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Meet Riverbend in Person at an Event

While technology, like email and video calls, has made communication easier and more effective than ever, nothing can replace meeting the team who may help you build your dream timber frame home in person for some.

Riverbend Timber Framing offers many ways to meet your Client Representative, discuss your project, and get the information you need.

Home Planning Seminars

Twice a year, Riverbend holds a Home Planning Seminar at our Michigan office and timber frame shop. The half day event includes an informative presentation that covers all aspects of designing and building a timber frame home. Topics range from the materials used to build a timber frame home to our architectural design and construction services. Riverbend Client Representatives will be available to answer questions and discuss your project. In addition, they will also lead tours of Riverbend’s shop and a nearby timber frame home.

Where: Riverbend Timber Framing Headquarters, Michigan.
When: Twice yearly, Spring & Fall.
How to Attend: See when our next Home Planning Seminar is scheduled & request more information.


Timber Frame Home Raisings

Raisings are an exciting opportunity to see the beauty of a timber frame home. Meet your Client Representative on site for a tour and have your questions answered about the details of timber frame construction. Your safety while onsite is our top concern, so appointments are required.

Where: Across North America.
When: As they occur.
How to Attend: If you would like to see a timber frame raised, contact your Riverbend Client Representative to schedule an appointment at a private raising near you. Raisings open for visitors will be posted on Riverbend’s Event Page.

Client Representative Travel

Client Representatives frequently travel from our headquarters and regional offices to meet future timber frame home owners. Representatives hold personal meetings, Home Planning Seminars, and attend home shows across North America. Representatives are happy to review floor plan ideas or offer advice on your future home’s site placement at meetings. Seminars are great for gathering the information you need about designing and building your new timber frame home.

Where: Across North America.
When: Year-round.
How to Attend: Check our Event Page frequently for upcoming travel events. If you do not see an event near you, request to be notified of future events in your area.


Usually, Riverbend Client Representatives are able to travel to most locations throughout the year. However, if you are ready to start the design process, feel free to request a personal site visit to kick off your project.

French Country Timber Frame Homes

Throughout the years, television and movies have romanticized the look of French Country architecture. The style first became popular in North America in the 1920s and 1930s, and remains a mainstream motif for new homes, including timber frame homes, today.

History of French Country Architecture

After World War I, soldiers stationed in France returned and began building homes resembling the countryside manors they saw.

Image Used Under Creative Commons License

What became known in North America as French Country architecture is actually a blend of rural home styles from many different provinces in France. The styles range from formal to rustic; however, most homes today use features from both ends of the spectrum.

Image by Gina Paulucci. Used under Creative Commons License

On the formal end of the range is Provincial architecture. French nobles built the historic Provincial homes in the 1600’s under the reign of Louis XVI. The bold lines of the stately chateaus make quite an impression in contrast with the French landscape. Typically, the homes are two stories, and have a square footprint and symmetrical details on the front elevation. Dormer windows, often arched, that rise out of the second story roof line are a distinguishing hallmark.

The warmer, more rustic, side of French Country architecture hails from the farmlands of Normandy. Here farmers honed the beauty of informal living. Charming half-timbered homes are reminiscent of storybook cottages. Traditional homes in the French countryside are also known for their towers which were originally grain silos attached to the main living quarters. While the homes of Normandy use arched windows, much like Provincial homes, their front elevation is often asymmetrical.

Defining French Country Architecture

Modern French Country style combines Provincial, Normandy and architectural characteristics from other rural provinces. This architectural style is flexible in creating both dramatic and charming homes that are recognizable using just a few of its defining characteristics:

  • Hipped roof shape, where all sides of the roof slope down to meet the walls
  • Steep roof with varied height rooflines
  • Exterior timber details, interior wood beams, or exposed timber structure
  • Use of curves in architectural details, including dormers, doorways, and timber trusses
  • Brick, stone, stucco exteriors, often mixed together
  • Curved windows, small windows, and window shutters

French Country Timber Frame Homes Today

Since timber framing has been a traditional building method of building in France since the 1400s, it is fitting to pair timber framing with the French Country architectural style. Both the elegance of the Provincial style and the rustic warmth of Normandy home’s can be achieved with timber framing.

Over the years, Riverbend has been involved in helping many clients create their dream French Country timber frame home. We even have several of them to inspire you in our photo gallery.







Are you ready to say Oui  to a timber frame home inspired by this classic style? Explore our French Country design concepts.

What is the Difference between Stock Plans and Conceptual Designs?

While you are browsing magazines or websites, you are likely to find timber frame plans that almost match your vision. Some plans you see are stock plans while others are conceptual designs. So, what is the difference between these types of floor plans? How can choosing one over the other affect your timber frame home project?

Stock Timber Frame Home Floor Plans

Stock plans, in general, are pre-drawn floor plans. They are meant to be taken off the shelf and built ‘as-is’. Some timber frame home companies offer stock plans so they can quickly manufacture a preconceived ‘kit’ for you. There is no ‘design phase’ when using a stock plan. Since the manufacturing process can begin as soon as you make your selection, you can break ground at almost the same time.

Many homeowners want to modify a stock plan to turn it into the perfect timber frame home. However, the ability to make minor modifications to a stock plan depends on each company. If you are looking at a stock plan and are envisioning changes, ask the company what kind of customization is actually possible. Companies with only draftsmen may be limited to non-structural changes such as moving a non-load bearing wall or changing the size of a window opening.

In addition, many stock plans are not adequate for building sites that need complex grading or foundation work. In these cases, you may need to hire a third-party to alter the plans for your site. This adds additional costs to your project.

Timber Frame Home Conceptual Designs

A few timber frame companies anticipate that you will want to customize their floor plans to create your ideal timber frame home. Plans they show in their advertising and on their websites are conceptual designs. These designs are meant to inspire you and serve as a starting point for your home’s design. The conceptual designs are customized to meet your needs.

So, what changes can you make to a conceptual timber frame home design?

First, you will need to check with the company to learn about their design capabilities and qualifications. For example, Riverbend’s in-house design firm employs degreed architects who specialize in, and understand the complexities of, timber frame structures. Their education and experience allow them to make extensive customization to the timber frame itself. In addition, they understand how every change impacts the overall home design.

Two different styles of timber framing within Riverbend’s Tuscany Floor Plan

With Riverbend’s in-house design group, the only limits to your future timber frame home’s design are your imagination, engineering and safety regulations, and your budget. Clients frequently take a conceptual timber frame home design and:

  • Add or subtract square footage.
  • Add a walk-out basement.
  • Change the look and feel of the interior timber framing.
  • Modify the design’s roof line to change its style.
  • Take favorite parts of several floor plans and combine them into one.

Regardless of the changes you make to the plan, at Riverbend, the initial design of your home will only take approximately four to six weeks. This is a small addition to your design and construction timeline to achieve the exact home you are envisioning. Click here to learn more about how you can customize a timber frame home design.

What if I have not found a stock plan or conceptual design I like?

Riverbend Timber Framing’s in-house design group can create your home design from scratch. We can take any ideas, napkin sketches, or images you have collected as inspiration and make your custom home design. Creating a custom design takes the same amount of time as modifying one of our design concepts, approximately four to six weeks. Learn more about Riverbend’s design process.


Craftsman Timber Frame Homes

Exposed beams, detailed posts, and timber trusses. These are the hallmarks of Craftsman architecture that have forever tied it to modern timber frame homes. Since its inception, the architectural style, known for functional floor plans and ornate handcrafted touches, has remained popular.

History of Craftsman Architecture

Craftsman Timber Frame Home Floor Plan

The Shattuck – A Craftsman Bungalow Home Design by Riverbend Timber Framing

Craftsman architecture has its origins in the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. The Arts and Crafts movement was a direct reaction to the mass production of the Industrial Revolution. The desire to reincorporate hand-made details and organic elements into the family home grew as more materials were produced in factories.

Brothers, Charles and Henry Greene, are considered the fathers of the Craftsman movement. In 1894, they established Greene and Greene, an architectural firm in Pasadena, California. Their work culminated in the conception of the ‘ultimate bungalow.’ In general, the bungalow, which is derived from British homes in India, features low pitched roofs that create shaded porches, perfect for areas with warm climates. Greene and Greene added handcrafted details to the bungalow, such as exposed, stylized timber accents, creating a fashionable and functional home.

Defining Craftsman Architecture   

Over the years, local iterations of the style developed as Craftsman architecture spread across North America. For example, Craftsman style homes in Florida incorporate elements of Spanish missions such as rounded archways, tile roofs, and stucco. However, no matter the location, several Craftsman characteristics remain the same:

  • Low pitched, often gabled, roofs
  • Single window dormers, often in various styles
  • Visible structural elements, such as exposed rafters or floor joists
  • Covered porches
  • Banded windows, often double hung
  • Mixing of materials, such as stone and wood, inside and out
  • Use of local materials, handcrafted if available
  • Floor plans that cater to the owner’s lifestyle

Craftsman Timber Frame Homes Today

Timber framing is a wonderful way to build a new Craftsman home. The wood provides a warm organic element to the home while the visible craftsmanship of the connections add genuine character.

In fact, many Riverbend clients have decided keep the Arts and Crafts movement alive by building a Craftsman timber frame home. Take a look at some of the Craftsman style homes in which Riverbend has taken part.

Paducha Arts & Crafts Timber Frame Home                               Grand Junction Craftsman Timber Frame Home Battle Creek Craftsman Timber Frame Home

Plan to Build in 2018? Start Now.

The clock is ticking. If you want to start building your timber frame home in 2018, now is the time to start your custom home design.

Riverbend recommends you start the design process about a year ahead of your desired construction start date. Some locations have a construction season limited by weather. If this applies to you, you will need to start your home’s construction by summer next year. This allows enough time to construct your home to a point where it can be protected from wet weather.

So, why does it take so long to get from design to construction? There are several factors that can affect how long your project is in the design and pre-construction phases. Major delays during these phases can delay your ground breaking.

Custom Design

First, it takes several months to design a custom home. Even small changes to a conceptual floor plan take time. In addition, each home’s layout needs to be customized to fit the unique topography of its location. You can expect to see your home’s design about six weeks after your initial design meeting. Each round of revisions after the initial design can add several more weeks to the process. Add a few more weeks to your timeline if your property belongs to a Home Owners’ Association that reviews designs. Those who start the design process now can expect to have their custom home plans finalized before the end of the year if they do not have major revisions.


In pre-construction, detailed construction drawings are completed for you home. These drawings are extremely important for securing a builder. If you already have a contractor selected for your home, they will use the drawings to estimate how much it will cost to build your home. If you do not have a builder, you can use the construction drawings to solicit bids and select a qualified builder to construct your home.

Once the construction drawings are completed, they are also sent to an engineer for review. An engineer, local to your build site, ensures structural stability and that the home will meet local building codes. While this process takes several weeks, any change to the design during this phase must be drawn into the construction documents and reviewed by the engineer again. This process exponentially extends the time it takes to get stamped drawings.

The permitting process is another part of the pre-construction phase that can push your construction start date back. The amount of time it takes to pull permits for your home depends on your location. In some municipalities, it can take just a few days. However, if you plan to build in an area where construction is booming, it can take a month or two to get the approval you need to break ground.


Shopping for, and securing, financing is a lengthy process. Construction loans can be confusing and meeting qualifications for loans can be tedious. Getting your financing in line as early as possible eliminates roadblocks for beginning construction when you are ready.

Starting Now

If you have land and plan on breaking ground on your custom timber home in 2018, it is time to start your design. Beginning the design process puts your dream of living in a timber frame home front and center. It also allows you to mitigate road blocks that may prevent you from breaking ground on your selected date.

At Riverbend, starting the design process means signing a Design Development Agreement (DDA). This commits you to the design process – nothing more. A Riverbend Client Representative will visit your site for a pre-design meeting. The information collected is used for your initial design meeting. At this meeting, your Client Representative and a Riverbend degreed architect take the lead and work to create the ideal timber home design for you. Once your design is complete, you have accomplished a major step toward starting construction and can address the potential stumbling blocks in pre-construction and financing.

Contact Riverbend today to begin discussing the design of your home with a client representative, and learn more about Riverbend’s Design Development Agreement.