Photos and Plans: Courtesy of Riverbend Timber Framing
For many people planning a home away from home, the main motivation is family. This Marysville, Ohio, ranch-style timber vacation home was no different. With two other residences owned by family members on the same 50-acre property, the idea was to create a home base where everyone could gather around the same table.
The story goes that the owners (who reside in Florida) were flipping through a magazine, and the husband put his finger on a picture of a timber frame and said, “I want that home.” Marty Birkenkamp, a client representative at Riverbend Timber Framing, the company behind the project, explains, “They were initially interested in the ‘Hickory Lakes’ plan, so that gave me a scope of work and created a scenario where I could set expectations for that kind of home. By our second conversation, we were able to set guidelines for the expected turnkey cost.”
Using what Riverbend calls its “Total Home Solution,” the owners met with representatives from each sector of the building process — planning, design, construction — to determine the purpose of the house and what was important to the family. To ensure everyone is on the same page, these representatives would stick with the clients for the duration of the project.
Not surprisingly, the stock plan was merely the jumping-off point for what would become a 100-percent custom home. In addition to general ideas like the exterior timber frame, an outdoor living space and hot tub, the house needed to be oriented in a way that allowed the grandkids to walk over from the other sites on the property. “From the road, you actually come on to the back of the house,” explains Marty, “whereas the front faces the two other family homes.”
Based in Boise, Idaho, Riverbend is used to building in the mountains and other harsh environments, so Ohio wasn’t going to pose any great topographical challenges. However, the homeowners live by a maxim: Nothing good happens in a crawlspace.
“They absolutely did not want a crawlspace or any basement,” Marty said, “so the house is built on a slab.” This hard line against subterranean living meant altering the plan so the HVAC, air-handling units and utilities could be housed in the garage with ductwork running through the insulation corridors. The structural insulated panels (SIPs) that enclose the frame and provide its thermal envelope would then be topped with fiber-cement siding and clad with Douglas fir timbers.
The interior layout required custom planning as well. For the bedrooms, the owners wanted “self-sufficient suites,” which meant the master bedroom and guest room each needed its own bathroom. They also had several pieces of furniture — a couch, cabinets, a rug — that they wanted to design the rooms around. According to Marty, this isn’t as rare as one might think: “It’s not uncommon to incorporate a family heirloom, or something large such as a grand piano, into the structural planning and design.”
In this case, the home was built around a custom-made table around which the owners would soon gather their family. The drop-leaf table lies in the center of the floor plan, as it is the central motivation for the home itself. With the planning complete, Riverbend and the owners were ready to finalize design plans and begin construction.
Square footage: 2,725