“I want it big. I want it rustic – Really big!” Ron Veach, the owner of Tuscany Homes was talking my language.

Big, sturdy, strong, and stout. I knew this project was going to be fun. We had preliminary plans and a short, clear description of the style Ron and his wife Nicole wanted. Also, Ron offered to pay for the project up front! As you can imagine, experiencing this kind of trust from client is very gratifying. It also gives the client a better deal!

Before I share with you the details of how Ron and Nicole’s timber design evolved, I’m going to ask you to stop and visualize what you would define as a perfect great room for your special occasions. This is one reason the Veach Home was chosen for this winter issue: The warm feel of the great room and living area. Especially when you will be spending more time indoors with friends and family!

Ron and Nicole’s success on this home was the result of good long-term planning with Tuscany homes as well as other businesses. They had bought and sold a few homes before discovering hybrid timber framing. The stage was set to come up with creative timber options which would meet the ATF criteria: Great aesthetics, wow factor, balance, big picture, consistency, and client delight! With a hefty design, ATF Designer Leo Koskiniemi and I were able to start the process to create a meaningful impact on the atmosphere of Ron and Nicole’s home.

When you bring your plans to us, your design will follow the same process we used for Ron Veach. The process typically unfolds by pitting design possibilities, build ability, and budget against one another. As you can imagine, all three of these criteria jockey to be on the front burner!

First is brainstorming. How many areas of your home will have timber elements? During our initial meeting we discussed the areas where timbers were to be incorporated with conventional building, also known as hybrid timber framing. Questions to expect: On a 10-point scale, with 10 being the most rustic, where do your tastes lie? What would look good in the areas to be timber framed? How do you want your space to feel? When you experience our methodology to elicit your unique style, you will know you are getting something which goes beyond short-term happiness.

Second are design/build considerations: How will it be built? Is it cost-prohibitive? Here we are thinking about the beam erection process, joinery, transportation, and engineering, such as beam spans and tension loads. Sometimes, the design which fits the client’s style the best mandates a more expensive solution. This is always worth the extra investment, because you get to enjoy the accumulated payoff for such a long period of time. It also results in higher resale value.

Third are the big picture aesthetics and flow: Is this consistent with the overall theme you are trying to achieve? Here we review the entire project. Transition areas are addressed to avoid unintended and abrupt changes. We also compare our designs with the history timber framing gives us. Every timber must have a visual purpose and follow building logic. In Ron and Nicole’s case, Leo and I knew the desired budget and style. We were also clear on where traditional framing would transition to timber framed construction.

The front entry and back porch proved to be the design epicenter. These two areas influenced the designs in the foyer, great room, kitchen, game room, garage roofs, and mantels. The back porch was an issue of span and lateral bracing, while the front entry was a question of balance. We didn’t want something that was awkward and tall. We had to specifically address this problem because of the small footprint and high roof line of the entry.

Upon seeing the 3-D model, Ron slowly nodded and said, “That’s it, that’s good!” Of course, there were minor tweaks here and there, but the major theme was locked in. If your process happens to take a few more turns, think of it as that much more enjoyment and possibilities to explore! We proceeded with the engineering and fabrication. All went smoothly except for one mistake – the truss arches were cut to the wrong radius and formed a slight cathedral arch at the center of the truss rather than a true arch. After thinking on it for a few hours, I ordered new timbers. The trusses were reassembled with the correct arches in place. This is an example of the attention to detail we are committed to here at ATF. I just knew we had to correct that mistake, even if it was not noticeable. I am still happy we made that decision!

All in all, this project deserves an A. Not because we at ATF were perfect, but because we were persistent in looking out for our client from the beginning to the completion of his project. Which is why we are comfortable giving you the ATF guarantee: “Get Your Timber Dream… And Enjoy the Process!”

We wish you a stress-free process in pursuing the timber living you desire, knowing that when the time is right for you, we will talk.

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To your momentum and success,

Bert Sarkkinen