedding and event venue projects started as event barn kits, we’ve transformed several of our other barn designs into breathtaking event venues that our clients and their customers love. 

Hobby Workshop 

Any hobbyist knows how important it is to have your own personalized workspace. With a prefabricated barn kit from DC Structures, you can turn your design into a fully built-out workshop tailored to your needs and passions. We offer a complete line of garage and workshop kits designed for the modern tinkerer or creative professional. However, we can take any barn kit in our collection and transform it into your ideal workspace. 

Vehicle & Outdoor Equipment Storage  

While many homeowners store their vehicles and outdoor equipment in their garages, others may find that their existing garage doesn’t provide adequate room for all their storage needs. In these instances, having a detached storage barn or garage makes a practical solution that will increase the value of your home and keep your prized possessions safe. 

Winery/Brewery 

Have a vision for a winery or brewery in your state? We want to hear it! At DC Structures, we’ve designed a handful of wineries for clients in Oregon and Washington and would love the opportunity to expand our gallery of DC-designed wineries and breweries. Our team has also transformed our barn kits into stunning distilleries for clients nationwide and could help you create a production space and tasting room that aligns with your business plans. No matter the complexities of your build, we’re here to help you get your ideas off the ground in any way we can. 

Church 

Worship centers come in all different shapes, sizes, and styles, from massive gothic cathedrals to quaint gable-roofed chapels. While we’ve designed a few religious centers in our signature post and beam style, we can transform any of our barn kits into an original worship space that more closely matches your vision. 

Man or Lady Cave 

Who doesn’t love having a personal space to retreat to from time to time? With a detached man or lady cave on your property, you can enjoy some much-needed self-care in a relaxing atmosphere that’s all your own. Whether you envision a sports-themed den or something like our client’s infamous “Bat Cave,” our team can help you create the right look and vibe for your private oasis. 

Business/Office Space

Our barn kits aren’t exclusive to residential uses — you can also transform your kit into a commercial building centered around your business needs. We’ve crafted numerous commercial office spaces for clients in various industries and will collaborate with you to find the right floor plan, features, and size for your individualized workspace.  

Horse Barn 

If you’re seeking a beautiful home for your horses, look no further than our line of pre-engineered barn kits! We offer dozens of open-ended barn designs that you can modify and personalize according to your equestrian needs. With hundreds of premium options and upgrades to choose from for your horse barn, you can create a high-end equestrian facility that perfectly suits your lifestyle and those of your horses. Explore our gallery of horse barn projects to see what you can do with your barn kit! 

Indoor Sports Court

Whether you do or don’t consider yourself a sports fanatic, you have to admit owning a private basketball court sounds pretty cool. With a custom recreational space in your backyard, you can work out, practice your skills, or play 2-on-2 with friends any time or day of the week. 

Artist Studio 

This option applies to all creatives, from painters to musicians to photographers to ceramicists. Our barn kits offer the ideal setting for those looking for a secluded space where they can be as loud, messy, or downright genius as they need to be.  

Mother-in-Law Suite 

Sharing space with anyone outside your immediate household can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to having a packed house for the holidays. With a mother-in-law suite or backyard ADU, you can offer your friends and family the privacy of a separate guest bedroom while freely enjoying your house after a night (or multiple nights) of entertaining. 

Collector’s Gallery

You have an impressive collection that deserves its own showroom, and we have a line of barn kits that will make your memorabilia shine. With the help of our talented designers, you can create a barn-style structure that brings your collection together in one magnificent space.  

A Harry Potter-Themed Bar 

This last suggestion is partially a joke, but mostly Sirius. We would love to help you design a Harry Potter-themed bar — or any movie-themed bar, for that matter — on your property. While a barn might not be the most authentic portrayal of Harry Potter architecture, we can work with just about any vision you have for the space and help you transform your kit into a magical space that any muggle would adore. 

Ready to get started on your barn project? Call us at (888) 975-2057 or request a catalog today

 

Sizing Your Event Venue

Determining the right size for your wedding and event venue may seem like a simple task but it’s a bit more complex than most people realize. While it certainly helps to use other venues as a frame of reference for your design, it’s not always the most effective or accurate method for calculating your total square footage. In this blog post, we’ll break down the many factors that influence your venue size, including the location of your project and what services you plan to offer, as well as what you’ll want to consider in the space planning phase of your design. If you’re ready to start designing your dream wedding and event venue, here’s what you’ll need to know to estimate the right size for your commercial project.

The items listed here are designed to provide a general overview of how you can calculate your venue size and are by no means considered a comprehensive guide to space planning. The averages below are based on past venue projects featured in the DC Structures gallery.

Average Square Footage Calculations

Main Hall | Average: 4,790 sq. ft.
Prep Kitchen | Average: 416 sq. ft.
Restrooms | Average: 430 sq. ft.
Storage | Average: 392 sq. ft.
Mechanical Room | Average: 209 sq. ft.
Bar | Average: 199 sq. ft.
Dance Floor | Average: 400 sq. ft.
Bridal Suite | Average: 463 sq. ft.
Groom’s Suite | Average: 406 sq. ft.
Balcony | Average: 337 sq. ft.

The Basics

Main Hall

According to the International Building Code, 15 sq. ft. is calculated for an occupancy space with tables and chairs that are not bolted to the ground. This means that for an event space with a maximum guest capacity of 350 people, you’re looking at a minimum 5,250 sq. ft. ceremony and reception area by code. Something worth mentioning is that this gives the “code” occupancy and not the true occupancy of your wedding venue. Most venues will include six-person or eight-person round tables, or even 12-person tables, as part of their seating plan. Because of this, the size of an event space will oftentimes be much larger than the minimum provided by code, especially when you factor in walk-ins and the optional dance floor. To help you visualize your seating options and how they might affect your venue size, our design team can create sample seating layouts based on your desired occupancy.

Prep Kitchen

As mentioned earlier, the services you plan to provide will play a significant role in calculating the ideal size for your event venue design; and the choice between a prep kitchen or commercial kitchen serves as a prime example of this. The difference between a prep kitchen and a commercial kitchen is that a prep kitchen is designed to be a space where caterers can come in and warm their food whereas a commercial kitchen allows you to prepare your food on-site. Because no actual food production is happening inside a prep kitchen, the kitchen space will only need to include a warming oven or a stove range, along with a residential grade refrigerator and other necessities (not including a pantry or commercial freezer). In most venues, a prep kitchen is likely to be anywhere from 400 sq. ft. to 600 sq. ft., but this can fluctuate based on your needs.

Commercial Kitchen

With a commercial kitchen, clients are looking at an 800 sq. ft. to 1,200 sq. ft. space on average. This would generally include dry storage, a commercial freezer, a dishwashing area, a prep area, and all necessary commercial ranges and production equipment for on-site food preparation.

Prep Kitchen vs. Commercial Kitchen

Code-wise, the decision between a prep kitchen and a commercial kitchen makes a huge difference because it influences the assembly type of your building. Our commercial buildings typically fall under two assembly group classifications – A-2 or A-3. An A-2 building is a commercial structure intended for food/drink consumption (think restaurants, nightclubs, and casinos) whereas the focus of an A-3 building is less so on food consumption as it is on worship, recreation, or amusement (think gyms, art galleries, and churches).

While a prep kitchen can be found in either building type, a commercial kitchen will only ever be found in an A-2 building since this building type is specifically intended for on-site food production. In terms of sizing your venue, this makes a difference because clients are required to provide more toilets in an A-2 building than they otherwise would in an A-3 building. The idea behind this requirement is that people will be consuming food or drink for an extended period in an A-2 space, and therefore more toilets will be needed to accommodate their needs.

Restrooms

The restrooms included in your event venue will always be sized proportionately to building occupants. However, the required number of toilets based on total occupancy can vary drastically by jurisdiction so it’s important to understand the specific plumbing codes for your area before making your calculations. To give you an idea of the average ADA restroom size, the minimum size for men’s and women’s restrooms in an event venue is 400 sq. ft. altogether. For example, a small venue with a maximum occupancy of 150 people might meet this minimum. However, if you’re designing a catered event space with a maximum occupancy of 350 people, this number could substantially increase.

Storage

Every wedding and event venue needs a sizable storage area for tables, chairs, and miscellaneous items. While most of our clients choose to store chairs and tables inside the main building, some prefer having a separate structure dedicated to storage. Operationally speaking, it’s generally easier to store tables and chairs inside your event space so you don’t have to do as much heavy lifting. However, if you plan to offer both indoor and outdoor event spaces, it might help to have a detached storage space where you can store your outdoor chair and table sets. Though the proportions for your storage space will depend on your needs for the room, the average size of a storage room in our venue designs is about 400 sq. ft. (not including the mechanical room). Our clients will also need to factor in a janitor’s closet as part of their calculations, but these spaces typically average somewhere between 15 sq. ft. and 20 sq. ft. and are sometimes added to a prep or commercial kitchen space.

Mechanical Room

A mechanical room is an area inside your commercial building that houses your mechanical equipment. This space may include your fire riser and other necessary equipment to keep your building protected and functioning properly. The average size of our mechanical rooms is typically anywhere between 80 sq. ft. and 100 sq. ft. if it’s not also serving as a storage space. This room will typically be positioned on the exterior wall so fire departments can easily access your mechanical equipment in the case of an emergency.

Corridors & Hallways

Circulation is a major consideration in any structure, but it’s especially important in a commercial event space. If you’re starting with a custom design for your venue, you’ll want to multiply your total square footage by 1.05% to calculate the appropriate circulation factor for your project. For instance, if you’re designing a venue that’s roughly 4,500 sq. ft. in total conditioned space, your hallways and circulation paths would add about 225 sq. ft. to your overall square footage.

Optional Add-ons

Bar

Most of our venue designs include a bar area in the main hall, but the size and layout generally vary by venue. In terms of size, the bars we design for clients typically fall between 120 sq. ft. and 150 sq. ft. However, in an event space like The Weinberg at Wixon in Bryan, Texas, the bar area is about 340 sq. ft. to accommodate the sheer volume of people inside the main hall. If you plan on designing a larger venue, we recommend adding a bar area that can accommodate two bartenders for maximum functionality. This type of bar will typically have about 10’ length in one direction and about 4’ of workable room behind the bar top.

Dance Floor

Dancing is a significant part of any wedding celebration. Whether you plan to host intimate gatherings or larger parties, consider adding an optional dance floor to your venue design. Our dance floors are usually about 400 sq. ft. in size. However, this number will vary by venue.

Bridal Suite

Another optional add-on for clients is the inclusion of a bridal suite as part of your venue design. Our bridal suites tend to be pretty spacious, ranging from 400 sq. ft. to 600 sq. ft. on average. We typically add a bridal suite to an upper level or mezzanine, with many including a private bathroom, vanity area, and balcony. A few clients have also created detached bridal suites for their wedding venues, with some featuring kitchenettes and private patio spaces. That said, you can design your bridal suite with or without these added features.

Groom’s Suite

Like our bridal suites, our groom’s suites are fairly large to accommodate the needs of the groom and his groomsmen. However, these suites tend to be smaller than the bridal quarters, with most running from 350 sq. ft to 550 sq. ft. on average. These suites can also include a private bathroom, balcony, kitchenette, or entertainment area inside the space.

Balcony

Many clients of ours choose to add a balcony or deck to their wedding and event venue designs. While some clients choose to add balconies outside the bride’s and groom’s suites, others elect to include them above the entrance for visual appeal and function. Your outdoor area can be as small or large as you want for your venue, with our deck and balcony designs averaging between 200 sq. ft. and 600 sq. ft. We offer several options for your structure, including our cantilevered deck and heavy timber deck upgrades.

Office & Conference Room

If you plan on running a full-time event business out of your venue, you might consider adding a workspace and conference room to your design. These can exist inside your event space or as a separate unit apart from the main building. Typically, the office areas in our commercial event spaces are about 100 sq. ft. Our conference rooms tend to be 100 sq. ft. to 150 sq. ft.

Coat Closet

Coat closets are certainly not a must-have, but they do serve a valuable purpose in our wedding and event venue designs. If you plan to include a coat closet in your event space, you’ll want to add about 50 sq. ft. to 75 sq. ft. to your total square footage. However, this number can fluctuate depending on your needs and venue size.

Final Considerations for Your Venue

While designing your venue with our team, consider what kind of environment you want to offer clients and how space planning will play a role in achieving your vision. For instance, if you plan to build an all-inclusive event space suited to larger parties, you might consider adding a commercial kitchen to your venue so you can offer both prep and commercial kitchen capabilities for prospective clients. You might also consider adding private bathrooms, balconies, and luxurious vanity areas to your bride’s and groom’s suites to accommodate a range of needs. As always, our team is here to help guide you through the process and assist with any questions or concerns you may have regarding space planning.

For more information on our venue designs, feel free to give us a call at (888) 975-2057 or request a digital catalog! 

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.

ADU Kits: Six Designs for Your Backyard Build

If there’s anything we learned in 2021, it’s that demand for housing is exploding across the U.S. From major cities like Chicago and Seattle to rural communities in Colorado and Tennessee, we saw an influx of eager home buyers snap up listings left, right, and center, with many homes flying off the market within hours of being listed and often well over asking price. The red hot housing market has created somewhat of a catch-22 for home buyers, considering mortgage rates remain historically low while dwindling inventory means stiff competition and fewer options across the board. But the challenges of finding affordable and livable housing aren’t exclusive to home buyers; renters are also feeling the financial and mental strain of the booming U.S. housing market. 

According to Fortune.com, rent prices in the U.S. rose more than 10% in 2021 and will likely continue to climb in 2022. In cities like Dallas, where the population grew by 120,000 residents in the last year or so, renters are having an increasingly difficult time finding affordable rentals throughout the city – and they’re not alone. With thousands of empty-handed home buyers leaving the housing market and millions of Americans continuing to move states, the rental market in 2022 is on track to become even more saturated than the previous year. And while this may seem like bad news for renters, there is a solution that could help alleviate the housing crisis in cities across the U.S. and open new doors of opportunity for current and future homeowners.

The solution we’re referring to is accessory dwelling units, otherwise known as ADUs. Often added to one’s backyard space, an ADU can serve as a detached guest suite, an office, a workshop, or a personalized man or lady cave. In the context of this blog post, an ADU creates a mutually beneficial opportunity for renters and homeowners, considering long-term renters provide homeowners with a stable source of passive income in exchange for a quiet, flexible rental within their budget. Not to mention, an ADU can substantially increase the value of one’s home, making it a lucrative investment that virtually pays for itself and more.  

Whether you’re planning to build a new home or considering adding to your existing home, an ADU is a wise investment that offers numerous benefits for homeowners and renters alike. If you’re in the market for an ADU of your own, take a look below at some of the prefabricated ADU kits we offer that might just be the perfect solution for your property: 

McKenzie Cabin Kit:

With 651 square feet of conditioned living space, our McKenzie Cabin Kit can serve as a detached one-bedroom rental perfect for solos or couples. 

Modern McKenzie Cabin Kit: 

This modern, sloped cabin design offers slightly more square footage than our classic McKenzie Cabin Kit, boasting 721 square feet of flexible living space.

Deschutes Cabin Kit: 

The Deschutes Cabin Kit is a 776 sq. ft. post and beam structure designed with one bedroom and one bathroom. With the help of our designers, you can add a second bedroom to the existing design or customize your floor plan entirely. 

Modern Deschutes Cabin Kit: 

The modern take on our Deschutes Cabin Kit, the Modern Deschutes is a simple one-bedroom cabin design with room for creativity.

Rogue Cabin Kit:

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin kit features a cozy master suite, an open-concept living space with vaulted ceilings, and a charming covered porch. With its classic cabin appearance, the Rogue offers the warmth and comfort of a small home or cottage. 

Modern Rogue Cabin Kit: 

Coming in at 948 square feet, the Modern Rogue Cabin Kit offers ample room for two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and open-concept living. Like our classic Rogue, this cabin design includes a covered porch. 

Need inspiration for your ADU project? Check out our project gallery to see how our clients transformed their kits into the perfect ADUs for their homes! 

If you’re ready to get started on your ADU build, give us a call at (888) 975-2057 or request a quote here.

Supply Chain Issues & Your Project Timeline

In recent months, the global supply chain crisis has become a major cause for concern for those eager to build a new home or structure. With everything from windows and doors to dimensional lumber experiencing long lead times, many homebuyers are finding it difficult to jumpstart their construction with several of their key building components severely backlogged. Though analysts predict supply chain shortages will continue well into 2022, there are numerous ways that clients can expedite their project timelines while saving time and money in the process. If you’re considering investing in a pre-engineered building kit from DC Structures, here’s what you need to know about the materials shortages we’re currently experiencing and how you can move through our process quicker.

Supply Chain Shortages Impacting DC Structures

As with every building kit producer here in the U.S., we’ve had to adjust our pricing to meet the demands of the market and then some. On top of lumber prices hitting all-time highs this year, we’ve also seen lead times for several other building materials increase exponentially over time, with some being six months to a year out from the job site. Of the materials shortages we’re experiencing at DC Structures, the most prominent by far are windows, entry doors, prefinished siding, and garage doors.

While it may be disappointing or concerning to think of how this can affect your project timeline, there are a few things clients can do to maneuver around long lead times. For example, buying products locally can significantly reduce lead times, as local products are transported over shorter distances than those shipped internationally. At DC Structures, we purchase most of our building materials here in the Pacific Northwest to help minimize delays and ensure better overall quality for our building kits. However, we can also custom quote windows, doors, siding, and more from materials suppliers in your area if you prefer to buy them locally.

Ways to Expedite Your Building Process

Aside from materials shortages, there are many other factors that can significantly extend the time it takes to start building your structure, including delays in permitting, site preparation, and selections. Here’s how you can avoid unnecessary setbacks in the building process by taking a proactive approach to your construction project.

Communicate Design Changes As Soon as Possible

Design changes are an inevitable part of crafting a new home or building. From minor changes like swapping out standard windows for an available upgrade to making major structural modifications to your pre-engineered building model, our clients are bound to tweak a few or more details of their design to better suit their needs. At DC Structures, we view this as a perfectly normal aspect of the design phase and are always happy to help clients tailor their structures according to their tastes. However, where this starts to affect your project timeline is in the communication breakdown, as design changes that are communicated right away help us move you through our process that much faster than those that are submitted days or weeks later.

It is worth noting that clients may need more time to evaluate their design plans, which is okay! It is more important to us that you feel completely confident in your design, as we want to be sure you love the result of your partnership with us. If you need more time to review your model, we simply recommend that you continue to share your thoughts and ideas with our designers so they can help you form a design that aligns with your vision. By keeping us in the loop, we can guarantee the best results for your building and help facilitate an efficient, collaborative design process.

Plan for Permitting

If there is anything that can stop your project dead in its tracks, it is permitting. Obtaining a building permit is a necessary part of constructing a new residential or commercial building, considering nothing can happen on your job site without one. Knowing this, it is important to do your research on local standards for zoning, land use, and construction early in the planning stage, so you have a better understanding of what you will need to submit to your local building office. Typically, this will include schematic design with floor plans and elevations and construction documents with structural calculations. However, depending on your location, you may need additional consultants and engineers to submit stamped drawings of your building plans, which could include civil drawings and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans. Because these requirements can vary drastically by location, we recommend that clients contact their county building office in advance to discuss their project details and determine the next steps for acquiring a building permit.

Lock Down Your Contractor Early

Collaborating with an experienced contractor who can carefully plan and execute your construction is a must for any client, as is partnering with a designer you can trust to carry out your vision. If you plan to build a new home or structure this coming year, it is best to start your search for the right contractor as soon as possible so you have time to evaluate your options and choose the best person for the job. If you do not already have someone in mind for your project or feel you need help with the process, we offer a nationwide builder network comprised of trusted contractors across the country and can help connect you with the perfect builder for your project.

Learn more about our nationwide builder network by clicking here.

Finalize Your Selections Before Procurement

One of the most enjoyable yet difficult aspects of designing a structure from scratch is selecting the features that will go into your home or building, considering there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options to choose from for your design. While it is completely understandable that clients may need extra time to research their options, it is important to note that any selections made or changed after procurement will undoubtedly extend the time it takes to finish your structure. For this reason, we recommend that clients have their selections squared away before procurement to ensure a smooth construction process. Doing so also allows our team to get ahead of long lead times, as any selections that are severely backlogged can be addressed in advance and potentially swapped out for a similar item.

Prepare Your Site for Delivery

Site preparation is a crucial step in the building process. When done correctly, your project can move quickly and accurately through construction, as your contractor is made aware of any anomalies on your site and can maneuver around these issues more carefully. While the process of site clearing, surveying, soil testing, and site planning are all necessary prior to delivery, it is also important to ensure your site is properly staged and designed to allow for an easy delivery process. For example, our pre-engineered building packages arrive on a forty-eight-foot semi-truck. Because of this, we ask that clients make sure their properties are accessible and allow our semis to easily turn around after drop-off. It is also imperative to ensure your job site is set up in a way that keeps your materials clean and organized. For more information on how you can effectively prepare your site for delivery, watch our DC Best Practices video to learn more about DC Builders’ approach to creating a clean and efficient staging area on your job site.

Design in Winter, Build in Spring

Just as the title suggests, clients that design their structures in winter and start construction in spring are bound to experience fewer delays associated with weather on their job sites, considering snow, hail, and frequent rain can significantly impact the time it takes to get your project off the ground. If you do plan to start construction in spring or summer, we recommend contacting contractors early in the year – even as early as January if possible – to start the process of finalizing your builder. This is because seasonal demand usually increases in the summer months, making it difficult to lock down a contractor or subcontractors during this time. By planning ahead for spring or summer construction, you can determine a schedule and budget that works well for you and your contractor and anticipate a much faster construction process than one that begins in the wintertime.

 

Accessorizing Your Pavilion or Pergola Kit

There are many ways to spruce up your outdoor space, but arguably none as striking as adding a timber frame pavilion or pergola kit to your backyard. With a heavy timber pavilion or pergola kit, you not only have the opportunity to elevate the look of your outdoor space but the ability to enjoy your backyard in any season. At DC Structures, we partner with America’s best suppliers of outdoor living accessories to provide our clients with everything they need for their pavilion and pergola kits. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive outdoor living space, our designers can incorporate your chosen features into a pavilion or pergola design that’s just right for you.

Learn more about some of the outdoor living accessories we offer through Weber, Necessories, Cal Flame, Timber Pro UV, and many more.

Fireplaces & Fire Pits

Bring the charm of a cozy campfire into your backyard space with an elegant fireplace or fire pit from one of our trusted suppliers. Whether you plan to roast marshmallows with the family or keep extra warm in the winter months, a fireplace or fire pit makes an exciting and practical addition to any pavilion or pergola kit.

BBQ Grill Islands

No summer party is complete without traditional barbeque, whether that be hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, or the classic corn on the cob. Make your pavilion or pergola kit the perfect barbequing area with a BBQ grill island or stand-alone grill.

Outdoor Kitchens

Add some utility to your pavilion or pergola kit with a complete outdoor kitchen built into your space. With refrigerated storage for your food and drinks and prep center cabinets for easy kitchen tool access, you can truly make the most of your outdoor entertainment area.

Patio Heaters

Pavilion and pergola kits aren’t just useful for the spring and summer months – they’re meant to be enjoyed year-round! If you’re looking for ways to keep your outdoor space cozy and comfortable in any season, consider investing in patio heaters for your selected kit.

Natural Wood Stain & Finishes

If you have a certain aesthetic in mind for your wood framing elements, we offer a variety of natural wood stain and finish options from Timber Pro UV to help you achieve your vision. From transparent options to heavily pigmented colors that make a bold statement, you can choose from dozens of premium color selections to create your desired appearance.


Ready to get started on your pavilion or pergola project? Request a free quote today or give us a call at (888) 975-2057 for more information.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small Barn Home Kits: Houses and Cabins Under 1,000 sq. ft.

Not everyone dreams of living in a mansion. In fact, a growing number of Americans are investing in smaller homes for their property for a variety of reasons aside from the obvious cost factor.

One of the main catalysts driving what’s being called the “tiny home trend” is a shift in mindset from desiring a traditional family home to something more practical for your lifestyle. For instance, parents with kids in college might consider downsizing from their current home while eco-conscious homebuyers might be more inclined to live in a smaller home that requires fewer materials to build.

Whatever your reason may be for seeking a smaller structure for your property, we’re here to help you design a heavy timber building that perfectly suits your needs. Take a closer look at some of our smaller barn home and cabin kits under 1,000 sq. ft. to determine if our pre-engineered building models are just right for you.

The McKenzie Cabin Kit

Coming in at 651 sq. ft., the McKenzie cabin kit is the smallest structure included in our line of prefabricated building kits, yet one of the best values. Ideal for couples or individuals, the McKenzie features a studio-style layout that you can easily customize to fit your lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a full-time residence, guest house, or vacation property, this compact cabin kit is an excellent investment that will last you decades.

Learn more about the McKenzie by clicking here.

The Deschutes Cabin Kit

The Deschutes is a classic cabin design made from the finest Douglas fir posts and beams sourced from our mill-direct connections in the Pacific Northwest. This building model boasts 776 sq. ft. of modifiable space, with room for one bedroom and one bathroom. Designed in the method of post and beam construction, the interior features vaulted ceilings with exposed beams that give the illusion of added living space.

Learn more about the Deschutes by clicking here.

The Oakridge 24′ Apartment Barn Kit

Considered to be our most popular apartment barn kit, the Oakridge is perfect for anyone seeking a multi-purpose residence with a reduced carbon footprint. With 864 sq. ft. of upstairs living space, you have the option of turning the main level of your Oakridge 24’ building model into a workshop, horse barn, garage for your vehicles and outdoor toys, or anything else you can imagine!

Learn more about the Oakridge 24’ by clicking here.

 

The Rogue Cabin Kit

The Rogue cabin kit is a stunning cabin design that features a covered porch and spacious master suite. This popular cabin kit offers 948 sq. ft. of living space that can easily be converted into a two-bedroom residence. With its classic heavy timber exterior and wide-open layout, the Rogue makes an ideal structure for anyone seeking a rustic retreat to call home.

Learn more about the Rogue by clicking here.

If you’re considering investing in one of our gorgeous small barn home and cabin kits, be sure to request a catalog today!