Oregon’s Old Mill District

The Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon draws thousands of visitors a year from all around the world. Shops, art galleries, and music venues now occupy what was once home to the two largest sawmills in the world.

The Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Company established a mill in 1916 on the Deschutes River’s west bank, with another mill built by the Books-Scanlon Lumber Company on its east bank shortly after.

This mill confederate dominated Bend’s economy for 78 years. At one point, the companies were two of the largest pine sawmills in the world, operating around the clock with more than 2,000 workers producing 500 million board feet of lumber a year. 

Bend’s population leaped from 536 in 1910 to 5,414 in 1920. By 1930 the city’s population was 8,821. Twenty years of heavy logging created massive deficits in the surrounding forests. Up to 200,000 acres were cut down indiscriminately. The Bend Chamber of Commerce addressed this issue with the mills, but these warnings fell on deaf ears, eventually leading to official closures in 1983.

Balanced harvesting practices have drastically altered timber framing. Deforestation nearly destroyed the concept. Old growth in Northwestern coniferous forests are iconic natural attractions. Enjoying the great outdoors is something every builder, designer and sales associate values here at DC Builders. You don’t need to be from the Northwest to understand this. That’s why we provide kits that emulate these ideals, along with sustainable practices.  

The Deschutes cabin was named for the very river which the Old Mill District sits on. It emblematically represents the balance between progress and sustainability because respect is an inherent virtue above all else. The 776 sq. ft. floor plan gives you an opportunity to haul more manageable pre-engineered components anywhere a 4×4 can go.


Stillwater: The Perfect Small Barn Home Kit

The Stillwater is a small barn home kit that’s based on a custom structure we designed for satisfied clients in Oklahoma. DC’s designers created a typical modern-style small barn home kit configuration with a lofted bedroom hovering gracefully above a spacious open living area. A straightforward floor plan like this, requires very little thought as you move through its design and building phase.

A sturdy post and beam sub-floor complements a parallel chord roof truss, creating a dynamic open living space. The window wall in this small barn home kit brings generous amounts of light, where every square inch is basked liberally. Double-pane windows provided by Andersen cancel unwanted noise, without compromising insulation.

The vaulted ceiling stands at an impressive 25 ft. high, commanding a triumphant presence on any property, no matter how small the structure. This modern small barn house kit’s lofted bedroom occupies the space above in perfect volume. You won’t find a cozier night away from the hustle and bustle.

This kit also features two dozen high-quality doors. The combination of cedar and Douglas fir is a prime coalescence between excellent hand craftsmanship and intuitive design. You won’t find a more approachable barn home kit like the Stillwater. However, we won’t be bashful to say you should give it a try!

In fact, this makes transporting the pre-engineered materials package a breeze, thanks to the Stillwater’s minimalist floor plan. No other barn home kit in the DC arsenal offers a more seamless blend between convenience and durability.

Looking have a kit built ASAP? Check out these simplified living plans that offer an array of big ideas for small living.

Post-and-Beam Kits Made Easy

The 2008 financial crash necessitated unsettling change amongst many businesses across the country. When we came up with DC Structures, we wanted to accentuate an approachable and comprehensive process inherently featured in post-and-beam kits, without sacrificing aesthetics and high quality.  

The process most kit companies put people through can be a nightmare. Most will simply drop off your pre-engineered components without so much as a follow-up email. Every step in the DC process has been carefully and methodically thought out to avoid any inconsistencies.

One key tool provided by our team are 3D isometric design instructions. These are unique in that many companies don’t provide them to their clients because it’s viewed as an unnecessary feature.

Too often builders assume clients cannot grasp the construction process behind their own structure. We think this is disingenuous. Everyone should have the material needed to build their own structure—even if it’s just a gesture.

What’s novel about these instructions are their accessibility, made specifically to be interpreted by anyone. Each page incorporates detailed illustrations surrounded by precise measurements, access points for joinery and scheduling for parts.

Everything from the knife plates down to nail placement, are accentuated in effortless detail, and organized chronologically like any other technical manual. Offering 3D isometric instructions provides even the most amateur of builders a pathway to success.


The Legacy: A Premier Wedding Barn Kit

Wedding barn kits

Legacies are built from the traditions left behind by those who are led by a desire for something better. This is what our designers wanted to capture in our largest wedding barn kit. The Legacy fuses some of the best wedding barn projects we’ve been involved with. Every feature has been carefully chosen to create an ideal place not just for weddings, but for any event.

A 12’ x 40’ shed roof detailed using western red cedar fascia adds sophistication and class, resting among a string of custom chandeliers. Guests and families are taken in by a covered entryway, supported by a beautiful, handcrafted heavy timber truss. Two cupolas sit atop a traditional American monitor barn, basking natural lighting into the main event space.

The Legacy’s backbone is a post-and-beam monitor barn, reinforced by Douglas fir heavy timber posts. This floor plan includes both bride’s and groom’s quarters, a catering kitchen, an office, and a grand hall—everything you need to launch your wedding and business events. 

Ready to explore your wedding and event venue options? Request a free digital catalog today!

The Oakridge Barn Kit: A Popular & Flexible Design

apartment barn kit

The Oakridge is our most popular apartment barn kit. Named after a sleepy country town located between Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley, this kit’s function is as dynamic as it is humble. The Oakridge building kit has gone through many different renditions, with the same durable post-and-beam frame, that are wonderful composites of our clients’ imaginations. What makes this kit popular beyond its five available sizes is the synergy between the main level’s utility and the loft’s open-concept livability.

Below are three excellent examples of the Oakridge that span a variety of uses and themes.

This Oakridge 60’ garage with living quarters in Bend, Oregon has a 48’ x 60’ frame nestled among the arid desert sage of Central Oregon. Above the multi-use, drive-through RV garage, is a lavish two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a huge open-concept kitchen, living, and dining area. Outside, 600 sq. ft. of partially-covered deck flows into and around the master suite and main living area. The deck and the garage doors are the two most distinguished alternative features on this rendition of the Oakridge 60.’

The 60-foot version of the Oakridge isn’t the only size option for this kit. This quiet piece of property in Cornelius, Oregon has a barn with living quarters based on the Oakridge 36’. Unlike the Bend configuration, this Oakridge’s main level boasts two horse stalls, two stalls for the dogs, and a tack room. Two shed dormers were kept intact for additional space. On the second floor sits 1,080 sq. ft. of living space, replete with guest room, full bathroom, office, living room, and kitchen. Nantucket dormers supported by handcrafted timber trusses hang over the residence as a testament to our craftsmanship.

The smallest, more scalable option, is our Oakridge 24’. These clients in Damascus, Oregon did an amazing job showing us what you can do with 1,214 sq. ft. of floor plan. We worked closely with them to create this perfect getaway, a party barn fit for both work and play. The breezeway on the main level sits between two sliding barn doors, making this an ideal spot for summer parties and events.

These variations are just a sample of how flexible we can be. More importantly, it further demonstrates why we give our clients so much autonomy when it comes to drafting their designs. The designers will be yours from the beginning, because a kit shouldn’t limit you; options and upgrades are not an issue. Have your pick of siding, dormers, stairs, stalls, whatever you desire.

Ready to get serious about your own building project? Request a free quote today.

Say Yes to Barn Home Kit Dormers


Heavy timber architecture done right can make any structure look like an old German fairy tale. There is something honest about an exposed joinery, and the smell of freshly shaved cedar or fir. But sometimes there are limits; times in which elegance must intersect with a designer’s pragmatism.

Shed dormers are used fairly indiscriminately throughout our barn home kits. They help facilitate additional space in a building’s second story. Oftentimes they get a bad reputation for being ugly afterthoughts; band-aids for last minute attempts at fixing lost space. This is definitely not the case with us.

What makes a structure inelegant doesn’t come down to specific features. Every building’s elemental variable should feel intentional. A lazily-placed shed dormer can end up as an eyesore. Done correctly, however, it can be a beautiful confluence of practicality and beauty.

Shed Dormers and Gable Dormers

Shed dormers or “dustpan dormers” are characterized by their single-sloping roofs. A proper dormer should provide an average amount of headroom and space for windows. Keeping the dormer proportional in relation to the rest of the roof is the key to maintaining a more elegant look.

There are many different types of dormers included in our barn and barn home kits, although these usually incorporate one of two styles. The first, and most common, are gable dormers. These are smaller, more compartmentalized extrusions that reallocate water away from second-story windows. Usually they’re placed in rows of three, four, or even five, rather than as one solid mass.

The main type of shed dormer you see included in our kits is what’s called a Nantucket dormer. Multiple gables in one solid subscructure conjures much more space than gable dormers. Hybridizing these two elements looks and functions better than the typical fully-supported shed dormer.

Of course, there’s no denying the level of space offered by a shed dormer. We use them repeatedly in some of our more popular kits. Check out our new Pineridge, a slightly different variation of our Oakridge kit. Like the Oakridge, each size option includes two shed dormers. These play important roles in establishing and maintaining enough space in the upstairs living quarters among each variation—especially the Pineridge 24’, a no-nonsense two-story post and beam building design aimed at maximizing efficiency.

Ready to take the first step toward building your dream barn home? Request a free quote to get started today.

How Urban Growth Boundaries Can Affect Your Property

urban growth boundaries

Now more than ever, more people are moving from both rural and urban areas—a trend that is slowly redefining urban growth boundaries everywhere. The allure of city living has dwindled over the past five years in exchange for a life in the suburbs. Similarly, those in rural areas who are financially able are moving closer in, as well. For example, economic analyst Jared Kolko discovered a 30 percent increase of college educated populations in nonmetropolitan counties, all around the Pacific Northwest and Idaho. These two opposing trends will inevitably cause a time for flux in urban growth boundaries.

Living outside an urban growth boundary comes with its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. An urban growth boundary is usually decided by a city or metropolitan area. Depending on where these municipalities draw the line can cause serious comparative disparities in land value. Farmland can be valued at 10 times less than similar land merely feet away. It’s important to know where these boundaries are, and what policy trends are occurring.  

You can either save or lose money depending on your intentions. The addition of new infrastructure on your property will increase its value no matter what. It’s a much better route than renovating an old pre-existing structure. Click here for more information about the pros and cons of new construction versus renovation.

Check an updated version of your closest city’s urban growth plan, and find out where your prospective land is in relation to it. Studying policy trends in the past to see how you could be affected later, can help gauge how future decisions on increasing the boundary will be made. Being conscious of these factors can make or break a property’s market value.

Seclusion has been a key attraction for rural living, the price one might pay if land falls too close to an urban growth boundary. Cities can retroactively justify expanding infrastructure near or around your property if it was set aside into a rural reserve. This annexed land around your home can be used for any kind of development. So be sure you are staying privy to the projects being proposed in these areas before buying property as well.

Not many cities in the U.S. adopt urban growth boundary policies. Those that do are typically places where the lines between urban and rural blur. Examples of these places can be found in Portland, Oregon; Boulder, Colorado; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Seattle, Washington. DC Structures knows firsthand the headaches of city planning, and the amount of government regulation that accompanies it. Staying on top of recent trends in rural-urban migration and city planning can make a huge difference when assessing land for your structure.

Ready to take the first step toward building your dream structure on your dream property? Request a free quote to get started today.

Finding a Barn Kit Contractor

general contractor

Barn raising was the go-to construction method during the 16th and 18th century in the United States. Community members from all around would converge on a farmer’s property to aid in post assembly. Specialists in joinery were outsourced and paid while community members worked unconditionally. This typically wasn’t an issue considering these were resource driven economies. Back then, a good relationship with a farmer was all one needed.

Although we don’t work for free, we do believe in establishing and nurturing good relationships. Some barn kit companies will simply pre-fabricate your dream and drop it off without any consideration for what is required afterwards. You obviously can’t rely on your neighbor anymore. That’s why we take the time to extend into our networks, and find you the perfect contractor in your area.

Building a lego style tool shed or a desk from Ikea is one thing. Constructing a 18,359 sq. ft. riding arena is another. Many companies will boast about on-site handcrafted joinery, cooper mortises and custom cedar railings, and then ship it out on trucks where they unload these materials and expect you to do the rest. Not us. A project is never complete unless we know every detail is taken care of from start to finish.

It isn’t simply a matter of rudeness, it’s also about safety. Finding your own contractor is a process in itself. Lacking proper networks can result in a never ending hunt for quotes. Even after your final selection, there’s still no assurance you picked the right people without knowing their official track record. Many contractors hire employees with limited to no experience in construction. Post and beam or heavy timber frames require a specialized touch you simply can’t find in many places. Worrying about structural integrity shouldn’t be an issue one wastes energy on whatsoever with our structures.

Luckily we have been in this business for a long time. Our history in construction is riddled with positive testimonials stretching back a decade. Looking at reputation is the best way you can avoid flippant subcontractors and inexperienced builders. Our time spent in this industry has also cultivated a strong relationship with many, top notch independent contractors.

If we can’t find an independent body, our parent company DC Builders will always be there to help. They operate much like an in-house resource. Having such a resource so close eliminates any deviations from consistency during the building process. It shows just how committed we are to making you know that you’re part of a broader community. Because even after your project is built, you can expect our follow-up team will be giving you a call.

Questions You Should Ask A Contractor

Are they doing it themselves or hiring a subcontractor?

A subcontractor isn’t an actual employee of the contractor you hire. Often times they can be people with little to no experience. Contractors enlist out of convenience making the trust between contractor and subcontractor very thin. Anyone we work with very rarely deploys subcontractors onto your property.

Are they bonded?

This is different than a license. Being bonded means the contractor has ownership of anything that might go wrong with your property if the structure is compromised in any way. Think of it as  another insurance policy on your building.

Do they have proper licensing?

You can see if your contractor is properly licensed here.

What Makes For Good Horse Stable Design?

horse stable design

Mustangs brought over from Spain embody the West’s untamable nature. Hundreds of these equine animals once roamed the rolling hills and prairies through snow and rain. Their wild disposition has since traveled through their genealogy, into stables across the country.

A horse would never step into a stable if they had their way. They naturally detest them, just as any large grazing animal would. That’s why we take special consideration for how they operate in these spaces, by enhancing the ecological elements that make horse care easier. At DC, horse stable design is an art form. 

The minimum size for a loose box stable is 10’x10’ to 12’x12’, according to the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council. Although this might be suitable for a riding horse, it falls short when it comes to draft breeds or if you’re expecting a foal. Adding extra room to our horse barn kits is no problem with our Flex Design option.

Horses are extremely inquisitive creatures. A clever steed can easily find its way around a poorly placed latch and show themselves out. It’s been widely documented that they have even jailbroken their compatriots for late night romps around the barn. Did we mention they hate stables?

Kidding aside, this can be a dangerous situation for your animals. Our catalog offers multiple stall front variations so you can choose the one you think best fits your horse’s intelligence. After all, they may have been brought here from Europe, but it’s the American West that raised their rebellious spirit.

Animal safety is a top priority. That’s why our horse arena building packages are curated by Classic Equine, the leading brand in horsing around. Any accessories such as stall mats and water buckets are all vetted for maintaining the well-being of your four-legged friends.

Planning for Solar Panels on Your Barn Home Kit

solar panels

Solar is the fastest growing alternative energy source in the world—a trend most would have dismissed as a fluke 48 years ago. That’s because photovoltaic systems back in 1970 were wildly expensive, costing around $70 per kilowatt an hour. Today, you pay significantly less at just 12 cents an hour per kilowatt. The overall price for kilowatt hours has dropped more than 10 percent since 1980. If these trends continue, analysts believe solar will inevitably contribute 20 percent to total energy consumption in the United States by 2030.

It’s easy to see why solar is one of the best disruptive technologies out there, and why an increasing number of homeowners are opting to make the switch. While we ourselves do not manufacture solar panels, we can definitely help you get set up with some when you go through the process of designing a barn home kit with us.

Here are some things you should consider before retrofitting your barn house building kit.


Sixty percent of households don’t have sufficient roofing infrastructure to support solar panels.

One standard 60-cell residential solar panel can weigh between 40–50 lbs. Powering a house efficiently will require the majority of your roof’s surface area, in order to properly aggregate enough power to the inverter and into your battery bank.

A good night’s rest comes courtesy of our homegrown Pacific Northwest timber. This wooden material is handcrafted onsite and cured using a process that denotes longevity. If you don’t mind sacrificing a little open space in the vaulted ceilings, the installation of extra support beams can reinforce the weight of the panels. We also recommend tweaking the roof pitch for maximum sun exposure. Check out our Flex Design option to learn more about how to further customize your kit!

How Much Does Solar Cost?

The average gross residential cost for solar panels before factoring in tax credit reductions can hover between $16,800 and $30,000. Sleek solar products like Elon Musk’s powerwall and solar roof can cost $12,000 to $15,000 for a 2,000 sq. ft. home. The powerwall, a highly efficient and discreet battery system, will add another $3,000 to $6,000 depending on your needs. However, sticking with conventional solar panels is still the better option at this point in time.

Simplicity is a universal philosophy amongst our rustic designers. For a 3,000 sq. ft. home with a $200 monthly power bill, a conventional 8.5 kW system would only cost $26,000 to install. At this scale, Tesla’s photovoltaic cells would only be able to produce 6.25 kW at a $60,000 price point, giving you less for more.

Tax Credit Reductions

Federal tax credits for solar last year saved the average individual $5,000. A tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction of the price you pay for installation. 30 percent is the current reduction rate. Eventually, this rate will drop to 26 percent in 2020. A trend which will continue to fall unless Congress chooses to renew the program’s reduction policy. With only one year left, applying for these reductions before installation would be the most prudent move you could make.

What is Net Metering?

Net metering protects the energy you generate onsite from being abused by utility companies. If a utility company overuses the power you contribute to the grid, then you’re entitled to reparations. Running your meter backwards will result in credit that can be used on your next electrical payment. Each state is different depending on where you are. Be sure you do some research before turning your kit into a self sufficient off-grid mecca.

Ready to take the first step toward designing your dream home today? Request a free quote to get started!

Outdoor Wedding Pavilion ‘I dos’

outdoor wedding pavilion

Weddings are notoriously expensive events for many families and would-be couples. Minus the honeymoon, the average cost for a wedding in the U.S. bounces between $19,182 and $31,970. Still, this is a formative event; a day that sets the tone for many years to come. After all, lasting wedding day impressions are easily made through atmosphere and setting alone.

Our wedding barns demand a certain respect, as they’ve become great investments for property owners and event planners alike. But like weddings, they’re expensive. Several have homes all over the country, with the largest of our portfolio hosting gorgeous weddings and events in Arrington, Tennessee. And while wedding barns make for a spectacular day of ‘I dos,’ the same caliber of ambiance can be accomplished with a thoughtful outdoor design—all at a fraction of the cost.

Outdoor weddings have climbed the ranks to become a formidable alternative to traditional church ceremonies. With more people opting for an idyllic natural setting, taking steps to enhance your scenic property can pay dividends for your business. Timber-frame pavilions are a great option for bringing your outdoor space up to par.

A good structure, like any marriage, should be measured by its dynamism, as well as its durability. Outdoor pavilion kits offer an intimate feel without breaking the bank. Designed in our signature post-and-beam style, our pavilion kits are a symbol of longevity—the significance of which transcends its practicality.

But a good structure, like any marriage, should also be measured by its utility and resilience. In other words, our pavilions make for great outdoor spaces long after vows have been exchanged. Between covered kitchens and outdoor fire pits, or special occasion gathering spaces for clients to rent, there’s no shortage of uses for these classic all-wood structures.

Ready to take your wedding and event property to the next level? Request a free quote to get started today!

Buying Land for Your Barn Kit: Tips & Considerations

buying landThis is a fascinating time in rural America. There are more young people looking to embrace farming and more sustainable lifestyles; living closer to nature and growing food for consumption or sale is becoming more attractive to this segment of the population. Those who want to make a change in their lifestyle can find it difficult to get the land they require for their purposes. Land access has been known to pose significant challenges for farmers getting started, according to a survey conducted by the National Young Farmer’s Coalition. Finding the right piece of land and making sure it suits a buyer’s objectives takes considerable time and effort in many instances.

In addition to talking with local farmers and asking questions, the following tips can help those buyers interested in buying land for a barn kit or similar structure.

Working with the Right Real Estate Agent

Not every agent specializes in the type of details applicable to farming, such as water rights and soil types. Finding a suitable agent makes it easier to become more informed on issues like easements and zoning. Buying land in rural areas can become hard to navigate, making it worthwhile to find an agent experienced in the buying and selling of land to be used for barn kits or other similar structures. While many people aim to hold onto land for a long time, it is good to have the peace of mind that it can be sold quickly and effectively years from your original purchase.

Buying Land with Existing Infrastructure

Existing structures, such as outbuildings, fencing or equipment, may change a potential buyer’s investment. An owner may find that a piece of property has additional assets, such as irrigation pumps or fenced pastures, which can serve to reduce costs and make it more affordable to farm the space. It is important to perform due diligence when considering any potential property suitable for a barn kit.

Performing a Site Evaluation

Visit the site a few times during escrow to evaluate the site and determine its suitability to meet specific needs. Some aspects to consider include:

  • Slopes which may impact management options;
  • Sunlight exposure for specific crops;
  • Flood zones; or
  • Microclimates as a result of being located in a valley.

Looking at the various features of a site and how they might impact the building of structures and the productivity of the land is necessary prior to having a successful farming venture. This all goes into assessing the land and any resources provided on it and can help buyers plan out their first year after purchasing a property. How the land will be used and the types of animals and crops that could do well on the space are necessary to know before selecting and buying land for a barn kit or to use for farming.

Reading the Fine Print

Are there any encumbrances or easements on the land? Prior to making any purchase, carefully read all attachments and the complete title report. Discuss any incongruities with a title officer. Easements, such as power, road and irrigation easements, may require the attention of a lawyer. Understand who may come onto a property. Taking steps to learn more about easements can reduce the potential for undesirable surprises later.

Knowing Local Zoning Laws

What a buyer plans to do with a purchased property might make them eligible for special programs which may reduce the accompanying property tax. In some cases, purchased land used for exclusive farm use may be eligible for unique tax assessment programs. Changing from active farming to not farming the land can allow a property to fall out of such programs. Speak with a county tax assessor to learn more about the options and any limitations for use or development as it applies to a property’s zoning status.

Making the Dream a Reality

More people than ever before are interested in living a lifestyle surrounded by nature. The call for some is strong and the addition of useful and practical structures can help property owners make the most out of their new space. High-quality structures at DC Structures can be integrated with existing structures on a property and potentially boost property value.

Ryan Tollefsen is a realtor and team leader at Unity Home Group, Keller Williams Realty Alaska. To read more from this guest author, visit the Alaska Real Estate Blog.