Post and Beam Design
Timber Framed Homes and Barns
With close to a decade of experience in designing and crafting homes which integrate post and beam construction, we are Australia’s only specialist traditional timber frame designer.
This highly skilled traditional craft is a hugely complex subject, and to integrate a hand-crafted post and beam frame into a modern building takes skill, experience, and forethought. The effect of including a timber frame into a home cannot be understated of course, both in terms of it’s character and unique beauty, and the value that it bestows on a home.
Whether you are planning a new build, renovation or extension, a traditional barn or shed, pergola, pool house, or a simple gate, you can’t go wrong by adding an exposed timber frame or feature truss to the design.
Figlea Hall is a great example of a full sized traditional frame used in a modern context. the exterior is a sleek modernist barn which forms the shell of a properly historic barn house.
What is Post and Beam Construction?
Post and Beam construction is the modern term used to describe a building tradition which spans thousand of years and cultures across the globe. Many of the first homes created by humans as they settled down in farming communities were large communal longhouses. These buildings were often constructed using massive timbers, with the upright posts and horizontal beams formed from whole trees.
Over thousands of years this building tradition survived and was refined by an unbroken string of carpenters. We have inherited this tradition in the forms you see here, used as the structure of modern homes, barns, and outbuildings.
Obviously building methods and standards have changed a lot over the centuries. Today we face a lot of new challenges in successfully incorporating timber frames into modern, efficient buildings.
A good post and beam frame forms the full structural skeleton of the building, and other parts like the roof and wall framing, internal floor, etc all attach to this frame. The frame itself will stand for centuries while all the other parts can be changed, moved, and upgraded without effecting the structure of home. This provides the flexibility needed to see a building really stand the test of time.
A traditional post and beam frame really brings a home to life and adds a level of character that just can’t be done any other way. Here are a few examples of full traditional frames used in both standard and natural style homes.
Modern Timber Frames
A very popular alternative is to use a Hybrid framing system. This is where heavy timber elements are included in a standard stud framed or masonry building. This is generally exposed trusses, but can be all sorts of beams, lintels, rafters, posts, and columns. This method is the best bang for the buck and we highly recommend considering it if budget is a factor in your project.
A modern hybrid timber frame as also a great stylistic option as it allows us to explore the best parts of different systems and blend them together. When we are free from some of the structural and layout considerations of a full traditional timber frame, we can be more creative with the parts we do use. For example, we can just use a pair of large trusses as a feature piece in a room; or we could add a set of clean blonde posts and beams to a room for a neat japanese/scandi feel. The options with a hybrid frame are nearly limitless, so just tell us your style and we’ll come up with something to suit.
It’s important to note now that these frames are big, and they are exclusively hand crafted by skilled artisans. This isn’t an off the shelf offering, it’s an investment in the quality and longevity of your home, and in the quality of the life you’ll live there. You should expect to allocate up to about $1000 per square metre for a full structural frame in hardwood. This cost reduces down incrementally as you move into hybrid frames, softwood, and feature timbers of course, and there are options for any budget. The bright side of this big expense is that you can guarantee that the value of your home will always increase by much more than what you spend on the frame, so financially it’s hard to go wrong.
Here we can see some great examples of Hybrid framing, adding trusses and other features to a standard build to provide immense style at a great price point.
Timber Frame Home Design
We specialise in the design of these post and beam frames, both traditionally crafted, and modern steel plated types. One of the key aspects of the design process is integrating an ancient, natural craft into a modern home. We are highly experienced at selecting the right methods, details, and materials to ensure your home is built properly, and will last for generations. All the frames we design, whether traditional or modern, are carefully checked by structural engineers who are experienced in this method of building. So whether we are helping you create an entire new home, or drafting plans for a clients’ pergola, you can rest assured that all the bases are covered.
The key to undertaking a project which truly integrates the heavy timber frame into the building’s fabric is to design it in from the beginning.
Allowing for a correct roof pitch, window placement that doesn’t interfere with braces, sufficient offsets, steps, and setbacks, and detailing material junctions properly are all easy to deal with if considered at the start of design, not the end. This is why you’ll always pay extra for design, and inevitably need to redo some things if you have a design done first, and then try to jam a frame in later.
Many post and beam homes are combined with natural building methods such as straw bale, rammed earth, hempcrete, and others to create self-made, highly sustainable homes. These materials and methods are a perfect complement to an exposed timber frame, but it’s important to get the details right to make sure all the elements connect tightly and work in harmony. This is where the design process is so vital to get a good outcome, and spending the time to go over every detail will really pay off, especially for owner-builders and those creating a natural home.
There are several incredible craftspeople in Australia who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of mastery in this ancient art, and we have worked closely with many of them to create beautiful, timeless buildings.
To see their work follow the links below
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