green building

Community, Conservation, and Craftsmanship

Something Jack A. Sobon once told me and I never forgot is that the goal in designing and building a home for a client is that the home will never be sold. A good home will become part of the family. People will change their jobs and their lives to keep a home that inspires them.

How far we have come from that idea. Even, and I'd say especially, in American Timber Framing, we see homogenized designs and frames regurgitated ad nauseam and trotted out as "craftsmanship." You've probably seen it yourself — the ubiquitous Hammerbeam Truss (poorly designed and executed at that) in the glossy magazine spread. If they repeat it long enough, we just might lower our expectations enough to forget what this amazing craft has to offer the built environment and the people who are blessed to live in our homes.

So this year, I ask all my fellow craftsman to uphold traditional American values by not setting the bar so low that mediocrity is celebrated as craft. And I ask all the clients out there to want more than what they've been sold in the centerfold.

Together we have a chance to create homes that represents our deepest held values of community, conservation, and craftsmanship.

Raising the bar

Craftsmanship is a word that gets tossed around by many people, but in most cases it does not actually apply to the built environment that we share. We have diminished the definition of craftsmanship to allow entry for anyone — and in doing so we have lost touch with what is possible with training and dedication.

We've traded real craftsmanship for manufactured materials that can be installed by the least skilled labor available.

And it's not always financial limitations that are driving the choice towards utilizing this type of labor. Often what I see is there is simply no forethought or skill employed, due to individuals and companies that have no business being involved in building. The ubiquitous pickup truck, skill saw and dog appear to be their only qualifications.

What we ask from a home today is much more complex than it was 50, 100, or 500 years ago.
It's imperative that the builders of today not only have developed themselves in craft,  but also keep up with building science and green technology. This is one reason why resurrecting traditions such as the Timber Framers Guild is so important: it gives builders outside accountability and stringent standards to compare their work to.

Our work stands out because of our exemplary training and forethought, which we bring to all aspects of our projects. We bring in decades of dedicated craft training, and the value of that for a client cannot be overstated. We're striving to raise the bar and standards in our community and elsewhere.

All too often people approach me and tell me that they really wished they would have had my company do the work for their home. They have regrets and were often led down a direction that they are ultimately unhappy with. Building a home is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and no matter the size, it is one of the largest investments a person, or company can make.

Why risk your project to mediocrity, when you can work with the best? Our clients come from all walks of life, but the one things they share in common is a desire to create something with integrity, intention and beauty.